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FAQ & FACTS About IT Support

FAQ & FACTS About IT Support

When you are selecting a vendor for IT Support, there are certain questions you will normally want to ask. At Hardi Tech we have heard most of them over the years, so we decided to compile a list of our most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) along with our answers and facts you will want to know before making your choice.

FAQ & FACTS About IT SupportWe usually answer a question with a set of questions of our own and our answer may be “It Depends.”

      1. What are the most important factors when selecting an IT support provider? This represents a group of similar questions we hear that all relate to the client being “up front” and wanting us to respond in the same manner. We like that kind of an approach and it usually leads to a successful relationship. This is one of those times when “it depends” and questions of our own work best. We will usually start with “Why are you considering a switch from your current environment”, followed by “What do you like and dislike about your current provider? What things would you like to see changed?” Next, we like to understand more about how systems are being used, how many employees in total and how many use computers.  Where are these computers located?  How many desktops, laptops, mobile device and servers.  Do they rely on wired or wireless networks?  What applications are being used and which ones are “mission critical? We have learned that the more questions we ask, the better the end result!
      2. How do you charge for your services? Unfortunately there are IT providers who do not properly explain their pricing strategy and that is often the reason we are talking to the prospective client in the first place. We are careful to explain all fees up front so there are no surprises. We have a standard hourly rate with a minimum charge and we also offer fixed price contracts depending on the size and complexity of the services being provided but we always provide an estimate and if we find something that would cause us to go over the estimate, we let you know in advance.
      3. How do your managed services work? Managed services is designed to provide you with guaranteed “up time” and response rates in exchange for a set monthly fee. The fee is based on the number of systems you have, where they are located, the size of your network and what levels of up time and response rate you need.  We will also put one of our people on site if necessary.  The best part is you will know what your IT support expense will be every month so you can budget for it and avoid surprises.
      4. Can you service mobile laptops and mobile devices that belong to our employees? Yes.  They can be bundled into your managed services contract or we can repair them just we like we do for you. The industry calls this Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and we have several clients that use us for this reason. We work with a wide variety of clients, including seniors who just need some “hand-holding.”
      5. How long have you been in business? Hardi Tech has been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 2007.

We provide same day service and aim to have the issue resolved on the spot where ever possible and we invite you to contact us here.

How the Internet of Things Will Impact Your Business

How the Internet of Things Will Impact Your Business and What We’re Doing About It

Unless you live, eat and breathe technology like we do, you may not be aware of the latest evolution of the internet. Called the “Internet of Things,” or IoT for short, it refers to the connecting of all the newly computer-enabled “things.” These things are everywhere – automobiles, copiers, appliances, security cameras, mobile devices galore, electronic lock boxes for key storage, door locks themselves, smart TVs, thermostats, set top boxes and more. “Network hungry” devices are everywhere and it almost seems as if everything we own or buy either is or will be internet-enabled.

How the Internet of Things Will Impact Your Business

The ramifications are also a bit mind-boggling. As quickly as new devices are coming out, analysts are investing more resources into determining how the Internet of Things will impact your business. The demand for both wired and wireless bandwidth is exploding. There are serious security issues now that so many devices are accessible on the internet. This article in ZDNet outlines some of the issues we as IT professionals and our clients will be dealing with as the IoT gains traction. Some of the issues discussed are connectivity (encountered if all devices are attached to the same LAN or segment), bandwidth and security ), hosting, storage (it is already exploding!), access and more. In a related article, ZDNet states,

“IoT is more than just connecting gadgets; it’s using devices to gather pertinent business information and it has to be done by someone who knows how to do it with an eye on security from one end to the other. IoT isn’t time for amateur hour, nor is it the type of business that can tolerate incompetence or implementation mistakes. My best advice is to get outside help from people who know what they’re doing and from ones who’ve done it for years.”

At Hardi Tech, we are proactively preparing for the future of the IoT and are being careful to monitor our clients’ networks for new devices and potential security threats. We are helping them plan for bandwidth, security and storage issues. Please contact us to investigate how your world will change as IoT continues to evolve.

Hosted VoIP: Benefits and Frequently Asked Questions

Hosted VoIP: Benefits and Frequently Asked Questions

Hosted VoIP іs а popular buzzword thеsе days. Whу аrе sо mаnу people аrе excited bу thіs technology? It is affordable, effective, secure and easy to implement.

hosted VoIP

Anyone whо hаs usеd voice chat software іs familiar wіth thе latency issues thаt proliferate wіth аnу sort оf data transfer involving thе Internet; VoIP addresses thе latency issue usіng RTP, оr real time protocol. Тhіs protocol ensures thаt packets arrive іn а timely manner.

How Secure arе Hosted VoIP Services?

Ѕесurіtу hаsn’t bееn а раrtісulаrlу сrіtісаl subјесt sіnсе іn thе раst, mоst ІР vоісе trаffіс rеmаіnеd оn lосаl аnd wіdе аrеа еntеrрrіsе nеtwоrks, whісh wеrе mоrе оr lеss sесurе аnd рrоtесtеd frоm thе рublіс Іntеrnеt. Вut аs VоІР usаgе іs bесоmіng wіdеsрrеаd аnd Іntеrnеt tеlерhоnу іs соmіng іntо рlау, еntеrрrіsеs аnd hоmе usеrs аrе bесоmіng subјесt tо thе sаmе sесurіtу rіsks thаt hаvе аffесtеd dаtа nеtwоrks fоr dесаdеs.

Whо is at Rіsk?

Весаusе mоst VоІР trаffіс оvеr thе Іntеrnеt іs unеnсrурtеd, аnуоnе wіth nеtwоrk ассеss саn lіstеn іn оn соnvеrsаtіоns. Еаvеsdrорріng іs оnе оf thе mоst соmmоn thrеаts іn а VоІР еnvіrоnmеnt. Ноwеvеr, а соmрrеhеnsіvе VоІр еnсrурts thіs іnfоrmаtіоn, mаkіng іt іmроssіblе fоr mоst hасkеrs tо brеаk іntо уоur рrіvаtе nеtwоrk.

How Good іs the Quality оf Hosted VoIP?

At thе earliest stage оf іts development, quality оf hosted VoIP services wаs fаr frоm bеіng perfect. Wіth telecommunication companies constantly seeking ways tо improve thе quality оf voice оvеr IP еvеrуthіng hаs changed. Complaints аbоut background noise, dropped calls аnd оthеr disturbances aren’t as common.

 What are thе Advantages оf Hosted VoIP?

VoIP іs wіdеlу usеd duе tо іts inexpensiveness, аnd thіs іs оnе оf іts main advantages. Let’s lооk аt thе оthеrs advantages of implementing this technology:

  • Decreased long-distance аnd local charges
  • Single network managing bоth data аnd voice
  • Essential features for business – video calls, video conference, group call, call forwarding, call holding

If you want to learn how hosted VoIP technology can benefit your business, contact us. You can also follow us @HardiTech

Understanding the Process of Incremental Data Backup

Understanding the Process of Incremental Data Backup

Over the past few years, many businesses have been utilizing and investing in incremental backup chains. The basic idea behind incremental backup chains is that businesses can have access to very recent data backups, which continue to update frequently. Because less less information is being backed up, there are more opportunities for backups, and therefore less gaps within data. This method of data backup is efficient and effective.

recent Tech Target article explains this process of incremental backup chains:

An incremental backup is a type of backup that only copies files that have changed since the last backup. If a full backup was done on Monday, Tuesday’s incremental will back up all changed files since Monday’s backup. However, Wednesday’s incremental will only back up files that have changed since Tuesday’s incremental backup. The main advantage of incremental backups is that fewer files are backed up daily, allowing for shorter backup windows.

Yet while incremental data backup can be very efficient, there has to be an appropriate balance. The main concern is still data backup, and businesses want to be sure that when restoring their data, they won’t certain gaps within their data because of incremental back chains.

data backup

At Hardi Tech, we understand the nature of incremental backup and are ready to help your business restore your data if need be. Our cloud backup client runs a fully automated daily incremental backup of your important files and data. This ensures that at any time, there are no large gaps between your backups.

An efficient data backup process both directly and indirectly benefits your business. A direct benefit is the high quality data backup you have access to, while an indirect benefit is the cost-savings from the efficiency.

If you would like more information about data backup or to schedule a free consultation, contact us.

What EXACTLY is Cloud Computing and Why Care?

What EXACTLY is Cloud Computing and Why Care?

Depending on who you ask, Cloud Computing is everything from the latest IT buzzword to the universal remedy for all things computer related.

Most people who have been around for a while have seen computing strategies go from centralized to distributed.  Then from the mainframe to to the department and ultimately to the desktop.  For several years, the “brains of business” were housed in individual PC’s and Laptops with minimal security, limited back up and huge exposure!

cloud computing

Then came a “distributed centralized approach” where PC’s, laptops and mobile devices behave like “clients” to the “servers” that are housed in centralized servers located in controlled IT departments.  Security, back up and consistency improved without removing the flexibility of having personal clients.

In this model, most of the heavy lifting is done remotely from the user.

Most users don’t know where the actual data is stored or being served from. More important, they don’t really care!  Today’s consumer of information is moving on to the next data feed so fast, they don’t even stop to consider how it is being “served.”

That is where “cloud computing” comes in.  The data being served today is being served from massive external server farms.

The Gartner Group says that cloud computing is :

“a style of computing in which massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided ‘as a service’ using Internet technologies to multiple external customers.”

They go on to say that ” cloud computing is not really a technology by itself. Rather, it is an approach to building IT services that harnesses the rapidly increasing horsepower of servers … into large computing pools.”

The key difference then in cloud computing vs. client server computing is that IT related services are now being provided from “massively scalable” locations to multiple external customers.  

There are huge economies of scale in this model and savvy companies have been aggressively moving their IT infrastructure to the cloud.   

Companies who maintain there own servers are face with constant changes in technology, increasing needs for storage, expense of maintaining networks, servers, people etc.

Contact us to learn how a Cloud Computing Solution can work for you.

Network Security Consulting Can Protect Your Business

Network Security Consulting Can Protect Your Business from Online Attacks

If you run a small- to mid-sized business you know how important network security is, and according to statistics, securing your business from cyber-attacks should be near the top of your list of priorities. That’s because not that long ago, 31 percent of all cyber attacks were aimed at small businesses.

Symantec’s latest annual Internet Security Threat Report found that companies with fewer than 250 employees constituted a staggering 31 percent of targeted attacks in 2012.

Network security has become a complicated area of expertise, populated by data and hardware management and professionals who do nothing but monitor the ins and outs of the constant barrage of danger (click here to read about the latest threat, The Heartbleed Bug). Put simply, small business is an easy target. They lack the funds to fight like larger business.

network security consulting

Most small businesses simply do not have the time, money, or expertise in-house to keep their network safe, so they opt for third party professionals who can undertake an accurate risk assessment and devise actionable steps to put into place to keep that business protected while highlighting and eliminating vulnerabilities.

According to security consultant Neal O’Farrell, the underlying reason for placing a target on small business back points to the thieves purview.

Small businesses represent low risk and little chance of exposure for thieves… They typically lack the monitoring, forensics, logs, audits, reviews, penetration testing, and other security defenses and warning systems that would alert them to a breach.

Neil O'Farrell

Network security is important to the stability and longevity of your business. With one in five small businesses falling victim to a cyber attack each year, and with nearly 60 percent of those closing up and going out of business within 4-6 months after the attack, you can’t afford to forgo the safety that professional IT consulting provides.

For additional information on network security and your business, or to discuss how we can help keep you safe from cyber attacks, contact us for a free consultation.

Why Managed IT Services Are Proactive, Not Reactive

Why Managed IT Services Are Proactive, Not Reactive

The old adage that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” — or in more standard English, “If something is working adequately well, leave it alone” — might seem to apply to managed IT services. It does not, actually. That would be because computer systems can go down hard without appearing to be “broke” to begin with.

The fixing part can involve truly nightmare scenarios of data loss and extended downtime. And it can all translate into lost revenue, lowered efficiency and a tarnished reputation.

If your business is small or growing from small to medium-sized, your IT support expertise might not be up to the challenge of network managing, or at least be more reactive than proactive. Perhaps your people are complaining of increased downtime or having to wait for troubleshooting assistance from hardware and software vendors.

Managed IT Services

It could be time to consider hiring managed IT services, rather than paying someone by the hour to repair, tweak or restore your system. If you pride yourself on good planning and budgeting, you probably cringe when you get that unplanned and budget-busting bill.

What you need is managed IT services. It may be somewhat of a shift in your self-reliant paradigm, but it makes sense to get truly professional service at a fixed, reasonable cost.

The Benefits of Managed IT Services:

 

    • High reliability, lower costs. Small businesses are embracing managed services because they meet both the top goals (reliability) and increase their bottom line (low costs).

 

    • Getting more for less. IT managed services typically include the warm and fuzzy feelings that come with reliable backup and no worries about dealing with hardware and software glitches.

 

    • Real-time monitoring and preventive maintenance. The IT managed services provider never falls asleep at the switch. While you’re attending to business, experts keep an eye on your system.

 

    • Improved security. Malware and hacker attacks require a leapfrog approach in staying ahead with security patches and monitoring. Your managed services provider does all the monitoring and scanning, while you’re — yes, attending to business.

 

Are you planning a business expansion or just looking for a way to upgrade your IT support network? In either case, contact us and we’ll be back to you right away.

3 Ways IT Consulting Can Help Your Business Achieve its Goals

3 Ways IT Consulting Can Help Your Business Achieve its Goals

Technology is an important part of every growing business, and IT consulting can be an incredibly effective tool in helping you to achieve your goals and objectives.

To stay competitive, a business must remain cutting edge and have IT systems that support those goals, however, this must typically be done with little to no in-house support in order to keep costs down.

To do this, and remain conscious of the bottom line, outsourcing IT to a third party IT vendor that offers managed support, talent, experience, and resources allows small businesses to remain competitive and still have peace of mind.

IT consulting

Here are 3 additional ways IT consulting can help your business:

1. Allows you time to focus on what matters.

Your business is priority number one. We get that. It’s exactly why you would seek an IT consultant in the first place. Focusing on your business’ core values and operations is important to its vitality. Outsourcing your IT consulting to a third party frees up time so that you can focus on what matters.

2. Efficient and cost-effective savings strategy.

Technology requires a specific set of skills, expertise, and know-how, especially if projects are to completed in a timely manner. While there is no harm in bringing in support on your own, having a skilled IT consultant do the work for you not only eliminates the learning curve, it ensures the work will be done efficiently and smoothly, ultimately saving you stress and money.

3. Gives you a competitive edge.

If all of your projects are completed in a timely manner, and with no stress on your end, you’ve created a competitive advantage. One that you’re winning at. IT service consultants stay current on all the latest information technologies by remaining current on all training and procedures. They know how to manage and install all the very latest in products, including hardware, software, and applications, and they have excellent vendor support.

For more information on IT consulting, please contact us any time.

Why is Computer Repair Even Necessary in a Disposable Era?

Why is Computer Repair Even Necessary in a Disposable Era?

When PC’s first came onto the scene, their function was fairly limited.  Components were very bulky, yet durable, and due to the expense, people usually handled their systems units and CRTs with kid gloves.  With improved miniaturization, components became smaller yet more powerful; not to mention cheaper.  Computer repair has become less commonplace, since the price of components has dropped significantly.  After a short time, you can almost count on your computer becoming outdated before anything wears out on it.  This phenomenon is known as “calculated obsolescence” and it has been an industry standard since the mid 1800s.  Parts are built to fail and systems are made to wear out in a timely fashion, leaving you, the customer, with no choice other than replacing the item with a brand new version.

Why is Computer Repair Even Necessary in a Disposable Era?

This process leaves us with landfills just brimming with computer components, entire systems, and potentially toxic materials if these items are not disposed of properly.  Unfortunately, most people would rather take the easy route, or what they believe is the cheaper route, and just replace a system altogether instead of relying on a competent service technician to fix their device.

The truth of the matter is that many problems with your systems unit do not require a total replacement.  Besides the expense of replacing your computer entirely, there is also the added hassle of moving all of your important documents over to the new computer.  With new computers, there are often subtle operating system changes.  Different versions and upgrades that come bundled with new computers mean your old documents and files might not even open.  So much for all that hard work.  If you have music or video files on your computer, you might be in for a rude awakening, especially if the DRM software on the new computer refused to recognize your music library.  What was the point of taking the time to make your entire CD collection digital again?

More often than not, if your computer is less than five years old, you can save yourself the headache of a full replacement and simply contact us to have it repaired.  The expense is much less for a repair than you might think, and certainly less than a complete replacement.  Something as simple as a worn out power unit, pet fur in a heat sink, or even a motherboard that needs replacing could be your problem.  After a complete diagnostic and quality, approved replacement parts, you will be back on your feet, up and running in probably less time than it would have taken to research a new system and shop around for the cheapest deal for your budget.

Your computer still has a lot of life left in it, and we can help make sure you get every year out of it you deserve when you bought it.

Top Reasons to Switch to Hosted VoIP

Top Reasons to Switch to Hosted VoIP

If your small business is looking for an alternative to traditional PBX communication systems, it may be time to make the switch to Hosted VoIP. The performance and advanced features of VoIP trump that of PBX. This is due to the fact that VoIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, uses your internet network to operate, opening up the door to more efficient and innovative use of your communication system. 

Top Reasons to Switch to Hosted VoIP

Better Features

Hosted VoIP allows users to make and answer calls just like traditional PBX. But it adds some additional beneficial features out of the box including but not limited to; voice to email integration, easy call transfer to other users at virtually any location, mobile integration, simultaneous ringing at multiple locations, web user interface, and find or follow me.

Cost Effective

Hosted VoIP can help increase your bottom line. In most cases you do not have to change your current communications equipment. In addition, once installed, your hosted services will include installation and maintenance of your communication systems.

Improves Virtual Work Environment

Because service is internet based, the system all features can be used by your mobile-based staff. In addition, it can also be used to connect multiple business locations; for example, if a call is placed to your firm, the phone system will ring at multiple locations simultaneously.

Increased Mobility

You will never miss a possible lead or customer service call with VoIP. The system can be set up so that whether you are at a trade show, at the office, or at home, all features will be available for use with your handheld devices.

Plug & Play Operation

Special equipment is not needed to begin using hosted VoIP solutions. Once your telecommunications service has set up the system for use, you will immediately be able to enjoy all the benefits VoIP has to offer.

If you are interested in learning more about how hosted VoIP can enable your staff and increase business proficiency, feel free to contact the experts at Hardi Tech today for a free consultation.