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outsourcing your IT

Outsourcing your IT

Why outsource your IT?  As a Small – Medium Business (SMB), the question of outsourcing your Information Technology (IT) may have frequently crossed your mind, especially with the surging security breaches that the media outlets seem to broadcast weekly.  Whether your business does not already have a dedicated IT Department or if you are seeking complementary services to your already established IT infrastructure, outsourcing your IT technology can provide tremendous benefits to your business.  Using the 3 R’s (Reasons, Risks & Rewards) can provide a base to examine if outsourcing your IT may be beneficial and effective for your business.     


REASONS to outsource your Managed IT Services

  • Outsourcing is Budget Friendly – Cost Effective – Reduce & Control Operating Costs.
  • Would your business like to improve your and Your Employees’ Focus and Resources?
  • Would your business like to Reduce Labor Costs?  
  • Is your business finding it difficult to keep up to date with Routine Maintenance on Workstations and Servers?
  • Is your business finding it difficult to start or manage IT Projects?
  • Make capital available for other means in your business.
  • Reduce Security Risks.


RISKS involved with outsourcing Managed IT Services

Any time you hand over responsibilities for any aspect of your business you are inviting risk. Whether hiring a staff member or outsourced service, you may have lingering hesitations, such as, What are they supposed to do? Or Will they fit in with the company culture? Or Did I hire the right person?  


Some other risks that you may consider when outsourcing your Managed IT Services:


  • Loss of Control – Oversight
  • Confidentiality of DATA – entrusting someone to your company’s intimate practices may seem like a risk, but an Outsourced IT Service provider can also help protect your DATA from ending up in the wrong hands
  • Disaster Recovery – much like confidentiality, an Outsourced IT Service provider can mitigate and help to make a plan for Disaster Recovery
  • Some IT functions are not easily converted
  • Employee Morale
  • Your business may get locked into a contract


REWARDS of outsourcing your Managed IT Services

  • Acquire a Valuable Partner –  a committed Expert of Outsourced Managed IT that provides professional, objective and best practice advice along with keeping up with the most current technology trends.
  • Add to your In-House capabilities.
  • Little to no Human Resource (HR) Investment.  Hiring an employee hosts a staple of expenses from the hiring process, background checks and supplying a space to work to account for benefits, vacation, sick days, worker’s compensation, continued training, employee performance reviews, human resources, and of course, employee turnover.
  • Cost Savings.
  • Flexible to your Company’s changes in size, volume, and strategy.
  • Security – Keeping your Systems updated, leveraging Virus protection and proactively monitoring.
  • Predictable Monthly Budget.
  • Prevent Burnout of Yourself and Employees.


BONUS – Tips to Working with your Outsourced Managed IT

  • Clearly formulate and communicate goals and objectives of the business relationship
  • Have a Strategic Vision
  • Keep Open Communication


Managed IT Outsourcing companies have a lot of experience with different types of businesses and thus – a better understanding of a client’s expectations. This is the main reason why outsourced companies are able to be flexible with your requests and visions. They can even propose new ideas that can change your perspectives. Outsourcing companies see your existing infrastructure from a different vantage point and can customize a solution for your individual business needs.  


About Herstek & Associates, LLC

Herstek & Associates, LLC is a professional outsourced computer service company serving small to medium businesses in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties in Northeast Pennsylvania (NEPA). Our specialties are network planning (network consulting), network projects, and ongoing network/computer maintenance. We pride ourselves in not only delivering the results you expect but also being knowledgeable, systematic, accountable, trustworthy and easy to work with. To speak with a Support Advisor about the the computer support provided by Herstek & Associates, LLC please call us at (570)779-4018 or contact us.

Section 179 Deduction

NEPA Section 179 Deduction

It is a great time of year to take advantage of the section 179 deduction. If you purchase software or equipment by December 31rst, you can deduct the full purchase price and a bonus depreciation. Section 179 is the product of a recent stimulus bill that is geared to help small business grow.

There are limits to what you can purchase. Most computer equipment qualifies. Most “off-the-shelf” software qualifies. PC, Laptops, Servers, and network equipment all qualify. Custom software does not but server-based software, PC operating system upgrades, MS office products, and accounting software like QuickBooks all do.

How about a business class i7-6700, 8GB ram, 250GB SSD with windows 10 pro with a 5-year parts warranty?

business class i7-6700, 8GB, 250GB SSD with windows 10 pro

Or maybe you need a new rack mount server with a Xeon Processor, 32 GB ram, 8TB hot swap raid 5 for your new virtual server host.

 Xeon Processor, 32 GB ram, 8TB hot swap raid 5

Or it could be time to upgrade your aging routers. Maybe a new SG-3100 pfSense router with 2x1GbE (gigabit ethernet) internet ports so that you can keep your business running on a backup internet connection even when the main lines goes down?

SG-3100 pfSense

Or maybe you have read some of my ransomware articles and now you are ready to have a serious disaster recovery system in place. We can configure a local backup system and supplement it with online backup. The hardware for the local backup could fall into the section 179 deduction.

Onsite Bare-Metal Recovery with Cloud Replication
We can source you other products as well. Ready for your Dual monitor setup? How about upgrading your laptop to an SSD drive? Maybe it is time to upgrade the memory on your unit?

Dual Monitor

Contact us now and we will be more than happy to configure a custom quote for whatever you need so you can take advantage of the section 179 deduction this year. Contact us here…






Public Sector IT Security

NEPA Public Sector IT Security

Are you in a NEPA local or state government entity? Are you worried about audits and compliance? Have you been quoted some solution that you can’t afford?

Ask us about our NG firewall and endpoint solutions!

Our NG (next generation) firewall has an option that was designed specifically for state and local government compliance. There are public sector discounts for all the security packages.

Already have a system in place? We ofter a conversion service as well as system optimization service. The NG firewall device can be installed “inline” which means you may not have to replace all your current network hardware.

We will monitor these solutions for you via our MSP/MSSP packages. Monitoring is part of compliance rules!

Some of the key features of Untangled NG Firewall:

  • Helps meet compliance for FISMA, NERC, NIST, FIPS, and several other state and county rules
  • Unique and granular policies for specific departmental and user access
  • Firewall, Router, IPsec VPN, Advanced Antivirus, Intrusion Prevention and Phish Blocking
  • HTTPS/SSL traffic inspection
  • Active Directory/LDAP Integration
  • Prioritize network traffic for mission-critical applications
  • Layer 7 application awareness to identify all incoming application traffic regardless of port destination
  • Prevents network slowdowns caused by any individual or group of users and applications

Give us a call at 570-779-4018 so we can schedule your free consult!


nonprofit nepa

Nonprofit NEPA – What do you do for computer service?

Is your nonprofit company calling for computer support only when things are broken? Are you calling an IT company at all?

IT can be challenging even for larger nonprofit organizations. Many places have older equipment but have a high demand to use new software. Some do not have computer savvy staff to take of the mundane computer tasks. Most appear to have a high employee turnover. A few desire secure remote access. All have sensitive client info that needs to be kept private. All of these things require cybersecurity to be high on the list of priorities as they all present opportunities for hackers and evil doers to gain access.

It is all too expensive to worry about, right? And who would want to hack our small company? You would be surprised. On both counts. Even Non-Profits can get HIPAA Fines. You can still be held accountable for your client’s data loss.

Cybersecurity and IT can be affordable. You may not be a “for profit” business, but you are still an organization that needs to have a secure and efficient computer system. There are many budget-friendly ways to accomplish this for nonprofit companies.

  • Free hosted email
  • Free spam scanning and encryption
  • Low-cost hardware and software options
  • Open source software solutions
  • Donated or Recycled hardware
  • Monthly service or all-inclusive plans that are easier to budget

These are only some examples. If our years of experience working with NPOs has taught us anything, it is each organization is unique and may benefit from different solutions.

Let us take a look at your current setup and see if we can offer some cost-effective solutions to get your nonprofit on the right track.


Spring Cleaning For Your Computers!

Spring is in the air here in NEPA! April is right around the corner. It is starting to warm up. You can feel the power of the spring sun. I can’t wait until it is in full swing so we can open the windows and breath the fresh air. However, before that happens, you should take care of all your computer issues so that you aren’t stuck inside recovering from computer system problems!


Spring Cleaning For Your Computer Systems!

When was the last time your computers were physically cleaned inside? Dirt and dust can accumulate on fans and filters causing poor circulation and increased the average temperature inside the computer and laptop case. Heat is the enemy of computers. It can cause odd issues like the PC acting peculiar, programs closing unexpectedly, slow performance, and shorten the life of your computer hardware. It is one of the main causes of unexpected computer system failure.

How about the system software and Windows or Mac OS (operating system)? When was the last time you had a thorough checkup? You need to keep your PCs and servers up to date so that security holes can not be exploited. Reviewing your current security system to find out if there are any more steps you need to take is a great idea as well.

Does your network or wireless need any firmware patches, system updates? Or maybe it is time to consider an upgrade due to aging equipment.

Our Spring Cleaning Service

  • Internal Cleaning – Remove dirt and dust from filters, fans, and physical surfaces
  • System Update – Patch the windows or mac OS to the latest version
  • Software Update – Patch all software to the latest version
  • Security – Make sure your security system is up to date and working properly and review possible network security holes
  • Network and Wireless – Update to the last software and firmware and review for possible hardware upgrades
  • Battery Backup – Verify they are working properly and replace if needed
  • Software Backup – Verify your backup software is working, up to date, and review your disaster recovery plan
  • Storage Needs – Review the data and programs that you still use and remove the ones you don’t

Each customer is unique so the cost will depend on your system size and configuration. Please call (570) 779-4018 for a free estimate.

Our pricing information can be found on our service pages.

Take 20% OFF Spring Cleaning until April 7th!

Call (570) 779-4018 to schedule an appointment before they are all taken!

Spring Cleaning! Time to freshen up your computers!
Spring is on the way!! Our soon to be Tech deep in thought.

NEPA – Need online backup?

Need an online backup solution for your home or business in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton area? We have been using IDrive for years and love its ease of use, affordability, and reliability.

Remember, a good backup is the first line of defense against ransomware! And with IDrive, even if some of your recent data becomes corrupted by a disaster or virus, you can go back in time and retrieve a previous version of the data.

For Residential users: IDrive can backup PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads, Android and Facebook pictures in one account.

For Business users: IDrive can backup servers, Exchange, SQL, NAS, and Mobile devices as well as PC and Macs.

Have too much data to backup? Worried about bandwidth? You can send your data via external drive to IDrive and they will load it to your account for you. That way, you are only uploading changes.

Extra worried about security and don’t want to back up to a public cloud backup service? Try IDrive Vault Private cloud. It works like a private copy of IDrive that you store in your own Amazon (AWS) account.

IDrive is HIPPA, SOX, GLBA and SEC/NASD complaint. If you need help getting is set up, call us to set up and appointment.

Give it a try here: https://www.idrive.com

IDrive Remote Backup

Removing Viruses and Malware

Best offense is a strong defense

Stop using free antivirus software! You need to have a strong defensive system in place. If one of these bugs creeps into your system, it can cause all types of havoc. If you are a residential user, your personal data (documents, photos, etc.) is at risk. Even if you store most of your data in cloud applications, it is not safe.

Malware removal

Malware removalMalware removal can be a tricky thing. Sure you may be able to fix it yourself but how long will it take you? And at what cost to your sanity? We have years of experience removing all type of bugs from all different systems.  Let us take on the headache for you.

The definition of malware is very broad. It includes scareware, adware, trojans, spyware, viruses, ransomware. Some of these things are mostly harmless and just slow down your computer with ads and popups. Others are downright nasty and no matter what you try, they keep coming back. Some of the newer strains of malware lock down your important files (pictures, documents, databases, and more) and the only way to recover them is if you have a backup or pay the ransom.

Even well set up protection can still let some bugs in the system.  If you have some malware and need it gone, we can get rid of it for you and attempt to recover any lost data if possible.

Cybersecurity Tips for Small Business

Cybersecurity is an important subject for businesses of all sizes. This fact has been emphasized by the recent media attention, but it has been a major concern of ours for a long time. Sometimes small businesses struggle with the idea of implementing a cyber security plan because of the additional perceived costs. If done right, these costs can be minimal and more importantly, the cost of having a security breach can be avoided.

Here are a few tips to help your small business:

Train your employees

Make sure your employees understand the consequences of their behavior. Teach them to protect customer, business, and private data. Make sure they know about email risks and danger.

Update your software, PCs, servers, and devices

Keep all your equipment up to date with the latest updates and firmware. This includes routers, switches, wireless APs, PCs, servers, tablets, phones, printers, etc.  Anything that is connected to your network and that has access to your systems should be regularly updated.

Protect your network

Make sure you have a Firewall or preferably some type of UTM (unified threat management) system in place, configured and functioning. I strongly advise against using only the device that your ISP (internet service provider) provides.


Backup! Backup! Backup! This is an often missed yet crucial part of cybersecurity. If you are breached by a hacker, malware or ransomware they may delete all your data. This can cripple or destroy a small business. Make sure you have multiple backup systems and that you regularly check to make sure they are doing the job.

Secure Wireless

Make sure your wireless is secure. You should be using WPA2-PSK at a minimum. If you have guest wireless, make sure that it is encrypted as well. If you don’t have guest wireless, think about installing it and freely giving it to your employees for their personal devices. It will minimize the risk of password sharing, and a properly setup guest system can limit traffic, so they are not taking up all of your valuable bandwidth. Make sure the guest wireless does not access your business network.

Limit access

Control physical access to computers and servers. Make sure each employee has a unique login. Make sure they only have access to the software and data that they need to do their job. Do not allow them to install software.

Use strong passwords

You are probably tired of hearing about strong passwords. I know I am tired of talking about it. It is an important part of cybersecurity, though. There are a number of tools available to create complex passwords you can remember, or there are password managers that allow you to have very complex unique passwords for all your systems with very little inconvenience. If your system allows for the use of multifactor authentication, use it!

Make sure your endpoints have security software

All you PCs, tablets, phones and servers should have some level of security software installed on them. Free software is acceptable at home (although I recommend using a known security company) but it is not adequate for your business. You should also have software with some type of central monitoring so you can keep tabs on your devices.

Make a mobile device plan

If you allow personal and mobile devices access to your business data and email, make sure you have a plan for lost or stolen devices. All of these devices should have passwords, be encrypted and have security software installed.

Cybersecurity - wilkes-barre - NEPA

5 Tips for DIY Small Business Tech

First, the disclaimer: I do not advocate DIY small business tech. I highly recommend having a computer consulting company help you design and support your IT system. Of course, I would say that because that is how I make my living. However, I am a business owner too and if there is one thing I have learned, it is that you can’t (or shouldn’t) do everything yourself. An IT firm will save you time and money and can work with your budget. Since some of you are going to try to be a DIY small business tech anyway, here are some tips to help out.

Tip # 1 – Backup!

It is very important to make sure you have multiple backup systems in place. Beyond the obvious chance of data loss due to a system crash or hardware failure, there is the constant threat of malware and ransomware.

If you are mostly cloud based, make sure to export or download your data to somewhere local and then backup that data to a secondary system or device. If you are mostly internal, you should have an online backup and a local backup. If you do not want an online backup for security or cost reasons, you should have an offsite backup. This means you should have at least one backup device that you take away from your primary place of business at least once per week.

It doesn’t hurt to have all three (offline, online and local) backup. Some of the new malware and ransomware is extremely sophisticated. The more backups, the better.

Tip #2 – Security!

Some small business owners think “it will never happen to me” or “how can I afford to protect myself if these big companies can’t” or “Who would want our data?” It is your responsibility to protect you, your employees and your customers. In some cases, you can be held accountable if you have not taken reasonable precautions to protect your system. Criminals are targeting small business just because they are generally easier to break into.

This doesn’t means that you have to spend large amounts of money. A reasonably safe system can be built on a limited budget without any real monthly costs. If you want to build your own security system, look into pfSense, and Ubiquiti Networks. I strongly recommend purchasing antivirus and not using a free version. Kaspersky, Symantec, Sophos or any of the more popular security companies are better than the free versions.

Do not forget to use strong passwords and if possible multi-factor authentication.

Keep your devices, systems and software up to date.

Limit employee access to data and information and limit authority to install software

Tip #3 – Spend time researching your software

I have a client that was very disappointed after they moved to a cloud version of their favorite accounting package. They had decided to do this without consulting us. Don’t get me wrong; there are some great SaaS (software as a service) cloud systems out there, but there are differences from your favorite desktop version. In this particular case, the online version only allowed one company per account, and they wanted control of your data. One client wanted to switch back to the desktop version, and they had to re-enter one month worth of data because the online version would not give them their data back even though it was the same brand.

The point is, take your time and research thoroughly before committing to a new product. If possible, take advantage of the trial software and setup a test system. Read the fine print. There also may be free open source software they could just be what you are looking to help run your company.

Tip #4 – Do not neglect your network

Please do not tell me you are running your high-speed cable system and brand new desktop PC through a circa 1999 Linksys firewall/router and eight port hub. Network equipment must be kept up to date. That Linksys router and hub are making your internet system very slow and unsafe. If your equipment is really that old, you may need new wiring as well. This may sound expensive, but you are losing productivity due to your slow network. Even if you equipment is only five years old, there can still be speed and safety concerns.

Also, wireless technology is becoming more and more crucial to small business, and if your wireless system is more than a few years old, you should consider upgrading that as well. There are faster and more reliable systems at affordable prices. You need solid wireless coverage and should offer a guest version to your employees and possibly your clients unless you want to take on the security risk and burden of monitoring their devices in your network as well.

You should avoid consumer class networking equipment. The price is right, but they lack the security features and performance you need.

Tip #5 – Don’t buy cheap computers

I know you want to save money, but cheap computers or devices from your favorite big box store will cost you more in the long run. They usually do not last as long. They are slower and less productive from the start. They generally come loaded with software you do not need. They also usually do not come with the pro version of windows. The Pro version has extra security features the other versions do not. For example, Window 10 Pro has encryption options built in. Business class PCs have longer warranties and better parts so they will last a long time.

5 Tips for DIY Small Business Tech - NEPA

Support ends for SQL Server 2005

The end of support for SQL Server 2005 is April 12, 2016.

If you are running SQL Server 2005 you should migrate to SQL Server 2014 or 2016 ASAP. End of support means that there will be no more security updates and hotfixes are no longer available from Microsoft. It also means that new software will stop supporting SQL 2005. The newer versions of SQL server are also faster and more efficient.

Don’t wait a few more years. You will run the risk of using unsupported upgrade paths which increase the cost of the upgrade.

Contact us today for more information.

SQL Server 2005 end of support