IT Information

Chichester | Hampshire | Sussex

Have you thought about virtualisation? 

The process of making several types of hardware, such as servers and desktop PC's non - physical.

Data Backup Best Practices

Celebrated to remind everyone about the importance of protecting data and keeping your systems secure. ABM have insisted since conception that all of the businesses we support invest in a secure data backup. Now more than ever, protecting data is paramount. The cost involved with data breaches, and losing data far outweigh the initial investment for backups. If you do not have a solution ABM can provide you with options, taking into consideration how your business functions and the budget you have available. (An important note: just because your data is stored in the cloud, does not mean you do not need a backup. Your supplier likely stipulates in your agreement that your data is your own responsibility.)

Best practices for a backup solution:

All data has a backup 

Operates to a schedule

Tested and monitored regularly

The most important data is allocated priority

Kept offsite or away from typical working environment

A policy is created to advise trusted individuals about the backup procedure

Setting Outlook Parameters

When searching for an email, Outlook doesn't always show up with the best results. Setting up parameters may assist you in finding that 'lost' email. 

10 pointers for choosing a laptop

Your business laptop purchasing decisions are important, we can help you to get it right first time through assessing these 10 bullet points.

What could an IT consultancy meeting do for your business?

'Whether the meeting be via call, email, video or in person, carving time out of your day to discuss your business expansion, new business venture, project management or system audit allows you to delegate some of the responsibility, and gain expert advice on the most efficient step forward for your IT infrastructure.' - Anthony Moignard ABM's Director

Benefits of a FREE IT consultancy meeting with ABM

Free up your time for other tasks

Highlight a trajectory for your projects or goals

Allow you access to expert IT advice

Clear a path and make the seemingly impossible, possible 

Create a more focused road map to success

Give you information on how to budget for your next business stage

Allow you a window into the future (future proofing is important)

Access the practicality part of your dream 

Business connection created even if you decide not to go ahead 

Common IT mistakes with offices

Internet capabilities - The most important questions to ask are: Does the building have an efficient broadband infrastructure? i.e. leased line fibre-to-the-cabinet, or fibre-to-the-premises? What are the internet speeds, upload and download speed? 

Networking infrastructure - The main issue we often find is that there is never enough network port allowance allocated. Having network ports for PC's and phones for each employee is important, and then do not forget an allowance for growth AND for any other devices you may have, for example printers, Wi-Fi access points, CCTV cameras, LED displays or Smart TV's. In a new build this is relatively simple because you can request this in your project details, however for established offices, further work may be required to ensure the office space works for your requirements. This leads us onto the cabling of a building. Recently we have found electricians have been advertising the capability to run network cables alongside their mainstream work. This is great if they have trained and have an understanding of IT, but if they don't, then the 'cost saving' will be lost to an IT company rectifying the situation. You see, asking an electrician to run cables for your networking infrastructure is like asking them to complete the plumbing. Too many times we find network cables have not been numbered, which long story short, means going round, establishing which cable is which, and then checking if each are wired correctly; if we have a faulty test show up, we then can not easily establish where each end of the cable starts and finishes, which extends the whole process. Electricians also cable network cables like they are your typical electrical cables, which basically means the slack they leave to allow endplate and patching connectivity is often too little for network requirements. All of these factors add additional charges to the budget. 

Building pointers - When you first research and visit an office here are a few IT specific pointers to add to your list: If you have a server, do you have a secure, ventilated room (potentially with A/C capabilities) that you can lock your server away in? You want your server cabinet to have limited accessibility and for noise purposes be away from all employees. Are there enough networking ports and plug sockets for all of your employees and future proofing for more? Does the office have CCTV, if not is this something you will require? (If so, is the building listed, or abnormally tall? Because this will make CCTV more difficult to install) Is the building single-occupancy or shared? You need to think about your data protection situation and adjust your IT security for this.  

Benefits of an efficient phone system

Cloud based telephony solution with no onsite server hardware

Handsets can plug into a network anywhere in the world for remote workers

Rent handsets at an extremely cost effective rate

Scalable for every size business by increasing licensing

Can create professional messaging and call routing

Mobile app allows you to operate anywhere in the world (subject to WiFi or 4G)

User benefits of an efficient phone system

Programable to park calls, hold music and voicemail management

Creates personable working environment

Take a call on speaker or headsets

Do not disturb and mute settings available

Higher efficiency calls and quality sound to enable clearer conversations

Adaptable to your company structure

Transfer calls to colleagues with transfer options

End of life: Windows Server 2012 R2

Microsoft are ending support and critical security fixes. October 10th 2023 is the cut off date. Start budgeting for an alternative solution.

Our server upgrade process

When anyone mentions 'server', immediately the first reaction is dread followed by, 'cost' and then 'downtime'. At ABM we have been supplying comprehensive server solutions for over 20 years. Meaning we know how to save a company money where required and how to complete a server migration with as little downtime as possible (if any at all). Here is our server upgrade process.

1

Initial Meeting

During our visit, we will complete a thorough assessment of your infrastructure and sit with you to discuss your requirements. A meeting of minds allows ABM to source a complete product, and plan for any specific eventualities, including company growth.

2

Evaluate Server

Running a diagnostic review of your server helps ABM to understand if there are any current problems with how your infrastructure is set up. It will allow us to see if we can complete a straight migration, or if we will have to start again with a fresh configuration.

3

Quote

A server should last your business for 5 years at least, and so it has to be right. A lot can happen in this time and you should never be held back by outdated or inefficient technology. This process has been fine tuned over ABM's many years in business. We will quote you our solution and answer any questions you may have. 

Helpful steps to take before calling your IT company

Many IT recovery cases are serious and should be left to professionals. However, there are several basic issues that could be remedied yourself. We don't encourage changing settings and generally trying to fix something technical. But following these simple steps can help to discount some problems and save your company some money.

1

Off and on again

Not everything can be turned off and on again. PC's and laptops are fine as long as you do a complete, safe shut down. If you can't and the PC has completely frozen, you will have to proceed to hold down the button. You can also power off routers and switches, however, this will affect everyone else in the office, so check everyone has saved and finished what they are doing. Anything else, we would recommend leaving alone. 

2

Cable check

Lots of people call and get worried because their technology doesn't turn on, or flickers. This could be because the cable is loose or has been unplugged. Please check the cables, and potentially, if using an extension lead, swap this out too. Be careful about what, and who else, is plugged in to it though.

3

Ask around

As an IT technician it is good to get a full picture of an issue. This way we can decide where we need to look and where we don't. Part of this process is checking if anyone else in your office is having issues. Ask around to see if they are experiencing the same problems.

Stop your systems from over heating 

In warmer weather you run the risk of letting your technology over heat. If you have a fantastic AC system then chances are you won't have to worry. However, here in the 'never-really-that-hot-UK' most office environments have fans cooling employees down, but leaving technology to fend for itself.

The tell-tale signs of over heating

Your technology will constantly hang and it will take a while to get your tasks completed.

If you can hear your fan making some strange sounds and running at an increased rate.

Are you experiencing systems crashes or random restarts?

Does your technology feel warm or hot to touch?

How to help your tech

If all of your technology is in an enclosed space (potentially in a server cupboard or cabinet), have the door open to allow for air circulation.

Make sure you shut down any printers, laptops and PC's at the end of the day / if not in use. It gives them the time to completely cool down.

Investing in a small air conditioning unit is a very good idea! 

Cleaning the inside of your device is very important. Dust can sit inside the machine stopping your tech from cooling itself down efficiently.
(Please get professional help when cleaning out your technology)

Dual Monitors

Why is having double, or even triple screen capability the best investment for task productivity, and what should you keep in mind? The university of Utah completed a recent study, confirming that with two monitors, task productivity increases by 25% and with three monitors 35.5%.

Multi-tasking

Lots of people find themselves doing two or even three tasks at once. Having two or three screens allows you to do this effectively, everything is open in front of you and you can switch easily between jobs. 

Productivity

Since moving to a dual screen environment my level of content output has increased massively. Not only does it improve productivity, but I find my environment much less stressful. A KPI task I originally completed in three hours, I now complete in two, with no problem. Saving an hour each week has been extremely
beneficial to work flow. 

Proactivity

You may have a job role that requires monitoring of calendar entries or incoming orders. At ABM we all have to monitor the IT support inbox for incoming issues. When you have a spare monitor you can have this in view all the time.

Distraction

Having two screens means you can view two windows open at once, your work and potentially another personal search. Many people could look like they are still working, whilst actually having another personal tab open on the other screen, to minimise when required. Some employees may not be very adept at multi-tasking and therefore the quality of their work may not be to their usual standard.

Graphics Card / Ports

Your PC requires a graphics card that will support your use of two screens. As well as ports to plug in the monitors. If you do not have this then you will encounter further costs, but truthfully most tech now has this functionality.

Costs

Depending on your choice of screen depends on the costs involved. Most likely, different job titles will require different sized monitors. The larger and higher quality the screen, the more money you will spend.
Jobs in design and video editing would obviously benefit from higher quality monitors. Whilst admin and accounts would likely not need the same expenditure.

Why have a on-premise server solution?

With Cloud technology becoming the most popular solution when moving from a Small Business Server, why would you even consider an on premise solution?

Ownership & Data

You own all of your equipment. You are not paying a rental premium. Which often can be more expensive than hardware. After a certain point the Cloud becomes a more expensive option. Large data storage costs increase monthly expenditure.

Control

You have full ownership of your data and it is local to you. It is private and as long as you take security precautions, this can't be accessed or stolen. If you have Government contracts, they might require you to have localised secure data. The majority of Cloud contracts advise that your data is your own responsibility.

Internet & Software

To have the Cloud work as intended, you will require a decent internet connection. Synchronising your data requires bandwidth. If you are in a rural location you will have to consider this. Do you use ERP or accountancy software that requires and on-premise server? If this is a key factor in your day to day running, you will have to consider an alternative solution.

Technology Forecast

While no one can be certain of what the future holds, it is clear to see that technology will continue to advance. We consistently require increased efficiency, whether this be for learning, connecting or even completing simple tasks. Technology will see growth based on this idea. 

Immersive

Businesses will offer an immersive experience for the 'try before you buy' aspect of sales. Creating a space where you truly believe you are using a product or service, likely using elevated VR.

Blockchain

At the moment many people associate blockchain with cryptocurrency. However, some large businesses have now adopted this to ensure transactions are secure, accounted for, and unalterable.

Meaningful Marketing

Businesses will have more in depth knowledge of people and where their products or services fit into a person's life. This will allow the company to know when they can capture their target audiences attention effectively. There are already very consistent marketing procedures that align so efficiently with human behaviour. Imagine further use of data to increase targeting. 

Hyper Automation

Many processes within a business still create a level of inconsistency. Automation rules out room for error. Most mundane tasks in businesses are covered by automation already. However, it is likely that larger more complex tasks will continue in a similar direction. 

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