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Computers Internet

File Sharing: Is Your Business Getting the Most Out of It?

Has your business ever reached a point where it’s run out of spare capacity for important files on its hard drives? If so, you might wonder what you could do to make sure it never happens again. The same might go for moving large files around, which can be fiddly at the best of times when email accounts cannot cope.

More room

A business can never have enough spare capacity for files. A growing number of businesses throughout the world have turned to cloud computing to help do both for a variety of reasons, which include:
Data servers

  • Being able to store files online in a ‘cloud’, an online space where they can be accessed securely.
  • Being able to share files from the cloud with clients and colleagues – collaboration is also possible.
  • Providing a viable alternative to a traditional server which is far more cost-effective.

While all this is help to make using the cloud palatable, there may be a possibility that businesses aren’t getting what they expect from some cloud storage providers, and that’s where enterprise cloud computing services like Egnyte come in.

Value for money

As with everything else they buy, businesses should make sure they get the most from their cloud storage and online file sharing package. There are a number of pitfalls facing companies who turn to the cloud for some of their IT solutions which they would do well to avoid.

The main one is the limits placed on the amount of file space you have to work with and the size of files which you can share. Many providers have limits in place, so it’s important to get as much space for as little money as possible. Also, consider what your business needs – how big are the files which you share and how much space do your files take up?

As this article states, the way in which your file sharing vendor affects your internet connection is also important. If you have several file sharing accounts, they could slow your internet speed down, so take that into consideration before choosing the right service provider.

Safety first

Another factor that should influence choice of a cloud file sharing provider is the security of their services. Most providers have security software which limits opportunities for accounts to get hacked, while a few have taken extra steps to make users’ accounts practically impervious to even the most sophisticated malware.

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Computers How To Guides

Some simple ways to speed up your Windows PC

According to StatCounter in August 2012, globally, Microsoft Windows XP, Vista and 7 accounted for the operating systems on 87.85% of computers around the world. That means that the majority of people own a PC which runs on Windows, as opposed to one which runs on iOS, MacOSX, Unix or another operating system.

An issue many Windows users often find is that after a while their computer seems to slow down. If this sounds familiar, then you should find this article extremely useful, as in it I am going to give you my personal tips on how to keep your Windows PC (XP, Vista and 7) running fast. This guide applies to both laptops and desktop PCs. 🙂

What Slows Computers Down?

The trick to understanding how to make your machine run faster involves working out what slows your computer down. It would be interesting to know what most people think slows their computer down, so if you have an idea, let me know in the comments.

The first and one of the biggest culprits which slow your computer down are background processes. These are things which go on in the background whilst you are doing things. Say you are trying to open up an internet browser, lets take Firefox as an example, then when you click on Firefox, it is very possible that plugins you have installed also try to start up and do things in the background. Until recently an really good example of this was the Google toolbar, which would start up a process to talk to Google and find out if it was up to date.

There are likely to be a lot of programs trying to do things in the background, whilst you are focusing on your task. Java, Apple, Google, Adobe (Flash Player and Reader) are big culprits, always whirring away in the background. If you have anything Google installed like Google Earth, Google Chrome, Google Talk etc. then the chases are it is taking a lot more resources than it needs. Likewise anything Apple like iTunes, QuickTime etc. are also likely to be slowing your PC down.

Another big culprit is disorganised hard disk files. Every time you delete something, move something, create a new file or folder etc. you change the layout of your hard disk and the structure of your files. This can often mean that related files can be put far apart on the disk, which is not optimal, also in order to get to a file, the computer may first have to locate it via following a redirect from where it used to be – this takes time.

The final major culprit I am going to address is unnecessary visual effects. Your computer can often get really bogged down trying to display fancy effects which you don’t really need, meaning you can’t get on and do what you wanted to do.

Now we know three of the main issues, lets fix them!

Stopping Unnecessary Background Processes

A tortoise with a rocket on its backStopping bad background processes is easier than you might think. There are a few ways to go about it, the way I find the most effective is though a tool named ‘MSConfig’. This can be found on Vista and 7 by typing in msconfig into the search box on the start menu, in in Windows XP by typing msconfig into the Run command box.

MSConfig allows you to make a lot of changes to your system, but unless you know what you are doing, I would stick to just two tabs, Services and Startup. To start speeding up your PC, go to the ‘Services’ tab and click ‘Hide all Microsoft Services’, which will stop you accidental stopping anything you need. Now untick anything you don’t feel you need. An example of a service you might want to untick is ‘Google Update Service‘, whilst an example of one you probably don’t want to is your Anti-Virus software’s one.

Remember stopping a service does not stop you opening a program. Say there is an Office service which you stop, it will not run in the background, but you will still be able to run Word, Excel and Outlook.

Now lets move onto the ‘Startup’ tab. Here you can also remove any service you don’t want to run, but this is specifically when you start up your PC. For example, if you have Skype installed, but don’t want it to run when your computer starts, then untick the Skype service. Likewise if you don’t want Google Talk to automatically start running, untick googletalk.exe – the Google Talk service.

Reorganise Your Hard Disk

Reorganising your files is really easy, it just takes time. A disk defragmenter is what you need for this, and Windows comes with one built in for free! There are third party ones available too, some of which are good, and others not so – your choice.

Simply start Windows Disk Defragmenter via searching for it in the start menu, or open My Computer >> right-click on the hard disk you want to defragment >> click Properties >> click the Tools tab >> click click Defragment now.

It may take any amount of time from 5 minutes to 12 hours (potentially more if you have a really big and messy hard disk) and during the process, I would advise against using your computer. Typically it takes an hour or two to defragment a hard disk.

Turn Off Unneeded Visual Effects

If you are happy to loose some of the sleekness your system has then this tip could really boost your computers performance.

First you need to open the visual effects panel. In Windows 7 right-click Computer on the start menu >> click Properties >> click Advanced system settings (on the left) >> then select Settings under the Performance section. In XP right-click My Computer >> click Properties >> click the Advanced tab >> then select Settings under the Performance section.

From here you can remove visual effects you don’t really need. If you like you can remove them all, but that could really change how your PC looks. Animate windows when minimizing and maximising, Show shadows under mouse pointer and Show window contents while dragging are all effects which really slow down your PC, but you are unlikely to miss. Experiment, and see which ones you can live without.

I hope these tips work for you, and have fun with your fast(er) computer!

Got any tips yourself? Why not share them below?

Categories
Business Computers

Back to the Basics: De-cluttering your Computer

If you own a PC or if you are using one at work then you just earned for yourself an extra responsibility of organizing your files and even your folders. This is one task that could sound really easy when the PC is still new until you start accumulating hundreds of different files and see the bad effects of cluttering your computer with both important and useless files. Of course the most apparent effect of file chaos can be seen on the PC’s speed as it tends to become slow as the day goes by and then errors start to appear, and then the PC crashes ultimately. Again, it all began in ignoring a rather simple task – organizing your files.

Saving files, regardless of its size, can influence PC clog up. But this is one convenience of owning a PC; you can create files such as photos, documents, movies, music, and more, store them and retrieve them later when necessary. This is just the way it’s supposed to be, right? We cannot not save files in our PCs, most of the times it is a necessity. Thus, the best way to attack this challenge is to intelligently organize files and folders. When I said intelligently, I meant not just simply arranging files in a specific way, it means de-cluttering both your PC and your life.

The truth is, file organization is not really a complicated task; it’s just as straightforward as organizing paper files. It all comes down to storing files in folders by categories and sequences that make sense.

A Laptop Full of FilesBefore organizing your files though, make a habit of classifying files as important or useless at the earliest phase possible: before saving files. If you can, avoid saving redundant and unnecessary files, then please do. It doesn’t take much time to evaluate a file’s importance to see if you should save it or not. While you master this habit, try another one: design and follow a consistent way of naming your files and folders. For instance, if you are using a PC at work wherein you need to store files related to customers, dealers and even colleagues, you may want to create sub-folders for each group and then store all files and folders related to each group under them. You can make organization more fun and effective by applying related icons to each sub-folder for easy identification.

It may be wiser to group related files together whatever its type. It doesn’t help to create specific folder for Word files, a folder for Excel files, a folder for PowerPoint files and so on. In Windows Explorer, you can set it to arrange files in a folder alphabetically and by type so it is easier to identify each file type. Besides, each file type is represented by distinguishing icons so it won’t be hard to identify a file by its type. It is smart to group files by project though if this makes sense to you or by month if date is an essence.

Another way to organize files is to separate current files to the completed ones. You may want to create a folder named “On-going” for current files and “Completed” for the finished files. Once you are done with a current file, you can just transfer it to the completed folder. Again, you can use this method only of it makes sense to you and your nature of work.

Also, it would be wiser to break a large number of files into separate sub-folders. This would make navigating into a folder easier. You can create sequential subfolders for invoices for instance. Thus, if you have an “Invoices” subfolder, you may want to create subfolders “Invoice_Jan”, “Invoices_Feb”, “Invoices_Mar” and so on within it. The notion is to store files in a group of logical folders instead of having one big folder. It makes sense then not to create subfolders for a lesser number of files. It would only take time to click on different folders if you only store at most 5 files in each folder.

Now, this will be an entirely different story if you already cluttered your PC with files (probably most are unimportant). You may have to spend time cleaning up your PC by deleting unnecessary files first and then reorganize your important files into separate folders. In organizing files, an optimization tool can certainly help. Optimization tools can automatically delete unimportant files and even temporary files that may have been affecting your PC’s speed and performance.

File organization is one task you should not avoid, no matter how trivial or boring you may think it is. This is definitely a prevention task rather than a cure as it could prevent future problems in time management as well as in your PC’s performance. If you want to make your work and your life less complicated, get better in organizing your files. It’s easy when you know how!

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Computers Internet

Online data backup using cloud computing technology

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Bulldog Backup. To find out more about sponsored content on Technology Bloggers, please visit our Privacy Policy.

In the past I have written about cloud computing and how cloud data storage is the future, and at the moment it is playing a key part in backup technologies, as it is now easier than ever before to backup your data online.

One firm that offer online backup services are the Glasgow based Bulldog Backup, they were founded in 2010 and offer backup solutions for both domestic and business users.

I read a statistic the other day that almost 50% of businesses reported a loss of important data in the last two years, probably why more and more firms are investing in online data backup systems!

The good thing is, online backup solutions are getting easier and easier to use, another reason why more and more people are using them. For example, with Bulldog Backup, all you need to is select the package you want to buy, you will then be emailed with your login credentials, then all you need do is login and download the relevant backup client – either Windows or Mac.

When you install your backup software you are asked what you want to backed up, you can choose your entire hard disk, or just a few files – say pictures and music for instance.

Now you may be thinking that online backup storage is a great idea for most people, but you are on a connection which has a limited monthly allowance – say 40 gigabytes, you can’t afford to run the backup system, in fear of going over your allowance.

There is a solution to this too. With most good backup systems nowadays, you can configure how much bandwidth is used for backups, therefore you never go over your limit. You can also choose which files the software should prioritise the backing up of – e.g. give pictures and documents high priority, whilst don’t worry so much about music.

Select how much bandwidth online backup can use
Select how much of your bandwidth Bulldog Backup can use

The best thing is, once you have backed up your files, you can easily access them from anywhere, using your own personal web portal. Bulldog Backup’s portal has a clean layout and is designed to make listening to audio files and viewing images as easy as possible, all as standard. Therefore you can access all your albums whilst out and about, how cool is that! You can also install mobile apps for both iOS and Android, making it even easier for you to access your files on the move.

If you want to go up a level Bulldog Backup offer a ‘Pro’ account which has all of the standard features, with the addition of a ‘SmartDrive’ allowing you to sync files across multiple computers. A SmartDrive is basically a drive that appears like any other hard disk on your computer, only anything you store in it is automatically uploaded to the cloud – a pretty cool bit of tech don’t you think?

A screenshot of a SmartDrive
A screenshot of what the Bulldog Backup SmartDrive looks like – just another hard disk

Okay, so you like the idea of online backup, you can see the potential and benefits, but, what about the costs? Well you may be pleasantly surprised, you can start backing up online with Bulldog Backup from only £2.95 a month ($4.63) with a 1 Terabyte Protect account.

Think that is a good price? I have managed to get a discount promo code which makes the same account cost just £1.25 ($1.96) a month, and that price is fixed for 5 years! Visit the site bulldogbackup.com and use the promo code ‘bullbonanza00’ at the checkout before the 29th of February (this year) to take get started at that rock bottom price 🙂

What do you think about online backup? Will you be investing in it in the near future?

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Internet

Why does superfast broadband matter?

Technology Blogger has had many articles about broadband speeds, superfast internet connections, and how the general trend is that global internet speeds are on the rise, but the question is, why is that important? Why do superfast speeds matter?

Download and Upload

There are two types of internet speed, your download speed, and your upload speed. Your download speed is how fast you can receive data from the internet – how fast you can stream media, receive emails, load websites etc. Your upload speed refers to how fast you can send information to the internet – how fast you can send emails, upload media, update your status etc.

When people talk about broadband speeds on the rise, they are usually referring to download speeds, as most of us get a lot more from the internet than we upload. Both upload and download speeds are on the rise, but upload speeds are usually only around 10% of download speeds – depending upon your location.


So superfast broadband means that we can do things faster, we can download and upload content quicker than we used to be able to. But that does that mean?

More Going On

Faster internet speeds mean that you can be doing more things at once on the internet, with less lag or jitter. You can be on an online game, whilst streaming the radio, and in the background sending emails, all at the same time! You can have more internet hungry applications running at the same time, and the speed of your activities (providing you have adequate processing power) should be the same as if you just had one activity going on.

Improved Internet Call Quality

Faster internet speeds will allow for smother internet calling, with less lag and better quality. You will be able to chat with friend across the globe and stage a conversation as though they were there in the room with you. VoIP will be significantly improved, as faster speeds meant that the media you are sending out is of higher quality, and the stream you are receiving is better too.

Such improvements could significantly benefit businesses, as VoIP can significantly lower the cost of holding meetings with fellow colleges based in different locations, thanks to better, more affordable online conference calling.

Furthermore, improvements in internet call quality can make remote working more viable, meaning that employees can spend more time working and less time commuting, thanks to them being connected all the time. This can save time, money and office space, as more employees are able to work off-site.

Improvements in Healthcare and Education

As Rashed suggested in his recent article (Five changes in video conferencing for the next decade) improvements in internet calls could lead to an improvement in the provision of telemedicine, meaning that the best doctors can help patients from across the world.

There is also similar potential for education. The best lecturers and teachers will be able to educate far greater numbers of individuals from across the world, thanks to faster broadband speeds. Improvements in such technology could be very beneficial for those living in isolated communities.

Cloud Computing Becomes More Viable

Cloud computing has huge potential to cut costs, improve efficiency and improve data security, and superfast broadband makes it more viable! With faster broadband, more and bigger files can be stored in the cloud, meaning that files are less likely to be lost if one device fails, and are more likely to be accessible from any location.

Media Streaming

Streaming media from across the internet is smother, faster and more seamless with faster internet connections. You can watch online videos with less buffering, or even in high definition.

Furthermore, internet TV and other similar services become more viable than ever before. In the last quarter of 2011, Virgin Media reported profits of £48 million, which it is believed is mainly down to faster broadband speeds encouraging more users to user its TV and internet services.

Virgin Media's logo

More People Online

Every day thousands of new people around the world make the leap and go online. For every extra person on the internet demanding resources, the whole system slows down a little. However with superfast broadband, more people can be online with less of an effect on speeds. In large offices, more employees can be connected, with less of an effect on the speeds received. This is also true in households, more people can be downloading media, whilst it not affecting others on online games.

Your Speed

Superfast broadband is very important and is revolutionising the way we do business and live our lives. The question is, how fast is your broadband speed? Are you likely to benefit from the things I mentioned above, or do you need to think about switching provider? Try testing your broadband speed and comparing it to what you are paying for; could you be getting a better deal elsewhere?

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Computers Internet Technology

Why Is Cloud Computing So Important?

Cloud computing has a lot of hype surrounding it. More than a few observers have wondered what is so important about this new internet phenomenon. The truth is cloud computing is leading to a rethinking of the internet’s capability. Cloud computing promises to completely delocalise computing power and technology. Users will be able to access and manipulate files, images, videos and other data remotely. Cloud computing promises the ability to keep networks and mobile devices synchronised at all times.

Infrastructure

A bank of sophisticated computers host operating systems and data for hundreds, if not thousands, of customers. internet search engine giant Google pioneered the use of data centers to store clients’ personal data safely. The same principle is being extended to cloud computing. Huge data centers will act as remote desktop computers. These centers will be able to store every file a user would need. All the user needs is a counterpart machine that can be as small as a conventional laptop with much less weight. These so-called “netbooks” serve only to connect the user to the internet so he can access his files.

A cloud computing network
An example of how cloud computing works – every device synchronises with the cloud, meaning that your data can be accessed anywhere!

A single data center can offer multiple services and applications. Theoretically, a cloud computing system could perform almost any function or task the user desires. In a typical system, each application will have its own dedicated server combined with multiple iterations to create redundancy and prevent sudden malfunctions. The whole center is managed by a central server that constantly monitors the traffic and load volumes. Balancing the differences between machines, it seeks to maintain the harmony of the system and prevent crashes.

Business Advantages

The advent of cloud computing is actually forcing businesses to change their strategies. Previously, hiring a new employee meant providing him with a desk, computer equipment and various other hardware or software. Cloud computing allows them to reduce these capital expenditures significantly. Now all an employee needs is a computer with an internet connection to access his work data. Desks and office equipment may still be necessary, but the investment in computer hardware can be outsourced to cloud computing companies.

The hardware and software demands on the business’s side decrease dramatically. Labor costs per individual employees go down, enabling a company to hire more workers. Productivity increases, raising the efficiency and profits of the business.

Concerns

The primary reason why cloud computing is getting so much attention is its effect on business strategies. The sheer cost pressure alone is forcing industry after industry to adapt to the new reality. The advantages notwithstanding, several valid concerns about cloud computing exist, namely having to do with privacy and security.

Business owners and executives may hesitate to turn over their sensitive data to a third-party system with good reason. Losing access to their own data or having it compromised is unacceptable in a ruthlessly competitive private sector. One major argument against this fear is the fact that cloud computing companies survive based on their reputations. This gives them a huge incentive not to lose their clients data or compromise accessibility. Despite the power of this incentive, regulations may still be required to ensure safety.

As for privacy, the obvious concern is the connection between the user’s computer and the cloud system. Privacy could easily be compromised by unscrupulous individuals who could access personal information like credit card numbers. A solution to this problem is to use authentication and encryption like regular secure connections.

These practical concerns are somewhat overshadowed by a number of philosophical and legal questions. For instance, who owns the data stored by the cloud computing system? While it is held in the client’s name, a case could conceivably be made that the cloud computing system is the actual owner and therefore has a right to it. These technicalities are still under debate, and no resolution has yet been achieved.

Conclusion

Cloud computing holds great promise for upending things as they are currently done in the business world. The practical effects on information technology jobs will likely be profound. These and other challenges must be met because cloud computing will continue to change the nature of the internet.