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Press Start Ltd Blog

Press Start Ltd has been serving the East Anglia area since 1996, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

New member to our Technical Team – Lee

We would like to welcome a new member to our Technical Team: Lee

Lee has been working in IT Support for 12 years. He has a lot of IT qualifications under his belt but just to name a few, IT Practitioner Level 2 and 3, CompTIA A+ and Network +.

Lee will be working alongside Niklas and Connor on the Service Desk being our 1st Line Service Desk Engineer.

Outside of work Lee loves watching and playing sports, he is currently training in boxing and football. Lee has only just got back in football after discovering girls and finding out how much time they take up on the weekends (well we all have to keep the Girlfriend/wife happy). In the past when Lee played football he was always the fastest on the pitch, so he decided to train to become a sprinter. During the training he reached a high level in Track & Field over 100m and 200m. He was lucky enough to be trained by one of the best sprint coaches in Europe, as well as the fastest people in the UK. He was even luckier to be able to frequently go to training camps in Florida where he trained and raced with some of the fastest men in the world like Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin (we won’t mention that Lee sometimes lost the race). Lee’s other interests are going to the gym, listening to big varieties of music and watch comedies.

We hope you will join us all in giving Lee a warm welcome to the team.

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Does Your Server Room Need Air Conditioning?

Does Your Server Room Need Air Conditioning?

Servers, workstations, and many other network components create a lot of heat from constant use. Servers in particular produce an incredible amount of heat, so much that they need to be kept in a climate-controlled room to ensure they don’t overheat and cause hardware failure. How can you make sure that your business’ servers are in an adequate environment to preserve your organisation’s future?

It all starts by examining the current environment - are you storing your servers in a closet (or other small room) with only fans to cool them? Is there poor air circulation? What about humidity? All of these variables need to be addressed before too much damage is done to your server.

Prolonged exposure to heat can cause permanent damage to your server units, decreasing their value over time and lowering the quality of service you get from them. However, not just any air conditioning system will do to protect this critical hardware. The best kind of air conditioning for a server room includes a comprehensive approach to climate control. This includes sensors that can measure room humidity and temperature. Ideally, you want sensors that can be monitored remotely so that you can always keep an eye on the environment. This allows you to properly manage the environment your organisation’s critical hardware is in.

While you want to monitor humidity and make sure that it doesn’t exceed a certain threshold, you should also be wary of the room becoming too dry. Storing active electronics in a dry room is certainly not an ideal situation, as this can create unwanted static electricity that can cause damage to devices.

Air flow is also extremely important, as you want to make sure that your servers are actually being hit by the cool air so that they can be adequately cooled down. For example, you don’t want to have your air conditioning on at its highest setting in your server room because it might be wasteful in the long run, whereas air blowing directly on your server cabinets can accomplish largely the same goal with less investment into your energy costs. To this end, air conditioning units can be installed in the floor or ceiling, directly above or below the cabinets, so as to get the most out of your investment.

Of course, no amount of air conditioning can prepare you for the worst-case scenario, the inevitable failure of your business’ server units and loss of its data. In cases like this, you should always be prepared for the worst. A comprehensive data backup system needs to be implemented in order to guarantee that the worst doesn’t wipe your organisation off the map entirely.

We’ll identify how you can optimise your server infrastructure and data backup system so that an unexpected disaster doesn’t prematurely end your business.

Our Air Conditioning partner can help protect your server room so to learn more, call us on 01638 603204.

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A Managed Service Provider Makes Sense for IT Support

A Managed Service Provider Makes Sense for IT Support

It’s not uncommon to hear about small businesses having difficulty with managing and maintaining IT solutions. Even the most basic topics regarding business technology can be troublesome for businesses with limited budgets and resources. It makes sense that you would want to remove this responsibility from whoever is doing it, but how can you do so without destroying your bottom line?

The best answer to this dilemma is to implement managed IT services. Since small businesses just don’t have the assets to hire an in-house IT staff, outsourcing is the best option. These skills are often in high demand due to how technically complex they are and physical barriers can also contribute to this dry spell in IT talent in your area.

Instead of going the extra mile for IT service that they either can’t find or can’t afford, businesses will generally do one of two things; have their current employees shoulder the burden, or not getting the work done at all. It’s safe to say that your business’ employees are probably not trained IT technicians, so they might wind up doing the same work over again in the event that it’s not up to scratch. This further increases costs and puts more pressure on your organisation in the long run.

It’s crucial that your business has someone to rely on exclusively for IT management and maintenance. While managed IT might seem like a privilege reserved only for the most lucrative companies, it can be taken advantage of by pretty much any organisation, as services are scaled and flexible enough to suit the needs of any company. Press Start Ltd can help your business take full advantage of managed IT, including either partial or full-on management of your in-house infrastructure. Here are some of the services that we can offer for your organisation:

  • Security solutions: Spam protection, content filtering, antivirus and firewalls
  • Business continuity: Data backup, disaster recovery
  • Communications: Voice over Internet Protocol, email hosting
  • Network management: Remote monitoring and management
  • Software and hardware procurement
  • And more!

If your company has trouble managing technology, we want you to contact us at Press Start Ltd. Our trained and trusted IT professionals want to help you get the most out of your technology. To learn more, call us on 01638 603204.

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Big Data is Making Its Way to Small Business

Big Data is Making Its Way to Small Business

You may have noticed that there has been a lot of discussion about data recently; specifically, how it has become a driving force in organisational decision making. This month we will take a look at the data revolution, how the data (created by the analysis of other data) has become a commodity and what is the real value of an individual’s data.

What is Big Data?
The data revolution we refer to, is often referred to as big data. Big data is more about the analysis of all the data an organisation takes in than it is about the data itself. As technology evolves, business practices have to as well. With every part of a business transforming somewhat, organisations are looking hard at the data to get the most out of their budgets, their staff and their strategies.

Small businesses are just now starting to understand how data analytics can work, albeit in a much simpler manner than larger companies. This is largely because an efficient small business still doesn’t have the strategies put in place to quantify and analyse the data they take in, despite their increased usage of many of the same software resources that enterprises use. This presents two major questions:

  • Why haven’t many small businesses started with big data initiatives?
  • What would it take to make your company’s data work for you?

Small Business, Big Data
Traditionally small businesses have been at the forefront of championing technologies designed at keeping them competitive. With innovative data analytics, however, the opposite seems to be true. A look at the market for these systems and it quickly becomes evident that because smaller businesses perceive they cannot legitimately afford analytics platforms, they plan their technology investments by practicality, not value.

In leveraging the right kind of technology, small businesses can aggressively take advantage of their inherent lack of rigidity. This provides ways to simplify their production processes while completely overhauling their customer experience. Data, when analysed properly, tells very poignant truths. By accepting that they don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to utilise business analytics, small businesses can take the steps necessary to start using their data in innovative ways.

You Have to Make Investments
It’s one thing to plan on implementing a full-scale business intelligence platform for your business and another to actually do it. To get today’s most predictive and prescriptive analytics, there has to be some time and capital invested. If you would like to know when to run a promotion, how your customer base reacts to your marketing, or how your investments are categorically improving your business’ output and revenue growth, the numbers will tell you.

By consulting with the technology professionals at Press Start Ltd and committing to using the data your organisation collects, you are committing to making your business better. For more information about Big Data and how you can make it work for your business, call us today on 01638 603204.

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Tech Term: Defining Motherboard

Tech Term: Defining Motherboard

Inside its casing, your computer contains many parts. While these parts may not be moving, they are hard at work, enabling you to use your computer to accomplish your goals. For today’s Tech Term, we’ll take a closer look at just one, the motherboard and examine what it contributes to your device’s operation.

What the Motherboard Does
Your computer’s motherboard is its internal control centre, the communications hub for the rest of the device. It is through this circuit board that all of the computer’s components and peripherals connect and share data. In this way, the motherboard is what makes a computer a computer and not just a box filled with disparate components.

When the computer first boots up, the first thing to get power is the motherboard. Its different components then activate the various other parts of your computer.

Parts of a Motherboard
In order to properly function, the motherboard requires quite a few pieces to be present and correct. While the layout, or form factor, varies based on the specifications needed, all motherboards have these basic components incorporated.

Chipset - the chipset is what enables the transfer and flow of data between the various other components of the motherboard. Divisible into two parts, the Northbridge and Southbridge, the chipset allows the different components to communicate with each other.

CPU - The CPU is the part of the motherboard that relays information from the Northbridge to the different parts that it communicates with. A better CPU will assist you in having a fast and efficient computer.

Slots - A motherboard’s slots are what hold the different pieces that make up a particular motherboard in place. These pieces could include:

  • Random Access Memory, or RAM
  • PCI(e), which connects to expansion cards, like video, network, or sound cards
  • SATA, which connect to storage drives like HDD and SSD

In short, your computer’s motherboard is a small, but absolutely critical component to the function of the device as a whole. Have any more questions about motherboards, or any other aspect of your technology? Call us and let us know!

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Which Authentication Option is Best?

Which Authentication Option is Best?

Smartphones have steadily increased in their capabilities and as they have done so, they have resultantly gathered more and more data that needs to be secured against potential security threats. Fortunately, there are also more ways to protect your smartphone than ever before. For today’s blog, we’ll take a look of the options you have to secure your devices.

The Password
Passwords are the reigning king of authentication. A well-regarded password is your average user’s go-to; and if not created with security in mind, can be very problematic. Since users have problem remembering new passwords, even if it’s one that they are able to choose, many users will create obvious passwords that can easily be guessed or hacked.

Conversely, a password (or the passphrase) can be one of the strongest security measures available for your mobile device, as it is important for every mobile user, especially one that has access to business networks, to secure their devices.

The Pattern Lock
The second option we will go over is called a pattern lock. It is the three-by-three swipe-based gesture that unlocks the device. This natural and intuitive lock is very fast and if all nine dots are used in a pattern, it provides close to 400,000 possible configurations. Pattern lock comes up short in a couple ways. People tend to use shapes that are more easily guessable. It’s also relatively easy to ascertain the password if you watch a user’s hand.

The PIN
The PIN authentication option is a relatively strong one, as the typical four numeral option has over 10,000 different combinations. Android features the ability to support up to 16 digits. That’s 10 quadrillion different combinations. Of course, not many people are going to be able to remember a 16-digit PIN (and how annoying would it be to have to enter that every time you unlock your phone?). Simple pins are the norm and therefore not very secure.

The Fingerprint Scanner
This authentication method is now becoming standard on most smartphones and has by-in-large been very popular. It’s secure enough to be trustworthy and very fast. Moreover, many financial applications utilise the fingerprint as a form of authentication, making the option that much more attractive. The only drawbacks are that sometimes manufacturers will put it in an inconvenient spot on the device and that it doesn’t work with gloves.

Using the Face
All newer smartphones have been taking advantage of facial recognition software. This allows a user to gain access by just glancing at the phone. Since this is an operating system-dependent option, most phones will be getting this option. It may not currently be the most secure option, but as the technology advances, this will be the go-to method for all authentication.

Other Security Measures
Many phones now also offer security features that rely on alternative forms of authentication. On-body detection keeps the device unlocked whenever it is being carried - regardless of who is carrying it. Other options such as having your device unlock when a user says “Okay, Google” is more for convenience than privacy or device security.

What’s the Best Option?
Currently, if you are looking for the most secure and accessible option, your best bet is to use the fingerprint scanner on your phone. Back that up with a five-or-six-digit PIN and you’ll be good to go. In the future, expect the facial recognition software to improve precipitously; and therefore, be the most secure (and popular) option to get into a mobile device.

What form do you use? Leave your favourite security methods in the comments section below.

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Tech Term: Cookies Defined

Tech Term: Cookies Defined

Chances are, if you’ve spent any amount of time around a computer, you’ve heard of browser cookies. What you may not have heard, is what these cookies do. For today’s Tech Term, we’ll explore what cookies are and what they do.

What are Cookies?
A cookie is a sample of information that a website stores on a user’s computer in text format that only that particular website can access. This information, made up of name-value pairs, informs the website if you have ever visited before and allows it to personalise your experience as a user. These cookies are often removed once the browser window is closed down, but they can be designed to last longer.

Cookies are what enable a website to “remember” that you are logged in and allow you to change particular settings without them reverting back the next time you navigate to a new page. Furthermore, cookies can allow websites to remember your browsing tendencies and suggest things that might interest you, even if you haven’t logged in. This is especially apparent on ecommerce sites that offer you products that might interest you based on the products that you’ve viewed in the past.

Are Cookies Dangerous?
In a word, no. All these pieces of data are viewable only by the website that delivered them. This means that Website A can only see cookies that it has delivered and its cookies are likewise hidden from Website B. As a result, if Website B was attempting some malicious activities, the information that Website A has stored is safe.

However, some cookies are used for purposes that may be unwelcome to some users. Have you ever been browsing for a particular item on Amazon and then notice that the other websites you visit are displaying advertisements for related items? This is the result of an advertising cookie taking note of what you have demonstrated interest in, thereby allowing it to customise the advertisement to best fit your interests.

Clearing Cookies
Of course, you can remove the cookies that your browser has accumulated by using the Clear Private Data tool. However, this will also erase any saved login credentials that you do want websites to have saved. The majority of browsers have ways to work around this by whitelisting some websites as trusted to save cookies.

Are there any other Tech Terms you’d like defined, or do you have more questions about cookies? Call us on 01638 603204 and let us know!

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