Pittsburgh’s IT Service and Support Specialists


Pittsburgh, Cranberry, Greensburg, Indiana
Uniontown and throughout Southwestern PA

2nd Quarter 2012 - April Issue

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Are Online Backups Right for You?

What would you do if your customer list suddenly disappeared?  If all records of current orders and inventory, proposals and project status just vanished?  More than an inconvenience, such a disaster could be a crushing blow.  

Ask yourself, of all the important records that make your business run, which ones are NOT on a computer?  If you’re like most businesses, large and small, your critical information is stored on one or more hard drives, and at some point those drives will fail.

Realizing this, you’ve made backups.  Trouble is, you’re not sure how often backups are made, where exactly those backups are, and how to retrieve the data if you do need it.   

There's an App for That!  

Backups can be “set it and forget it” affairs.  They can be reliable and stored off site (in case of fire, online backupflood, and other natural disasters), and easy to restore when needed. 

One way to do this is with online services such as Mozy Pro and Carbonite.   Let’s take a look.   

Mozy Pro

Mozy offers affordable, off-site backup solutions for Windows, Mac computers, and servers.   You can set automatic backups to run while your computer is not in use or schedule backups to be performed daily, weekly, and/or monthly. 

mozy proYou start by installing the Mozy Pro application and configuring your backups.  As it runs, your data is encrypted locally with military-grade encryption prior to online transfer via a secure SSL connection.  It ends up safely stored in a state-of-the-art data center using the highest security standards, including SSAE auditing and ISO certification.  

Cost is dependent on the number of computers or servers you backup and how much data is involved.  For a small business, backing up 50 gigabytes on one computer, the cost is $17.50/month on a 2 year plan. 

Carbonite carbonite

Do With Carbonite (as with Mozy) there’s no hardware to buy, no cables to connect, no technician to call, and no training required.  You install data backup software and go.  Carbonite starts backing up automatically, in the background, allowing you and your employees to get back to work.  It keeps backing up each computer, continually, whenever the computer is connected to the Internet. Restoring data is easy.  With a few mouse clicks you can restore data to the proper place on your computer or to a new hard drive in the event of a computer failure.  If your Internet is down, Carbonite will ship your data on a portable hard drive.

Cost starts at $229/year for an unlimited number of computers and up to 250 gigabytes of data.  Backup size is expandable as needed and windows server support and backup of external hard drives and NAS boxes is available.

Which Online Backup is Right for You?

Which backup solution is right for your business depends on the specifics of your business, the volume of data, where on the network critical data is stored, etc.  That’s where the experts at Shiloh Service come in.  We can help you determine the best backup configuration for your business, online or off, and give you the assurance that in the event of computer failure or other disaster, you’ll be up and running in no time.  Contact Shiloh Service today to learn more.


Remote Monitoring and Management labtech

While being ready for computer problems is only common sense, preventing failures, viruses, and glitches in the first place is our goal at Shiloh Service.  That means making sure your computers, your server, and the network that supports them are all in good health, with the latest service pack releases and security updates in place.

Go back just a few years and monitoring the health of your network meant having a technician on-site, manually checking the status of each computer while taking up your staff’s workday to keep those machines in tip-top shape.

Today, both checking your computer’s health and updating it can be done remotely, in the background, and without disturbing the user.  At Shiloh, we use Labtech’s remote monitoring and management software.  It’s designed to streamline IT management and automate any IT process or task.   With Labtech, our technicians can identify, audit and manage your workstations, servers, printers and routers without leaving the office.

Unobtrusively (without slowing down you or your staff), we can identify, approve, and update software patches and hotfixes for a single work station or a group of machines.

Through Labtech’s Remote Monitoring and Management, Shiloh works proactively to keep your network running smoothly, and in the event a problem does crop up, response time is drastically improved (no more scheduling an on-site visit for most troubleshooting)!   While no one can prevent every technical problem or forestall all system failures, at Shiloh we work to make your business system is so reliable you’ll never trust any other IT service to do as well.  Interested in learning more?  Contact Shiloh Service today!


Tablets vs. Laptops laptop

You’re considering a new portable computing device and all the hype about tablet computers has caught your attention.  They certainly seem to be fun, easy to use, and the new “hot item” in consumer electronics.  But should you buy one for your business?

The answer depends on your specific mobile computing needs.  While tablets have some great, innovative qualities, you may be surprised at the limitations.  

When considering a tablet computer for your business, the first thing you should understand is that a tablet is not a work station.  Most tablets are NOT based on Microsoft’s Windows operating system, and that means no easy way to edit Word, Exel, and PowerPoint files, etc.  Oh, you’ll find various levels of compatibility for reading and making some basic edits, but don’t expect to be completing serious work while on the road with a tablet.

For one thing, most tablets do not easily transfer files back and forth with your computer, and most tablets do not easily send documents to print.  Storage space is limited compared to laptops and backing up files can be tricky.  Yes, there are some work-arounds, but with tablets it feels very much like the early days of computing, when you needed technical help to get even the simplest things done. Keep in mind also that, unless you purchase an add-on keyboard, you are going to be working with an onscreen keypad, which often means slower, less accurate typing. 

So what are tablets good for?  Tablets are light and extremely portable.  Full touch screen control means no fumbling for a way to use a mouse or a laptop’s thumb-pad while on the go.  Because they use 3G and 4G mobile phone networks to connect to the Internet, you are likely to have a wide range of online access without needing to log into coffee shop wi fi networks.  For users whose workday in the field includes heavy email or Skype interaction with clients, tablets are ideal and much easier to use for the purpose than smartphones with their small screens and tiny interface.  And, of course, tablets offer a variety of fun games and apps.

If, however, your goal on the road or at home is to complete serious work in the Microsoft Office environment, a well-equipped laptop is still your best option.


How Long do Computers Last? retired computer

People often seem shocked when they hear the average lifetime for a computer is 3 to 5 years.  Especially for those of us who grew up before the PC revolution, we are used thinking that any appliance or device costing hundreds of dollars or more should last a decade or more.

Is the quick obsolescence of computers just an industry scheme to get us to buy the latest and greatest?  Unfortunately for those who like conspiracy theories, the answer is no.  What has happened, and continues today, is the headlong rush of advancing technology.

Think about it.  In the late 1980’s and early 90’s there was a thriving PC business, but few computers had CD drives and the DVD was yet to be invented.  More importantly, there was no online world in the sense we have it today.   A computer built in 1993-94 had no web browser; Internet Explorer would be invented a year later.   Even then, the first computers to get online had no capability to deal with the coming of the first Palm Pilots and certainly could never have synchronized with the smartphones that would come early in the next century.  Then there were the revolutions in digital photography and digital video, music and sound editing, web development, flash drives, e-mail, e-commerce, e-books, and so much more.

At each turn, the computers of just a few years past had a hard time keeping up or could not keep up at all with changes in software and technology.  Today we routinely store as much information on our computers (pictures, documents, emails, etc.) as would have fit on a major business network of 10 or 15 years past.  On the dark side, even keeping up with virus prevention can require a newer computer that can run the latest anti-virus and security software effectively.

When it comes to PCs, the technological revolution continues at a pace so fast we can hardly anticipate the next chapter in the tale.  Touch screens, voice commands, and cloud computing are coming up now, and others will appear which we can’t anticipate today.  Of one thing we can be sure, when you compare the computer you bring online today to the models available 5 years from now, it will be like comparing a Model T to a 3rd generation Prius.


The Advantage of Dual/Multiple Monitors dual monitors

Looking for a way to improve productivity at your work stations?  One often overlooked productivity booster is the use of two or more monitors.  No matter how fast the computer is, if the user is slowed down in doing their job, you could be losing a significant number of man-hours every month.

Think of it in terms of a real world analogy.  When you are doing a complex task, like preparing taxes, you operate more efficiently if you have the space to organize your forms, receipts, and statements.  Work at a little desk with all of your reference materials crammed into a box on the floor and finishing your taxes becomes a bigger, more time consuming chore than necessary.

For almost any task, dual monitors open up the user’s work space, allowing emails to be composed on one screen while reports are referenced on another.  Browse the web for research on one screen while composing a document on the next.  With some programs, you can even separate toolbars and workspace across screens.

A study conducted by the University of Utah and NEC found 10% increases in productivity and 20% reduction in errors when using multiple monitors.  Some studies have claimed productivity increases of up to 45%, and using multiple monitors appears to reduce stress as well.

Most computers can be configured to use multiple monitors by installing a video card built for the purpose.  With flat screen monitors and graphics cards becoming less expensive, a dual or multi-monitor setup is now a realistic option of most small businesses.

To learn more and see if dual monitors could be a productivity booster for your business, contact Shiloh Service today!


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