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Copeland Data News - January, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happ New Year 2014As we look back attempting to learn from our experiences over the past year, we also want to look ahead and prepare for new challenges and business opportunities that 2014 will bring.  Technology is central to recognizing and approaching these opportunities and challenges.  It dictates what we do and how we do it.

That being said, if you think of anything that applies to your situation today or in the future, never hesitate to drop us a note.  We are here to help and serve you in any way we can.

Thank you,

Tom

In this issue of Copeland Data News

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Senior PCs

Once upon a time, when a PC was purchased, it could run for five or more years under some capacity.  Older machines could be relegated to other duties, such as Internet or email machines.

Those days are coming to an end. The recent trend in larger security-focused operating system updates and essential third-party virus protection means that PCs today need more robust hardware to run well.  Today's PCs (Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8) need a good amount of memory and, most importantly, a fast enough CPU to run the latest software.

Old ComputerHistorically, applications defined what processor was needed and most users were not running CPU-intensive applications like CAD or graphic design software.  Today, a fast CPU and a fair amount of memory is necessary just to support the operating system and anti-virus software.

What does this mean in a business setting?  Older machines, especially those running Windows XP, need to be replaced.  In addition to the end of support (and Windows XP security updates) from Microsoft (see below), most of the hardware that was used to run Windows XP machines is no longer adequate to do the job.  Consider doing a survey of your environment and devise a plan for retiring any old hardware running Windows XP.  The quicker you identify and replace these problematic machines, the less you will spend on trying to support these older machines in the current "need for speed" environments.

CryptoLocker Virus

While there's always plenty of virus activity, one virus in particular (CryptoLocker) got it's fair share of attention this year.  Once this virus infects a PC, it crawls local and networked drives, encrypting every document it can find.  Though your operating system still boots, every document (Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, photos, etc.) becomes inaccessible unless you have the private key to decrypt them.

Encrypted LaptopWhat makes this virus strange is that the creators of the virus hold your documents ransom in this encrypted state until a sum of money is paid within days.  This is called "ransomware," a new category of virus.  Typically, a sum of $300-$10,000 is requested via a credit card or bitcoin. Once the amount is paid, a decryption key is issued to the victim, who now needs to go to each and every encrypted file on the local PC and network and decrypt it – a very time-consuming process.

Please remind all users to not click on attachments that look unfamiliar and only open files they are expecting from trusted sources.  This virus is targeting home and business users alike, and emails pretending to be UPS or FedEx with zipped attachments have been known to carry the CryptoLocker virus. Please take a moment to warn all of your users about opening suspicious email attachments and remind them to click on links only from known and trusted sources.

Supporting Windows XP

Windows XP has been a good operating system for many years, both for home and for business. That was then...

Old LaptopThis is now. Windows XP now faces plenty of challenges. We already discussed the hardware limitations in this newsletter, and now we must address the operating system itself.  Microsoft has declared that April 8, 2014 is the last day that Windows XP will be supported.  Not only does this mean that technical support will be unavailable from Microsoft for Windows XP systems, but more importantly it means that Windows XP will no longer receive Windows Updates.  Recent updates have been primarily security patches, and beginning April 9, 2014, these updates will no longer be provided.

Security experts warn of infections following the end of support for Windows XP, as any security holes discovered after that date will not be patched and hackers will certainly exploit these holes.  This can be devastating, because once a virus makes its way onto one machine, it can more easily attack other machines on the network - the weakest link principle.

Please be aggressive in reviewing and replacing your Windows XP machines as soon as possible.  The longer this is ignored, the more likely problems will prevail.

FoldersDocuSyst and CDS

DocuSyst, a document management company, and CDS are both proud to announce that we are partnering up to bring document management options to all our customers.  We will be sharing technologies and resources to ultimately better service our customers and their document management needs.

Document management continues to be a hot topic as businesses are starting to see the true cost and inefficiencies of managing information the old way - from inception to storage to retrieval.  Getting a handle on this growing information trail (paper, files in electronic folders, emails, etc.) is essential for working more efficiently. The old ways of placing electronic documents in folders and putting paper into filing cabinets no longer work in dynamic organizations, where subsequent retrieval becomes too costly and time consuming.

Please consider how you are managing your documents, as it may be time to talk about tried and true methods of optimizing the process of document management.  If you have any questions, please drop us a note.

Did You Know?

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Now that it is owned by Microsoft, Skype is being used more frequently for business purposes.  It works well for conference calls (including videoconferencing), in sales situations, and for remote customer support.  Skype enjoys worldwide popularity, which makes it a good tool to use overseas. If you haven't tried Skype yet, you may want to consider setting up a free account to see how it can work with your business.

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The Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 are out, as you may know from the commercials.  The big difference between the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 is that the Surface runs Windows RT and will NOT run legacy Windows applications.  The Surface Pro 2 is a full PC and it runs everything your desktop and laptop currently does.  There are new "Metro" versions of Microsoft Office that can run on the Surface 2, but do not expect much more than that in terms of business applications.  For business users, the Surface Pro 2 is the device to be looked at as a laptop replacement.

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The Blackberry is not likely to exist a year from now, so current users are moving quickly to adopt Android, iPhone/iPad or Windows Phone technologies.  Worth noting, the Blackberry Messaging App is available in the Android and Apple app stores.  BBM has always been a great tool and can be used on these non-Blackberry platforms.

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Windows 8.1 has been released and is available as a free upgrade to many Windows 8 users through the Windows Store. The 8.1 upgrade brings Windows 8 to a slightly better spot. However, most business users are still not ready to abandon Windows 7.

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As new hardware becomes available, traditional laptop users are moving towards the latest tablets, many of which include a keyboard that gives them the best of all worlds.  All-in-one PCs have the processor and memory inside the display and are a good replacement for desktop/tower PCs, especially as prices are getting closer to traditional desktops/towers.

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Wireless networking gets better and better each day.  The latest specification for wireless is 802.11ac, which provides better speed and stability.  If your current wireless solution is working for you, do not run out and get the latest 802.11ac device.  However, if you are encountering stability/connection issues, you may want to consider an upgrade, as wireless technology has come a long way recently.

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When using your smartphone or tablet device, be careful for "counterfeit" apps that may be available. These "fake" apps look like the real thing, but are designed to steal your login information and compromise your real account.  There have been examples of this with popular services like Netflix.  You need to trust the source before you download and install a new app.

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Dropbox is a popular application for PC and mobile devices.  It can be used at home and for business purposes to easily share files across many devices.  Files get physically copied to each PC logged in with the same account, and new files or changes are synched to all other devices.  Because of space and bandwidth considerations, mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) browse files in the Dropbox cloud and only download them when needed.  This strategy keeps your local mobile devices lean in terms of file space and, at the same time, provides a synched Dropbox experience to the user.  Check out dropbox.com for more information.

Your comments are always appreciated...

Have a comment on anything in this issue of Copeland Data News, or maybe an idea for a future topic you would like us to cover?  Please connect with us on Facebook and let us know your thoughts!