Email: Effectively Manage the Monster with Batch Processing

June 24th, 2014 by Pamela Michael

For many of us, our day at the office starts the same each day. We greet our coworkers, grab our first cup of coffee, sit down at our desk, and log in to our computer. Next, it begins:  A constant flow of interruptions streaming from our Inbox. Sounds, pop-ups, and color changing icons, often arriving simultaneously on each of our devices, decimating concentration and demanding our immediate attention.

According to a study on email statistics by The Radicati Group, over 100 billion business emails are sent and received each day. That’s a lot of email interruption! What’s more, Gloria Mark, associate professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, estimates that it takes about three minutes on average to regain focus after a task shift, such as responding to an alert, occurs. Wow! That means just 4 email interruptions could erode productivity by as much as 20% of every hour of our day!

So what is the solution? For many, the answer lies in batch processing; setting clearly defined time frames for addressing emails. Turn off the alerts or close the program while you work. Then, schedule blocks of time for email just as you do your other tasks and projects. By spending just 20-30 focused minutes, two to three times per day, your overall productivity could increase by as much as 40%.  Additionally, by scheduling these email sessions in the morning and afternoon you will be able to schedule other work triggered by the emails, reply, and have that response acknowledged during the same business day.

Give it a try!


The Crypto Virus: Are your files safe?

June 11th, 2014 by MVI Team

You own a computer, so you’ve certainly become familiar with the threat of computer viruses; destructive pieces of software that work to negatively impact productivity and, in some cases, maliciously breech the security of your most sensitive data. For years we’ve worked to prevent the annoying pop-ups and slowed processing caused when these pests sneak their way onto our machines unknowingly attached to files or downloads. Today, however, a far more vicious threat is being used by cyber-criminals to make millions of dollars off vulnerable prey.

The Crypto Virus, also known as “Ransomware,” is a relatively new attack that works by locking down your machine or encrypting your files, rendering them inaccessible. They become password protected, at which time you receive a message similar to this:

Your files are now held hostage, with the password (or key) offered for a price. If you fail to deliver on the payment, your files are locked forever.

There is no perfect reaction to this kind of infection. Rather, being proactive and PREVENTING the attack is best. If you have the Securelink Essentials Anti-virus plan, you’re already covered. Other anti-virus and malware solutions may also prevent infection; speak with your IT resource for further details if you’re unsure.

If you DO become infected, here are some simple first steps to minimize the damage:

  • Do NOT give your credit card number to pay for your files release. Cases have been reported where, even after payment is made, files were not decrypted. In addition, you’ll have now exposed your credit card number to the added risk of fraud and identity theft.
  • Contact your IT resource(s). Let them know you think you’ve been infected. It may not be too late to seek help.
  • Avoid plugging flash drives/removable media into your workstation. The infection can lock down these files as well.

Again, the best defense against this type of attack is to prevent it. Additionally, faithfully performing scheduled backups can eliminate countless headaches should your important files be permanently encrypted or corrupt.

If you would like information on how Securelink Essentials can work behind the scenes securing your data and managing routine backups, please contact us today.

 


TechSpot Article – Google bans Chrome extensions that don’t originate from the Web Store.

June 10th, 2014 by Pamela Michael

If you regularly use extensions for your Chrome browser, you may want to check out this latest article published in TECHSPOT. Google is now only allowing extensions to be installed from the Chrome Web Store directly. The change marks an effort to cut down on the number of malware installations.

See below for a link to the article in it’s entirety.

CALL US at 616.776.0400 if you are having trouble accessing any of your favorite extensions, or for more information about keeping your office secure.

TECHSPOT  – In an effort to cut down on the number of Chrome malware installations, Google is now only allowing browser extensions to be installed directly from the Chrome Web Store. It’s a move the company says will help keep its users safe as they browse the web.

The change will also affect extensions that were previously installed. Google tells us that some may be automatically disabled and cannot be re-enabled or re-installed until they’re hosted in the Chrome Web Store.

Google will, however, continue to support local extension installs during development as well as installs via Enterprise policy for the developer community. Those with a dedicated installation flow from their website can also make use of the existing inline installs feature. As such, Windows developer channel users are unaffected by these changes.

It’s worth pointing out that these changes only apply to Windows users and only to those using the stable or beta builds of Chrome. It has no impact on Chrome for Mac, Linux or Chrome OS.

If you do notice that some of your favorite extensions are now shut down, there really isn’t much you can do about it (short of changing browsers or operating systems) except hope that the developer gets them approved by Google and added to the Chrome Web Store.

Google already employs a number of features to keep the bad guys out. For example, Safe Browsing alerts users if they’ve stumbled upon a potentially dangerous site or download while a reset button has been implemented in the event your settings get hijacked.


Looking for additional FLEXIBILITY and SAVINGS? It might be time for Office 365.

June 5th, 2014 by MVI Team

Micro Visions, Inc. Office 365 Email Certainly you’ve heard of Microsoft Office. In fact, you’re probably a user of the 2010 or 2013 version of the software. But are you familiar with Office 365?

Office 365 is a version of the Microsoft Office Suite that runs in the cloud. Meaning, it runs on a host of servers out on the internet. Though still a relatively new way to use software, cloud computing is quickly gaining traction in a variety of business environments, mostly due to the many advantages that being in the cloud offers.

First and foremost, Office 365 does not use local Exchange servers for email; it is all hosted in the cloud. What this means is that instead of your single local Exchange server, there are a cluster of Exchange 365 servers handled by Microsoft. This eliminates your company’s need to host and maintain an Exchange server. Not only does this save on energy costs, but backups and fail-overs are all done on Microsoft’s end; you don’t have to do a thing. This allows you to keep focused on the task at hand, and leaves the day-to-day maintenance to Microsoft.

The rest of Office 365 Suite functions much like its locally-installed counterpart, with virtually no differences in daily operation. Additionally, from an ownership standpoint, Office 365 brings with it one significant benefit; the ability to recover and recycle users. To explain, let’s use a hypothetical scenario: Tom has been working at your company for several years and is getting ready to retire next month. Tom is an Office 365 user, and has the software installed on both his laptop and desktop. Tom’s replacement, Nancy, is starting the week after Tom departs. You want to make sure Tom no longer has access to his account once he leaves, while also guaranteeing that Nancy can easily log in. With Office 365, the only thing you would need to do is remove Tom’s old account from your Office 365 licenses and replace it with Nancy. No additional purchases are required, no bothersome disc management, and no change in your monthly costs. You are merely swapping out Tom for Nancy.

Wondering if Office 365 might be a good fit for your company? Call us for a free consultation.

Micro Visions can walk you through the decision process, answer any additional questions you may have, and help develop a plan for a seamless migration.