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Need Computer Help
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I was told 2016 would be the year of the encryption virus. I'm starting to sincerely believe it. We are seeing a customer infected at least weekly and sometimes daily. The encryption virus comes in files disguised as something as simple as a PDF document or a Word document.

What is the best prevention?
• Do not click on links or attachments on emails. If you receive attachments, verify the sender and verify the attachment is from a legitimate source.
• If you doubt the sender, save the file externally and open on a non essential computer.
• Install encryption prevention software.
• Make sure you have onsite and offsite backups.
What is encryption prevention software?
CryptoPrevent is one of the leading software products on the market today to combat these viruses. Install this on every computer in your office and home networks. It is a one time license fee and well worth the cost versus the potential devastation. We can provide this software and ensure it is installed on all computers in your office or home.

How can backups be improved?
Encryption software can infect local backups very easily. We have seen businesses lose their corporate data and have their backups infected essentially leaving them with no data. With the correct local backups and a second cloud or offsite backup solution, the danger to backups can be eliminated. Please ensure you have the backups covered and that they are working effectively and correctly.

What if I get infected?
If you accidentally click on an infected attachment, shut down your computer immediately. Hold the power button continuously for 5 seconds until it powers down. Disconnect it from the network if possible at the same time. Schedule an onsite or drop off service call with us to ensure we have the infection under control immediately.

How else can I prevent this?
Forward this email to each person in your company and anyone you know who you think may be at risk. We are here to help and we are glad to meet to review whether you are prepared. Treat this seriously and ensure you are prepared.

Visit http://www.needcomputerhelp.com/individual/virus-and-malware/ to learn more about virus management.
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Katy IT Services - Need Computer Help

Need Computer Help provides IT services, managed services, helpdesk support, onsite IT support, and computer repair to customers in Katy, Sugarland, Houston, Richmond, and other areas.
Visit us at http://www.needcomputerhelp.com to learn more about us.

Need Computer Help specializes in cloud solutions for many of our commercial customers. These solutions minimize infrastructure and equipment in the office which becomes very cost effective over time with added redundancy and better reliability. Cloud systems can be accessed from anywhere an internet connection is present. Visit http://www.needcomputerhelp.com/commercial/cloud-services/ for more information on cloud services.

Many commercial customers utilize Need Computer Help for onsite services. These services can simple items such as repairing a desktop or laptop computer or more complex services such as upgrading or replacing a server, network equipment, or firewall maintenance. Visit http://www.needcomputerhelp.com/commercial/on-demand-it-services/ for more information regarding onsite services.
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Which computer should I purchase?

Today's article is not about whether to purchase a desktop or a laptop. It is also not about what size laptop or what specification. These are business requirements and personal preferences. Today, we are outlining options on whether to purchase a commercial grade computer, consumer grade computer, or a refurbished computer.

Commercial Grade Computers
In most commercial environments, we recommend commercial grade hardware. These models are offered by all major computer manufacturers. Commercial grade computers are manufactured with heavy duty parts. They are designed to run continuously given the demands of a business environment. Manufacturers generally include a 3 year next business day parts warranty. While they carry a higher initial investment, the longevity and warranty on these computers easily offsets the higher investment. The result is more up-time.

Consumer Grade Computers
For home and personal use, nothing beats a consumer grade computer. These are available at many retail stores. These computers generally have the newest features and the latest trendy appearance. For home and personal use, they will have a great lifespan. If there are problems, the warranty process is extensive but this downtime may be acceptable for home use. They can also be easily repaired at a service center.

Refurbished Computers
In many situations, a refurbished computer makes tremendous sense. These computers may be off lease from a business or a warranty return being re-sold. Refurbishment companies clean them and load a fresh operating system. Pricing is attractive compared to a new computer. For personal use and light commercial use, they are very sensible. Our one caution on a refurbished computer is lifespan and warranty. One can expect about half of the lifespan of a new computer.

Today's Analogy
If I was running a construction company with heavy equipment to transport, I would purchase new heavy duty trucks to move this equipment. If I needed a truck for personal use such as weekend outdoor activities, I would purchase a lighter duty truck with the latest bells and whistles. If I needed a truck for occasional commercial use or light personal use, I would purchase a pre-owned truck.

How do I make a good decision?
We call ourselves Need Computer Help for a reason. That was a funny if you didn't get it. We are always glad to advise you on computer purchases. We are a reseller of commercial grade computers and refurbished computers. This includes laptops, desktops, and servers.
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If you think an IT professional is expensive, consider the cost of hiring an amateur.  For many companies, data is the second most valuable asset in the business behind the intellectual property of the business.  For many individuals, data has become one of their most sentimental belongings.  Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable company to manage your computer systems is vital to success today.

How do people get into our industry?
Individuals in our industry generally either taught themselves, attended a technical school, or earned a 4 year degree in Information Systems, Computer Science, or other similar degrees.  All of these can be great paths into our industry given the technical ability and motivation to develop the necessary technical skills to succeed.

Hiring an Individual vs an IT Company
Many people hire an independent contractor or single person business and have tremendous success along with reasonable pricing.  Most individuals operating independently are very talented.  It is required to survive.  There are some shortcomings. Consider these questions.  When they are unavailable or on vacation, what is the coverage? When they get a better offer, what is the next step? When the technical issue is outside of their expertise, who do they turn to?  These are questions to be asked when considering an individual for IT services.

Hiring an IT Company vs an Individual
Others hire an IT company and also have tremendous success.  Companies must give great service to prosper in our business.  The route of a company provides greater redundancy and flexibility but again there are shortcomings. Consider these questions.  How long has the company been in business?  What is their customer retention rate?  How are their online reviews?  Do they have a key person that the company would fail without?  These are questions to be asked when considering an IT company.

You Get What You Pay For
Be weary of the least expensive option especially if it is an individual.  Are they charging enough to make a reasonable living?  If not, they probably will not be your IT person for long.  Be even more weary of an IT company not charging enough.  Are they charging enough to stay in business and prosper?  If not, they won't be around long.  At the same time, be cautious about the IT individual or company selling additional products and services that may not be needed.  Many IT people feed off of people's fears of data loss or downtime and oversell products and services.  Be careful.

How do I make a good decision?
Contact us at Need Computer Help.  Well, you know I would say that.  We will always give a free assessment to a business or individual considering their options.  Even if we are not your IT company, we are always glad to help.
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I want to start this post by saying I will rarely write a post that directly solicits business.  I try to publish posts on a topic of interest.  It is obviously a topic we can help with but I don't directly solicit business.  Today's post is about encryption prevention.

Encryption Prevention Software
Need Computer Help has become a reseller of CryptoPrevent. CryptoPrevent is a virus prevention supplement designed to prevent an encryption virus from infecting a computer or network. CryptoPrevent was originally designed to stop CryptoLocker. It has since grown to stop subsequent encryption software and ransomware. It has been featured on The Today Show, CNBC, and many online news sources.

Encryption Virus Overview
Encryption viruses generally enter through an email attachment. The attachment may appear as an invoice from a vendor so it is innocently opened. The attachment contains encryption software which quickly encrypts every single data file on the computer. If this computer is part of a network in an office with networked or mapped drives, the virus also rapidly encrypts all files on the network across the company's file system. Once these files are encrypted, there is generally no way to recover anything. All infected data is completely unusable.

Ransomware Virus Overview
Ransomware is typically an encryption virus that encrypts the files and demands the person pay a "ransom" for a key that will unencrypt the infected data. Other ransomware locks the computer and prevents the person from gaining access to it without paying the ransom. The ransomware will display a message giving instructions on how to pay online. The ransom is paid through bitcoin so it is untraceable to the person collecting the funds.

Will CryptoPrevent protect me?
In most instances, this software will stop a virus from encrypting the computer and the network. CryptoPrevent also automatically updates going forward so it will prevent future encryption viruses that have not been released yet. I say it protects in most instances as virus prevention software is never 100%. As new viruses are released, software must be updated to prevent the new viruses.

How do I install CryptoPrevent?
Contact us at Need Computer Help. Our field technicians are equipped to install this software anytime. We can also schedule a remote install or install it at our service center. Pricing is similar to antivirus software on the market. All pricing is charged per computer. Commercial customers can purchase a bulk license that covers all computers in the office environment.

About Need Computer Help
Need Computer Help provides IT services, cloud solutions, managed services, helpdesk support, onsite IT support, and computer repair to customers in The Woodlands, Conroe, Magnolia, Katy, Sugarland, The Galleria, Houston, Richmond, Spring, Tomball and other areas throughout southeast Texas. Need Computer Help is also proud to announce starting operations in Louisiana. We are current serving customers in Shreveport, Bossier City, Natchitoches, Alexandria, and other surrounding cities.
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We have watched three separate commercial customers become infected with an encryption virus this month alone.  If you are not familiar with these types of viruses, they are the most devastating of all computer viruses.

What is an encryption virus?
Encryption viruses generally enter through an email attachment.  The attachment may appear as an invoice from a vendor so it is innocently opened. The attachment contains encryption software which quickly encrypts every single data file on the computer.  If this computer is part of a network in an office with networked or mapped drives, the virus also rapidly encrypts all files on the network across the company's file system.  Once these files are encrypted, there is generally no way to recover anything.  All infected data is completely unusable.

Will virus software protect me?
In some instances, virus software may protect the computer from infection.  Virus software has been developed to specifically block some encryption viruses but new viruses are introduced which the software is not setup to block.  It is always best to run virus protection.  In a commercial environment, it is always best to run commercially licensed software on each computer as well.  Still, this isn't a fool proof way to ensure your computers and your network are not infected with encryption software.

Will my backups be safe?
This is where encryption software can really become devastating.  In certain instances, the answer is yes. In others, the answer is they may not be safe.  If backups are saved to a device connected to the network such as a NAS or USB storage device and this device is plugged into the network or computer when the encryption virus infects, the backups may also become encrypted.  This is the instance where an encryption virus becomes incredibly devastating. This virus alone has put companies out of business in this scenario.

Keep safe with encryption viruses
The ideal office network has encryption virus prevention software installed and backups are setup such that the chance of infection is eliminated.  With the right software, we can minimize the chance of infection significantly.  With the right backups, we can ensure backups cannot be infected.  Backups should be performed nightly or daily on a scheduled interval.  Under this setup, data loss would be one day at most.  One day's data loss may be uncomfortable but imagine the devastation to your business or individual data if an encryption virus infected everything.

About Need Computer Help
Need Computer Help provides IT services, managed services, helpdesk support, onsite IT support, and computer repair to customers in Katy, Sugarland, The Galleria, Houston, Richmond, Spring, Tomball, The Woodlands, Conroe, Magnolia, and other areas throughout the southeast Texas.  Visit us at http://www.needcomputerhelp.com to learn more.
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Are you guilty of data hoarding?  How many copies of files are you maintaining?  Does your file system look like an organized file cabinet or a box full of envelopes?

Backing Up Data
I routinely discuss keeping accurate backups of your data.  These backups should be onsite and offsite at all times.  This is regardless of whether you are a sole proprietor working from home or an enterprise corporation maintaining data for many divisions and many users.  Backups should be automated. Verification should be a routine part of your process to ensure backups are functional.  A restore is no time to test backups.

File Versions
Keeping multiple copies of a file is a good idea in many scenarios.  If I am updating a proposal or an agreement, I will routinely date the file name and keep multiple copies for reference.  In my own case, I name the file as YYYY-MM-DD-Filename.  This automatically sorts the file by date showing the oldest or newest first when sorting by file name.

Folder Copying
This is where hoarding can begin.  We have a folder of files and we decide to copy the entire folder as a backup or replicated set.  Now, this folder sits for a period of time with no activity.  We lose knowledge of why we copied it yet we don't want to delete it in case it contains a file we need.  Wow, this almost sounds like my attic.  I don't want to get rid of it because I may need it one day.

Keeping a Clean File System
The ideal file system has orderly shares where the some users have read / write access to the right folders, some users have read only, and some shares are only visible to some.  Shares then have orderly folders with one copy of the data retained.  File versions for working documents are certainly maintained over time but replicated copies of files are kept clean.  All shares are backed up regularly and backups are stored onsite and offsite.  This keeps the file access efficient and organized.

About Need Computer Help
Need Computer Help provides cloud IT services, managed services, onsite computer support, and computer repair to customers in Houston, The Galleria, Katy, Sugarland, Richmond, The Woodlands, Spring, Tomball, Magnolia, Conroe, and other areas throughout the Houston region.
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We have all heard it.  Let's move our business to the cloud.  What does it really mean?

Definition of cloud
Cloud is defined as the use of a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data versus using a local server, desktop computer, or laptop computer.

What does it mean in my business?
It can be as simple as using a service such as DropBox for file sharing or a service such as Carbonite for cloud based backups.  It can mean something more comprehensive such as a Need Computer Help cloud based remote desktop solution for your business.  In the end, it starts with any type of offsite data storage or processing where data is accessed through the Internet.

How does a remote desktop solution work?
Need Computer Help's remote desktop system moves processing and file storage from the typical in office file server to our cloud based system.  Users have a simple icon on the local computer to login to the cloud system.  Upon login, they are presented a remote or virtual desktop with all applications and all files readily accessible.  The remote desktop is available from any computer with Internet access bringing greater mobility to a company's workforce.

Where is my data stored?
Well, I can't tell you that right here on the world wide web!  What I can tell you is that Need Computer Help runs a company owned platform hosted in a very secure data center located outside of Houston, TX.  We are not reselling another provider's services.  We own it.  We maintain it.  We back it up.  We provide the highest level of service.  Our near 100% customer retention rate tells the rest.

How cost effective is this?
We almost always save our customers over their current monthly IT expenditures.  We eliminate the in office server which greatly reduces onsite support and maintenance.  Workstations no longer run the software thus lowering hardware minimum requirements and further reducing onsite IT support.  Hardware expenditures are significantly reduced with no server and workstations that run significantly longer.  Spikes in IT expenses are eliminated as our pricing is all based on a fixed monthly cost based on the number of users.  Last but certainly not least, your workforce has immediate access to IT support so they can stay productive and stop wasting time on computer problems.

About Need Computer Help
Need Computer Help provides cloud IT services, managed services, onsite computer support, and computer repair to customers in Houston, The Galleria, Katy, Sugarland, Richmond, The Woodlands, Spring, Tomball, Magnolia, Conroe, and other areas throughout the Houston region.
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What level of uniformity and standardization are found in your IT and computer systems?  Streamlining software, operating systems, and hardware gives a huge boost to productivity and efficiency.

Software Uniformity
How many versions of Microsoft Office does your organization have?  If you have more than one, it's time to consolidate and update.  All employee desktops should utilize either the latest version of Microsoft Office or the second most recent at the minimum.  Other software such as QuickBooks, Sage, Adobe, and any point of sale software should also be uniform across the organization.  Keeping these uniform ensures files modified on one computer will open seamlessly on another computer.

Operating Systems
All staff should be running a uniform operating system regardless.  For a Windows organization, Windows 7, Windows 8, Window 8.1, or Windows 10 are all acceptable.  For a Mac or Apple organization, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, or El Capitan are all acceptable.  All staff should also be uniform on either Windows or Apple.  When this is standardized, sharing files between software on different computers stays streamlined, efficient, and error free.

Hardware
It is unlikely that everyone will utilize the same hardware as hardware is generally replaced over time.  The main consideration with hardware would be to select a hardware vendor such as HP, Dell, Lenovo, Apple, or others and standardize on this vendor.  For commercial customers, we recommend utilizing commercial grade laptops and desktops.  These machines are a bit more durable and they are designed to run the longer duration required in a business environment.

Standard Replacement Interval
Many will run computers until they no longer run or require a repair that justifies replacement.  This is not a best practice as it introduces downtime.  We recommend selecting an interval such as 3 years, 4 years, or 5 years and replacing equipment on a standard interval.  If computers are aligned on this interval and replaced in groups, this automatically introduces uniformity.  This also minimizes downtime and inefficiency introduced by running hardware past a reasonable life cycle.

About Need Computer Help
Need Computer Help provides cloud IT services, managed services, onsite computer support, and computer repair to customers in Houston, The Galleria, Katy, Sugarland, Richmond, The Woodlands, Spring, Tomball, Magnolia, Conroe, and other areas throughout the Houston region.
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Is Your IT Person a Single Point of Failure?  Call the computer guy.  How often do we hear this in small to medium sized businesses?

Does your business have a single point of failure?

While commercial grade IT hardware is designed with redundancy, IT personnel often is not.  If your business lost their IT person tomorrow, what affect would it have on daily operations?  We often purchase redundant storage and redundant networks but leave the support to a single person.

Does your company employ an internal IT person?

Many small and medium size companies will employ one or two IT people to support business operations.  While this may seem cost effective, it introduces the risk of losing your IT staff suddenly.  In extreme circumstances, the IT person puts the company in a compromised position because of the impact of losing this person.

What about an external IT person?

Other small and medium size businesses will contract an external IT person.  Often times, this person is a sole proprietor or independent contractor.  There is no contracted agreement with this person and they are called on an as needed basis.  Under an hourly arrangement, there is no real incentive to ensure systems are always running stable.  There is also no established response time that ensures an error is given priority 1 attention.

Does your business have a single point of failure?

Does your business employ an internal IT person or have an independent external IT person?  If so, we encourage you to evaluate this strategy and your business risk level.  Moving to a contracted IT provider with adequate staff will mitigate this risk.  If setup correctly, a contracted solution will provide superior support under a cost effective structure.  Need Computer Help is here to help you evaluate your current strategy and recommend whether a contracted structure is best for your business.
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