Category Archives: Business IT

Why your wifi sucks and how to fix it

We all have experienced it. The WiFi connection drops during the most important online meeting of the year — and this is after investing in the most expensive router you could find at Best Buy. Like many businesses, your WiFi sucks. Here are the likely reasons and what to do about it.

Your neighbors: Imagine you go to a dinner party. As the night progresses, more people show up and the wine flows. The room fills up and the noise levels rise. After a while, you can hardly hear the person right next to you. This is happening in most commercial buildings all over the world right now for WiFi.

Most wireless networks are set up in the 2.4-gigahertz spectrum. This spectrum is like an overcrowded three-lane highway for data. Your neighbors could be in the same lane as you are. Or you could be trying to squeeze between the three lanes. This will result in poor performance. If you notice that your WiFi suddenly gets bad, it could be that a neighbor made a change to their network that has affected your network.

Ideally, businesses would join forces in an office building and create one high-quality WiFi network that everyone can use. With modern access points, it’s possible to create multiple wireless networks with the same device. This would remove all interference. Then we would all sing “Kumbaya.”

This problem is so ubiquitous that most enterprise-grade WiFi hardware have a feature that can take down rogue WiFi hardware. This is considered “rogue access point containment.” In other words, if you set up a WiFi device that interferes with mine, mine will shut yours down. This is radio frequency war.

The 5-Ghz spectrum is like an unknown highway with no traffic. Most higher-end WiFi devices support dual channels. This means they can create both 2.4-Ghz and 5-Ghz networks. With this feature, users have the flexibility to switch between networks if performance is compromised. Not all devices will work on the 5-Ghz spectrum, so it’s good to also have the 2.4-Ghz network option for them.

Other electronics: Microwave ovens and cordless phones are classic causes of 2.4-Ghz interference. Newer devices are more effective at keeping their transmissions from bleeding into the WiFi range, but if your neighbor has older devices that do not abide by the rules of “stay in your lane,” you could have problems. Either ditch the cordless or upgrade to a new model. Keep the microwave away from your networking equipment.

Outdated firmware: Just like a computer, networking equipment requires updating. These updates can introduce new features to your hardware to increase the quality of the network services. Start with this step before going down the path of replacing older gear.

Old routers: WiFi technology has gotten significantly better in the past few years. Features such as Airtime Fairness and dual-band networking dramatically increase the stability of the signal. Settings are important. A lower-quality WiFi unit, properly tuned will function better than a high-end unit with a low-quality installation.

Checking for channel interference is important when setting up new devices, so work with a professional on the setup. Many of these WiFi units have easy to use management panels that you might want to use yourself. Get a lesson from your IT professional and see what you’re comfortable with. It’s neat to see all of the devices connected to each unit. From there, it’s easier to understand why you are experiencing performance issues.

In the end, your network experience always will be better when plugged directly into the switch. WiFi still is evolving and is never going to be as stable as a wire. If you’re going to work in the same place consistently, then have it cabled. It’ll increase your productivity and rule out WiFi frustrations.

What is the Difference Between a T1 and Comcast Coax? How to Find the Right Internet Connection for Your Business

Internet is internet, right? Not at all. We are presented so many options as businesses from Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), but it’s hard to figure out which solution is the best fit for my business.

Take the time to understand and weigh Internet connection options and services to keep business activities focused and on-task, for the long term. Let’s have a look at a couple of popular Internet service options that will keep your company up and running.

T1 LineT1 Cable

The T-carrier system was introduced in the 1960s by the telephone service company, the Bell System, and was the first to support digital voice transmission. The T1 line, part of the T-carrier system, was the original. T1 lines are used today by ISP’s to support businesses that need reliable and low latency online connection.

A T1 line for a business simply means that the phone company has installed a fiber optic line (sometimes it is copper) into the office that is connected directly to the phone company’s central office, then to an ISP. These lines are dedicated and not shared by other users, making them very reliable. T1 lines can be used to transmit 24 digitized voice channels (when connected to an office phone system) or carry 1.544 million bits per second (Mbps) of data (when plugged into the office network router).

Some companies require more than one T1 line. If this is the case, T1 lines are bonded, and the connection speed is increased by 1.544Mbps for each line added. One T1 line is a good fit for small companies with very low Internet needs.

While T1 lines provide excellent reliability, they are typically the most expensive option for Internet connectivity. Pricing depends on the distance from the phone company central office. Monthly costs vary by provider and, as the T1 line also connects to a web server, the fee includes both phone company charges and the fee the ISP charges.

For companies that can’t afford to have an unreliable Internet connection, a T1 line offers Internet access that is “always on”. While the service may be costlier, it can quickly pay for itself in a matter of time. Productivity increases can also be realized due to the uptime of the services.

A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is available that guarantees bandwidth, performance uptime and reliability, latency, and service time to repair should the service go down.

Comcast Business CoaxCoaxCable

Leveraging the existing residential cable TV network, Comcast business-class cable services were introduced in 2006 and initially targeted at small business owners. Comcast business uses the current broadband cable network to deliver Internet access.

This type of broadband cable for businesses requires a cable modem, which can either be leased or purchased depending on the agreement with Comcast. Because the Internet service uses an existing network of cables, the bandwidth is shared among all subscribers. A high number of users could cause connections to be slower as all users are being accommodated by the same system.

A coax cable connection through a provider like Comcast or Time Warner will easily be ten times faster than a T1 line. The best way to understand this is to imagine a very fat, leaky pipe. For things like streaming video or moving large files over the internet, Comcast excels because with TCP/IP, there is an accuracy check that goes with the data. For services such as VOIP, high ‘noise’ or packet loss can cause call quality issues over the line. Phone calls do not require high bandwidth, but they do require low latency.

Service levels are also a consideration when evaluating Comcast business options. Generally speaking, there is no SLA for cable business services simply because the system is shared with other subscribers. Therefore, there is some risk, as a company receives no guarantee of performance or time to repair should there be issues or disruptions.

Because companies are dealing with the community cable company, which is also servicing residence subscribers, there may be some frustration in support needs. This can be a critical issue for businesses that must rely on Internet access and online performance every day, hour, and minute.

Generally speaking, the cost is typically lower than for a T1 line because the equipment, cables, installation, and overall costs are usually relatively inexpensive. The cost depends, however, on service area and the amount of work required for install.

When evaluating the best Internet service for your business, consider which is the dominant business issue for your company: losing Internet connection would be costly to your business or budgets are tight, and Internet speeds or connections aren’t a concern to your company. Identifying the priority may help you determine the best route. Ideally, a business would have a T1 and a Coax connection run into a firewall for failover redundancy. This allows the phone traffic to go over the T1 and the data traffic to run over the Coax. The firewall acts as the ‘traffic cop’ to manage this. If one of the services goes out, the device will switch over to the failover.

We help Boulder and Denver companies, every day, determine the best Internet connection option and service that is right for them to grow. If you need advice on the best for your business, contact us!

How to Choose the Right IT Service Provider

Selecting the right IT service is essential to business success, as it streamlines operations considerably. IT service management is defined as applying technical and business expertise to help organizations create, manage, optimize, and access relevant information and business processes. These services are usually outsourced, hence the issue of finding the right provider for your business needs.

So what does it take to choose the right IT service provider?

First: Knowing What to Look For

ball-862119_1280The first step in selecting any service provider for your business, whether it be an IT services company or any other provider, is to know what you’re looking for. Such criteria of course include verifiable competence, experience and track record, reliability and punctuality, and adherence to industry standard rates (i.e. won’t surprise you with outrageous invoices). You want a provider with talent, training, and experience to take care of your business needs, especially when it comes to IT!

Some of the most important areas to consider when selecting an IT services company include: IT certifications and experience, payment terms, IT product repair capabilities, and availability/bandwidth. Following are some important questions to ask when choosing the best IT company.

Certifications and Experience

When it comes to IT certifications, there are any number of different products, services, and training levels an IT professional can be certified in. Generally, the more, the better. But at the very least, some of the key certifications that contain industry standard best practices would be: Project Management Professional (PMP), Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCSP), CompTIA A+, and Certified Systems Information Auditor (CSIA). It would also serve to know how long the IT provider has been in business, get a list of companies they’ve worked with, and receive any references to organizations with similar equipment and needs to your own.

Flexibility and Payment

If you’re satisfied with the IT company’s level of expertise, the next step is to determine the company’s flexibility and what you’re going to get for what you’re paying. Does the IT provider offer block hour arrangements that provide a certain amount of work per month for a fixed price? Will the provider fix something that’s broken for an hourly rate? How about service agreements that detail exactly what the provider will do for you every month in terms of maintenance and repairs?

The goal is to find a provider who offers clear terms of service and billing, and aligns with your own business’ values and financial capacity.

Requesting Service and Product Repairs

Fixing broken equipment is one of the IT provider’s hallmark services, so it’s very important to go over what your potential provider’s repair services entail. Are you required to call the provider? Send them emails? Is there an online client portal that allows you to request help as needed?. Additionally, do they have a general time frame with regards to repair turnaround, and does that vary based on the type of repair? If so, what are the standard repair timelines per product or service? Do they specialize in particular repairs, whether it be hardware, software, cloud services, etc., or are they generally proficient across the board? It’s also recommended that you ask how the provider handles service requests internally to give you a much better idea of how it operates and the most efficient method of communicating a service request.

An Ounce Of Prevention

Repairs aren’t the only IT provider cornerstone—preventative measures are just as important. Remote monitoring and access are two trending services IT providers offer, with some providing monitoring by the hour or even minute. This means the provider is instantly notified of an issue and will rectify the issue before it becomes a major problem. It’s therefore important to determine if the provider you’re considering offers these services, and if remote monitoring software is compatible with your system. It’s also important to inquire as to whether the provider has the bandwidth to service your company properly, and how fully utilized the provider’s team is…or is not.

Additional Tips

Finding the right IT provider also means inquiring about how quickly they can dispatch help, especially in the event of an IT emergency. Making sure an IT service provider can meet your company’s needs at the right price and within the right timeframe is key.

Does Your Business Need a Server? 3 Reasons Your Business Should Upgrade (or not) to Getting an In-House Server

It is more common than ever for offices — especially for larger companies — to possess two different types of computers: a computer on which individuals perform their daily tasks and one centralized computer that stores the resources all other computers on the network can access. The second type of computer is known as a server, and its function is to hold the information that’s on all of the computers, allow and deny access of various files to appropriate parties, as well as to provide a high level of security for the company’s information. While servers are regarded as a must for most businesses, does yours need one? If you think it does, is an in-house server the way to go?

Consider these three reasons as to why you should or shouldn’t upgrade to an in-house server:

1.     The Expense of In-House Serverskeyboard-254582_640

Servers can be costly, depending on which you decide to go with. It’s no secret that larger companies are more likely to have in-house servers than smaller ones. In-house servers often mean investing in expensive equipment and upgrades, as well as office space to store the server. Professionals generally need to be called in to maintain the equipment, or if your business has an IT department, problematic servers can monopolize valuable time best spent on other projects. For this reason, many companies are switching over to Cloud-based servers, which don’t require any physical equipment, but rather just payment for a service subscription. Plus, employers with a number of telecommuters also appreciate the ease with which their employees can access all materials from wherever they are, as long as there’s an established online connection.

2.     How Much Control Do You Want?iphone-macbook-air-man-162

When your server is located in-house, you have complete control over it. While Cloud-based services are known for being secure, some businesses may feel more comfortable having their server in a place they can physically access and safeguard in a way that makes the most sense for their company (there are a few ways to go about this).

3.     Dealing with Crashes and Downtime5528275910_8a11c076d8_o

We’ve all been through it: You’re working on a document, and the computer freezes. You go to restart it, and it shuts off but doesn’t turn on again. You take it in to be repaired, and hope and pray for a good outcome. Alas, all of your documents, including the one you were just working on, are gone forever. What a nightmare. One of the central ideas behind having a server is that all of your saved documents are backed up, all of the time. Thus, when your computer goes down, all hope is not lost.

At iSupportU, our team often recommends clients adopt a cloud-based approach. However, in cases where in-house servers are more fitting, we highly recommend working with such systems as a Network Attached Storage Device (NAS), Windows, and Mac OS X servers, which are simple and easily customizable. Either way, though, having a server is likely to save you both headache and heartache in the long run, even if you’re the only person accessing it. It will safeguard your files, making sharing easier across devices, and securely store information for the whole company. If you’re not sure whether a server — or which server — is suitable for your company, contact iSupportU. We’re here to help!

Moving On From Windows XP

If you haven’t already, you should seriously consider making the move away from Windows XP because in case you haven’t heard: Microsoft has stopped providing support for the operating system. Not only does this make your business’s computers much more vulnerable to viruses and spyware, but the lack of support automatically puts you behind the curve in both the personal and professional business setting.

We’ve done some internal and external research on the importance of moving away from Windows XP Here are a few tips we’ve compiled.

Before you make the switch:

  1. Download the final XP update that was issued on April 8th 2014.
  2. Make sure your anit-virus and anti-malware are up to date.
    • Microsoft has agreed to provide anti-malware updates to Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP until 2015.
    • You might have to uninstall and reinstall your current software to ensure that you have the latest version.
    • iSU recommends using one or more of the following programs: Kapersky, WebRoot, Avast! or AVG. Read more about our recommendations here.
  3. Use a secure and updated internet browser. We recommend Firefox or Chrome, especially since they are supporting Windows XP until 2015.

Making the Switch:

  1. windows XP RIPChoose a new operating system. And along with that, make sure your machine is new enough to support a secure and efficient OS. If not, you might want to consider upgrading your entire machine…and that’s a whole different ball game we won’t get into right now.
  2. Back-Up Your Data: It should go without saying that you should be doing this on a regular basis but at this time backing up your data is probably the most important step in the entire process.
  3. Migrate and Begin the Upgrade: there are several ways to go about doing this:
    • With plenty of DIY programs out there to choose from, migrating the data yourself is pretty easy to do. Some of the available options are: PC Mover Express, XP Migration with HP and Windows Migration Assistant
    • Microsoft has kindly provided a tutorial online for anyone looking to upgrade to Windows 7.
    • If you don’t feel comfortable taking this task on alone, another option is to switch to OSX by taking your Mac into the Genius Bar and having them help you out.

We know making a tech upgrade like this can be pretty scary unless you are savvy with these kinds of things but we cannot stress enough how important it is to adapt and change as technology does. Resisting these changes can put you and your business at a huge risk to hackers. Windows XP is now the most targeted operating system out there yet it’s still commonly used everywhere – every hacker knows this.

For more information on the demise of Windows XP and how to stay ahead of the game, check out these articles:

Why You Should Ditch Windows XP Now

Windows XP Isn’t Safe to Use Anymore