Business, Information Technology

a picture of a computer networkGood IT support should be at the heart of any modern business. Without the efficient running of your technology and network system problems are bound to follow.

Having problems in your infrastructure or with technological equipment that you rely on and use every day can cripple your business.

However, not all companies need a full-time IT department; you may not even need to have an on-going contract with an independent company. If you run a small business, you may well get by with just knowing a good company that provides IT support on an ad-hoc basis in your area. Regardless, having a good, reliable company you can trust at the end of a phone is a must.

How to Find a Good IT Company

Firstly, searching online and just going for the first company you come across does not necessarily mean they will be the best. Take the details of a few different businesses and do closer research into each of them.

First, check to see how long they haves been established and if they offer the capabilities to handily your type and size of business. Locality is paramount as you will also want to make sure the firm also provides the facility of paying you a visit physically at your premises should the need arise. Some smaller firms will not offer this benefit, so be 100% sure you go with a company that offers this if you need this level of service.

Does the company offer several modes of support? Some companies out there may only provide email support. However, it is important that you are also able to get your support department on the phone when you need to for the most efficient service. Some companies also offer live chat, which I think is quite useful, especially for smaller issues. However, the best and most efficient companies will provide telephone support to their customers.

Some companies have different levels of pricing for a multitude of support options. Be careful with this, as this could mean that you could end up paying more than you need to for phone support with some companies, which you, of course, want to avoid.

a man using a mobile phoneBe sure also to check what hours the company offers live support. Several larger firms will provide 24/7, 365-day support. However, most IT businesses will provide support only during regular office hours. If your business also keeps regular office hours, then you will likely be fine with one of these companies. If your business operates during different hours, you many need to find a company that can support your needs. Be aware that you may, therefore, need to pay a higher premium for twenty-four-hour support.

Lastly, check out what other people have to say about the company. Nowadays, online reviews are popular, and individuals and businesses are more accustom to leaving reviews for the companies they do business with on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ as well as directory-type sites such as Yell, Yelp, Hot Frog and many others. Reading the reviews left by other people that have done business with them in the past can be very revealing as to what kind of service you are likely to receive.

For companies looking for the best IT support Crowborough has to offer, Fluent Group is the number one choice. Fluent have been established for well over twelve years and have a great reputation. They are a stone throw away from Crowborough and can therefore also visit businesses in person should you have the need. Fluent only offer support during normal business hours, however, this is not a problem if your business also keeps conventional hours.

Business, Information Technology

children using a computer at schoolProviding IT support for schools and educational institutes can be a very challenging task. The company needs to be able to assess the needs of the institution and then find equipment and software that fulfils their needs. This article is going to explain the aspects you need to check to ensure your chosen IT support firm can deliver for your institution.

Network Connections and Internal Messaging

First of all, schools and educational institutes need to have all computers connected to the same network, to be able to share information and exchange messages between students and teachers. Teachers need to be able to send mass messages so that they can address to an entire group of students at once.

All computers in a school need to be connected to a central printer. It is possible that more printers are necessary, especially if children need to learn how to print out various documents. Nonetheless, they should also learn to save some trees by saving the information on a USB drive or a disk. Also, you have to offer them the opportunity to understand what the cloud is and how to use it for their collaborative work. As this is the future of IT, they need to get acquainted with it as early as possible.

Website Filtering

IT support for schools may also include filtering out certain sites that children shouldn’t access without permission from their parents. Your IT manager will need to know which sites to restrict their access to. Most probably, your IT manager will have a list of inappropriate websites to block from your network. However, you should also try to bring your contribution by weeding out adult only websites.

Online Security

It is critical that the online environment is safe and secure. A good IT company will know about all potential vulnerabilities and secure your network appropriately. You do not need to know all the details about network security, but having a general understanding will stand you in good stead should any issues arise. Here is an article about network security that you may find useful to read.

Make your chosen IT support company aware that children aren’t always responsible and therefore, may try to install various programs that might contain harmful viruses. With this anticipation, your IT department will be able to take some pre-emptive measures and also be ready to respond quickly should this issue arise.

As students need the computers to be working at all times, your IT team should be prepared and able to fix all bugs and errors very fast. Many educational institutions cannot afford to hire their own Linux and database managers, however, you should be able to find a firm that is able and equipped to provide you with the level of response that you need.

Data Backups

Data backups are also vital. Your chosen IT company should also be knowledgeable about this area of expertise. Once they have implemented appropriate measures to backup your data, they should explain the necessary protocols for you, your staff and your students to be able to access relevant data when needed. Ensuring that your staff have a good understanding of this is important, so they will be able to relay the information to the students. Your IT department should also be available to offer assistance as and when necessary. Here is some more background information on backing up your data.

Device Servicing

A good IT support company should be able to service all types of devices, from desktop computer and laptops to smartphones and tablets. Students may want to connect their personal devices to the central network, so your IT support team will need to make sure they can do this easily.

Finding a Good IT Support Company

If you do not have a recommendation from a friend or colleague, then a good place to start is to search for companies in your local area and read their customer reviews. This can give a good indication as to whether the firm is reputable and provides a good service.

Look into how long the company has been established and what areas of support they specialise in. Ensuring the company has a decent size team to cope with your needs is also paramount.

You will also need to consider the companies location and whether they have the ability to visit you at your premises should you have the need. The support company does not necessarily need to be on your doorstep. However, you will want to make sure that you sure located within their service area.

Fluent Group is an IT support company in the south east of the UK that has a relatively large service area. They are located in Kent and can offer support to companies across neighbouring counties as well as London.

IT support – Fluent Group
Fluent Group on Facebook

Business, Information Technology

using a macbook for businessIn the modern world, businesses in every industry are reliant on IT (information technology) equipment to a greater or lesser degree. Good IT equipment makes your company more efficient, faster, and easier to run. It’s also the core lifeline connecting you to customers and suppliers, so it is critical to get this right!

In a very new business, you might be able to scrape by with a computer from your home. When you’re ready to buy your company its own computer, though, you’ll find that most of the hardware and software you’re going to need can be surprisingly affordable. It’s also a great write-off for your taxes. How do you choose the most effective new gear when it’s time to stock up on IT equipment, though?

This article aims at providing new businesses with the fundamental information you need to get yourself up and running. If you are an educational institution then you may find this article on IT support for schools more useful.

Evaluate Your Company’s Requirements

Take a moment to write down every task in your business that relies on IT assistance. Examples include writing correspondence, emailing suppliers and customers, tracking stock and staff, scheduling, producing invoices and taking care of other accounting, and so on. Depending on your industry and the kinds of products and services you offer, you might also need IT resources to sell and market your company online.

By listing out your IT needs, you should start to get a better understanding of exactly what electronics you’re going to need. Keep in mind that new requirements will almost certainly present themselves once you’re open for business. It’s impossible to anticipate every one of your future IT needs, so it’s a smart idea to build plenty of flexibility into your initial round of purchases.

For their first business computers, many people prefer going with a laptop rather than a desktop model. This gives you a great deal of flexibility both in your place of business and also on the road. Even if you don’t make use of the portability, having it available expands your range of working options. Many business operators are also finding tablets useful for similar purposes, although they’re rarely used as the primary computer for enterprising.

If you are seriously considering the laptop route as your primary machine then here is a great video comparing the top five laptops out there

Budgeting For IT And Evaluating Options

a picture of a tablet and a pair of glassesIn most start-ups, complex IT infrastructure will not be required. A solid, middle-of-the-road PC should meet the needs of any normal business. This means that a dependable computer should probably cost between £400-£550 (including peripherals and basic software) while a decent printer will cost you around £80.

Opting to make a laptop your primary business machine will require a little more investment. There are some cutting-edge features that might come in handy for your business, such as extended battery life or ultra-light construction, but these will increase the cost of a laptop even more.

While these IT expenses might seem steep for a small start-up, it’s much better to invest in gear that will work reliably without delivering features you don’t need, and this price range should accomplish that goal. Second-hand models should be avoided as you don’t want to pay for the privilege of inheriting someone else’s technical difficulties.

Software costs may add to your IT budget significantly. Cloud software is becoming increasingly popular in the business world. These programs are accessed through the Internet instead of being installed on individual computers. Most cloud software is offered on a subscription model. This reduces your initial IT investment, but you must remember to budget for an ongoing monthly expense.

Business Computers — Alternatives And Extras

While you might be tech-savvy enough to choose your hardware with confidence, it’s a good idea to talk to a B2B IT supplier before making any commitments. They may well be able to make recommendations for additional technologies, and they often offer very competitive pricing on hardware.

Don’t forget about technical support for your IT equipment. This is another area where professional assistance is a good idea even if you’re technically proficient. Including some money for support services in your ongoing IT budget will keep you from wasting your time fiddling with balky computers and get problems resolved quickly.

If you’re just starting out then look for a reliable, local IT support company that provides both ad-hoc support as well as on-going monthly support. As your business grows you may find it more suitable and cost effective in the long run to switch to some kind of monthly support package with them.

Safety And Security

The time to start thinking about your business computer’s security is before you even set it up and turn it on. You need to protect your company’s data by backing it up regularly. An external hard drive can be used to make regular file back-ups, but a secondary system like an online backup service is an excellent idea.

Bear in mind that both your actual hardware and your proprietary data are vulnerable to theft. That means you need to make sure your computers are secure at all times. Laptops are particularly vulnerable, so they should be kept under lock and key when not in use. Especially vital equipment such as servers should be sited in a room that can be kept locked at all times. To provide online protection, equip your computers with firewalls and security software.

Once your initial IT decisions are made, take a moment to consider whether training would help you and your staff make better use of your new equipment. This can often be an excellent investment. For major IT systems, remember that working with an external supplier is often a splendid idea.

Information Technology, Networking, Security

a picture symbolising an online hackerThere’s no question that network security is more important than it ever has been. Having a strong online presence is critical, as is having a powerful network. Whether a small, medium, or large business, you need to know your network is secure from outside attack. Unfortunately, there are many different ways that a network can be attacked, but by looking at the most common types, you will be better prepared to take the steps necessary to keep you and your company safe.

Be sure to ask your IT support company to pay extra special attention to your security needs and to implement as many safety measures as possible.

Denial of Service Network Attacks

This is by far and away the most common network attack, and one of the most insidious. Some estimates have this style of network security attack accounting for over a third of the total attacks that take place on the various service networks. Denial of Service is also commonly referred to as a DOS attack, and multiple computers are set up automatically to hit up the same vulnerable site or point again and again to flood their systems.

Brute Force Network Attacks

a padlock showing internet securityA brute force attack is just as it sounds. While many people imagine hackers cleverly going through hundreds of thousands of lines of code looking for a back door way in, and that certainly is one way of doing it, but the brute force attempt is an attempt to guess the password of a website through repeated attempts to force their way in.

There are multiple ways to deter a brute force attack and make it next to impossible for these to work. One is to have a good password. Having a good password isn’t just a case of combining letters, numbers, capital letters, and symbols. The longer and more complex you can make your password the better. A computer program will eventually guess a four character password, but 12 or 14? The possibilities become so large as to be mathematically ridiculous.

On top of that the next few steps you can take to protect yourself include:

  • Blocking IP addresses that unsuccessfully try to log in repeatedly
  • Blocking general IP addresses
  • Having applications, that automatically lock out a person after so many failed attempts

Browser Network Attacks

A browser network attack is an attempt to take advantage of people who don’t update their computers by finding weaknesses in old browsers and developing software on websites that takes advantage of people using those browsers. The software gets in through a security flaw and can then attack the computer and any network system that it is attached to.

Backdoor Access Network Attacks

Backdoor attacks tend to be rare, but they are feared because when they take place, they are very targeted attacks that specifically focus on breaking into a targeted system to get to sensitive information or cause a severe disruption, or both. These account for only 2% of all computer network system attacks, but they are attacks that keep many security specialists up at night.

In Conclusion

These are several of the most common network security attacks, and understanding the tactics and efforts up front will help any IT department or network security specialists prepare for any attack that comes your way.

Information Technology, Networking, Wi-Fi

a router for for wi fi internet connectionAre you getting poor Wi-Fi on a specific side of your home? Are you having slow speeds every week or so? There may be things that you can do to optimise your Wi-Fi network. In this article, we will be going over some of the key things that you should think about doing.

Tips For Optimising Your Wi-Fi Network:

1. Position Your Access Point Correctly.

One of the first things that you are going to want to do is make sure that you place your access point correctly. Because the coverage area of your router is going to be in a circular/sphere shape, you want to centre it properly within your home. At the same time, you are going to want to avoid putting it directly on the floor, next to extremely thick walls, and between large objects. If possibly, you will also want to try to avoid putting it near concrete, stone, or metal.

2. Check For Software And Firmware Updates.

You are going to want to do this on a regular basis. For routers, simply go to the website of the brand and see whether or not they have any updates that you need to install.

3. Choose The Right Channel.

router channelsAnother important thing that you are going to want to do when you are setting up your Wi-Fi network is to make sure that you are choosing the right channel for your access point. The good thing is that you should be able to utilise a free resource and/or tools like a mobile application to figure out which band will be optimal for your intended use.

3. Get A More Sensitive Antenna.

image of an antenna signalGetting a better quality antenna is likely to cost you some money. If your access point has an external antenna, you are going to want to try to see if switching it will give you a better-intended result.

Omnidirectional antennas will still keep the sphere shaped intact, but ultimately make it larger, so it covers more area. Whereas, directional antennas can be excellent if you happen to have a long and thin coverage area that you are trying to reach.

4. Get A Repeater.

This is also an option that is going to cost money. If you have tried everything and you can’t seem to get a better signal for your Wi-Fi, you are likely going to be a candidate for a repeater. Repeaters can essentially be configured with the same exact network name as your router. That way, you will be able to utilise them and roam within their ranges without actually noticing a thing.

5. Upgrade.

If nothing works for you and you can’t seem to generate a better signal throughout your home, it is likely going to be time to upgrade your router. There are likely newer and better models on the market that will provide you with an even better range output than you are currently getting with your current router. If you intend on doing this, try to find one that is going to provide you with the bands that you need to get the best performance and speeds from your respective devices. Alternatively, you can also considering contacting an IT support company to see if they can help you out with your existing router and get you a better signal. In some cases they will be able to handle this remotely without the need to visit your home. If they determine the issue issue to something in your home then they may also need to come to your house to assess the situation.

Here are some more tips to get the most out of your home Wi-Fi network connection

Information Technology, Networking

picture of an ipad with speakersHello, thank you for visiting our website, this is our first post for The Networking Masters. We are technology networking specialists and this site is aimed at bringing the important aspects of networking to the general public and explaining some critical information that should prove to be very helpful for both home internet users and businesses.

In subsequent posts we will be discussing the infrastructure that most businesses use to give you an insight into why the system is set up this way. We will also be talking about virtualisation, operating systems and software that is generally used by modern businesses.

Wi-Fi is something that everyone uses nowadays and at some point each person who has accessed a WI-Fi network will no doubt have had a problem with slow connectivity. As such, we will also be bringing you information on how to optimise your Wi-Fi network.

If you would like to optimise your home network for maximum efficiency, please click here to  read our post entitled, Home Networking – Tips To  Optimise Your Wi-Fi Network.

Security is a really important issue, not just for businesses but for all internet users. Hackers are getting more and more sophisticated and there are several key ways that you leave yourself vulnerable to hackers. We will also be sharing tips on how to stay safe and protect your network and also give you information on the most common network security attacks.

Not only will we be covering these issues but we will also discuss areas relating to hardware and cabling. For example, when running network cable there are some key points that you need to be aware of in order to get the most form your network.

Keeping an eye on other aspects of hardware such as USB devices is also really important. If you are not careful, USB devices can transport malicious malware programs which can wreak havoc on your systems and destroy your data. Furthermore, they can also remove sensitive information about your company so it is critical to understand how to manage your USB devices.

So I hope this first introductory post has helped to explain a little around what we are about and given you something to look forward to with regards to our up coming posts.
Thank you for visiting and do check back soon for more updated information.

In the meantime, we will leave you with this interesting and helpful video about the different types of computer and network security attacks that you need to be aware of