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Easy Tasks to Maintain Your Windows PC

June 21st, 2010

Occasionally clients ask us what they can do to maintain their computer with the intention to speed it up and keep it clean and running well. Although there is a laundry list of things that could and should be done to keep your computer clean and running well, here are three items that can at least get you started and that don’t require a technical expert to configure or adopt..

Disk Defragmentation

Disk defragmentation is the process of resorting all the data on a hard drive so that it starts at the beginning of the disk and is ordered in a sequential nature. Defragmentation is of vital importance to maintaining a properly running computer.

Below is a video demonstrating this on Windows 7. The same concept applies if you’re using Windows XP although the exact location may vary slightly.

http://www.productivecomputing.com/blog/video_library/EasyThingsYouCanDo/defrag.flv

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Disk Cleanup

The idea of disk cleanup is to remove files that you don’t need anymore. The main purpose is to save hard drive disk space. Although the act of removing files from your computer may not result in noticeable speed increases, it’s always a good idea to only store what you need and remove what you don’t. The more files you have on the computer the more your computer has to keep track of those files in its internal index.

Below is a video demonstrating this on Windows 7. The same concept applies if you’re using Windows XP although the exact location may vary slightly.

http://www.productivecomputing.com/blog/video_library/EasyThingsYouCanDo/Disk Cleanup.flv

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System Updates

System updates are important releases that either patch or enhance the operating system and related operating system components. The updates are generally comprised of recommended and optional updates.

Although few could argue that installing a required security update is important, many are perplexed by exactly how and when these updates take place. Some would argue that the updates happen at the most inconvenient times like when you’re trying to shut your computer down on your way out to appointment and you get the screen that says “Installing updates 1 of… please do not shut down your computer…” To avoid this from happening, you can schedule when your system to automatically downloads and performs updates.

Below is a video demonstrating this on Windows 7. The same concept applies if you’re using Windows XP although the exact location may vary slightly.

http://www.productivecomputing.com/blog/video_library/EasyThingsYouCanDo/Install Updates.flv

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PCI Becomes an Apple Authorized Solution Provider

August 26th, 2009

Productive Computing, Inc. adds Apple Authorized Solution Provider to its Growing List of Certifications

San Diego, CA – August 25, 2009 – Productive Computing, Inc., a Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance, is proud to announce earning the Apple Authorized Solution Provider certification.

As an Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP), Productive computing, Inc. is certified and authorized by Apple to perform upgrades, setup and installation, warranty repairs, and other value-added services for a wide range of Apple computer products.


“This latest distinction we have earned is the final piece to an otherwise complete portfolio of certified services we offer. Not only can we provide our customers with exceptional value by building extraordinary FileMaker Pro software solutions, but we can also service the complete array of networks, servers and workstations those solutions depend upon.” – CEO, Marc Larochelle. This is the latest certification Productive Computing, Inc. employees have earned along with FileMaker Pro developer certifications in FileMaker Pro versions 7, 8, 9 and 10 as well as certifications to service Microsoft Windows computer systems and networks.

About Productive Computing, Inc.

Since 1996, Productive Computing, Inc. has been helping companies become more efficient and profitable by providing a solid foundation of indispensable software and support services. From custom FileMaker Pro database development, consulting and products, to IT support, web site design and hosting services, Productive Computing, Inc. is your strategic partner for all your company.

Productive Computing, Inc. is one of only a few companies in the United States to have earned the highly respected and exclusive platinum level membership within the FileMaker Business Alliance.

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Band-Aids are for Cuts, Not for Your IT Infrastructure

July 30th, 2009

There is a strange phenomenon that I have been witness to for as many years as we have done computer sales, repair and consulting work for our customers – and that is, when it comes to IT service, either you are heralded as the hero or run out of town as the villain.  Naturally a customer is thrilled with you when you play the role of the “fireman” and bring their network or computers back from the brink, but when you give them an estimate for replacing that aging server or workstation or 10 year old backup system (if they have one at all) they drag their feet and look at it as an extra or perhaps unnecessary expense.  Don’t fix what ain’t broke – right?

Wrong!  Replacing equipment as it breaks or only when you experience a critical failure on your network is like using a Band-Aid to close a gunshot wound.  If you use a big enough Band-Aid, you’ll get the bleeding to stop but a better approach is to be fully prepared for the bullet before it arrives.  All computers are machines and all machines break or become outdated.  If you know this, why aren’t you planning and budgeting for these events today?  Your IT infrastructure is the backbone and nervous system of your organization.  Every operation, task and sale relies upon your computers and hundreds of thousands of dollars pour through their circuitry every year.  Having a critical failure costs money in downtime, sales opportunities lost, client inconvenience, inefficiencies when workers don’t have the tools to get their job done, rush charges for replacement equipment or service or overnight shipping, not to mention the physical toll in unnecessary anxiety it causes for you, your employees and your service provider.

So what is the solution?  Have a plan and schedule the automatic replacement of equipment as it ages and budget a percentage of your net revenue towards keeping this infrastructure current.

Here are some simple suggestions to help you make your plan:

1. Inventory any piece of equipment that would be hard to replace within 15 minutes of a failure or costs more than $100.  You’ll want to track this inventory in a database or on a spreadsheet.  If you need a database you can purchase one from our website by clicking on the link embedded in this post.  (IT Asset Inventory Database)  As part of this inventory you’ll want to assign a unique asset ID, the make, model, specs, date purchased and cost of the equipment.  (computers, monitors, laptops, printers, switches, firewalls, backup systems and network storage devices)

2. Using your inventory, you’ll want to plan the lifespan and replacement schedule of your equipment.  Workstations for most users, 4 years.  Workstations for power users, 3 years.  Servers, 4-5 years.  Monitors, 5-6 years.  Printers less than $300, 2-3 years.  Printers more than $300, 3-5 years.  Backup systems, firewalls, switches, network storage devices, 5-6 years.

3. Put an asset tag/label on each piece of equipment that includes the assigned asset ID, date of purchase and most important spec info (CPU MHZ, HDD capacity, RAM).  This will allow you to easily match the piece of equipment to your inventory.

4. Don’t buy the latest and greatest computer for the employee with the most seniority and roll their computer down to the employees with the least seniority.  A piece of equipment is not a perk or reward from the company.  It should be delivered to fill a specific need of a specific job.  Rolling computers down to the least senior employee imposes a restriction on getting the right piece of equipment to the right person and you’ll waste a lot of time and money repurposing computers that were perfectly fine where they were.  You essentially turn 1 system configuration and installation into a chain of systems that need installation and configurations.

5. Keep a spare older workstation or two on hand, configured, and ready to give to an employee if and when a system breaks down.  This provides your business with the continuity of still being able to conduct business even while a critical failure is being worked on.

6. Try to purchase like equipment from the same vendor so that when a system breaks down or requires service you are familiar with that vendor’s warrantee and service policies and procedures.  i.e. purchase all your workstations and servers from Dell or Apple, all your printers from HP, etc.  Get recommendations from your service provide on who’s equipment he recommends and works with regularly.

7. Stay away from no-name, white box, chop shop computer systems – stick with name brands you can trust and rely upon for service and warrantees.

8. Purchase 4hr turn around support warrantees on critical systems like servers and next business day service on workstations that are less critical.

9. Don’t waste your time shopping around for the lowest priced “deal” from the local warehouse store or on-line.  These deals are usually either bare bones garbage systems that are already outdated and priced so low as to grab your attention or they are pre-configured home systems.  Either way, they are not built with your specific needs in mind and you’ll end up with a hodge-podge of systems and software and operating systems on your network.  I know this may sound self serving but you should really pay your IT provider who knows your environment to configure your systems to order from one selected vendor with a configuration that uses a business class operating system.

10. Make sure your IT infrastructure includes a backup system, a recovery plan and you have tested recovering at least one critical file within the last six months.  I’ll be talking a little bit more about this in a future post but suffice to say, if your company’s data is valuable to you and you haven’t test restored at least one critical file in the last six months, you need to call us/your current service provider right now!

Overall keep this one point in mind.  Hardware is the cheapest component in your infrastructure.  It is the labor of installing and maintaining and using the hardware that costs, so you want to provide the best equipment and the right tools for the right job for your employees and stack the cards in your vendor’s favor so he isn’t struggling to keep old and mismatched systems running. 

Don’t skimp and be prepared with a plan.

If you would like more information about how Productive Computing can help you with putting together a plan for your IT infrastructure, please contact us using the information listed here or you can visit us on the web at http://www.productivecomputing.com

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PCI Offers New Technology Protection Services

June 15th, 2009

San Diego, CA – June 15, 2009 – Productive Computing, Inc., a Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance, is proud to announce the availability of three important technology protection services – Spam Filtering, Virus Protection and Backup Monitoring.

 

Spam Filtering

One of the most costly annoyances that an employee has to deal with is the regular ritual of deleting unsolicited advertisement messages. More than an annoyance, it takes time and in business, time costs money.

 

Many FileMaker Pro solutions use 3rd party plug-ins to directly received e-mail messages into their database for archival or correspondence histories. Our Spam Filtering service filters out Spam and Viruses at the mail server level which allows unwanted e-mail messages to be intercepted before reaching the customer’s mail hosting provider Ð and long before they can get archived into a database.

 

Virus Protection

Protecting your computers from virus infiltration is another critical preventative measure we can help you with. Many companies implement virus protection on their computers individually but the most efficient and cost effective way to deploy and monitor virus protection is from a networked server where monitoring and maintenance is centrally managed.

 

Backup Monitoring

A backup system that isn’t monitored, isn’t a backup system. A backup system is no different than any other computer system in that it will report errors and fail. If you aren’t monitoring your backup system at least weekly or preferably daily, then you will never know whether or not your backup system is even running.

 

FileMaker Server 10 does an excellent job telling you when a backup runs or fails but our inexpensive backup monitoring service technicians will professionally monitor these notifications and take the appropriate actions to fix problems as they occur. This service provides that extra peace of mind for business owners who want to know that their FileMaker Pro data backups are not only being closely watched for failures but are being professionally configured and coordinated under an overall disaster recovery strategy.

 

Could You Do With A Little Protection?

If you are interested in any of the services listed above please click here http://www.productivecomputing.com/itservices to complete our IT Service Request form to receive a 30 Day FREE trial.

 

About Productive Computing, Inc.

Since 1996, Productive computing, Inc. has created efficiency through automation by helping its clients increase their productivity via custom database development, plug-ins and packaged solutions as well as providing IT support and web development. Its staff of certified FileMaker developers can assist its customers with creating or customizing a complete technology solution to fit their specific business needs.

 

For More Information:

Productive Computing, Inc.

950 Boardwalk, Suite 205

San Marcos, CA 92078

(760) 510-1200

info@productivecomputing.com

 

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