Change in services.
Since its inception, we at Small Town Tech have worked hard to meet the technology needs of our community. Our business model has expanded to include retail, fire and burglar alarm monitoring, electronic repair, managed antivirus (Pro+Tech), managed business services (our Partner Client program), technology systems installations, equipment rentals, website design, and a T-Mobile Authorized Dealer (coming in December).
Over the past year, we have reassessed our business model and reviewed the combination of services we offer to best meet our customers' needs while remaining profitable. After all, if we don’t stay in business then we can’t help anybody!
Starting today we are shifting our main focus to our managed services programs. This includes our residential and business Pro+Tech and Partner Client programs.
As part of this change, we will now only be providing repair services and technical support to devices enrolled under those service programs.
Our retail offerings will continue to grow. We are excited to be adding T-Mobile phones and service packages in late December.
This decision has not been made in haste. The global technology landscape is changing and cybersecurity threats are increasing rapidly. Our new focus on managed services helps us align better with our customers’ needs.
We look forward to a long future helping to strengthen and support our community.
Microsoft is rolling out the next iteration of its operating system, Windows 11. Of course, new = better, right? But, when it comes to Windows 11, you may want to consider waiting. Here’s why.
Typically, software updates are something to install as a matter of course. The manufacturer, after all, is delivering the latest and greatest in its upgrade. This can be new efficiencies, improved processes, and increased security.
CNN calls the Windows 11 release “the biggest update we’ve seen to Microsoft PC software in more than half a decade.”
But when it comes to Windows 11, do some research first. You may not want to be an early adopter.
When to Upgrade
There are still people using Windows 7, even though the system is no longer supported by the manufacturer. That, we do not recommend. Without support or security updates, these systems are vulnerable to malware attacks.
Meanwhile, the release of Windows 11 indicates Windows 10 is on its way out. Yet Microsoft has said it will support Windows 10 until October 14, 2025. The company typically keeps a ten-year lifespan for its products.
So, you don't need to upgrade immediately. And for some businesses, it makes sense to wait longer to make the switch from 10 to 11. After all, it is not yet an essential upgrade.
Those on Windows 10 will see some advantages, yes. We'll talk more about that next. But, unless you’re a heavy multitasker or need a sleeker visual design on your desktop, you can wait.
By waiting, you’ll also get the advantage of others being the ones to discover the launch issues and bugs. The software has been available in beta since June. Still, as more users get access, you can expect more updates on the horizon.
To help you decide if you’re ready to upgrade, you’ll first want to see if you are eligible for the free upgrade. Also, visit Microsoft's website to see if your PC can run the software (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-11-specifications).
If you have a custom-built desktop, you’ll want to run a health check to see if you have the TPM 2.0 Windows 11 requires. This is a specific security module, so you don’t want to overlook this!
Why Upgrade to Windows 11
Windows 11 is a redesigned operating system aiming at improved user navigation. Expect:
How to Upgrade
The upgrade is rolling out gradually. Those who recently purchased a new laptop before Windows 11 was pre-installed have access now.
If you are an existing Windows 10 user, you'll see the Windows 11 upgrade sometime between now and mid-2022. Most users will go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click Check for Updates. If available, you'll see a Feature update to Windows 11. Click Download and install.
Remember to backup all your important documents before starting the installation process!
Also, don’t fall for any fake versions of Windows 11. Wait to receive an official notification of a systems update. Do not click on links promising the software on social media or via email. You could end up downloading malware.
Nobody likes to be told what they can’t do. Still, there are certain never dos that you should keep in mind when it comes to your work computer. This article captures the top six things you should avoid doing on your work computer.
#1 Don’t login to personal sites and services
Sure, we’re all guilty of wanting to check our personal email or take a quick peek at social media while at work, but you do not want to login to your personal accounts on a work computer, especially not a shared one!
Browsers that remember our passwords to sites such as Facebook or your bank can be useful. How many different passwords can one human be expected to remember after all? But letting the browser save your personal access credentials risks your security. The next person to use that computer could access your private data.
#2 Don’t allow remote access
Maybe your computer isn’t working the way you want it to: it’s too slow. Something is up with an app. You’re worried you’ve inadvertently downloaded malware onto your work device. Then there’s that friend you have that “knows computers.” With remote support software being so easy to use these days, you figure it’s easier to ask your friend for help. Work doesn’t even need to know.
But would you let that friend walk into the office and start working on your computer? Probably not. Your business has its own people it trusts to do work on its computers. If you were on-site, you’d tell your supervisor, or at least IT, if you had a computer concern. Even when working virtually, you want to do the same thing.
Allowing remote access is both a security and productivity risk. Plus, your computer could be set in a specific way by your company. Your tech-savvy friend isn’t going to know why and how those particular configurations were established.
#3 Don’t store personal data
We’re all in favor of having more than one backup. Still, you don’t want to make your work computer a storage solution for your personal data, because you can’t be sure that other people at work can’t look through your files.
You also run the risk of losing access to that data if the business goes out of business or lays staff off. Employee accounts can be wiped out by businesses when they sever relationships with staff.
#4 Don’t connect personal storage devices
USB or thumb drives are convenient, as such drives help move data around easily. But the drive can be installed in many different computers and networks along the way. Connecting that USB to a work computer could transfer malware.
You really don’t want to connect someone else’s storage device to your work computer. Criminals actually target organizations by leaving infected thumb drives in the parking lot. All they need is one person to pick up the drive and plug it in to a work computer. Trying to reunite the drive with its user didn’t go over so well for that Good Samaritan!
#5 Don’t do your side business or job search
You don’t want to do these on a work computer unless you want to risk getting caught, because your computer activity can be tracked. Some businesses do full-blown screen recording. Others will maintain an overview of sites you visit.
There are different laws in various states and countries regarding employee monitoring, but you are using a work device on a business network. Doing your own side project during work hours on the business computer won’t go over well.
#6 Don’t log on to public Wi-Fi
Don't log in to business applications or sensitive data connected to public Wi-Fi. There are many risks. You could end up:
These never dos could endanger your personal data, business network, or your very job. Steer clear of these common mistakes made on work computers. Be smart, be safe.
A laptop can hold your life. If you’re working from home, it’s essential to your income. For students, it’s where you keep all your notes and essays. Plus, there are the personal photos and videos. And you sometimes use it to stream your TV shows, or to video chat with friends and family. You may even make music, create art, or be writing the next bestselling novel on your laptop. So, you want to keep it in great shape. Here are five tips to protect your laptop.
#1 Don’t drop it
Or throw it, or stand on it, or expect it to withstand any serious impact. OK, that’s pretty obvious. You also don’t want to use your laptop in the bathtub or at the pool. Even a simple water spill on a laptop can damage the circuitry. If you do get your laptop wet, immediately turn it off and unplug everything attached to it.
#2 Open carefully
Laptops are getting thinner in every iteration. Some now even have foldable screens. The thinner and more flexible screen may look sleek and cool, but it’s also less rigid, which makes it more prone to damage. Especially on lower-cost laptops, the screen can flex if you open the computer up from just one side.
Yet, many of us hold a laptop in one hand and open the lid with the other. This can cause the screen to twist. Use both hands to open the laptop. Or get into the habit of opening your laptop from the center to avoid flex.
#3 Don’t bedazzle your keyboard or screen
Alright, maybe you weren’t planning on putting faux rhinestones on the screen or keyboard. Still, reconsider any decorations you have thought of adding. Even a keyboard protector (to prevent dust or spills getting into the circuitry) or camera privacy sticker could damage some of the new super-thin laptops. It’s just that there is now so little clearance between the keyboard and the screen.
If you really must have your stickers, put them on the protective sleeve that you get for your laptop.
#4 Disconnect carefully
Your laptop needs a consistent power source. If you damage the power cord connection, you’re done. So, make sure you pull the power cord out straight. Yanking it out sideways could damage the port.
Also be aware of where your power cord is connecting to the wall outlet. If you leave the cord trailing along the floor, someone could trip over it, or it could get caught on a rolling chair. This could not only damage the charging port but even pull the entire laptop onto the floor. That brings us back to #1, don’t drop the laptop!
#5 Keep it cool
No, you don’t have to store it into a refrigerator (please don’t!), but heat isn’t good for your laptop. You’ll want to keep your computer away from external sources of heat.
Again, as the laptops get thinner, they are more vulnerable to internal overheating. Ensure that the laptop’s intake ports are unblocked so that air can flow through and cool the circuitry. You might also blow dust out of the vents using canned air.
Also, avoid placing your laptop on very soft surfaces. A soft, uneven surface is more likely to block the internal fans. This leaves your device unable to regulate its temperature. You could even buy a laptop cooling stand, which provides extra fans to improve air circulation.
Average laptop lifespan will vary between two to five years. Keep your laptop on the longer side of that by taking these tips to heart.
If something does happen to your laptop, give us a call at 218-240-8802. Our IT experts are here to help you find the best laptop for you, upgrade and secure your laptop, or fix your laptop when you need it.
Most technology you buy in stores comes with a warranty of some sort. It might be included or an add-on. Still, it is unlikely to last the lifetime of the device or software, and it seems inevitable that your desktop will die immediately after the warranty runs out. Don’t worry, you still have options.
Murphy’s Law of warranty says that you will have no problems with your computer or printer while it’s covered. Then, as if waiting for the most inconvenient time to go bust, the technology fails just after your warranty ends.
After the frustration of looking up that warranty plan to see the expiration date a few weeks ago, your first response might be to take that device back to the store. You’ve noticed they have a service desk, and that’s where you made the purchase. But the technicians on-site are likely to send your laptop to the manufacturer repair. That could be far away, which negates the convenience of taking it down to your local store. You could wait weeks for your item to get to the repair center. Then, it stills needs attention and returning to your store.
Also know that many manufacturers charge a premium for outside-of-warranty repairs. Now that you’re one or two years into a relationship with the products, they hope you’ll decide upgrading is easier. They actually have a planned lifecycle for computer hardware and plan the warranty end accordingly.
Of course, if you are within days of your warranty's end, ask if the manufacturer will continue to cover the technology. Sometimes it actually will. The manufacturer may also use this opportunity to sell you an extended warranty.
Some help with manufacturer warrantyOur first piece of advice? Be proactive about technology issues. Don’t put off getting something looked at. You may discover you could have saved money by having it checked out under warranty.
Check your eligibility by visiting the manufacturer’s website and typing in the product serial number to check the warranty. Quickly find the page by searching the manufacturer’s name and “check warranty status.”
It’s a good idea to keep track of when your warranty is set to expire. That way, you’ll be more likely to request service in a timely manner. Don’t believe us? Have you ever planned to take an item back to the store only to leave it until the return window has closed?
Small business computer repair shops specialize in repairing out-of-warranty devices. They can run diagnostic tests to determine the problem. Then, they'll help you decide whether it’s worth the cost of repairs. If so, they can fix it at a competitive rate.
Plus, you get personalized service. There’s also the peace of mind that comes from knowing where your computer is at all times. You're not worrying about it shipping around the country to a manufacturer’s repair shop. The timeline reduces, too, as the IT experts are on-site at a convenient computer repair outfit.
We can help keep your computers and other technological devices up and running. Contact us today at 218-240-8802!
We aim to provide helpful and easy to understand tech articles.