Technology to Help (not Hinder) Productivity

In recent years, technology, and mobile applications (or apps) have gotten a bad rap as time sucks. There are dozens of articles about the use of tracking screen time and the need to avoid falling into the trap of scrolling endlessly on our phones looking for entertainment. But those articles are half-right. For every social media or game app built to capture our attention for hours on end, there is an app to help us regain those precious hours with increased productivity.

 

According to Dropbox, “productivity software is a collection of productivity apps, tools, and integrations that lets users easily create content used in the workplace, like documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Productivity apps with project management tools are important in the workplace because they can facilitate easy collaboration, communication, time management and organization of content.”

 

For those who feel that they have more and more work with less and less hours in the day to get everything done, these apps can feel like a secret weapon or a really great assistant.

Here are some of our favourite productivity apps on the market right now:

 

Slack

 Slack is a channel-based messaging platform. In Slack, team members send messages and share files in channels. Create channels for teams, projects, office locations, or anything else that’s relevant to your organization. You can make channels private for conversations that shouldn’t be open to all members, or you can use shared channels to collaborate with external organizations from your own workspaces.

Choose from the free version or upgrade your plan to a paid version depending on your business needs.

 

Trello

 Trello is the easy, free, flexible, and visual way to manage your projects and organize anything, trusted by millions of people from all over the world.

 

Evernote

 Evernote is a fancy note taking app. It helps you to keep organized—great note taking, project planning, and a great search function. You can add voice recordings, images, links and plain old notes to the app and easily organize via notebooks for different subjects. Evernote is well loved from Entrepreneurs to professional students and can be accessed from either Android, iPhone or Windows based devices.

There is a basic free version as well as upgraded pro and business versions that come with premium features. The best part is that notes sync across different devices.

 

Dropbox

 If you’ve never heard of Dropbox, you may have been living under a rock. It’s essentially an app that allows you to store and transfer files – and access those files across teams or devices. Dropbox helps solve the modern-day problem of transferring large files. It also has a feature that allows teams to work on files together, in real time. Dropbox also has a project planning and task management feature that takes transforms app from a simple file sharing app to a true productivity app.

As with the other apps, there are free and pro versions that come with increased storage limits and access to premium features.

 

Lastpass 

 Having solid passwords for all your accounts (no password123 or qwerty allowed) is essential to keeping your information private and access to your accounts in your hands. However, it can start to get tricky when it comes time to remembering the logins for the dozens of sites and applications we use daily. Lastpass is software that can generate and keep track of secure passwords, so you can use your precious brain power for something else. It can also digitally store important records like credit cards, passports and memberships so you can securely keep them in one place and access them from where you are.

Choose from Free, Premium and Family plans – depending on your individual needs.

 

Timetree

 Timetree is a smart calendar sharing software. Share your calendars with different groups and connect with family, partner, friends, and colleagues. TimeTree makes it effortless to coordinate and collaborate with others in a single calendar. No more forgetting important appointments or double-bookings. This app is great for personal or professional use and even comes with a shared notes features (think grocery lists or camping supplies). No more trying to sync schedules. Best of all, it’s free and highly rated in the app stores.

 

FocusKeeper

 FocusKeeper is a time management app for your mobile devices that uses the Pomodoro technique of time management. It breaks your work down in 25-minute task sessions and rewards you with breaks, The more tasks you complete, the longer your breaks. This app is simple but effective and available for free for Android and iOS.

 

All-in-one solution

Integrating just one, or all of these productivity software solutions into your personal and professional life is bound to help you regain some our precious time. Finally. if you’re looking for an all-in one solution, we love Zoho. Zoho is a Client Relationship Management (CRM) tool that integrates over 40 apps into one, helping you automate all sorts of business processes. It’s especially great for connecting a distributed workforce in this post-COVID world.

 

Tips for Managing your I.T. Budget

You know having proper I.T. and tech support is important for keeping your business operating smoothly, but budgeting for it can be tricky sometimes. How much support do I need? What if everything is running smoothly? Do I need to hire someone to be in the office full-time? So many questions!

We know arranging for and setting up tech support can be tricky, confusing and sometimes, expensive – so here are a few tips for helping keep costs down, while ensuring you get the best bang for your buck.

 

Take Advantage of a Fixed-Price Monthly Solution

While a pay-as-you go solution might feel like it saves you some money, realistically, in the long run it’s going to end up costing you much more. A lot of the common issues that occur with viruses, spyware, email delivery and spam in our inbox, and general hardware/software malfunctions can be remedied with proper monitoring and management. Here at Info-Tech Montreal, our monthly Remote Monitoring and Management services ensures there’s always someone watching over your network, so we can actually catch and prevent problems from happening before you even notice anything is wrong! This is much more cost-effective than waiting for something to crash and then fixing it.

Not only does this help save you money by preventing problems from happening in the first place, but it also makes budgeting easier because you’ll have a fixed monthly cost. Think of it like evening out your electricity bill. Most folks prefer to pay the same monthly cost all year round, instead of paying much more in the hotter and colder months than in the fall and spring.

 

Get Your Computers on a Replacement Cycle

It can be an expensive day when all of your computers suddenly need repair and none are on warranty anymore. To prevent these pricey scenarios, we work with our clients to set-up a 3 -to – 5 year replacement cycle for their computers (based on the length of the warranty).

What does that mean? It means that, supposing you have 15 computers nearing their end of life, we’ll replace 5 in the near future, 5 more next year, and 5 the year after that, all with 5-year warranties. In 5 years, we’ll start the cycle again. This way you’re never faced with having to replace all of (or the majority of) your computers in a short period of time. We’ll also be able to get you a better bang for your buck than you would receive at a local computer shop.

Managing I.T. can sound expensive – and it certainly can be, if there’s no plan in place and it’s a reactive measure! But luckily, we have programs and services in place designed to keep your costs down without compromising on service. Reach out today and let’s chat about your unique case, and see what we can do for you!

Save Money and Prolong the Life of Your Computer With A New SSD

If you’re one of the many organizations whose computers can’t handle – or can just barely handle – the Windows 10 upgrade, don’t go running out to buy a new fleet of PCs just yet!

Often for less than $400, we can help you prolong the life of your existing computers by upgrading to a new SSD (solid state drive) and adding more memory. This gives you added life and puts off the need to purchase new computers for a little bit longer, saving you a lot of money in the immediate future.

What is SSD?

The SSD is all about adding speed to your computer. A Solid State Drive, or SSD, is a type of hard drive, but differs from traditional hard drives that come with your computer because it doesn’t have moving parts. The absence of moving pieces allows it to read and write data faster, meaning a better and faster user experience for you and your staff. Think of them like the memory in your digital camera or cell phone; near instant access.

When SSD’s first entered the market, they were a game changer, cutting Windows start-up time drastically. How drastically? Check out this demo to see for yourself! They were also very expensive, roughly double for half the disk space. The costs have come down substantially now though and bang for the buck, you cannot beat them.

Why more Memory?

When you add the new SSD to your computer and increase memory, you’ll feel like you’re working with a brand new PC! Increased memory allows you to do more things at once – more tabs, more programs, more apps, etc., letting you work faster and get more done.

Whether your computer can’t handle the Windows 10 upgrade, or even if it’s an older model already running Windows 10, upgrading to an SSD and increasing memory can help you get more life out of it and increase productivity today.

No need to spend thousands on new computers when an upgrade will do! Send us a message today and we can help you assess which of your company’s PCs can be saved this way. At Info-Tech, it’s important to us to help you find solutions that put your productivity and budget first.

Three Tips for Setting Your Employees Up To Work From Home During A Crisis

There’s no doubt about it, we’re entering unfamiliar territory when it comes to business, thanks to COVID-19. If you haven’t already, chances are your offices will soon be transitioning from having staff on-site to adopting a work from home policy. At any other time, I would be telling you about the benefits research has shown with allowing employees to work remotely. Instead, let’s focus on how to get you set-up quickly, correctly, and safely for the duration of the pandemic.

Communicate Early and Communicate Often

It’s important to let your teams know early what your plan is, especially in times of crisis. Not only will this help reassure them, it will allow them to plan for the transition as well as help you figure out what equipment is available and what you need to source ASAP. It’s possible not everyone will have a laptop at home that can run the programs needed, for example.

Let employees know what’s happening and what the expectations will be. The clearer things are, the better.

Get The Right Technology

There’s nothing worse than sending employees home to work and them not being able to do their job. Ensure whatever software upgrades, additional computers or laptops, VPN technology, and so on that you need is sourced as quickly as possible – and don’t forget that most things can be accessible in the cloud. If you need help with this, give us a call – we can help you find the best business class computers and get you set up quickly.

Don’t forget, you may also need to invest in Slack, Zoom, or another communications tool to keep employees connected throughout the day.

Implement the Right Security Measures

Security when employees work remotely is different than security needed when everyone works under the same roof. Make sure all of your businesses data and files are backed up and ensure staff are educated about the risks. It’s best practice to have an Employee Policy for Safe Use; update it to include remote work situations. Check out our blog for more tips on protecting your business from a data breach.

Have an up-to-date disaster recovery plan in place, just in case.

If you’re making the change to allowing employees to work from home (or if you already have and would like a second set of eyes), give us a call at (514) 634-4636 x 101. We’ll be happy to help ensure you have all the proper tech in place to ensure a smooth transition – for you, and your staff.

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Why You Need A Virtual I.T. Guy And Remote Monitoring

When it comes to technology, we expect it to do its main job – make our lives easier and make it easier now. So when you’re sitting in the office and something suddenly pops up that puts a wrench in your busiest day of the week (because that’s when it always happens) what do you do? Who do you call? With Info-Tech, one of the most popular services we offer is remote monitoring and management. Our remote monitoring and management services ensure you are never alone. We offer an entire team of I.T. experts for less than the cost of a full time ‘generalist’. Not convinced? Here are a few main benefits to our remote monitoring and management services.

Get More For Less

If your business has grown beyond a handful of employees and you’re considering hiring a full-time tech to keep things running smoothly, you may want to consider our remote monitoring services instead. For less than the cost of a full-time salaried employee, with Info-Tech Montreal you get a full team of experts, including a dedicated support technician, to handle all of your I.T. needs. The best part? Because we work remotely, you never have to see us!

Solutions Without Disrupting Your Day

Not only can we keep your systems running smoothly, we do our work behind the scenes to minimize the disruption on your day-to-day work. When needed, your support-tech simply connects to your server or PC using remote access software. This allows us to trouble-shoot whatever issues your systems may be having, while you continue to go about your day – you and your employees won’t even know we’re there! Of course, we always check beforehand to make sure we can connect and not disturb some work in progress!

We know that time is money when it comes to running a business, so if there is ever any downtime, we understand the negative impact that can have on your company and your bottom line. Our team of I.T. professionals work quickly and efficiently to get you back up to speed as soon as possible, with pro-active monitoring and ease of remote connections; minimizing that downtime is our priority!

Stay Focused On Your Business

Let’s face it – as a business owner, you have a million things on your plate. Worrying about why your computers and servers aren’t working properly shouldn’t be one of them, so let us take that off your hands. We design and set-up remote monitoring to detect and quickly repair problems, so we can be repairing any issues that might arise before you are even aware of them. In the meantime, your day continues without any of the speed bumps traditionally caused by those system failures. Plus, not only are we watching your system’s back-end, but we’re always keeping an eye on changes occurring in the industry, so you don’t have to worry about your environment staying up-to-date. Let us be the experts for your I.T. services, so you can continue being the expert for your clients.

When your staff are able to work without disruption and any issues that do arise are taken care of quickly, quietly, and remotely, you get peace of mind.

Curious about what may be going on with your company’s I.T.? Do not hesitate to contact us today! Let us help you relieve that unnecessary stress with our remote monitoring services.

Update Your Windows Software Before It’s Too Late

In January 2020, the Windows 2008 Server software and the Windows 7 desktop operating system will become end of support – which means that Microsoft will no longer be creating updates for them.

What Does This mean?

When the Windows 2008 server and Windows 7 desktop operating system reach end of support it means that Microsoft will stop producing updates. This means that any patches or fixes for functionality and security will no longer be developed, leaving your system both at risk and running at a lower user-experience quality.

As a business, this leaves your entire company with significant security risks.

What Should You Do?

Prior to January 14, 2020 (ideally, as soon as possible) it’s highly recommended that all businesses upgrade to either Windows 2016 or 2019 Servers, or Windows 10 for desktop.

How Can Info-Tech Help?

It’s crucial that you ask qualified IT specialists for help, as not all computers will be compatible with Windows 10  and not all will be powerful enough to run it. Info-Tech can do a check of your system to first ensure an upgrade to the hard disk or memory is worthwhile.

If the answer is no, it would be better for your business to upgrade your computers to ones that already come with Windows 10 installed. While this might seem like an expensive alternative, upgrading to a new SSD and adding memory, along with the cost of labor can cost you almost as much in the long run and you still have a 4-5 year old machine with no warranty.

If buying new is the better option for you, then upgrading your PCs and operating systems, you can rest assured that all computers we sell at Info-Tech come with a three-year next business day onsite warranty, to help keep your investment protected.

If you’re interested in learning more about the steps you should take to ensure your business stays secure and functioning optimally post-January 2020, contact us today. We’re happy to have one of our experts walk you through the options – no commitment necessary.

The Truth About The Cloud and Cloud Solutions

It seems no matter where you look or who you talk to these days, the ‘cloud’ is being pushed as the next big thing in the I.T. world; you either get in the cloud, or you get left behind. Although the I.T. industry and its experts are pushing cloud solutions, it’s not necessarily the best option for every business. With the Microsoft Windows 2008 server operating system coming to the end of its life, now is a critical time to make the decision to either upgrade or look into a virtual solution.

So how do you decide: to cloud, or not to cloud? We’ll break it all down for you so you can make the best decision for your company.

What is the Cloud and Cloud Solutions, anyway?

Put simply, cloud computing or cloud solutions is when your data is stored in a datacenter on the internet instead of your local computer’s hard-drive, or in the case of most businesses, those servers you have hiding in a back room. The cloud, then, is really just another name for datacenters on the internet.

Services like your Apple iCloud, Gmail or Office 365 accounts, are all examples of data stored in the cloud.

Is There a Benefit to Being in The Cloud?

If you read the latest headlines, the pros of being in the cloud are high in number, but it is important to take these with a grain of salt. Popular arguments for cloud solutions include:

  • Access from anywhere
  • Security
  • 99.99% Up-Time

In reality, the main perk of cloud solutions from this list is the high percentage of up-time. Access from anywhere to onsite, server-based solutions has become much easier to implement, and the reality is your data can get hacked, encrypted, and generally compromised, from anywhere – including Microsoft, Apple, or Google’s servers. When you consider the amount of people using their services and the fact that it has to be easily accessible to the general population, it is easy to argue that, in fact, the cloud may be even less secure than your own servers that are physically stored on your own premises and with your own unique security protocol.

We currently have a Windows 2008 Server. How Do I Know If my Business Should Make the Switch?

The questions you need to ask yourself and what we would ask you is:

  1. What are the reasons you would consider the cloud?
  2. What are your current server pain points?
  3. What does that server currently do? Is there a database on it? Can that software be cloud based?
  4. How much data is on that server? How mission critical is that data to day-to-day operations?
  5. What is your budget? Per month, per year, for the next three years?

Each company will have different answers to these questions, so it is very important to go over each of these points with qualified IT specialists that understand the nuances of each item, pros and cons, and the costs associated to both cloud and on-premises choices.

Every business is unique and there are some situations where a virtual solution may in fact be the best option for your company. Give us a call at 514-634-4636, and we’ll walk you through all of your options (in plain language!) so you can make an educated decision on the right solution for you – whether that’s the cloud, or an on-premises server. Regardless, we’re here to help you better understand your I.T. needs and get the most out of your set-up.

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Some steps you can take to protect yourself, click below;

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