Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

How Often Should You Upgrade Your Smartphone?

Nowadays, the smartphone serves so many functions for both personal and business needs that it’s hard not to become dependent on one to navigate through life. Sometimes this dependence becomes an issue, though, as technology advances so quickly that it can be hard to keep up with new systems and devices. When your smartphone becomes antiquated, you’ll find applications crashing more often, software updates won’t be compatible with your system, and you may not even be able to download new applications. So the question is, how often do you need to upgrade your smartphone?

Even though millions of Americans stormed Apple retail outlets September 2014 to purchase the newly released iPhone 6, statistics reported by Yahoo!’s Tech Columnist Rob Pegoraro show that the majority of Americans don’t actually purchase a new phone all that often — they’re actually buying phones less frequently than in previous years. In 2007, the average upgrade cycle for every type of phone — including simpler models than smartphones — was about every 19 months, whereas 2013’s average upgrade occurred about every 23 months.

Four Generations of iPhone: Original + 3G + 4 + 5

Four Generations of iPhone: Original + 3G + 4 + 5

Smartphones are pricey, and it can become overwhelming when you finally upgrade your phone just to learn another version will be released a few months later.  If you pride yourself on having the newest technology in your possession, carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon offer frequent phone upgrade plans that allow you to purchase a new phone for less money, at regular intervals. To help keep you current and ease the financial burden, they also have monthly payment plans that allow you to pay off the cost of a new phone over time, so that you don’t have to shell out $600 all at once. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.

Distinguishing Between Your Smartphone Wants & Needs

It’s important to assess what you, as an individual, really need in a smartphone before investing in an upgrade. Even though technology seems to be improving at rapid speed, when you compare one smartphone with the model just before it, not too much typically improves. Generally, tweaking occurs in aesthetics — font sizes and styles might change, along with the overall size, color, and features of the phone. The quality of pictures and security features also tend to get bumped up a notch.

If you’re satisfied with your current phone, these aren’t really sufficient reasons to lay down hundreds of dollars on a new model. If you’re just looking for a phone you can use for jotting down notes, taking pictures, making phone calls and texting, surfing the Internet, and playing a few games, there’s no need to upgrade your smartphone for years.

At a certain point, though, the world will outgrow your device, and your smartphone will no longer be so “smart.” You won’t be able to perform software updates on it or download new applications. And, if you’re looking to buy accessories for them, such as fitness armbands or chargers, they might be harder to come by. Especially if you use your phone for business, as well as for personal reasons, it might behoove you to upgrade more often so that you will always be up to date with your operating system and to ensure everything is always running smoothly.

It’s always nice to have the newest smartphone and latest technology in the palm of your hand, but for a device so expensive, you might want to upgrade at the pace of the average American: every 2 years.  When you do upgrade your smartphone, it’s important to recycle your old device.

Worldwide, hundreds of millions of outdated smartphones are sent to landfills where their toxic metals leach into the soil and water, and hundreds of pounds of precious metals used in those smartphones are wasted. In fact, the EPA estimates that for every million smartphone devices that are committed to landfills, “35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.” To properly recycle your old smartphones, drop them off at EcoCycle‘s Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) facility.

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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

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Protect Your Personal Electronics

In light of the mass amounts of damage the Boulder flood caused to residents’ personal property, more than ever iSupportU encourages our clients to protect their personal electronics. Protecting your laptops, desktops, tablets and any other expensive devices you may have in your home is easier than you think. Learn more about the options available and how to be prepared in case of damaged or stolen property.

  •  geico logoHomeowners/Renters Insurance: Most insurance companies provide protection for personal property. Depending on the company and insurance plan, available options may include actual cash value according to the market, replacement cost and allstate logoother coverage based on the items you would like to insure. This coverage may be different from flood insurance so do your research. Renters Insurance is another easy option and provides flexibility for all ranges of property worth. Start by calling your insurance agent.
  • american-expressAmerican Express: Using your credit card for purchases made on electronics provides you with Purchase Protection and the option for Extended Warranty Coverage. On a base level, this worldwide coverage allows protection from theft and damage for up to 90 days after a purchase is made with the card for up to $1,000 in costs. Upgrading to a Platinum level or beyond adds a greater coverage amount and the Extended Warranty option will add an addition year onto manufacture warranties. Learn more on the American Express website.  
  • square trade logoSquareTrade: A company dedicated to personal property protection plans, SquareTrade offers support for iPads, iPhones, Laptops, Tablets, SmartPhones, Cameras and Televisions. Each category breaks down into specific brands and devices to create a unique protection plan for every situation. Visit their website for more info and to get quotes on protecting your electronics.

Contact iSupportU with questions or concerns on computer support services or iPhone repair. We are always here to assist our clients with personal or business IT services.

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The Cloud: Business Continuity

As part of our Business IT Support Services, iSupportU implements cloud services solutions for our clients and within our own office. In addition to many other benefits, cloud computing solutions provide fluid business continuity specifically through our accounting and payroll services and CRM services. VirTerrus, iSU’s cloud computing services partner, helps us to create a balanced and cohesive work environment for our clients. Learn more about the benefits of cloud computing services:

Business Continuity

Encapsulates the idea that workers have uninterrupted access to the data and applications their productivity depends upon. The same virtualized infrastructure that enables workplace flexibility or WorkSurfing also provides a highly effective foundation for maintaining business continuity through disruptions of all kinds – planned and unplanned:

  • cloud-service-austin-txRoutine system maintenance
  • Power failures
  • Critical system outages
  • Seasonal illnesses
  • More serious situations such as natural disasters –
    flash floods, fires, tornadoes, blizzards, earthquakes, etc.

Given the potential a disruption has to substantially impact a company’s bottom line, due to diminished productivity, lost revenue, missed opportunities, failure to meet service level agreements and customer defections… It’s no wonder that business continuity is the number one reason to virtualize your apps and desktops.

Business Continuity planning has most recently focused on failover and disaster recovery for the datacenter. However, this is only part of the solution. Employees need access to:

  • Files
  • Applications
  • Data
  • Communication and collaboration tools

VirTerrus and iSupportU

Business continuity solutions offer applications at your fingertips, safe access to business assets, mobile device management, Windows app and desktop virtualization, file sharing, collaboration, remote support, and datacenter automation and recovery. This provides Business Continuity that is stress-free and reliable. 

  •  Disaster preparedness – streamline Business Continuity by taking advantage of
    virtual technology and numerous devices, eliminating the need for separate business continuity access tools and infrastructure
  •  Ensure the accessibility of IT services through
    swift, automated datacenter failover, load balancing, and monitoring capabilities
  • Deliver employees continuous access to their apps, data and collaboration tools during any kind of business interruption.
  • Safeguard and control private information accessed on any device and from any location.

Contact iSupportU for a free consultation on how the cloud can help your business.

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Five Tips to Consider When Moving or Opening a New Office

Our business team is constantly working on new network build-outs for clients who are either moving their offices to a new location or opening up an entirely new business. Business IT Services Director and project manager, Christina Savage, has learned a lot about this over the years. Here, she compiled five tips to consider when opening up a new business or moving to a new space.

  • Internet Service Provider (ISP) and Telco Options: This is the number one factor that goes overlooked. Before you sign a lease, contact your sales rep and see if the ISP will service the new area. If they can, great! Make sure you place an order to move your service and pay attention to install and cutover date. Chances are, you’ll need an IT tech on the ground to change settings on the internal network. If they can’t service the new area, you’ll need to reach out to other ISPs for bids. Installation can take weeks and sometimes months, so be well-prepared! Finally, make sure your bandwidth is sufficient for the number of users you’ll have. If you’re growing your office, you’ll probably need to pay for faster service and often, a dedicated connection like a T1 if there is VoIP involved.
  • voip-officeWiring: Does the new office space have sufficient wiring? Do you have enough ethernet ports in your offices? Has the existing cabling been tested by a cabling expert? Wiring is the backbone of your network infrastructure, so this is key!
  • Networking Needs: Do you need your employees to have VPN access? How about wireless connectivity? Do you need to have a guest network for your customers and visitors? This needs to be factored into the network design and will probably require new hardware. For example, if you’re moving into a much larger space, you’ll probably need an additional wireless access point (WAP) or two.
  • Desktop/end-user setup: Once you’re all moved in, will your employees need help setting up their computers to print or scan? Do you have a server to move in? How about specialized databases that end-users need access to? 
  • Project Management: Do you have an employee who will be in charge of managing this move and all of the vendors involved? Will they help coordinate and understand the technical needs enough to ensure that your office will open on time? At iSupportU provide full service IT consulting, so you’ll have a dedicated project manager who can take care of these details for you.

If you’re considering an office move or getting ready to open up a new business, give us a call! We’ll discuss your options and help you get going!