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Online IT Support - News

Email Synchronisation

Improve productivity with contacts, calendar & email synchronisation across all devices

When it comes to running a small business, nothing is more infuriating than inefficient technology. However, when you pay peanuts for web sites, this is often what you get. Email synchronisation is generally not a priority when considering a low-cost web site.

If you went out to find a low-cost web site for your business, then the chances are that it will have come bundles with a ‘free’ mailbox. Technically, this type of mailbox is usually referred to as an IMAP or POP3 mailbox and it simply does what is says on the tin. ie It receives and sends emails. However, it is very inefficient if you use more than one computer device or have a smart phone. So that’s pretty much all of us, then!

The problem starts with POP3

The problems are many. If you use the POP3 system then the one you’ll probably be aware of one problem more than most. An email that you send from one device will not appear in the SENT folder on another device. This means that, should you need to find an email you sent to someone, you may need to look on each of your devices to find it.

IMAP handles sent items a little better, but both systems fail when it comes to synchronising your contacts list with Outlook and, perhaps more frustratingly, your calendar appointments associated with your business mailbox simply won’t synchronise across any devices. This means that, if you’re out and about and place a calendar entry on your mobile phone, then chances are, that won’t be visible on your laptop.

Microsoft 365 saves the day!

Microsoft 365 is the answer to your prayers. It combines all the latest technology to bring you immediate over-the-internet synchronisation of mail, contacts and calendar appointments between all of your devices.

Ah, you say. But isn’t this going to be expensive? Well, most businesses can afford £3.80+VAT per month so we would suggest not! Where else can you find so much functionality for such a little cost?!

But, wait! That’s not all! You’ve heard about Microsoft Teams, haven’t you? Well that’s a whole new world of possibilities. It’s all part of the same system, and it’s included in the same, low subscription price. So, if it’s a central synchronised file storage system you’re after then you’re sorted. If you need a place to collaborate with your colleagues and contacts then you’ve probably found the best one. You’ll be amazed at the value a small business or sole trader can get from adopting a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Contact us NOW to find out more about Microsoft 365 subscriptions.

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Online IT Support - News

Can you install a program on your PC?

If you can install programs on your PC without logging in as a different user, then this is for you!

If you can install a program on your PC without being challenged to log in as administrator, then so can MALWARE!

So, to give your PC, your data and your business or home network more protection then you MUST do something. Here’s what you do:

  1. Add a new user to your PC. Something like “CompanyAdmin” would be sufficient. Give it a good, strong password.
  2. Give the new user administration rights over your PC
  3. Log out, and then log in as the new user
  4. Edit your normal user account and make it a standard user (rather than an administrator)
  5. Log out, and log back in as yourself.

From now on, if you attempt to install some software, your computer will ask for a username and password. When prompted, enter your admin account’s username and password.

Note: Sometimes, just entering the username and password of your administrator account isn’t quite going to be enough. In those circumstances, log out and log in as your admin account. Install the software from there, and then log out and back in as yourself.

Operating in this way will give you a lot more protection against malware and unwanted software being automatically installed on your PC without your knowledge.

NEVER enter your admin account details unless you are sure that you know why your PC is asking for them. In order words, if you’re not deliberately changing your system, then don’t enter your admin details – it could be that something malicious is trying to install itself!

If this is of help to you, then please share this with your colleagues and friends.

If you are a business or sole trader and would like assistance with this, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to provide a quality solution to match your individual circumstances.

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Online IT Support - News

Don’t be like Bob

Large businesses often have their own IT teams. Smaller businesses tend to have the unfortunate soul who happens to know a bit more about IT than his or her colleagues – let’s call him Bob.

Bob is the guy that people call when their computer goes slow, their phone stops syncing their email, their printer chucks out a load of gibberish or their Facebook refuses to load at lunchtime. He’s a happy, go-lucky kind of guy and he’s very happy to help. There’s a satisfaction in fixing things, and Bob gets that warm, fuzzy feeling every time he makes someone smile. Bob loves his job.

However, this isn’t Bob’s job at all. Bob isn’t here to fix Facebook, troubleshoot the WiFi, create new users in Office 365 or update the privacy policy on the web site. In fact, Bob’s job title is ‘Company Director’.

In reality, Bob has lots of important things to do. None of them are associated with IT Support – but Bob finds helping out with IT do be an enjoyable distraction. Does this sound familiar?

It’s amazing to see just how many people spend their valuable time in an IT support role when their job is actually something else. Time spent fiddling with things Bob barely understands is a considerable risk to the future of his business. This is time that he should be using for business development. He takes at least twice as long to fix each issue as a professional would do, too. This means twice his time, and also twice the time of the person he is helping.

The solution is simple. Bob outsources his IT issues to a reputable, accredited online IT support company. He suddenly realises that he can easily recoup the money he spends on outsourcing, and more besides, through higher productivity in his own business. The online IT support company have highly experienced engineers who dramatically reduce the down-time that his staff have been used to during fixes – which makes them more efficient at their own job, and able to earn more money for the business.

He may be a very clever chap, but the quality of each solution is now much better than Bob could have achieved with his managerial, financial and marketing background. In fact, critical and complicated areas of the system have now been identified as causing the vast majority of Bob’s support calls, and the fix is pretty straight forward for the online IT support engineers.

So, if you haven’t already guessed, there’s a moral to this story. If you want to make your business efficient, then let the IT experts do the IT jobs, and let everyone else do theirs!

Contact us NOW to discover how a partnership with Your Computer Department can improve your productivity and profitability.

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Online IT Support - News

Newsletters going to customers’ spam filters?

Newsletters going to spam filter

Configuring your SPF record is vital

Do your emails get lost in other peoples’ junk mail or caught in their spam filter?
Do you find a low response to newsletters on platforms such as Mailchimp?

Correct configuration of a domain name is vital for reliable delivery of email and the avoidance of spam filters. There is a DNS record that we call the SPF record.

This is used by everyone’s mail provider when they try to work out whether your email is spam or not. If your SPF record is missing or incorrect, then your messages probably won’t get through.

If you’re struggling to get through to your contacts, please get in touch.

Talk to us TODAY about checking that your DNS is configured correctly.

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Online IT Support - News

Adapting your business to working from home

It has been a difficult time for most of us over the recent weeks. We are clearly not out of the woods just yet although some businesses, mainly in the manufacturing and construction industries, are now returning to work. Early indications are that business owners are finding it difficult to get many of their key members of staff back to work due to childcare challenges. With schools remaining closed, staff are finding that they are unable to find suitable care for their children during the time when they would need to be at work.

There are, however, ways in which we can adapt to cope with some of these circumstances. There is a mixture of opportunities that can soften the blow, although few of them are ideal for anyone. Staggering working times so that parents can take it in turns to look after their children is one idea. There are also very interesting and affordable ways in which technology can help, too. Working from home is not just becoming normal, it’s becoming a necessity.

Historically, most businesses have operated from a central office. Everyone traveled to and from the office at the same times and shared the same office space. This was considered to be normal. The very different times we find ourselves in right now are demanding that we re-assess what ‘normal’ looks like. As business owners, we must therefore start to ask very deep and searching questions of ourselves and our previous levels of expectation. Fundamentally, we need to ask whether the business could adapt to survive if a certain person, or group of people, were not physically present in the office. If that person was able to do their job but from a remote location then could that work? It may be uncomfortable and inconvenient but if our natural answer is ‘no’, then we should then ask ourselves if this answer change to a ‘yes’ if the alternative was that you had to to close our business?

Your Computer Department is 20 years old and, although we have had offices previously, it may surprise some readers to know that we’ve actually been working from home for the last 10 years. We have first-hand experience of creating a professional, yet paperless office and have an environment where every function can be operated as long as everyone has a basic internet connection. As a general rule of thumb, most staff only need the following:

  • Access to files
  • Access to emails
  • Access to telephony

It is worth noting that access to printing/scanning is useful but this is not always essential for every member of staff. In fact, we rarely use these functions in our own office because we have adapted our systems to not need it. We occasionally scan something that someone sends to us so that we can make it available to all of us prior to shredding it, but I can’t remember the last time I actually printed anything for our business.

The gap between what you have now, and the truly location-free setup that we operate here may appear to be be a wide one. Manufacturing, in particular, need factory or workshop space. However, there are many functions that are admin-based and simply need a computer. Most manufacturing businesses rely heavily on their admin staff – and it is typically these admin staff that are key to the efficiency of your business. Could your business work if some or all of your staff worked from home?

So, as you consider your 2-metre distancing rules and discuss your return to work plans, you should also consider that technology is here that can quickly and cost effectively transform your business into the flexible post-pandemic workplace of the future.

Microsoft Office 365 offers many of the elements required in order to adapt to working from home. In fact, as most businesses already use Office 365, it can often be as simple as switching features on or setting them up for you. Whatever your unique situation is, please give me a call and I’ll personally help you to evolve your business thrive as the new, modern workplace.


Please stay alert, work from home if you can, I wish everyone and their families well during this continuing situation.

Talk to us TODAY about our automated email signatures.

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Online IT Support - News

How to work from home – Professionally!

Working from home is great. We know this because we at Your Computer Department have been doing just this for several years now. However, it comes with a strong warning:

DO NOT LOSE SIGHT OF PROFESSIONALISM!

We’ve all seen a marked change in the way that people have worked over recent weeks. In these early days, it has been socially acceptable to appear relaxed and openly share our non-business-related daytime activities. This is good, and working from home is set to become a major part of many people’s lives for the future. However, professionalism will need to return to the workplace – be that an office or a home.

So, what can you do to present a professional appearance while enjoying the benefits of daytime retail therapy, a trip to the hair salon, a mid-afternoon school run, a dash to the gym or a walk in the park?

Well, one way we have become used to keeping in touch with our clients is via email. Unfortunately, emails have a habit of being urgent and often cannot wait for a well formatted reply from your PC – instead, you may feel you need to reply ‘on the hoof’. The problem with this is the formatting of an email from a mobile device often looks very different to one from a PC. Gone is the carefully crafted branding across the footer – it’s simply been replaced by something like ‘Sent from my iPhone’. The game is up – you’ve been rumbled!

This is where you need an automated email signature. Simply turn off your standard signature and send your email. Your corporate branding is added automatically to your email – regardless of whether you sent it from your PC, your iPad, your mobile phone or even logging in through a web browser on your friend’s PC.

The recipient of your email won’t know that your having your hair done or that you’re having a pint at the local with your mates. You could literally be anywhere – and remain professional at the same time.

Talk to us TODAY about our automated email signatures.

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Online IT Support - News

Solving Your Remote Connectivity Issues

The number one question we’ve been asked over the past 14 days is “Can you help us work from home?”. This has kept us extremely busy, as you might imagine.

The second most popular question has been “Can you please do something about the speed of our remote connection?”. The answer is yes. The solution can come in many forms – and can be a mixture of all of them.

Microsoft Teams offers you a simple, yet feature-packed, video conferencing system. Not only can you talk to your colleagues with full video and audio, you can blur your background, make written notes, demonstrate your ideas with a team whiteboard and share your desktop screen to show your work in progress.

Check your broadband.

One useful tool is a broadband speed test. You can do this yourself for your home broadband with tools such as https://speedtest.net which will give you a good indication of the performance you can expect. Here’s some tips:

  • 1. Ensure that you are not connected to your office or any other VPN before you start the test.
  • 2. Ensure that nobody else is using the internet in your house while you run the test.
  • 3. Ideally, connect your computer directly to your router with a network cable to ensure that your wifi doesn’t slow your test’s performance.
  • 4. Test results guidelines:
    • Ping: This number should ideally be a number LESS than 50ms. The lower the number, the better your service. Ideally, this number would be less than 20ms.
    • Download: This number should be as HIGH as possible. Expect to receive a number HIGHER than 5Mbs. Ideally, this figure would be in excess of 20Mbs.
    • Upload: This number should also be as HIGH as possible but is generally a lower number than the download figure. Expect this to be no lower than 0.5Mbps or 500Kbps (These are roughly the same value but written in different units). Ideally, this figure should be in excess of 10Mbps.

If your home broadband is good enough then talk to your colleagues. If everyone else is also experiencing slow connections to the office, then it is worth considering upgrading your business’s broadband speed if at all possible. Most of the time, this can be done by simply paying more money to your service provider. However, it’s also worth checking whether your internet service provider intends to send a new router in order to achieve this – if so, it might be worth reconsidering your options as simply plugging it in straight in may not work and you may need on-site support which could be tricky in the current climate. Please talk to us before placing an order that would result in you needing to take any action other than paying more money.

Improve Productivity with Microsoft Teams

Change the way you work.

Another way to take a load off your office broadband is to reduce the number of people that need to connect by making most, or even all, of your data cloud-based. This means that your files and documents are stored securely on the internet instead of on the office network. Your team then securely accesses the files directly from their own internet connection instead of clogging up your office’s internet connection.

There are many cloud-based file storage solutions but the most popular and up-to-date is Microsoft Teams. Not only does this provide a fantastic file storage facility, but it also unlocks many other valuable systems to make it exceptionally easy to collaborate with your colleagues, customers and suppliers.

Audio and video calling similar to Skype comes bundled in Microsoft Teams with the ability to schedule video meetings with many people at once, access to a meeting whiteboard, attach files, make meeting notes and even continue a text-based conversation thread after the meeting. There are many other features that give the ‘Wow-Factor’ and are guaranteed to impress even your most stubborn colleagues!

Talk to us TODAY about managed Microsoft Teams implementations and how we can guide you and your staff to a more modern, cloud-based, business model – freed from the ties of your office network.

Just give us a call on 0115 8240825 for more information.

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Online IT Support - News

Microsoft Teams – Enabling business as usual throughout COVID-19

Coronavirus is set to make physical meetings very difficult in 2020. Guidance from the UK government, large organisations and the government intends to slow the spread of the virus by reducing unnecesary social and business contact. This poses a sudden new challenge to businesses since traditional methods of holding meetings to discuss every day processes may become difficult – or even illegal. Business owners are being urged to plan alternative ways of working to enable them to continue to operate as normally as possible during the next few months.

Microsoft Teams offers you a simple, yet feature-packed, video conferencing system. Not only can you talk to your colleagues with full video and audio, you can blur your background, make written notes, demonstrate your ideas with a team whiteboard and share your desktop screen to show your work in progress.

Not only is Microsoft Teams a formidable video-conferencing tool, it is also the hub of your file sharing activity, too. On-site files servers are now being replaced by Microsoft’s latest cloud technology. It is possible to run a secure network sharing files and securing access to your company’s computers – purely with Office 365.

You may also be surprised to learn that the cost of Microsoft Teams is included in the mailbox subscription that you are already paying. That’s right – you already have the ability to use these features. They just need to be structured correctly for your business.

At Your Computer Department, we are experienced Microsoft Teams migrators. We will structure your Teams, migrate your data, tweak your PCs and then show you how to use it effortlessly. We do all of this for you using our ‘magic’ remote-access technology, too. This means that we can migrate any business, anywhere, without sales or technical visits. Maybe you’re already in self-isolation or perhaps you’re just wanting to do your bit to slow the spread of COVID-19. Whatever your circumstances, give us a call and let us help you and your staff to work more effectively than ever with Microsoft Teams.

Contact us TODAY for more information about how Microsoft Teams can make life easier for your business.

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Online IT Support - News

Introducing: YCD Shoebox Server


YCD Shoebox – All your files. In your control.

Historically, there’s generally been a choice for the small business. Either splash serious cash on an office-based server, or compromise on functionality, backups and security levels with some file sharing software such as Dropbox, iCloud or Sync. A traditional server is often too expensive for a tiny business to afford – yet the file sharing solutions offer comparatively little flexibility along with a not-insignificant subscription cost for any business-sized volumes of data.

The solution that ticks the boxes has arrived in the form of what we like to call the YCD Shoebox. A small shoebox-sized device that connects to your office or home-based office network and offers to tick all of your organisational requirements, automates hourly off-site backups, allows you remote access while you’re out with clients and, most importantly has state-of-the-art security measures to protect your data.

The flexibility of this system allows any, all or none of the following – plus much more, besides:Direct, fast access to files across your local networkRemote access to files via a ‘Dropbox-style’ app.3 levels of file security: General users, Team leaders, Owner/managersData encryption – Your data remains protected should your Shoebox device be stolen.2-Step authentication – Keeps hackers out, even if they know your username and password!Mirrored internal storage – if an internal storage hard disk fails, there’s another one there to keep you running while we fix it.Automated hourly off-site backups (small subscription applies)Roaming profiles – Any user can log into any computer and see the same files.

Contact us TODAY for more information about how a YCD Shoebox can improve your productivity.