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My Computer is Running Slow

How to Speed Up Your Computer 

Note: This page will cover steps for an overall slow computer but does not address computers that have a slow boot up or slow internet.

It is important that your computer run at its best. Over time, regular use of your computer will build up unneeded files and clutter your hard-drive. Bad Computer habits also can contribute to a slow computer. Using multiple programs at once, or putting your computer to sleep instead of rebooting regularly are examples of things that can slow your machine down.

Here is a list of steps you can take to speed up your computer, if you are still having trouble with your computer please give us a call at: (888) 799-4777


Reboot

If you have not rebooted your computer recently, make sure that you plan a time to reboot it before following the article below.

Background Programs

One of the most reasons for a slow computer is that programs are running in the background. One option is to have your disable programs that automatically start each time the computer boots.

In addition, if you have an antivirus program, or spyware protection program on your computer, make sure it is not scanning your machine in the background. If the scan is in progress, it can decrease the overall performance of your computer. If this is the case, allow the scan to complete, and the computer’s performance should improve.

Note: You can see what programs are running in the background and how much memory they are using, through the Task Manager. If you are running the current version of windows you can use the Resource Monitor to see a better breakdown of how your computer’s memory is being used.

Delete Temporary Files

As a computer runs a program, temporary files are then stored on the computer’s hard drive. Deleting these files can help speed up your machine.

We don’t typically suggest deleting these files yourself as there are some critical files that if deleted can cause damage. However, if attempting this process, yourself, we suggest using the Windows Disk Cleanup utility to remove temporary files and other files that are no longer needed on your computer.

Scan for Viruses

If your computer is infected with a virus, this can cause the machine to run slowly.

For more information on best security practices check out our Network Security Page.

Update Your Drivers

Make sure you have the latest drivers and updates available for your computer hardware. Having out dated drivers can cause an array of issues, including slow performance, glitches or display issues.

Check Hard Drive Space

Make sure that there is at the very least, 250-500MB of free hard drive space. This available space allows the computer to have room for the operations to increase in size as well as room for temporary files.

Check Hardware

If you have had your computer for more than two years, you may need more memory. Today, we suggest that computers have a minimum of 2GB of memory (RAM) installed. The more memory the computer has the more ability to compute multiple actions at the same time. If your computer is running low on memory, it may become slow when multiple windows or programs are open at the same time.

Old Machine

If your computer is more than 5-7 years old, the age of the computer could be the cause of the slow performance. As more advanced technology and software programs are released, they are designed to run on newer computers. Older computers are not able to run these newer programs, which can cause them to perform slowly. If you believe your computer is need of replacing, we can help, AZCOMP Technologies is a Dell Certified Vendor and can help get you the right hardware for your needs.


Need more help?

Our IT technicians are here to assist you in resolving your computer or network issues!

 

Network Security

Understanding Network Security

These days, businesses are often so concerned with day-to-day operations that they have forgotten to invest in network security. Others understand the need for complete network security, but have a relaxed strategy in regards to their IT, which can be just as dangerous in the event of a data leak or issue.

What is Network Security?

  • It’s protection from getting hacked and helps keep the bad guys out
  • It’s keeping your data secure and backed up, automatically
  • It’s preventing your system from getting infected by a virus or malware attack
  • It’s performing routine maintenance and patching to keep your system up to date
  • It’s about being aware of possible security threats – Not sure how to do this? Click Here for a free IT Report on how to protect and preserve your data!

Network Security

What Can Network Security Protect Your Business From?

Bugs, Viruses, and other vulnerabilities have all existed since the beginning of computing, but the threats found in today’s technology world have vastly outnumbered and outperformed them.

In part, this is due to how society has grown heavily reliant on the internet and technology. Here are some of the threats which proper network security can protect your business from:

  • Spyware and Adware: While not particularly threatening they can invade your privacy and pave the way for more dangerous infections to enter the network. Spyware can log your keystrokes, providing the bad guys with your valuable information. While adware is simply an annoying means to gain profit, through things like pop-ups.
  • Phishing and Identity Theft: Hackers will often try to pose as a reputable institution which your business has relations with in attempt to steal information from you such as your credit card numbers, banking information, or passwords. They do this by appearing legitimate through an email address or a website designed to look like the real thing.
  • Viruses, Malware, and Exploitation of Vulnerabilities: The goal of the hacker is to infiltrate your databases and steal your information, or to leave behind a backdoor for later access at their leisure. Hackers often infect systems with viruses or malware which can either cause damage or allow for the hacker to gain remote control to the machine. These measures are difficult to remove as they are often implanted into several areas of the machine and hidden very well.

Network Security from AZCOMP Technologies

At AZCOMP Technologies, we take security very seriously. We take preventative measures to keep the threats from ever entering your system in the first place.

This lets you avoid costly repairs or downtime that often follow a hacking attack. We offer a comprehensive network security solution, that keeps threats of all kinds from entering your network and neutralizing those that already have. Some of things included in our network security solution are:

  • Next Generation Firewalls:  Firewalls are your first line of defense against outside threats. A firewall will analyze the traffic and data going to and from your network. You can think of it like a virtual bouncer which keeps dangerous things from entering your network.
  • Antivirus Software: If a virus or piece of malware does manage to get through your firewall, it can be killed off quickly with an enterprise-level antivirus software. An antivirus eliminates threats as quickly as possible while limiting the damage done.
  • Spam Blocking: Not only is spam annoying and useless, some phishing emails might slip through your defenses. Instead of going directly to the inbox where it may be accidentally opened, it goes to the spam folder, where it can be promptly ignored or deleted.
  • Content Filtering: Not all web content is safe for viewing, so it’s important that your team can tell when a site is fake and when they are real. Content filtering allows you to block certain websites from accessing your data. It’s also good for increasing productivity in the office by limiting employee access to time-wasting websites like Facebook, BuzzFeed, etc.
  • Security Patching: We ensure that your machines are up to date with the latest security patches available to help keep your network as secure as possible!

A Healthy network is a strong network, AZCOMP Technologies can handle all this technical information for you while you reap the benefits of a protected network.

Give us a call at 480.730.3055 or click below to receive your free report on what every small business owner must know about protecting and preserving critical data!

The Cloud Makes Computing Easier

Cloud Computing

One of the biggest problems a business has with its IT infrastructure is the lack of funds a business has to commit to obtaining and maintaining the necessary computing infrastructure. Whether they’re trying to run resource-intensive application, or simply need more storage space than they can manage independently, the cloud can provide them with the means to do so.

What if you could leverage the power of tens, dozens, or hundreds of computers dedicated to completing the processes your business undertakes? What if issues could be resolved seemingly instantaneously? What if you didn’t have to manage an in-house server, and that it was maintained on your behalf–often with an up-time guarantee?

With a cloud solution, this can all be a reality.

A cloud provider can enable you to leverage their computing resources for far less capital investment than it would require you to create the same caliber of infrastructure for yourself. As a result, you are able to utilize a far more powerful solution to complete your necessary tasks. Your resource usage can even shift, depending on your needs at the moment. So, if you suddenly need more resources to complete a task, you no longer need to make alterations to your internal infrastructure. Instead, your cloud provider can simply allocate more of their resources to you (possibly increasing the rate that you will have to pay them), but ultimately allowing you to accomplish what your business needs.

Finally, you can expect most cloud providers to pass along the savings to you, as the technology they rely upon to function decreases in price. Therefore, as they are able to support more for less, they are apt to decrease their pricing in order to attract more, larger service agreements.

In essence, the cloud is made up of separate computing assets (that are meticulously cared for) that you are able to leverage for a fee. Should the server your computing infrastructure is allocated to fail, your resources are quickly migrated to another, minimizing the effect that you experience on your end.

Integrating a cloud solution into your IT strategy can have many more benefits to you and your business. To learn more about how the cloud can help your business, reach out to us at AZCOMP Technologies by calling (888) 799-4777.

Why Does Restarting a Computer Fix So Many Issues?

“Try Restarting Your Computer”

Few things cause more eye rolls than being told to restart a device. Most of us are used to hearing it by now. Many of the people that we help have already restarted their computers before they even call us, and there are some people that tend to have a “face-palm” moment when they’ve forgotten this technology fix-all.

Other people almost seem to take offense when they hear it, like they’ve somehow been insulted with this too-simple-to-help advice.

But guess what? It Does Work! We estimate that more than half of all issues in technology can are fixable with a simple reboot.

But why does rebooting fix problems?

When you are using your computer, you’re opening programs, installing and installing software, and moving files around. Sometimes windows like, internet browsers are open for hours, or even days at a time. There are a lot of background services that stop and start too, but you never really see these services.

We use our computers a lot, especially over the course of weeks or months.

What you may not realize, is that a lot of what you and your operating system does, is leaving behind a footprint. Usually this footprint is in the form of background processes you don’t really need running anymore or programs that didn’t quite close all the way.

These “left-over” items hog your system resources, and usually, your RAM.

When too much of this happens, you start to get problems, like a sluggish system, programs that won’t open anymore, etc.

When you reboot your computer, every single program and process ends as the power leaves your computer during the restart process.

Once the computer starts back up, you will have a clean state (of sorts) and more than not, a faster, better working computer.

Note: Restarting your PC is the same as rebooting or powering it off and then on. Restarting is not the same as resetting, which is a much larger process and usually includes erasing everything and returning to “factory defaults”.

 

Frequently Restarting May Indicate a Bigger Issue

Restarting your computer occasionally, is perfectly normal, and if you’re doing the type of work that requires multiple programs, it is encouraged.

However, if you find that the reboot is only a temporary fix for you, there may be a bigger problem at hand.

Hardware may be failing; important operating system files may be damaged or you may even have virus or malware files on your machine.

Give us a call, and we will work with you to find a solution any computer or network issues impacting your business. We’ll get the computer problems slowing down your office resolved quickly, and if you’ll allow us to, we’ll perform an assessment to determine what is causing your problems in the first place. This is called an IT Network Assessment, and we’ll do it for FREE! Call us now at (888) 799-4777 and we’ll start working on resolving your pressing computer issues.

 

How To Grow Your Business With Technology

How To Grow Your Business With Technology

Today the business environment is more competitive than ever before, and one of the ways that organizations are attempting to overtake others in their industry is through the use of strategic technology solutions. By effectively leveraging productivity tools, employees can collaborate in never before seen ways and exceed all expectations.

Due to this increase in competition, there has been more of a demand for productivity-increasing software, especially in more recent years. Small businesses can implement task management applications and other productivity software to great effect, allowing them to better manage their workforce and allow for company growth in the long run. Here are three ways that productivity technology can help your business grow and achieve spectacular results.

 

Cloud-Based Productivity Applications

The cloud allows for access to important productivity tools, like Microsoft Office 365 and Google’s G-Suite, from any location with an Internet connection. The cloud is great for any application that many people need to access, simply because they don’t need the application installed on their desktop. All they need is credentials to access it in their web browser through an Internet connection, which offers employees the flexibility to work anywhere at any time.

 

Communication Applications

When work is being done from multiple locations, you need communications solutions to keep in touch with project teams and anyone with their hands on a project. Solutions such as email, instant messaging, and conferencing allow employees to get more out of meetings and keep each other up to date on the progress of a project. It can make all the difference when ensuring that a project is finished on time and on budget.

 

Project and Task Management Applications

Having a clear-cut list of what needs to be done for a project or implementation process can be incredibly important in the face of deadlines. This software allows your employees to stay on task, and ensure that project managers can meet all obligations in time and on budget. Otherwise, you’re merely assuming that work will be done properly, when in reality it could be done improperly or get out of control.

No two businesses are created equal, so often solutions like these need to be carefully vetted between those that manage your company and those that manage your IT.

If your business wants to take productivity to the next level and create more opportunities for growth in the future, AZCOMP Technologies can help. To learn more about how your organization can get its hands on great tools like these, reach out to us at 480-730-3055.

Password Tips to Keep You Secure Online

How to Keep your Passwords Safe Online

  1. Create strong passwords

Strong passwords, by definition, have at least eight characters, with a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letter, numbers, and symbols. They also avoid the use of personal information, such as birthdays, first, middle, or last names. Create strong, secure passwords that you’ll remember.

  1. Use a different password for each account

Using a different password for each online account is important because, if you share passwords across accounts, one compromised password can be used to log into another account. This is especially important regarding online banking and financial accounts.

  1. Get a password manager

Password managers, like LastPass or 1Password for example, can help you store multiple passwords, often in an encrypted manner, for easy access. Typically, they will require one master password with additional layer of authentication to access the stored passwords.

  1. Turn on multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor Authentication adds an additional layer of security on top of your standard password. For example, an app may require you answer a security question, input a unique code, or use a fingerprint scanner on top of using your password. Check the security settings of your favorite apps and passwords to see if multi-factor authentication is available.

Join Us For a Free Lunch n Learn Training!

The #1 biggest threat to your network is what your employees allow in. Training them on how to recognize potentially dangerous emails and online scams is critical. Protect your business with this important online safety training.

think before you click training

Technology Tip: Google Maps Parking Assistant

Google Maps is the Parking Assistant You Didn’t Know You Needed!

We’ve all been there before: you’re walking out into the parking lot, in a hurry to get somewhere, and cannot for the life of you remember where you parked. While this used to be a time-wasting problem for many, Google has added a feature to Google Maps that allows you to avoid the desperate race against the clock to get to your vehicle in time to get to your next destination.
Adding on to the parking availability feature that Google rolled out recently, you can now save the exact location of your parking space for future reference, taking notes or even pictures to better remind you where you left your vehicle.

 

 

To use this feature:

  • Open Maps on your mobile device
  • Tap the Blue Location Dot on the displayed map
  • Select Save your parking

Doing this will not only save your car’s current location, but will also remind you via your notification pane. As we mentioned before, it also allows you to snap some photos and jot down a few notes to help remind you of where your car is located. If your car is by a parking meter, you can even add a timed alert to make sure you don’t run over and wind up with a fine.

So, what do you think? Will this feature save you some time and stress?

10 Pro Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed Online

Avoid Getting Scammed Online

Avoid Online Scams

Every day numerous phishing emails are sent to unsuspecting victims all over the world. While some of these messages are so abstract that they are obviously a fraud, others can be a bit more convincing.

In case you aren’t clear on what a phishing email is, it is an attempt by a cybercriminal to obtain sensitive information from you about any of your accounts, get usernames, passwords, credit card details, your social security number or anything else. They do this by disguising themselves as a trustworthy entity through email. These types of emails also have the risk of installing a virus onto your computer or doing you harm in any other number of ways.

So, how can you tell the difference between a phishing message and a legitimate message? Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution, but there are several techniques that you can look for. This article lists 10 of them.

1: The message contains a mismatched URL

One of the first things to look at in a suspicious email message is the integrity of any included or linked URLs. Oftentimes the URL in a phishing message will appear to be perfectly valid. However, if you hover your mouse over the top of the URL (but don’t click anything yet!), you should see the actual linked address (at least this does in Outlook). If the hyperlinked address is different from the address that is displayed, the message is likely fraudulent or dangerous.

2: URLs contain a misleading domain name

People who send these phishing scams often rely on their victims not knowing how the DNS naming structure for domains works. The last part of a domain name is the most telling. For example, the domain name info.SystemSafe.com would be a child domain of SystemSafe.com because

SystemSafe.com appears at the end of the full domain name (on the right-hand side). Conversely, SystemSafe.malware.com would clearly not have originated from SystemSafe.com because the reference to SystemSafe.com is on the left side of the domain name.

I have seen this trick used countless times by phishing artists as a way of trying to convince victims that a message came from a company like Microsoft. The phishing artist simply creates a child domain bearing the name Microsoft. The resulting domain name looks something like this: Microsoft.maliciousdomainname.com.

Similarly, the phishing artists also create close-match domains that will trick you without a close look. They take a familiar brand like Target or Microsoft and create a new domain with that brand name slightly misspelled. If you don’t look close, you might miss it. They will take target.com and change it to tarrget.com, or targt-customer-support.com.

3: The message contains poor spelling and grammar

Whenever a large company sends out a message on behalf of the company the message is usually reviewed for spelling, grammar, and several other things. So, if a message is filled with poor grammar or spelling mistakes, it probably didn’t come from a major corporation.

4: The message asks for personal information

No matter how official an email message might look, it’s always a bad sign if the message asks for personal information. Your bank doesn’t need you to send it your account number. It already knows what it is. Similarly, a reputable company should never send an email asking for your password, credit card number, or the answer to a security question.

5: The offer seems too good to be true

There is an old saying that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. That holds especially true for email messages. If you receive a message from someone unknown to you who is making big promises, the message is probably a scam.

6: You didn’t initiate the action

Yesterday I received an email message informing me that I had won the lottery!

The only problem is that I never bought a lottery ticket. If you get a message informing you that you have won a contest you did not enter, you can bet that the message is a scam.

7: You’re asked to send money to cover expenses

One sign of a phishing email is being asked for money. You might not get asked for cash in the initial message. But sooner or later, phishing artists will likely ask for money to cover expenses, taxes, fees, etc. If that happens, you can be assured it’s a scam.

8: The message makes unrealistic threats

Although most phishing scams try to trick people into giving up cash or sensitive information by promising instant riches, some phishing attempts use intimidation to scare victims into giving up information. If a message contains unrealistic threats, it’s likely a scam

9: The message appears to be from a government agency

Phishers who use intimidation don’t always pose as a bank. Often, they’ll send messages claiming to have come from a law enforcement agency, the IRS, or just about any other entity that might scare the average law-abiding citizen.

I can’t tell you how government agencies work outside the United States. But here, government agencies don’t normally use email as an initial point of contact, and law enforcement agencies follow certain protocols. They don’t engage in email-based extortion—at least, not in our experience.

10: Something just doesn’t look right

In Las Vegas, casino security teams are taught to look for anything that JDLR—just doesn’t look right, as they call it. The idea is that if something looks off, there’s probably a good reason why. This same principle almost always applies to email messages. If you receive a message that seems suspicious, it’s usually in your best interest to avoid acting on the message.

To Summarize:

In summary, think before you click! You need to have your guard up and be leery of getting scammed. Use common sense and trust your instincts.

If you have any questions, or if you have fallen victim to a phishing email and need help getting problems resolved on your business computer or business network, we can help! You can learn all about our Managed IT Solutions here at our website, or you can contact us by calling (888) 799-4777.

Backup

What Backup is Right for You?

Backup. You know you should be doing it and you are constantly worrying about it when you haven’t. So, you start looking at backups and well, there are a lot of options out there, so how do you choose?

After reviewing this information, if you’d like to have a discussion about your business backup needs, we’d love to help out! You can reach us by calling the number at the top of this page, or you can learn more by going to this page, or you can request an IT consultation at this page.

Here are two, high level questions that you should ask and answer first during your honorary quest for a solution that meets your business goals:

Question 1 – What RTO (Recovery Time Objective) does our business need?

Question 2 – How often do I need backups to occur?

Let’s take a look at each question to make sure you are aware of all the possibilities.

What RTO (Recovery Time Objective) does our business need?

Here are the available options:

  • Immediate (recovery of data)
  • 15 minutes
  • 1 day
  • 1 week
  • 2 weeks
  • And many other times in-between

When answering this question, think about the business implications when your server is down.

Essentially, what you are asking yourself is “how much does it cost if I do not have access to information on my server or other line of business application on my server for ‘X’ amount of time (lost revenue, lost productivity, etc.).”

If it is costly to your business or can result in mistakes from staff, you should consider getting a backup solution that has a small RTO. This is particularly important in Healthcare and other regulated industries.

For example: Those who store and use PHI are required by the HIPAA security rule to put forth a business continuity plan. Part of this plan is to explain how they will continue to operate their business in the event of a software failure, hardware failure or other natural disaster.

The lower the RTO, the higher the cost. See Figure A below:

Figure A

How often do I need backups to occur?

Here are some available options:

  • Always backing up
  • Once per hour
  • Once per day
  • Once per week
  • Or, a lot of different options in between

When answering this question, think about the business implications if you were to lose fifteen minute’s worth of data, a week’s worth of data or a month’s worth of data.

How would each of these impact your business?

For businesses processing lots of transactions, even a minute of data loss can be very costly. Many small businesses can survive with some data loss, but any data loss comes at a cost. As a result, it is left to business decision makers to determine what the cost of recovering or recreating the data would be and what the potential loss of revenue might be if the data is not able to be recovered or recreated.

The smaller the increments between backups, the higher the cost. See Figure B below:

Figure B

The graphs above (Figure A & B) are based on observed industry trends. You will notice that the trend for both RTO and the length of backup intervals is the same.

The highest cost backup solutions are one in which there are systems in place to allow for no downtime and no data loss, while the lowest cost have the potential for extended downtimes and much data loss during an outage.

There are many more considerations when choosing a solution, but I believe spending some time answering the first two questions will help narrow the playing field. Once you have answered these two questions, and you know what is needed to meet your business goals, then you can continue the quest of finding the backup that is right for your business.

Here are some other questions you may want to consider before taking the plunge!

Does the backup meet regulatory requirements such as HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley?

A very important consideration for those who must meet regulatory requirements is if a particular solution will help you meet that requirement. Those that have to meet HIPAA compliance have to sign a BAA (Business Associate Agreement) with the backup vendor you choose. This is not optional, so make sure the vendor you choose is willing to sign this agreement.

Is the data encrypted at rest and in transit?

Cybercriminals are always trying to steal data, yours is no exception!

Your data should be encrypted at every level:

  • During backup
  • At rest (locally; if the solution you choose stores backups locally)
  • In transit to a remote data center
  • At rest in the data center

The vast majority of backup solutions have this capability, steer away from any that do not!

How long is the retention period?

How long do you need to retain your data?

Be aware that retention times can vary from local backups to cloud backups. Find out what the retention policy is for both and make sure it meets your business goals.

Who monitors the backup? Me, the customer, or you, the vendor?

Most businesses outsource backups because they do not have the expertise to handle it themselves. When it comes to identifying and resolving an issue, are you the one who makes that call? Backups that you monitor and maintain are going to be less expensive, but will also be left up to you to make sure it is working. There is no right or wrong answer here, just make sure you know who is responsible for detecting and solving problems that occur.

Is it an image based backup or file based backup?

This should basically be answered when determining your RTO requirements, but still important to ask. An image based backup is one where the whole server is backed up, including the operating system, settings, etc. A file based backup solution is one where individual files and folders are backed up, but the operating system and other settings are not included. In the event of a failure, the image based backups can be restored to another machine, while retaining all the settings, thus eliminating the many man hours required to rebuild the server. This is not done with a file based backup. Clearly, an image based backup is the best option if you need to be back in business quickly.

If you do not need to be back up and running in a hurry, or if there is very little reconfiguration required, then a file based backup may work for you and save you some money.

What Backup System is Right for your Business?

In summary, you are the master of your destiny!

The solutions out there are endless and can be daunting, but answering the questions above will give you the weapons you need to make the right decision on your quest to find the backup that works for you!

Two options to consider

Depending on what the needs are of your practice or your business, neither of these products may interest you. However, we do have two products to offer that many practices and businesses have found to be a good fit for them. Both of these products are very good, but they are for business that have different needs.

1. HIPAA Compliant Automatic Cloud Backup

This product is designed for those on a budget, but are in need of a quality solution.

This backup system backs up data files only, but those files can be restored quickly. The backups are encrypted at very highest levels, and the backups are done automatically for you at an interval you choose (typically about once per day).

This may be a product you are interested in. If so, please contact one of our product specialists!

2. HIPAA Compliant Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) Server

This is a much more robust system and protects all of your data files along with all of your programs and operating system. With this solution there is a local backup appliance (BDR Server) that is backing up everything on your server locally at a very frequent intervals, then sending the backups offsite to the cloud every day.

This means that you are very well prepared for when the server crashes, is stolen or some other man made or natural disaster occurs.

When a disaster does occur, you will be able to fail over to the local backup appliance or to the cloud! On most occasions your business can normally be operating again within an hour!

Something you would like to learn more about? Please contact us!

You can speak to a backup product specialist by calling us at: 888-799-4777