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Preferred Blog

Preferred has been serving the Tinley Park area since 1991, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Businesses Have Access to These 3 Powerful Communications Tools

Businesses Have Access to These 3 Powerful Communications Tools

What kinds of communication tools does your business utilize on a daily basis? Chances are that your communication infrastructure can benefit from some of the latest and greatest solutions on the market. Communication is one aspect of your business that you definitely do not want to skimp on, as failing to implement the proper tools can bleed into other aspects of your organization, including operations and, in return, your bottom line.

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VoIP Significantly Improves Business Communications in Multiple Ways

VoIP Significantly Improves Business Communications in Multiple Ways

With all the communication tools that businesses use today, there still is no more important option than the telephone system. Unfortunately for small businesses, the telephone system can be expensive and hard to manage. However, there is a way for you to get a fully featured telephone service with some of the most important tools your business needs, at a fraction of the price you currently pay for your enterprise telephone system.

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Document Your IT Infrastructure

Document Your IT Infrastructure

Quick, off the top of your head, how many network switches are in use at your office? How many wireless access points? How many routers are past their warranty or no longer getting support?

That’s not a question most business owners are asked on a regular basis, and we don’t really expect you to be able to rattle off the answers. You should have all of that information documented though.

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Extend the Effectiveness of Your Wireless Network

Extend the Effectiveness of Your Wireless Network

Your business wireless connection is an increasingly important consideration, which means it needs to be installed and supported thoughtfully. Today, we will tell you a little bit about Wi-Fi and how to get the best performance out of your business’ wireless network.

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Remote Monitoring and Managed IT, and the Impact it Has on Small Business

Remote Monitoring and Managed IT, and the Impact it Has on Small Business

With more people than ever working from home, their ability to receive the support they need to keep their devices in top working order is crucial. As a result, many businesses have turned to managed IT service providers to maintain their employees’ computers. MSPs like us utilize a tool called remote monitoring and management software (RMM). Let’s discuss what it is and why it is so useful for managing your company’s IT. 

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What Your IT Documentation Needs to Include, and Why

What Your IT Documentation Needs to Include, and Why

It is important that you have a handle on the technology that your business utilizes, which will require you to maintain comprehensive documentation regarding it and its support. Here, we’ll go through what a managed service provider includes in this documentation, as well as how it is used.

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Test Your Backup!

Test Your Backup!

Your data is vital for your organization’s continuity. Your data consists of everything from your company documents, accounting records, client contact information, prospects and leads, procedures, and everything else needed for you to keep operations running smoothly. That’s why all businesses need a solid backup solution that is monitored and tested regularly.

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I Didn’t Realize How Much I Needed This: Color-Coded Chrome Tabs

I Didn’t Realize How Much I Needed This: Color-Coded Chrome Tabs

Google Chrome is rolling out a neat little update for everyone over the next week (it may already be out for some users by the time this posts). It’s a feature that I know I’m personally going to love, and I didn’t even realize how badly I needed it until now.

Let’s take a look!

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Why We’re Just Waiting for Break/Fix IT Services to Go Away

Why We’re Just Waiting for Break/Fix IT Services to Go Away

As much as we hate to admit it, the first thing that many people still think of when they hear the term “tech support” is the experience that comes with an antiquated approach to technology services: the break/fix method. Fortunately for us, we are seeing many businesses make the better decision, and turn to the clearly superior option, managed IT.

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What Exactly Do We Mean by “Managed” Services?

What Exactly Do We Mean by “Managed” Services?

Managed services - what are they? The short answer, other people managing the IT systems that you rely on every day to be productive and accomplish your tasks. In essence, they are a freedom from dealing with the troublesome and time-consuming parts of leveraging technology. You may have heard this much about managed services before, but have never been given a deeper understanding of what they entail. That is precisely what we aim to accomplish below.

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Why Multi-Factor Authentication is Way Better Than Passwords

Why Multi-Factor Authentication is Way Better Than Passwords

Time hasn’t been kind to the password. It’s continuously put down as one of the least secure methods of protecting systems. It’s not due to any fault of the password, though. People just have a hard time remembering long and complex passwords. To aid in security, it’s recommended that you use some sort of multi-factor authentication. While some users prefer easy SMS message two-factor authentication, there are actually many different types of multi-factor authentication available.

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Alert: Fake Email Invoices Contain Ransomware

Alert: Fake Email Invoices Contain Ransomware

Ransomware is still on the rise, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has labeled it as one of the biggest dangers to businesses of all kinds. Compared to other methods of spreading malware, ransomware has a unique return on investment that keeps hackers wanting more. One new variant of ransomware uses a phishing attack that’s tailored to your real-world address, which is exceptionally concerning for victims.

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41 Microsoft Software Titles Reached Their End of Extend Support or End of Life - In April Alone!

41 Microsoft Software Titles Reached Their End of Extend Support or End of Life - In April Alone!

You don’t need us to tell you that Microsoft has an extensive library of software products aimed at all kinds of businesses. But, of course, nothing good can last forever, and old solutions eventually give way to more versatile or efficient versions. When this happens, Microsoft stops supporting older software in order to provide better features and experiences to users of more recent versions.

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Does Your Business Have a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan?

Backup and Disaster Recovery

Most businesses need a Backup and Disaster Recovery plan.  Disasters like fire, flood, earthquake, and more can bring your systems to a halt. Systems including order processing, invoicing, emails, call center, and business phone are critical for daily operations. Without a Backup and Disaster Recovery plan, organizations that encounter a disaster run the risk of going out of business. Here are some tips for getting your Backup and Disaster Recovery plan in place.

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Why Does Rebooting Your PC Take Care of So Many Issues?

Why Does Rebooting Your PC Take Care of So Many Issues?

When you call tech support, you’re probably going to get the same response every single time: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” There’s a reason that this happens so often, and it’s because restarting your computer is a great, low-tech way to resolve some basic issues with your system. However, it’s still good to be cautious about more serious issues that a reboot won't fix. We’ll walk you through what a reboot does, and it can be effective at fixing minor issues with your PC.

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Tackling Cloud Security

Tackling Cloud Security

Security is always top of mind with businesses migrating to the Cloud. Cloud Services are rapidly being adopted by most businesses today. According to IDC, the worldwide public cloud services market reached $45.7 billion in 2013 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% through 2018. Cloud Security is an important consideration for businesses migrating to the Cloud. So, what are the top security concerns businesses face?


 

Top Cloud Security Concerns

CompTIA’s Ninth Annual Information Security Trends study identified system downtime/business interruptions, exposure or loss of data during file transfers to the cloud, and concerns over encryption of data (either transactional or at rest) as the top three issues identified by business owners and IT Professionals. In addition, respondents raised concern over complying with legal/regulatory requirements. What can a business owner do to migrate securely to the Cloud?

Cloud Security and Compliance

Most experts agree, start by understanding your Cloud Security requirements. If you have regulatory requirements, a Private Cloud solution may make it easier to comply with standards including HIPAA and PCI. However, this doesn’t mean you are more secure. Beyond encryption, having a solid strategy for using the technology in your organization is a key factor in Cloud Security.

Employees: Key to Tackling Cloud Security

Your employees may be your biggest threat to Cloud Security. Without the proper training, your employees may access your company’s Cloud Services from unsecure devices. This could cause security breaches and data leaks of privacy information. What’s more, it is important to control the adoption of Cloud Services within your business to help mitigate Cloud Security risks. Proper policy, training, and guidelines create awareness and educate your employees about Cloud Security Risks.

Other Cloud Security Factors

IoT (Internet of Things) presents a new risk to Cloud Security. Smart devices including TVs, appliances, office equipment, and other devices that collect and transmit data across the Internet, can cause exposure to your overall security. Research firm Gartner predicts that the IoT market will grow to 26 billion units installed by 2020. Proper network security and encryption is a first step in reducing this emerging security risk.

Migrating to Cloud Services provides many benefits to business of all sizes. Making the leap to Cloud Computing can be done securely with the proper planning & guidance. Reach out to your technology solution advisor to get help tackling Cloud Security.

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The Benefits of Fixed-Price IT Managed Services

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More and more, we hear of security breaches that are derailing business’s activities, whether such problems are malicious software (“malware”) designed to grab privacy information from an employee, a computer crash or even a natural disaster such as an earthquake. A data breach can put customers’ personal information in peril, thereby causing embarrassment and even costing steep fines. This is why it is important to hire a reputable IT managed service provider before you need one. Businesses rely on their IT systems to do day-to-day business, and most of the time, things go as they should. But what about when they don’t?

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Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining: Business Benefits of Cloud Computing

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Moving to the Cloud is a strategic, business-driven decision. Cloud Computing can offer a range of solutions to help drive business performance. Many businesses are migrating to Cloud Computing already. To ensure you get the most from your investment, you need to be able to determine how cloud solutions can help your business grow revenue, scale, accommodate teleworkers, let you move faster than your competition, and help you make your technology infrastructure costs more predictable.  Read on to gain an understanding of the many business benefits of Cloud Computing.


 

Cloud Computing Saves on Upfront Costs

Many popular Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions are available on a subscription basis.  You won’t be paying for hardware, systems software, database or other upfront costs.  In most cases these recurring subscription fees move your capital expense to an operating expense.  However, you will need to plan for customization, migration and integration services to make Cloud Services that are robust and dynamic. Cloud Computing Provides a Faster Time to Market

You won’t be waiting on hardware to deliver for your new Cloud Service.  In many cases you can deploy new Cloud Services on demand.  Additionally, your Cloud Service Provider (CSP) is responsible for keeping the systems up to date with the latest updates and upgrades.  SaaS providers can upgrade features and functionality during regularly planned maintenance windows. This keeps your systems up to date with the latest functionality and capability.

The Predictable Cost of Cloud Computing

Monthly subscription services provide business owners a predictable IT expense.  License policies based on number of users, usage and other predictable factors make it easy to plan and budget your Cloud Computing expense.  Because your systems are maintained by a Cloud Service Provider, you won’t need to worry about surprises like systems’ end-of-life scenarios that could add costly hardware, operating system and software upgrade expense.

Cloud Computing offers your company many business benefits, including greater business value and the ability to leverage Cloud Services for business growth and innovation. Contact your Cloud Services Reseller to find out more about the silver lining Cloud Computing has to offer.

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Is Your Network Ready for the Cloud?

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Moving to the Cloud requires a fast, reliable network to ensure high availability to Cloud applications and their data. Critical systems including Cloud backup, SaaS, VDI, VoIP and other critical systems need consistent broadband access to ensure employee productivity, compliance and keep customer service levels high. This begs the question, is your network ready for the Cloud?


Network Assessment for Cloud Readiness

When moving to the Cloud it is important to understand where you may have points of failure on your network before they happen.  Consider starting with a Network Assessment. By simulating peak loads for voice and data on your network, you can identify weaknesses in a controlled environment. By proactively monitoring your network, you can ping to measure packet loss, latency and uptime; also, you can identify bottlenecks for failure, allowing you to fix problems before they happen. Avoiding unnecessary downtime and/or data loss improves employee productivity and helps ensure compliance.

Maintain Network Security and Compliance for Consistent Computing Access

Malicious attacks, including cyber threats and unauthorized access to your network, will not only expose you to loss of critical data.  They may also degrade your network performance. Unauthorized network use by employees may also consume bandwidth that slows down your network. Unauthorized video streaming and access to unauthorized websites contribute to a slow network.

Upgrade or Improve Network Performance

There are many options to create an affordable wide area network. Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is an emerging option to create secure, reliable access to your Public or Private Cloud Services. This new technology, which provides centralized management and policy-based enforcement, makes it faster to deploy and easier to manage multiple remote sites.

Depending on your requirements, you may be able to use inexpensive broadband that performs like secure and high-bandwidth Enterprise-grade Wide Area Networking. To find out how, contact your Network Specialist today and ask for a network assessment.

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Five Tips on Password Protection

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Should you care about how your employees protect their personal passwords?  Depending on your password protection policy in the workplace, your employees may create passwords based on familiar passwords they use for personal use.  Cybercriminals often hack personal websites for privacy information, including username and passwords, so they can gain access to internal systems.  Offering tips to your employees on creating strong passwords may help you protect your valuable corporate data.

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      Data breaches have become all too common for small businesses over the past several years and when it seems like there is a solution to one problem, something even worse pops up. Part of a comprehensive risk management strategy is identifying problems and doing what you can ...

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      2020 Best Places to Work in Illinois

      Preferred has been named as one of the 2020 Best Places to Work in Illinois. The awards program began in 2006 and is promoted by The Daily Herald Business Ledger in partnership with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, MRA-The Management Association, the Small Business Advocacy Council and Best Companies Group.