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Increase Your Productivity with Dual Monitors

Conventional wisdom states that cluttered workspaces lead to a disorganized mind. Mess prevents productivity and begins to hamper professionalism. Shouldn’t that apply to the computer desktop too?

The simplest way to clean and organize your digital desktop is to add more space. Just adding a second screen doubles the available room and makes organization a breeze.

Getting work done with a single-monitor setup is a balance of poor compromises. There never seems to be enough space and the little space available is full of clutter and mess. Switching between windows or tabs wastes time and distracts from work to be done. Stacking windows together, side-by-side, or top and bottom wastes valuable screen real estate. The resulting clutter of windows makes it hard to focus on what is important.

While most tasks can be tackled feasibly with a single monitor; two makes the same tasks faster, simpler, and much more enjoyable.

Two Monitors, Many Uses

Data entry with two monitors is far easier than data entry with one. Having source data on one screen, laid out in large type, and the destination on another makes the job a breeze. By eliminating the need to scroll tiny windows or switch tabs, forget and repeat; the same job can be done in a fraction of the time.

Graphic design, image manipulation, and editing are key areas that make the most of a dual screen setup.

Stacking one image on each screen allows you to make quick comparisons to make sure your work is going in the right direction. Organizing your editing space is made simple too. Stacking your tools, menus, and options on one monitor with your image maximized on the other helps to stay focused and finish the task.

Beyond Just Two

Having more than a single screen helps you to track tasks you need to keep on the back burner. A team chat window to keep on top of collaboration, status updates for business-critical services, or the latest stock price. These windows and dialogues can remain open and serving updates on a secondary screen while you keep your work focused on your first.

It is not uncommon for stock traders or financial analysts to maintain 6 or more screens running from a single computer. Many uses this to track various stocks or indices so they don’t miss a beat.

Setup How You Like It

Multiple monitors can be arranged in almost any practical configuration imaginable. While traditionally positioned in landscape orientation, second, third, or fourth monitors are often rotated 90 degrees to portrait orientation.

This setup is used often by software engineers, editors, and users reviewing large amounts of text. The lengthwise orientation allows multiple pages to be read from the screen at any one time.

Multi-screen setups, no matter how they are arranged, behave the same as if all the monitors were just a single screen. Mouse input moves from one monitor to another as if there was no difference between them. From the user’s perspective, there is no difference to how they interact at all.

A Boost to Productivity

There is a scientific advantage to multi-monitor setups too. A survey by Jon Peddie research found that adding an extra monitor boosted a user’s output by as much as 20 to 30 percent.

A productivity advantage of even 10 percent is prized and very hard to come by in the business world. Receiving a productivity reward of over 20 percent for just the cost of adding a second monitor is something few firms can afford to pass up.

The satisfaction of de-cluttering your digital desktop and keeping your focus in the zone is worth it alone.

Give us a call at 570-779-4018 if you would like us to boost your setup by adding a second monitor.

Why is my Computer Running so SLOW?

Woah, who slammed on the brakes? Your computer used to speed through startup and let you open almost everything at once, but now it’s struggling to crawl along! Everything takes so much longer or crashes without warning. Something isn’t right. If it’s gotten so bad that you’ve found yourself drooling over the idea of a new computer, even though your system isn’t that old, we’ve got some good news: you can get your whizzy speeds back with a little TLC.

Computers generally start slowing down within 12 months, but it’s not because their parts are broken. And it’s not because they’re faulty. It’s not even because you have so many browser tabs open that you lose count. Slow computers have a number of causes, but the most common ones are easily fixed.

Background programs

Whenever your computer is turned on, it’s running programs in the background. You didn’t start them and they may not be essential to operation, but off they go anyway. You can’t even see some of them, they don’t have windows or anything to look at. A good example is your antivirus program. You don’t need to see it all the time, but you know it’s running in the background, protecting you. Over time, more and more programs might slip into the background and casually suck up your resources, like iTunes helper, Acrobat updater, Cortana listening, Skype or Spotify. We can speed up your system by setting these background programs to run only when you need them, or remove them completely.

Application bloat

How do you improve last year’s version of a program? Add more features! The problem with this is the applications become bloated with features you may not need (or even know about), but that keep needing more and more resources. Each time the developers review their programs, they assume you’ve bought the latest and greatest computer and can run whatever they release. This means a slow computer can sneak up after an auto-update. You may not even know the update happened, just that your computer is suddenly making you very unhappy. Eventually, your system grinds to a halt. We can remove unused applications or increase your computer power as required.

Slow hard drives

Your data is stored on a part called the hard drive. It’s usually a mechanical type that works like a record player, with a spinning platter and a ‘needle’ reading it. If your data is spread out across lots of places on the platter, the hard drive head ‘needle’ has to go backwards and forwards thousands of times just to retrieve a single file. Unsurprisingly, that takes more time to bring up your file. We can optimize your data to give the hard drive head a break, but an even better solution is to upgrade to an SSD. That’s a Solid State Drive that stores data in memory chips, like your USB drive, and has no moving parts. Without the physical need to move a hard drive needle, your computer can access data much faster.

Unfortunately, once your computers starts slowing, for whatever reason, the problem only gets worse. The background programs will continue to multiply, the bloat keeps coming, and the hard drive begs for relief. Rather than buy a whole new system though, it’s completely possible for your current computer to go back to being lightning fast – and for a fraction of the cost.

Give us a call at 570-779-4018 if your computer is running slow

Remote Support

When and Why You Should Use Remote Support

If you’ve ever had a sudden computer problem, you know it can be very stressful. So much of our day-to-day life requires having access to a working computer.

Homework, budgeting, bills, even browsing dinner recipes all have a degree of urgency that mean dealing with a broken computer isn’t comfortable for long. Your computer technician offers two options: remote repair or bring it in. Which is the best choice for you?

Benefits of Remote Support

Speed: If remote repair is a possibility, your technician can connect via the Internet and have you operational in no time. You might also choose to just leave it turned on in the morning and go to work as normal, while the tech logs in to conduct the repair, ready for your return. Without this option, you’d need to juggle time in your diary to drop the system off as most in-store techs only work 9-5.

Convenience: You get to skip the unpleasant tasks of unplugging the PC, untangling the cables and carting it into the repair store. Even then, once repaired, you’d still be privileged with carrying it back home and playing a game of which-plug-goes-where.

Computers may be getting smaller, but they’re still heavy and fiddly! Laptops are designed to be moved around often and it may not be a problem to stop at the repair store, but traveling with a desktop PC requires a little more effort and a lot more inconvenience.

Negatives of Remote Support

Limited repair options: A remote connection can only repair certain software problems, not hardware problems. It’s impossible for the technician to swap out a failed part remotely, and unless you’re confident in your own repair skills, guided physical repair isn’t viable either.

Occasionally the problem will also be outside the computer, perhaps a troublesome peripheral or connection. Your technician may be able to walk you through correcting some of these minor problems yourself, but most invariably require a physical call-out.

Connection speed: A slow or unstable connection will make a remote repair take longer and increase the difficulty of the task. The extended time impacts the cost for the call, and in extreme cases, can negate any benefits of skipping the physical inspection. Your connection needs to allow the technician to see real-time responses as if they were sitting there in person.

Accessibility: If your computer won’t start or can’t connect to the Internet at all, your technician can’t log in. This includes seeing a ‘blue screen of death’, boot failure and Windows load failure. As much as they’d like to help you, being able to log in to your system is a vital step in the remote repair process.

Remote support and repair is the ideal situation, purely for speed and convenience. As a bonus, in the event the remote repair is unsuccessful, it also means your tech now has a better idea of the problem and can speed up any on-site repairs. Remote support is the best option for many repairs and gets your computer working again with minimal disruption and lowest cost.

Need a repair? Call us at 570-779-4018 for rapid remote support.

Windows Vista End-of-Life: What This Means For You

The countdown is on for Windows Vista users. On 11th April 2017, Microsoft will cease all support and security patching, just like they did with previous Windows versions. Naturally, you’re rather attached to your current operating system and not exactly leaping for joy at this news!

Unfortunately, the longer your computer goes without an upgrade, the higher the chance of a complete system breach. While you’re watching the count-down and thinking about scheduling an upgrade sometime soon, cyber-criminals are making plans of their own. As time progresses, they’ll actively target out-of-date systems and search for vulnerabilities.

Even the most stalwart Vista user must finally upgrade, as continuing to use it will expose your computer to some pretty confronting risks, including:

Security risks: While Microsoft may have patched the gaps exploited during the Vista lifetime, there are many more just waiting to be discovered. It gets worse: your antivirus program is unlikely to intercept these attacks. Hackers are extremely fast to exploit newly-discovered vulnerabilities and without Microsoft working just as fast to close them, the risk increases exponentially every time you turn the computer on.

Compliance risks: For business users, this is a big one. Many businesses are subject to conditions that require them to run an operating system that’s regularly patched. For those working with sensitive, legal or private data, this is even more important. Continuing to use an unsupported OS places not just the system security at risk, but also the entire business.

Software incompatibility: New applications are created exclusively for current operating systems. This means you can’t upgrade past the software you now have, and will soon be phased out of new updates and options across all application types.

No support: Vista mainstream support was stopped back in 2012 but there were always avenues if you were really stuck with something. A quick Google search, an expert on call or even sympathetic support staff at Microsoft helpdesk willing to bend the rules; as of 11 April though, that all stops. The only support available will be outdated pieces you can locate with Google, solutions which may send you in circles with no resolution.

Windows Vista End-of-Life: What This Means For You

The solution is quite simple: upgrade your computers to Windows 10 well before the April 11 deadline.

Windows 10 is the latest release and will give your upgrade investment the most value over time, as well as the best security Windows users have ever seen. Vista will continue to work after April 11, but every day you use it puts your system at increasingly higher levels of risk.

Get in contact by calling us at 570-779-4018 to upgrade your Windows.

Do you have enough ram for Windows 10?

ram for windows 10In the Microsoft system requirements, it states you need 2 GB (64-bit systems) of ram for Windows 10. Is this enough? From our research and testing, it seems that 2GB will just barely function. Add some background programs and start to open other programs and the system will start to struggle. Forget about opening a modern web browser with a few tabs. This will just chew up any reserve memory you might have had. We recommend 4GB at a minimum if you plan on upgrading on or after this July 29th (P.S. not everyone will get windows 10 July 29th even if you reserved a copy). Please let us know if you need help determining if you have enough ram for Windows 10 or checking to see if you meet the other system requirements.

Microsoft 2003 Server is Expiring

Microsoft 2003 Server is ExpiringDo you still have Microsoft 2003 server in your business?

Windows Server 2003 support is ending July 14, 2015. No more security updates. No more software support. Security software vendors will stop supporting Windows 2003 Server.

It is time to migrate to something else. There are benefits to making the move. Right off the top, you will be looking at new server hardware, so your processing power will increase. You probably don’t realize how tired your old server is. There are also security benefits. Microsoft Server 2012 R2 is much more secure than 2003 and it will continue to receive security updates until 1/10/2023. If you are interested in cloud services, Server 2012 R2 is much more cloud-friendly than 2003 server. Sharing files and integrating with services can be accomplished with less setup time. There are a number of other technical reasons to upgrade that would bore you, but the basic premise of all of them is efficiency and then end goal is to save time and money.

There are a number of upgrade options available but if you are using Microsoft now, you probably want to stay Microsoft. If that is not the case, there are some Linux alternatives that may make your pocketbook happy.  Regardless, we can help you through the migration process. Contact us and our system consultants will set up an appointment to review your current system so we can help you make a migration plan. Some of our customers have chose to replace their Microsoft Exchange Servers with some form of hosted Exchange.  Others have decided to virtualize and keep their own Exchange Server. Businesses that do not use the full features of Exchange server have opted to switch to a different service which allows almost a direct conversion to Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. Each of these options has their own advantages and disadvantages. Let us help you make the decision on what type of solution is best for you.

We, at Herstek & Associates, know it is always a big expense to upgrade server systems, but it will be a bigger expense later if you do not upgrade your Microsoft 2003 Servers now.

 

Windows 10 Preview

I downloaded the new Windows 10 preview and took a peak.  The file copy and task manger are still there.  The start menu feels nice.  It it a little different then the windows 7 menu.  There is a mini version of metro (looks more like a windows phone screen) on the start menu.  I didn’t play with it too much but I didn’t mind it there.  The apps behave like normal programs rather then gobbling up the whole screen.  You can re-size them and and minimize them.  So far I am pretty happy with what I am seeing. The install still prompts you for a Microsoft account and to download and install apps you still need to be signed in.  Not my favorite thing but I guess it is true of all the app based software.

I will update after I have looked at it and installed some more software.