Unified Technology Blog

Email Etiquette For The Workplace

on June 25, 2019 No comments

With the popularity of texting/Facebook Messaging/Slack…email is no longer regarded as an essential tool for online communication among millennials. Most of us probably use our personal inboxes more as a way to collect Uber receipts and track the status of our Amazon purchases than for keeping in touch with friends and family.

Even though it’s used less in our personal lives, whether we like it or not, emails are a part of business. The issue with email comes as you get more and more inundated with email messages. At some point, you want to do everything you can to ensure that your important emails get read. One method you can use on your own outgoing emails is to adopt some best practices for professional email etiquette. From a professional email greeting to professional email format, it can all make a big difference.I have listed below some best practices for business email etiquette tips that will increase the odds of your emails being read rather than trashed..

1. Use a professional email address
Most companies provide a professional email address for their employee’s correspondence. Proper email etiquette calls for sending emails from your business email address rather than from a personal email address. Using a personal email address for business purposes can be seen as unprofessional by some, especially if you’re discussing confidential matters.

2. Use clear and precise subject lines
To ensure your email gets opened, read, and thoroughly understood, start with a short and precise subject line addressing the issue at hand. Ex. “Wednesday Meeting Agenda”. You should title your email in such a way that the recipient immediately knows what the message is actually about.

3. Avoid “reply all.”
It’s usually a good idea to forego the temptation to hit the “reply all” option when sending professional emails. Proper email etiquette aside, it can be quite annoying for people to be included in a group email if the content of the message has nothing to do with them. So be considerate and hit “reply all” only if the message would be of interest to all of the recipients. Otherwise, your email might be considered spam.

4. Acknowledge emails.
With business email, even if you are too busy to reply with a full on answer, it’s always a good idea to at least send an acknowledgment and follow up later.  You should not only acknowledge all emails but also do so in a timely fashion. Since this is not always standard practice, you’ll be surprised at how much your professionalism can set you apart.

Remember to keep these tips in mind next time you open up your inbox at work and in no time you’ll be an email expert!

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Your IT GuyEmail Etiquette For The Workplace

Task Batching For Maximum Focus

on June 18, 2019 No comments

We’ve all heard the phrase, work smarter not harder. We have also heard umpteen experts telling how to schedule our day and get the most work done during our workday but we rarely hear about batch scheduling our tasks for efficiency.

Task-batching is very similar to time blocking but takes the method a giant, more efficient step further.

Batching involves completing similar tasks in a scheduled block, avoiding the need for switching back and forth between skills and concentrations.

Research shows that task switching is hugely detrimental to productivity. When we change our focus, it can take, on average, 15-23 minutes for your brain to “catch up” and re-focus.

Depending on how many different types of tasks you have on your to-do list, that can really add up, leading to a tremendous amount of lost or otherwise wasted time.

For example, every Monday you might plan out your Facebook or Instagram feed for at least a week. So instead of thinking of something to post every morning, you only have to think about it once per week (and then  you don’t have to think about it again until next week!)

It works well because it keeps you focused on the task at hand. This can significantly lessen your struggle to think of things to post and it would take so much more time editing the posts day by day. But because you do them all at once, your attention is completely focused to easily create a week’s worth of content in an hour, for example.

This method is really the best way to make the most of your time.

Think of it like this. Your brain is like a computer with at least 30 tabs open and your brain is just jumping back and forth between ideas. But when you focus primarily on one task instead of 20 minutes on blogging, 30 minutes on Twitter, you get the point. You can focus and keep on task like never before.

Scheduling and batching is the best use of your time and will help you get so much more done! More time = more money.

How does your workweek look? Let me know in the comments if you have a similar structure to me, or if you have any other time-saving, productivity ideas!

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Why Strong, Unique Passwords Matter.

on June 12, 2019 No comments

Strong password policies have come a long way. How many people remember the 1995 movie Hackers. It had a very young short haired Angelina Jolie in it but the point was the entire mess started with one of the hackers being able to access files that should have been secure. All because the executive with the company had his password as “god”.

Fact: Every extra character in your password increases the difficulty for hackers to crack it.
The most commonly used password is…123456.

And it’s closely followed by just as insecure passwords like “password”, “welcome”, and “12345″.

Think one extra letter or number doesn’t mean much? Consider this:

A 6-character password with only letters has 308,915,776 possible combinations.
An 8-character password with only letters has 208,827,064,576 possible combinations.
An 8-character password with letters (upper & lower case) and includes numbers and symbols has 6,095,689,385,410,816 possible combinations.

Creating a strong password policy is key to helping users safeguard these critical systems they rely on every day. While additional complexity can seem like an inconvenience to many users, it shouldn’t prevent a strong password policy being implemented in your organization.

Now that you’ve come up with the strongest password possible, it’s time to absorb some principles of good password security practice in daily life:

  • Never disclose usernames and passwords to third parties
  • Never store usernames and passwords on paper or in an unencrypted computer file
  • Update your account password at least every 6 months
  • Do not use passwords that have been used in the past
  • Never provide credentials when requested through email
  • Run regular virus scans on your computer
  • Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). With 2FA, you will receive a text message for login and password reset requests. You may choose between SMS, OneTouch, and TOTP (Time-Based One-Time Password) 2FA authentication.

If you have to share a password, use a site like a one-time secret. This site creates a link to a page with your password info (or whatever info you choose), and once the page is viewed once, it is gone forever.
Don’t save passwords or use “remember me” on public computers

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Your IT GuyWhy Strong, Unique Passwords Matter.

Windows Support Ends for Windows 7 & 8

on June 3, 2019 No comments

Windows Support Ends for Windows 7 & 8, in fact, it actually ended a while ago.

What does that mean to you? If you simply can not bear to learn Windows 10, I am here to tell you, in the most gentle way possible, that it’s time to get over it.

Windows 10 can be made to look more like Windows 7 or 8, and if you are like most end users, the software is not a radical change from previous Windows versions.

What it has changed is the level of protection it offers from the slew of new viruses and malware that crop up out in the world. If you don’t update your software and your servers with the latest version of operating systems, you are asking for trouble, plain and simple. We understand that man of the features other than virus and malware protection, are not ones you might be using if you aren’t working on a tablet or a touch screen computer.  But all the same, you need to make the change.

If you think we are being alarmists, you have decided to take your chances and not upgrade to Windows 10, just  take a look at what the Microsoft support page has to say:

An unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These updates include security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal your personal information. Windows Update also installs the latest software updates to improve the reliability of Windows—such as new drivers for your hardware.

Will I still be able to use Windows after support ends?

Yes. If you continue to use an unsupported version of Windows, your PC will still work, but it will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Your PC will continue to start and run, but you will no longer receive software updates, including security updates, from Microsoft.

For full details about the support policy, see the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ.”

We are happy to help you upgrade your software with you. Call us at Unified Technology Solutions for an appointment.

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Your IT GuyWindows Support Ends for Windows 7 & 8

Why Move Your Data To The Cloud?

on May 22, 2019 No comments

Why are so many businesses moving to the cloud? It’s because cloud computing increases efficiency, helps improve cash flow and offers many more benefits.

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Your IT GuyWhy Move Your Data To The Cloud?

Windows 7 and 8 Support Are Going Away Soon But..

on May 16, 2019 No comments

Most of the companies we work with have now embraced the Windows 10 operating system, but there are some who, just like with Windows XP, are just not willing to upgrade to the new operating system.

There are some writers out there in the world who would say,” Why do users get so attached to a specific operating system and refuse to change”? 

I can only give you my opinion, and it’s a straight forward one. Business owners and employees, for the most part, aren’t all that interested in new, fancy features within an operating system. They just don’t care all that much.

What they want and need is a reliable operating system, upon which they can safely and securely operate the software programs they need in order to fun their business. Period. Learning how to navigate a new operating system just takes time away from the job they are being paid to do, which is to keep their employer happy, or keep their employees working, and to make a profit. Plain and simple.

 
 

Well, as of January 14, 2020, that decision to stick with the operating system they know and understand will be taken out of their hands. For users other than those in certain environments, support for Windows 7 is going away, for good. Why? I came across an explanation at PC Magazine, that explains the reasoning.

“Support for Windows 7 is set to end on Jan 14. 2020, but access to Windows updates may end in March if you don’t allow your Windows 7 machines to download and install Microsoft’s next patch.

As MSPoweruser reports, Microsoft needs to ensure that the operating system updates end users receive haven’t been tampered with. It does this using SHA-1and SHA-2 hash algorithms to authenticate the updates. The problem is, the SHA-1 algorithm has a weakness and can no longer be relied upon.

As Windows 7 SP1, Windows 2008 SP1, and SP2 all rely on SHA-1 encryption, they need updating with support for SHA-2 as future Windows updates will require it. So next month Microsoft is rolling out an update to add support for SHA-2 encryption for its oldest supported operating systems. If you’re a Windows 7 user and don’t install this critical update, wave goodbye to any future Windows patches.”

The update that is referred to went out in March, so if you didn’t get the memo, you are out of luck. It’s time to get on the bandwagon and prepare your systems and personnel for Windows 10.

Unified Technology Solutions is prepared to get things installed and up and running smoothly for you over the next six months. Please, don’t wait until the last minute to build your install schedule. That’s when things can go wrong. It’s best to build a plan and prepare now.

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Your IT GuyWindows 7 and 8 Support Are Going Away Soon But..

Upgrade Your Computer Network

on April 30, 2019 No comments

 

Network Diagram, it solutions for companies, vero beach IT support for networks, VOIP support for companies, non-profit it support,Your business has outgrown your current computer systems. Now’s time to upgrade your entire office and network. Because the network affects everyone, targeted communications must detail the impact of the upgrade. Understanding how end users access and leverage the network for their specific job role is important when explaining how an upgrade will impact their duties both during the maintenance window and after the upgrade is complete.

Determine a rollout strategy

A rollout strategy should finely balance the speed of deployment with the risk of making mistakes that bring down the network. Your goal should be to find the optimal comfort level for the organization such that the upgrade can be performed in a reasonable amount of time without taking any major risks. Unified Technology Solutions is experienced in building just such a strategy for companies.

Have a back-out strategy

Just as the rollout plan is critically important, so too is a back-out strategy. Spend just as much time figuring out a back-out strategy as you do an implementation strategy. Even though you might not ever need it, you’ll be very happy you spent the time and effort in the event you do.

Train support staff

The same people who design, architect, and deploy the new network upgrade may not be the same people supporting it once it goes into production. This is especially true if you work for a large organization or hire outside consultants to handle the upgrade. Proper training is critical to the care and maintenance of a network upgrade from day one and beyond.

Document, document, document!

The step that is most often skipped over – yet is absolutely critical to the success of a network — is to thoroughly document the upgrade, how the new technology works, and how to maintain it once it’s in production. Documentation should also be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. A network upgrade that includes detailed documentation is far more likely to be considered successful when support staffers have the information they can refer to for help.

Just remember that proper planning, communication, and training can help ensure a successful network upgrade. If you don’t have an IT Department of your own, or even if you do, we can work with you to put a comprehensive upgrade plan together and it can make a systems upgrade much less painful.

Give us a call

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Beware The Botnets!

on April 12, 2019 Comments Off on Beware The Botnets!

Have you ever heard of Botnets? It sounds a little like the name for some cute cartoon one might see on Cartoon Network, but it’s not.

What is Botnet? According to Wikipedia: ” A botnet is a number of Internet-connected devices, each of which is running one or more bots. Botnets can be used to perform distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack), steal data, send spam, and allows the attacker to access the device and its connection. “

Why do you need to know about Botnets? Because, your system could be a part of a Botnet. Those crafty Botnet builders slink around infecting multiple devices with their Botnet viruses, and then they use them.

I found out about Botnets from this post on the AVG Website. This is an excerpt from a post they wrote about online threats we should all be watching out for this year.

“2. Botnets

The one for megalomaniacs

Simply put, this is when a hacker creates nasty malware that enslaves thousands upon thousands of smart devices (your PC included) in order to get the processing power to do some greater evil. What you probably didn’t know: you might not even notice.

What does being part of a botnet do?

Make your PC run slower. Give you other types of malware. Make you feel ashamed: normally it comes with spyware or ransomware. But the wider picture: your PC could be unknowingly working to attack websites or networks, steal passwords, social security numbers, credit card details, addresses and phone numbers of innocent people around the world. Eeek.

Prepare yourself in 2019

In 2016, botnets made up 33% of all detected malware. In 2018, botnets made up 78%! Not surprising when you think about all the new IoT stuff we’re making every year. But here’s what you do: first, update your devices passwords and use anti-malware to regularly check for infections. Second, search for your IP address in a specific attack if you’re suspicious (here’s a page), and third, use a free network analysis tool such as Wireshark or Snort to monitor your Internet traffic for unusual activity.”

If you systems are running slower than usual, it may be time to have us come in and take a look. We can run some of the most effective software tools to check your servers and your network to make sure its free and clear of viruses.

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Let Unified Technology Solutions Help

on April 4, 2019 No comments

It’s your company. It has your name on the door and your reputation is on the line if things don’t go well. We understand that. But trying to do everything yourself just doesn’t always work. Let us help.

Here in America, we take pride in self reliance. It’s important that we be able to wear many hats and take care of things ourselves. But is that really the best way to do things? Is it the most effective way to run your business? Probably not.

You spend countless hours educating yourself and working with your staff on the things you need to know to be the best you can be in your area of business. How can you also devote the time and resources it would take to be an expert in Information Technology, software and hardware?

We at Unified Technology Solutions can take over that part of your business for you. It’ doesn’t mean that you should stop learning about new advances in technology, it just means that you can trust us to resolve your tech issues so that you can work on your business.

Servers, Cloud storage and back up, internet security, preventing malware attacks and recovering from hardware crashes, that’s what we do. We also have help desk services for when your people encounter a software or hardware problem. Some issues require us to be on site, but there are also issues we can solve by logging in remotely and diagnosing the problem right from our offices.

Give us a call at : 772.539.7667 to set up an appointment for us to come and learn more about your operation and you to learn more about our services.

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