The Pain Free IT Blog
With Dominic Jones

Unclogging Your Inbox In 3 Simple Steps…

A cluttered email inbox can be difficult to navigate – not to mention you might miss an important email! Keeping your inbox clean will give you peace of mind and help you keep all your email correspondence organised.

If you suffer with inbox insanity, try these handy techniques on how to keep your Outlook email inbox clean and tidy:

Use the labels, filters, and rules tools that Outlook has built in. This means you can label certain respondents or emails as ‘important’ or ‘unimportant’ and move them to specific folders. For example, you could set rules that only certain email addresses found in your address book are allowed into your main inbox folder. Or, use the filter tool to get rid of common spam or marketing emails automatically.

Lots of people are scared to delete emails for one reason or another, however, it will make your inbox more organised and your life a lot easier if you lose this fear. Once you’ve read your emails each day, take action on them. If you know for a fact you’re not going to contact a certain recipient or take action on the content of the email – delete it. If you’re not sure about the email – delegate it to someone who does.

If you find yourself using a lot of stock replies or short emails over and over, using an auto-responder or automatic reply system will be useful. In Outlook you can easily set up an auto-reply message for when you’re busy or out of the office. There are also excellent add-ons you can purchase or download that send automatic replies to groups of recipients to save you the hassle, such as Thunderbird Quicktext or Lifehacker Texter.

computer_happy_office_144666536Lastly, keep things simple. Create a few specific folders for spam, personal emails, business emails, and one or two more. If you overload your inbox with folders, you’ll soon lose track of what’s where and who’s who. Simple, clean, and organised is your email goal.

Until next time, happy computing!

Moving on…

This weekend I thought it would be a good idea to help my brother move into his new house..boy was I wrong! It was the most stressful day I’ve had in years.

There was stuff everywhere. He thought it would be a good idea to leave all the packing until the night before the actual move. We were all running around like headless chickens trying to get everything boxed up and shipped out. It was a very long and tiring weekend. By Sunday evening I was looking forward to going back to work just to get a break! Next time anyone asks me to help them relocate I think I’ll politely decline.

Have you ever thought about moving offices? If it was anything like this weekend it would be a complete disaster. As we’re in the New Year I know everyone likes a fresh start. Is your company outgrowing it’s current office or it’s just time to move on? If this sounds like something you are considering then you should follow the nuggets below to help your office relocation run smoothly…

Get Organised

Don’t end up like my brother and leave it all to the last minute. To make your move as painless as possible plan ahead and call in the professionals where required.

  • Put a team in place to help with your relocation
  • Break down each section of your IT setup
  • Think about getting rid of equipment you don’t need anymore
  • Check the access to your new office

Know What You Have

The earlier you plan for the move the easier it becomes. Find out exactly what you have and what you need.

  • Do you have a hardware and software inventory?
  • Is all your equipment clearly labeled?
  • Make sure you review your disaster recovery plan as you never know what might happen
  • Find out what your performance gaps are in your current set up

Access To The New Office                                                                                    

Ensure you have no unexpected surprises on the day of your arrival. Make sure that all key requirements are in place.

  • Power supply
  • Cabling
  • Cooling for business critical servers

Who Needs To Know You’re Moving?             

Make a list all your current suppliers, don’t forget to tell them you are moving offices.

  • Hardware suppliers and hardware maintenance contracts, make sure the right people know you’re moving, give them your new contact details.
  • Software suppliers—you may need to update the address and contact details of your licenses for operating systems and applications.
  • Disaster recovery plans normally include off-site backup, hardware etc. Are there any implications from your move?

Review Your Equipment

Have a look at what you already have in your business and decide whether it’s worth taking to the new building. Leave all the junk behind.

  • Servers – You may be able to reduce your hardware overhead by creating virtual servers within existing machines
  • Backup devices – Have a think about your current backup situation. Is it time to move into the cloud?
  • Printers – Instead of having random printers around the office think about having a printer station.
  • Workstations – Are there any implications in the new offices? Will it all fit in well?

Your New Office   

The key thing when moving office is what awaits you at the new place. If you have any servers then you need to ensure their new location is best for them.

  • Servers should ideally be in their own room that is secure.
  • You need to make sure your servers are not going to get too hot so a nice cool area would be ideal.
  • Do you have too many servers? Could you think about virtual servers?

Any move can be stressful whether your moving house or office. The secret is to planning ahead and being prepared. If you’re like my brother and decide to leave it all to the last minute why not thinking about having a reliable team in place to help you move? Here at Barton Technology we’ve done many office moves. If you are looking to relocate in the future then contact us today on sales@barttech.co.uk

Top Tip – Lack of notice to IT companies is a major cause of disruption & disappointment. Ensure you book the move date as early as possible with the IT & Telecoms Company (especially if you want to move over the weekend).

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Mail Merge in 6 Simple Steps

Happy New Year! Hope you have had a great start to the New Year already.

There is lots going on at Barton HQ this year and I’m always looking for ways to get more done! I have been tasked with sending out a lot of mail this year, which includes many letters & documents but all with the same template.

Mail merge is a method to send emails or letters in bulk that doesn’t require time-consuming typing of personal details. Typing out custom, personal letters to your clients or customers would take a whole day of your administration staff’s time. Mail merge is a great tool to increase productivity.

To use mail merge you need Outlook and Microsoft Word plus Microsoft Exchange server. You can create your own unique list of recipients without using Outlook if you wish. We have simplified the process below:

Firstly you will need a source file in excel of all the data you would like to send. Don’t be freaked out by source file, I was at first. This just means all the data that you would like to merge together, either name, address and that sort of thing.

Once you have your source file you then open a word document – Easy.

When you are in the word document click on tools and click mail merge manager. This will then come up with a little box:

mail merge

Then it’s plain sailing from here….just go through the steps

  1. Create new – Just add in your source file
  2. Select recipients list – Select what you want from your file
  3. Insert placeholders – Again so simple just drag where you want the title, name and address to go or whatever filters you have
  4. Filter recipients – If you want to filter the document you can do this here
  5. Preview results – Have a look before the done deal
  6. Complete merge – Click it, merge it!

That’s it! Easy peasy. I hope this helps you with getting more things done this year. It’s really benefited me with the amount of letters I have sent out this week.

Have a great week!

 

Merry Christmas

It’s that time again…

Yes, the Barton elves are working hard to get all our customers support calls finished before they have to help Santa on Christmas Eve. However they did get chance to put up some Christmas decorations and have a little boogie….

Click on the video below to see how they got on…

Merry Christmas from all the team.

Christmas Jumper Day

Last Friday some of the Barton team took part in Christmas jumper day for Save the Children charity! There happened to be a few holiday requests and meetings booked that day but the stragglers left in the office joined in. We all had our woolly’s on for the cause.

When I first mentioned it none of the guys even owned Christmas jumpers but they all put in the effort and went out especially to buy them :)

Who’s woolly do you think is best? I must admit I was impressed with Dom’s & Ray’s jumpers, they went all out with the 3d effect :)

We had a fab day and I felt very cozy in my jumper – It was for a great cause and if you would like to make a small donation of £2 to the charity you can text TEAMBARTON to 70050.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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Christmas Wishes….

Seasons greetings from all the team. I just wanted to let you know our opening times during the Christmas period, to ensure that you know we are on hand should you happen to be working over the Christmas break.

Please pass on this message to any members of your team who may need us during the festivities.

Times are as follows:

Christmas Eve – 09:00 to 13:00

Christmas Day – Closed
Boxing Day – Closed
29th December – Normal operations
30th December – Normal operations
New Years Eve – 09:00 to 13:00
New Years Day – Closed
2nd January – Normal operationsIMG_1377

Jackie has persuaded all the Barton team to take part in Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 12th December. We are raising money for Save the Children charity. If you would like to donate then you can simply text this code TEAMBARTON to 70050 to donate £2. – There will be pictures of us to follow in our Christmas jumpers :)

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for using Barton Technology during 2014. All the team here wish you all a very Merry Christmas and an extremely prosperous New Year.

Dominic and the team.

What The Hack…

Did you see in the news last week about Sony Pictures being hacked? Apparently the security breach took down all computers studio-wide. The hackers posted a message into their network, which stated, “We already warned you, and this is just a beginning. We continue till our request be met. We’ve obtained all of your internal data including your secrets and top secrets. If you don’t obey us, we’ll release the data shown below to the world.” Looks like the hackers have already carried out their threat as at least 5 movies have been leaked already!

Message that the Hackers sent to Sony Pictures

Message that the Hackers sent to Sony Pictures

It’s not only Sony Pictures who have been compromised, we have found that lately there has been a BIG issue from people having their websites hacked. You may find its something obvious like your home page has been defaced or all your content has been changed and a virus has been uploaded :( – (I thought it was the season to be jolly?)

Whatever it is, it’s not good and we really wish all these hackers would just go away. If you have had your website hacked then you know it can really impact your business. Firstly its embarrassing and often leads to loss of sales or emails or even worse your whole website being shut-down.

A lot of people think that once you have your website built that it’ll look after itself. Unfortunately times have changed, that may have been true 15 years ago but with modern websites you must keep them maintained and up to date with the latest security.  

We don’t create websites at Barton HQ but we do host many thousands of them. We tend to find that hackers to try and claw their way into them but luckily we have a secure network so they can’t get in.

We also backup your website so if a hacker does decide to play about on your homepage we can always get it back to its original state.

To ensure your website is safe, you must check these key points below:

  • Do you have a recent backup of your website? Your Hosting Provider or your Web Developer should be able to help with this, check with them. Ideally you want nightly and/or weekly backups, or as often as your website changes…
  • Is your website secured with the latest security updates? Make sure you have the right security in place so no hackers can get in. Also consider your WordPress site and plugins if relevant. Your web developer should be able to help you with this.
  • Check your webhosting use Anti-Hack & Anti- Malware protection This will protect your site from common attacks. We offer this service, which we call ‘Stop The Hacker’.

If you want the hackers to just go away then our security team on 020 8262 4432 or email sales@barttech.co.uk

Make sure your site is safe online and secure over the Christmas holidays.

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Save Time With This Wheelie Good Trick….

I was happily typing away in the office one day when I heard Andrei on the phone to a customer saying ‘you need to use the wheelie’…I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I thought Andrei was telling the customer how to do some wheelie tricks on a bike or something…

Turns out Andrei was simply trying to explain to someone how to use the scroll function on a mouse. It all got quite confusing but the customer understood what Andrei meant and it all worked out well in the end.

This got me thinking, there are many wonderful things you can do with a mouse…Here are some great tricks that can help you speed up your day.

The Shift key and mouse click – Most programs allow you to highlight text using the shift key and the mouse. For example, if you click at the beginning of a text in the below text box, hold down the Shift key, scroll to the bottom, and click at the end of the text to highlight all of the text.

UntitledBonus: Holding down the Alt key while dragging and highlighting text allows you to highlight text.

Take full advantage of the wheelie (scroll wheel) – Now you may think everyone knows how to use the scroll wheel but this is not always the case. This wheel can do so much more then just scroll;

  • The wheelie can also be used as a button. Pressing down on the wheel will act like a third mouse button. This can be used to open a web page in a tab by clicking the wheel on any link and can also be used to close a tab by clicking the wheel on any open tab.
  • Zoom in and Out on a web page, word document, excel spread sheet, etc. by holding down the Ctrl key and scrolling up to zoom in and down to zoom out.
  • Holding down the Shift key while scrolling up or down in most Internet browsers to go back and forward between web pages.
  • Some mouse wheels can be pushed left or right to also move back and forward on a web page.

Activate Mouse ClickLock – This feature relieves you from keeping the mouse button pressed for performing activities like text selection and moving files of folders. It can be really useful for laptop users when their touchpad is not functioning.

mouseHold Alt to Select Columnar Text – Now this is a smart one. Have you ever felt the need to select text vertically on a Word document? And did you end up doing that one by one, wasting lot of time?

All you need to do is hold down the ALT key, then drag the mouse down the text, release the ALT key before you let go of the mouse.

Triple Clicking – You may not realise that triple clicking is another handy tool you can use with the mouse. In many word processing applications, you can triple-click on a paragraph to automatically select the entire paragraph.

I hope you enjoy using your wheelie! You may find it can speed up your day.

If you need any other help then please contact Andrei today at Sales@barttech.co.uk

mouse Barton

The Big Battle…

Have you always been a PC user or do you prefer a Mac?

Recently I have switched to using a Mac, I must admit it’s a change from using a PC, but personally I do prefer using a Mac now.

Have you ever thought about switching to a Mac? They do say once you go Mac you never go back! Over the years there has been a battle between choosing a PC or a Mac, there are thousands or articles for Mac and for PC but which is better?

Apple has a huge following. Fans idolise the likes of Steve Jobs and the products his company makes. Apple is expensive though and a lot of people say that the cost is too high for what you actually get on a Mac. It’s true that a PC does have access to a lot more software.

One of the main arguments about the two is that macs have fewer viruses and require less maintenance. Sadly this statement is no longer true. Far fewer viruses exist for Mac and most Mac users get by just fine without any antivirus protection, however this wont be the case for too much longer as in the last few years we have seen more Macs being infected with nasty bugs.

Windows is still the leader in the computer market and is often cheaper. However, Apple products are catching up fast and more people are seeing the benefits of using alternative operating systems.

There was an article that I found where two groups tested both operating systems and here is what they said about them..

Macs were recommended for the reasons below;

  • Macs offer a more straightforward approach to computing with fewer maintenance tasks
  • Macs software, on average, focuses more on its user interface and making your experience enjoyable than Windows software does
  • Macs have always come with plenty of ways to enable accessibility for users with special requirements.
  • When you get your shiny new machine home the first thing you want to do is use it. With a PC this will take a little time as out-of-the-box Windows 8 has hardly any useful, quality apps.

Windows was recommended for the reasons below;

  • Windows PCs provide lots of flexibility and customization (with both hardware and software)
  • Windows has more software available than any other platform
  • Windows provides a great gaming experience thanks to great hardware support and lots of games
  • Windows offers great backwards-compatibility

You can discuss the pros and cons of Macs versus Windows PCs in great detail but in the end it all comes down to personal preference.

If you are thinking of changing operating system then get in touch. We can help you decide the best solution for your business.

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It’s time to say the C word….

It’s official, Christmas it right around the corner. Halloween and bonfire night are out of the way and I think now is an acceptable time to mention Christmas. I must admit it’s a bit much when card shops start putting out cards in August!

Last week I was driving to work and I heard the first Christmas song of the year (fairytale of New York) – imerry-christmas-hd-images copyt’s a classic and cheered me right up. Then John Lewis has released their Christmas advert this year with Monty the penguin. If you haven’t seen it yet then I suggest YouTube it now as I guarantee it will get you in the Christmas mood.

Anyway all this Christmas cheer got me thinking, while you are sitting at home eating mince pies and drinking mulled wine you want to make sure your data is safe. You have probably heard of the term firewall? If like me you are aware of a firewall but not exactly sure what it is then I have put together some helpful information to give you a bit more knowledge on firewalls….

Why do you need one?

A firewall is an essential part of your business’ security system. Without it, your network is open to threats. A firewall keeps destructive and disruptive forces out, and controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on security parameters that you can control and refine.

What does it do?

Firewalls are software programs or hardware devices that filter the traffic that flows into you PC or your network through a internet connection. They sift through the data flow & block that which they deem (based on how & for what you have tuned the firewall) harmful to your network or computer system.

When connected to the internet, even a standalone PC or a network of interconnected computers make easy targets for malicious software & unscrupulous hackers. A firewall can offer the security that makes you less vulnerable and also protect your data from being compromised or your computers being taken hostage.

What does it protect you against?

  • Remote Login – Unauthorised connections from users on the internet can allow them to remotely login and control the computer, stealing information or installing unwanted programs and spyware.
  • Email session hijacking – Unauthorised access can result in hijacking of your SMTP server, which means that spam could be sent to your contacts, via your email server – making the true source of the spam difficult to trace, and damaging your reputation and relationships.
  • Application and Operating System backdoor vulnerabilities – Certain programs have remote access features or bugs that allow hidden access, giving some level of control of the program.
  • Denial of Service – This is a disruptive attack on a server, where the server receives a request to connect. When the server attempts to respond, it can’t find the system that made the request. Repeatedly hitting servers with these types of connections slows them down massively and causes them to crash.
  • Email Bombs – Similar to the above, an email bomb is the same message sent to an address on a server so many times that it crashes the server.
  • Malicious Macros – A macro is a script you can create that is run by an application. Hackers can create macros that tell your applications to do things that you don’t want them to do, such as delete data or crash the computer.
  • Viruses – Viruses are well known and well documented. They can spread very quickly through networks and emails, and often carry out unwanted activity on your computer such as monitoring your activity, slowing your computer down considerably, deleting data, locking the device completely, or crashing the computer.

Internet securityHopefully this has given you a better understanding of a firewall so that this Christmas you can sit back, relax and enjoy your turkey while your data is all secure.

If you need anymore information on this then give us a call today on 020 3301 0003 or email Andrei on sales@barttech.co.uk

P.S Did you know it’s only 44 days until Christmas?

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