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Microsoft MileIQ Mileage Tracking App - Included with Office365 Business Standard (previously known as Premium)
 
Already an existing Office 365 Business subscriber?

Need to track your business mileage for reimbursement?

Ever heard of MileIQ?  Didn't think so!  

MileIQ is a smart phone based app that runs in the background on your phone tracking your car journeys.  We speak from personal experience when we say it works reliably and the interface is very easy to use.  The key to it being very useful day to day is invest some time when you first start using it and name the places you visit regulalry.  Regular visits will then be automatically classified by the app to either personal or business trips.  It really can be a huge time saver for those that need to do business mileage and it's already included with an Office 365 subscription - just not very well advertised!



https://www.mileiq.com/office365/


 
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Apps that are included with Office 365 Business Premium that you never knew existed.

 

Microsoft Bookings is an online and mobile app for small businesses who provide services to customers on an appointment basis. Examples of businesses include hair salons, dental offices, spas, law firms, financial services providers, consultants, and auto shops.

Bookings has three primary components:

  • A booking page where your customers can schedule appointments with the staff member who should provide the service. You can show this page on Facebook, where your customers can schedule appointments, or your own web site.
  • A set of web-based, business-facing pages where business owners can record customer preferences, manage staff lists and schedules, define services and pricing, set business hours, and customize how services and staff are scheduled
  • A business-facing mobile app where business owners can see all of their bookings, access customer lists and contact information, and make manual bookings

 

Microsoft To Do is a cloud-based task management application. It allows users to manage their tasks from a smartphone, tablet and computer. The technology is produced by the team behind, which was acquired by Microsoft, and the stand-alone apps feed into the existing Tasks feature of the Outlook product range.



The simplest explanation is that it’s a way to organise teamwork and tasks – similar to Asana, Slack or Trello for task/ project management. Office 365 Planner provides a hub for team members to create plans, organise and assign tasks to different users and to check updates on progress through dashboards. It also provides a centralised place where files can be shared and gives visibility to the whole team. As an Office 365 app, you can find Planner within your Office 365 home under your apps. 



Power Automate (was known as Flow) is Microsoft’s attempt at giving you the kind of automation for notifications, alerts, data gathering, and communication that will help you spend less time on boring but necessary admin work and more time on interesting (and productive) things.

Think of Power Automate as IFTTT (If This Then That), but with a slant towards the Office applications rather than IoT (internet of things) or hardware.

Power Automate allows you to create “flows” (short for “workflows”) that are based on trigger events. For example, you could create a flow that would download the responses to a Microsoft Forms questionnaire to Dropbox regularly, or post a message in a Slack channel if a Visual Studio build fails.

Flow is all about taking away the annoyance of tasks that a computer could be doing for you instead. This could be as simple as getting an email alert when someone modifies a file in Dropbox or as complex as a multi-step workflow with approvals, alerts, and notifications that’s based on a Power BI analysis of real-time data.

You can create three main types of flow:

  • Automated: A flow triggered automatically by an event, like an email arriving or a file changing.
  • Button: A flow triggered manually by a button you press.
  • Scheduled: A flow that runs at a set time, either once or as a recurring action.
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Microsoft Teams - Included with Office 365 Business Premium
Microsoft Teams cheat sheet
Microsoft's answer to Slack, Teams provides group messaging, voice and video calls, and useful integrations with other Office 365 apps. Here's how to get set up in Teams and find your way around.
Email is everywhere, and it has been around seemingly forever. But is it really the most effective way for groups of people to collaborate on work and advance business objectives? Several newish team messaging products, most notably Slack, wager that the answer is indeed no. Slack and its rivals try to remove threaded email conversations as a common platform of communication in organizations and replace it with instant message-like short bursts organized into channels based on the context or subject of the conversation.
Microsoft Teams is the Redmond behemoth’s suggested alternative to Slack. Teams, which is included with Office 365 business and enterprise subscriptions and is also available as a free product, is essentially group chat software with some interesting features thrown in around working with documents and spreadsheets, especially those stored in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business. It also incorporates videoconferencing capabilities, which taking on increasing importance as the spread of the novel coronavirus (a.k.a. COVID-19) prompts more companies to encourage telecommuting.
Why would you want to use Teams over email?
  • Everyone in a discussion stays on topic. Conversations happen in channels that are dedicated to certain topics. While email messages and threads make it easy to say, “oh, while we’re here” and divert the discussion onto an entirely different topic, conversations in channels are more likely to stay on topic, and thus the friction of getting information you need is reduced.
  • You will get less email. As more and more team members log on to Teams and move their work-related conversations to the platform, it is inevitable that short conversations that would have happened over email naturally find themselves happening in a channel where everyone can see and respond.
  • All resources are right there in front of you. Documents and conversations can all be found in one place, even if physically the objects are stored in different parts of Office 365. For instance, documents and shared files live in SharePoint but magically appear in relevant conversations in Teams.
  • Teams has a real-time feel to it, making collaboration “in the moment” easier than trying to trade emails with colleagues.
What follows is a cheat sheet — a head-start guide to using Teams to more efficiently work with your colleagues and save time.
Microsoft offers a web interface for Teams, as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android so you can stay connected from anywhere. But the best experience is offered by the desktop client. Available for Windows (versions 7 and up), macOS (10.10 and up) and Linux (in .deb and .rpm formats), it’s a rich, full-featured application that lets you keep meetings, chats and notes all together in one place. This story will focus on getting you acquainted with the desktop app.
As the name suggests, Teams organises itself around the concept of teams, which can be small groups you’re working with on specific projects, your whole department or, in some cases, even the entire company. When you launch Teams, you’ll be taken to the Teams view. The first time you launch Microsoft Teams, you’ll likely be enrolled in one or more teams.

 

Creating or joining a team

To create a new team, which you might need to do when you start a new project, for instance, select Join or create a team at the bottom left of the Teams window. On the screen that appears, hover over the “Create a team” area and click the Create team button.
You need to then choose whether to create a team from scratch or create a team based on an Office 365 group (if you choose the latter, then you need to specify the group on the next screen), choose whether the team is private (only you and other owners of the team can decide which participants to include) or public (anyone who has access to Office 365 in your organization can join), and then give your team a name and a friendly description so others can make sense of its purpose.

 
After that, you’ll be prompted to add any relevant people, distribution groups and security groups that might exist inside the Global Address List for Office 365 in your organization. Here, think of distribution groups that get memos for your department, any particular employees, and even other email lists that might have members that would find the content of your discussions relevant. You can also designate them as members or owners of the team.
If Office 365 is configured appropriately in your company, you can even invite guests from outside your organisation, such as vendors and contractors, simply by typing their email addresses into the team-picking screen. Their “guest” status will be clearly denoted in all of their actions. (If you don’t have permission from your administrator to do this, Teams will report back that you are not authorized.)

 
When you create a team, Teams automatically sets up certain elements of Office 365 to support the team. Specifically, it creates a SharePoint team site and grants access to the members of the team you added, an Office 365 Group (think of it as an Exchange or Outlook distribution list on steroids) comprising the team members, a shared OneNote notebook hosted in the cloud, and a shared Plan, something that’s part of the Microsoft Planner tool in Office 365, which is beyond the scope of this article.
To manage your team at any time, click the three-dot icon next to its name in the navigator bar on the left. You’ll see a pop-up menu where you can add or remove members, create channels for the team (more on that below), change the team name or description, and more.
If you’d like to join an existing team rather than create a new one, select Join or create a team at the bottom left of the Teams window. On the screen that appears, you’ll see a list of available teams. Hover over any public team and click its Join team button to join instantly. If the team is private, you’ll need to request approval from its administrator.

Channels

Once a team is created, you’ll notice a few things in the Teams window.

 
For one, a General channel has been created for the team. Channels are where you converse and collaborate. The General channel is meant to be a catch-all place where you go to start conversations when you first begin using the Teams product; usually more specific topic-related channels will spring from there.
You can create multiple channels for any given team — the Widget Launch team might want to have sales, production and marketing channels, for example. To add a channel, click the three-dot icon to the right of the team’s name in the left navigation pane, and from the menu that pops up, select Add channel. On the screen that appears, type in a name and a description for the channel and click the Add button. All the channels for a team appear underneath the name of the team in the left pane.
New to Teams is the private channel capability, which lets you set up channels that only certain folks can read and respond to — this could be useful for sensitive issues within a larger team. To create one of these channels, follow the steps above, and on the “Create a channel” screen, make sure Private is selected at the bottom of the window. Click the Next button; you’ll then add members as normal.
 

 
Each channel has tabs that show up in the upper portion of the main area of the Teams screen, including tabs for posts (like conversations), files, notes and related services. When someone does something new in a channel, such as adding a file or starting or continuing a conversation, that channel’s name will become bold in the left pane.

Posts

The Posts tab kind of works like Facebook or LinkedIn in that you can comment to your teammates in an ongoing conversation. Composing messages is straightforward: Just start typing in the “Start a new conversation” text box, or click Reply below an existing conversation and start typing.
You can call teammates’ attention to certain parts of the conversation by tagging them with an @ sign when typing, like this: @Susan have you seen the latest projections? Users who have been tagged will see, in their own copies of the Teams clients, those tagged parts of the conversation highlighted in bright red so they can easily see and respond to messages. You can use emoticons, emojis and GIFs as well — that’s what I mean by thinking of this area like Facebook.

 
Other activities such as shared calls or shared files appear in a timeline fashion in the Posts tab. These can be accessed elsewhere, but they are populated and referenced in the Posts area as well, much like a news feed on a social site works. And anyone who is currently available on Teams will have a green circle with a white checkmark on their profile picture in the Posts area.

 

Files

You are probably beginning to get the idea that Teams is in many ways an overlay to Office 365 services. This is very clear in the Files tab, which populates a list of files on the shared SharePoint team site right in your window, saving you the trouble of loading it up in your browser and clicking around. You can upload, open, edit, copy, move, download and delete files, or get links to those documents to share with others.
Another nice feature is that, right in the Files tab, you can start a group chat about a document, and that group chat will be documented in the Posts tab as well for future reference.
If you click on a file name, the online version of Word, Excel, and so on will open right in the Teams window, allowing you to perform lightweight edits or create simple documents from scratch without leaving the Teams client.

Adding more tabs
The tab area is basically where all of the exciting integration action happens with Teams. Functionality from other Office 365 services as well as third parties surfaces as new tabs.
For example, you can add Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, OneNote notebooks, Power BI dashboards, Planner plans, and more directly as tabs in the Teams client. Just click the plus button (+) at the far right of the tabs layout to add a new tab. There are also available integrations with third-party cloud services like GitHub, Cisco Webex, Smartsheet, and so on.

 
Searching
Searching through any content within Teams is simple — just type a command or search keywords into the search bar at the top of the Teams client window.

 
The navigator bar
On the far left side of the Teams window, you will find a navigation bar with a menu that contains several potential places for things to surface in Teams:


Activity: As with the “Notifications” area of Facebook, @ mentions, replies, and other notifications sent specifically to you will be highlighted here. Click the funnel icon to see filtering options.
Chat: To start a private conversation, click a team member’s name and start chatting in the main area of the screen to the right. In Teams releases later in 2020 and beyond, you will be able to remove chats into separate windows so that you can manage multiple chats at one time across your monitors.
Teams: This area lets you see all of the teams of which you are a member, and will let you add more people, create more channels, or start conversations in channels within each of those teams. You’ll spend a lot of time here, as it is the default place the software takes you when you start it up.
Calendar: This part of the client essentially surfaces your Office 365/Exchange calendar. You can also schedule meetings with all of the members of the team through this tab using the “New meeting” button, or start a video meeting immediately with the “Meet now” button.
Calls: You may know that Microsoft has rolled up Lync and Skype for Business (at least the cloud-hosted versions) into the Teams client, so all of your communications can happen from one client. On the Calls tab, you can initiate calls, add contacts to speed dials, check your voicemail, look at your calls history, and start video chats as well.
The key buttons here are on the bottom left — type in who you want to call in the “Make a call” box in the left pane, and then click the phone button or the camera button below to start an audio or video call. (You might have to click a Make a call button in the lower left pane first, depending on what build of the Teams client is installed on your machine.) You can also add individuals or groups to “speed dial” for one-click calling.

 
Files: This tab grabs files from SharePoint, OneDrive and OneNote, and helpfully surfaces what you’ve used most recently in the Recent view. You can also go right over to your personal OneDrive from within the client to find other files and monitor the progress of larger file downloads to your local computer.

 
 
The … icon: Here is another place where you can add additional applications to the Teams client, including Planner data, OneNote, live streaming, and more.
 

 
You can also use the search box or click the More apps link within the three-dot icon pop-up — or click the Apps button at the bottom of the nav bar — to add third-party apps like Zoom into all areas of Teams (for instance, in right-click context menus) and not just within added tabs. When you add an app this way, its icon will appear in the navigator bar.
Tasks: While this hasn’t rolled out completely as of this writing, the Tasks view is coming, and it will be very useful when it does arrive — it will surface tasks assigned to you from Microsoft Planner, To-Do and Outlook. You will also be able to see how many tasks you have outstanding, how many completed and what their individual status is.
 
What not to do with Teams
Teams is definitely a big step up over endless email chains, but that doesn’t mean it’s suitable for everything. Here are some things to avoid:
Trying to replace all emails with Teams conversations and links. Sometimes we humans have a tendency to gravitate to whatever new features and tools there are, proclaiming them the “killer” of whatever came before and trying to force old square pegs into shiny new round holes. Teams is no different, and for that matter, neither is Slack.
Trying to send emails to external folks. Unfortunately there is no way for Teams to send email out to the internet, so unless you want to invite external users as guests into your team, assuming you have permission to do that, you will need to handle some subjects that involve people outside of your organization via old-fashioned email messages. That, of course, limits the utility of using Teams in projects or environments with a lot of collaboration with external users.
With that said, there is a new feature coming some time during 2020 that will allow you to move conversations from email in Outlook into Teams conversations or channels just by clicking a button — and vice versa. However, your organization may restrict how external users can interact with this content via data loss prevention policies and prohibitions on folks outside your organization accessing Teams chats and channels. Ask your IT department if you have questions.
Trying to use Teams for anything other than back-and-forth quick hits. Think of Teams this way: If you are on IM, that’s an ideal Teams conversation. If your message is longer than a paragraph, chances are, it should go back to email. Longer conversations, project planning, longer term development, all of those types of deep thinking and analysis are best suited for email.
For one, it’s easier to search email than Teams. Second, in email, you can sort, filter, set up rules, and do other automated things to manage how you see and find information. Email is now generally available offline as well, whereas Teams is not. And finally, the Teams client is a not currently set up with rich editing features for conversations, such as enhanced cutting and pasting, serious spellchecking abilities, or undoing or moving conversations from one channel to another.
The last word
Once you get to know it, Microsoft Teams is a genuinely helpful tool for teams in companies that use Office 365, since it brings together a bunch of different Office 365 components and surfaces them in one convenient place.
 

 

Microsoft Bookings is an online and mobile app for small businesses who provide services to customers on an appointment basis. Examples of businesses include hair salons, dental offices, spas, law firms, financial services providers, consultants, and auto shops.

Bookings has three primary components:

  • A booking page where your customers can schedule appointments with the staff member who should provide the service. You can show this page on Facebook, where your customers can schedule appointments, or your own web site.
  • A set of web-based, business-facing pages where business owners can record customer preferences, manage staff lists and schedules, define services and pricing, set business hours, and customize how services and staff are scheduled
  • A business-facing mobile app where business owners can see all of their bookings, access customer lists and contact information, and make manual bookings

 

Microsoft To Do is a cloud-based task management application. It allows users to manage their tasks from a smartphone, tablet and computer. The technology is produced by the team behind, which was acquired by Microsoft, and the stand-alone apps feed into the existing Tasks feature of the Outlook product range.



The simplest explanation is that it’s a way to organise teamwork and tasks – similar to Asana, Slack or Trello for task/ project management. Office 365 Planner provides a hub for team members to create plans, organise and assign tasks to different users and to check updates on progress through dashboards. It also provides a centralised place where files can be shared and gives visibility to the whole team. As an Office 365 app, you can find Planner within your Office 365 home under your apps. 



Power Automate (was known as Flow) is Microsoft’s attempt at giving you the kind of automation for notifications, alerts, data gathering, and communication that will help you spend less time on boring but necessary admin work and more time on interesting (and productive) things.

Think of Power Automate as IFTTT (If This Then That), but with a slant towards the Office applications rather than IoT (internet of things) or hardware.

Power Automate allows you to create “flows” (short for “workflows”) that are based on trigger events. For example, you could create a flow that would download the responses to a Microsoft Forms questionnaire to Dropbox regularly, or post a message in a Slack channel if a Visual Studio build fails.

Flow is all about taking away the annoyance of tasks that a computer could be doing for you instead. This could be as simple as getting an email alert when someone modifies a file in Dropbox or as complex as a multi-step workflow with approvals, alerts, and notifications that’s based on a Power BI analysis of real-time data.

You can create three main types of flow:

  • Automated: A flow triggered automatically by an event, like an email arriving or a file changing.
  • Button: A flow triggered manually by a button you press.
  • Scheduled: A flow that runs at a set time, either once or as a recurring action.
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Beat those VoIP costs down.
Chatting to a couple of clients recently, we realised that they were unaware of the services we’ve been offering for years.  If you are looking at upgrading or renewing your phone system, please do contact us with your requirements and do feel free to put any quotes past us for comment.  Both clients in question were existing customers of a very large telecoms supplier and so naturally, when said large telecoms supplier contacted them offering a new and cheaper phone system, they were only too happy to listen.  Unfortunately, what they have both been sold is at least £100 per month more expensive than we could have provided on an equivalent platform with more features and identical telephone handsets.  What’s more, large telecoms suppliers routinely tie their customers into watertight five year agreement and so unfortunately, both clients will now be at least £6000 worse off over their contract period and will undoubtedly never speak to someone that knows their setup or business should any problems arise.
 
For comparison, please see the table below based upon a single business phone number and
seven Yealink VoIP telephones.
 
Product Large Telecoms Supplier Outsourced IT
VoIP Line Rental (single number) £27.00 Included (three numbers)
Call Package £43.40 Included
(2000 landline minutes + 1000 mobile)
Cloud phone system £131.00 £108.00
Telephone hardware lease £48.19 £35.54
     
Total monthly costs £249.59 £143.54
     
CAT6 Network Point (each)
IF REQUIRED
£166.75 £80.00
     
Total one-off costs based on 7 network points - IF REQUIRED £1167.25 £560
 
 
What’s included with your phone system from Outsourced IT?
 
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Windows 7 - End Of Life 14th January 2020

Still Running Windows 7?

Windows 7 hasn’t been officially supported since 2015, and a surprising number of companies are still using it with security patches offered during the Windows 7 extended support stream of patches. But all things must come to an end, and Windows 7 extended support is scheduled to end in January 2020. Firms must face a choice: limp along as security concerns continue to mount and accept the bug risk or slowly upgrade to newer versions of Windows.

Why Upgrade Now?

It’s time to put the upgrade plan in place while there is time for a measured and slower pace to a technical upgrade. For those wondering, when is Windows 7 no longer supported, the official date is in January of 2020. While devices will continue work, without the protection of ongoing security patches and updates, it’s best think of that time as cushion in case the upgrade takes longer than necessary.

Why hurry? After Windows 7 goes dark, the machines running it are on borrowed time as vulnerabilities will continue to mount. This is particularly true of security vulnerabilities that will rapidly be released to take advantage of systems running patchless Windows 7.

Even if firewalls and other network security measures are kept up to date, there is still exposure. It’s like putting thousands of pounds in a cardboard box behind a security fence. No matter how high the fence is, once the bad guy has scaled it, they only have the cardboard between them and the cash. That also assumes that network upgrades will continue to account for Windows 7 as new things are discovered, which is unlikely to last. Network and security software will not and cannot fully support a system that’s no longer being supported by its own creator.

It’s a less frustrating and ultimately, an easier transition. It’s worth noting that Windows 8 is no longer supported either, with Windows 8.1 soon to follow. With Windows 10, Microsoft appears to be moving to a different versioning model, too—one similar to Apple’s macOS versioning model.

More Like Apple?

Microsoft has a goal of Windows 10 being the OS for one billion devices. One billion. That’s a lofty goal. To get there, all their resources need to be focused on Windows 10. In fact, since 2016, consumers could only buy new machines with Windows 10.

Windows 7 and 8 are outdated and have been relegated to the ‘extinct systems’ wing of the Computer History Museum. It makes good business sense that the company is focusing on support and patches for the standard bearing software, Windows 10. This keeps resources available to stay on top of bugs, security issues, and new devices as they grow toward that massive number of machines.

Frankly, Windows 7 users were lucky to get an extension for as long as they did. For years companies received regular Windows 7 updates and patches, but it’s time to move forward.

 
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Our recent reviews
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Spam Protection


How many junk, spam or bulk emails are you wading through daily just to get to the ones you actually need?  The graph below is a single days worth of inbound email.  If the 578 emails received, 382 were blocked completely and 29 were quarantined for further investigation by the end user.  How many hours do you lose a year just by receiving email that you do not want or need?

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Your short guide to Managed Print Services & Office Printing Equipment
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Server & PC Install
Even with the advent and continued expansion of cloud computing, there are plenty of reasons why your existing server may need to be replaced.  It may even be the case that your needs have changed and you need to implement an on-site server solution.  We can source, configure and install Windows servers.  We can then supply, configure and monitor your offisite backup solution so that should the worst happen, we can still get you back up and running on a temporary server within a few hours.

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General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - Coming 25th May 2018


Small businesses: GDPR affects you, too

Don’t think that just because you’re a small business, they won’t see you.
 
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25th May, enforcing a strict set of new rules concerning privacy and data security and imposing strict penalties on violators. GDPR affects anyone holding data on EU citizens, including those companies not in Europe. A survey carried out in December 2017 of over 1000 companies found that a lot of them have still have no clue about this yet. You may forgive the overseas businesses for not understanding that they’ll also be affected, but the Brits were the worst. ONLY 39% of UK companies realised that they were subject to the regulation.
The nitty gritty
So what does GDPR mean in practice, and what must small businesses do to get ahead of it? GDPR is a sprawling document, hundreds of pages long, but it changes requirements or creates new ones in several key areas.
Consent
One of the big concepts that GDPR changes is consent. Companies already need consent to process someone’s data, but until now they only had to ask once, and that covered all uses. Not anymore. GDPR’s ‘unbundled’ consent means getting separate permission to use customer data for different things, such as marketing, maintenance, fraud checks and support. Documentation is also stricter: businesses must record when that consent was given. Neither can service providers assume consent by 'pre-ticking' boxes and forcing people to untick them. Instead, they must make consent clear in legal contracts and customers must opt-in rather than out.
Right to erasure
Any consent a customer gives isn’t automatically forever, either. Another key change under GDPR is the right to erasure (sometimes called the ‘right to be forgotten’). It lets individuals withdraw consent, meaning that a company would have to delete any information it held about them.
Data portability
On a related note, customers might just ask for a copy of their data rather than deleting it. Upon request, the ‘data controllers’ must provide a machine-readable copy of the customers data so that they can send it to another provider should they chose. GDPR also asks organisations to provide extensive supporting material as part of this process, including the categories of data that they are handling, along with the reasons for processing it. All of this must happen within a month of the request. Portability and erasure could be tricky issues in a small business for both technical and organisational reasons. Firstly, they may not have the same kind of formalised process for handing data that some larger companies do. If your customer data is scattered across a selection of network folders, databases and individual PCs, you’ll have a tough time retrieving it for one customer. Now imagine if you get ten requests in a week.
The other issue is that GDPR’s third party requirement may be more likely to bite SMBs. A small company without a large, well-funded IT department is likely to rely more on third party data handling services than a larger company that can build things in-house. If services like cloud-based backup, third party order processing, outsourced customer support or SaaS application providers are storing and processing your customers’ data, that makes them ‘data processors’ in GDPR jargon. A request to delete or reproduce customer data affects data processors’ systems, too. Small businesses will need to clarify their contracts with service providers, along with the processes for handling customer requests.
Data governance obligations
Organisations must take technical and organisational measures to show that they have made their data processing compliant with the concept of privacy by design. GDPR specifically mentions encryption and pseudoanoymisation – the process of separating personally-identifiable information from other data attributes to avoid security risks.
If a small business has been winging it without a grown-up IT department, they’ll need to source this technical expertise from somewhere to tackle these GDPR requirements.
Personnel and procedural changes
While these requirements all impose a hefty technology burden on companies, there are other measures that have a greater effect on organisational structure. The GDPR says that organisations must use privacy impact assessments for data processing activities that the regulation defines as high-risk, including monitoring activities. They must introduce audits and policy reviews to continually assess their privacy compliance.
This means that GDPR is not a one-time, fire-and-forget project. Even if GDPR doesn’t mandate an official data protection officer (DPO) at your small business, you still need someone at the steering wheel who can be responsible for pushing all these security policies and procedures through.
Data breach notification
Finally, data breach notification becomes mandatory under the GDPR. Small businesses shouldn’t assume this doesn’t apply to them because they think that they’re unlikely to be hit. Firstly, all companies are fair game. Secondly, regulators will want to see a procedure for notifying local regulators (and, in some cases, customers) of a compromise.
Think that Brexit will rescue UK small businesses from all this hassle? Not so fast. The UK will fall under GDPR long before it leaves the EU, and in any case the UK needs to demonstrate equivalent rules if the EU is to exchange data with it.
Gearing up for GDPR
So, there’s a big burden for small businesses to carry – probably far more than they can cope with using the in-house resources available. Where should they begin?
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has created a helpful guide that lists the various steps that organisations should go through to ensure that they are ready for 25th May. Here are some of the important steps, aggregated and condensed for small business readers:
Assess data holdings
Audit the data you already hold and those held by third parties. This is a crucial step, so bring in a consultant to help you with this if you don’t already have the internal resource for this.
Review privacy communication, legal frameworks, and approach to consent
Assess how you communicate privacy information to data subjects, and document the legal basis what you’re doing with their personal data. You will need to explain this legal justification to individuals whose data you handle. Evaluate what you obtain consent for, and how you get it. Make any changes to systems and processes necessary to follow the new rules.
Review ability to subject access requests
Check existing procedures (and the technology that supports them) to see how you will cover individuals’ new rights under GDPR such as the right to erasure and the ability to port data. Prepare yourself to handle their requests for data access. Consider providing online options to avoid this becoming a manual drain on your time.
Prepare for data breaches
Ensure that you have the procedures in place to detect and investigate a data breach, and also to report it.
Review system privacy and introduce impact assessments
Examine existing systems that process high-risk data, and ensure that their design is based on sound privacy principles. Conduct privacy impact assessments for these systems to ensure that they support the requirements laid out in the GDPR.
Consider a data protection officer
Many organisations will need to appoint a data protection officer to oversee ongoing privacy arrangements.
Small business are generally resource constrained and have less margin for error than large enterprises, who often have a bigger cashflow buffer to tackle wide-reaching challenges like GDPR. Getting external help would be a good idea for a smaller firm wanting to toe the line. With less than 4 months to go, that isn’t a phone call you should put off any more.

We can help your business acheive compliance with one, or a combination of IT solutions.

 
 
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Save Money By Upgrading Your IT
If your business IT systems are out of date, not running effectively or not protected properly, you could well be spending unnecessary time and money.
 
We were recently able to help a new client who was in this very predicament. Their ancient setup (server 2003 and windows XP) was hit by an encryption virus just a week ago which left the company vulnerable, without working computers, and at risk of losing all of their data. Luckily after speaking with them we were able to tailor a solution that was going to work best for them, and get them back up and running as soon as possible. We instantly got to work configuring 10 new computers and a server for them, whilst getting these set up we also managed to recover all of their data (65Gb) from a backup, reinstall their network versions of Sage and a CCTV specific application called Cash4W, which meant that when they next walked in to the office everything was set up and ready to go!
 
Following on from this we're installing a phone system next week and have 17 phones on the bench at present being configured.
 


This setup will save this particular customer about £6k a year over their existing setup and about £3k a year over an equivalent setup from BT.

Safe to say the customer is very happy indeed and thrilled about their new set-up and the money they're saving. Their Financial Director sent over this lovely feedback 'thank you for your wonderful service over the last few weeks and for the hassle free takeover – this weekend and yesterday. It's made my life a lot easier!'

For help and advice on installing and upgrading your PC's and phones, contact us today 


 
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5 reasons your business should have an IT support package
Many companies rely heavily on technology like their computers, phones, tablets and emails, to complete day to day business tasks. So what happens when they don’t work or something goes wrong?

We’ve put together our top 5 reasons on why your business should have an IT support package and what the key benefits are.
 
  1. Save time and money – Although it may be tempting to save costs and manage all of your IT in-house, it could end up costing you a lot more should any problems arise. If you have a support contract we’ll be on hand to get your computer fixed quickly and reduce any downtime. We also cost much less than an onsite IT person but can perform exactly the same role, the only thing different is that we don’t need our own desk!
     
  2. Ensure business runs smoothly – Yes, your IT is working for now, but what would the affect be to your business if it didn’t?  What would be the consequences if you lost all of your data or couldn’t access your files? We can help to ensure that your business stays running effectively and efficiently.
     
  3. On-hand IT professionals – Should you ever have a problem you’ll have instant access to an IT professional who can log -in to your computer to view and identify the issue straight away.  Your employees can also call us directly when they’re experiencing an issue and cut out having to get a designated person to call.
     
  4. Monitored networks – We can monitor your network from our offices to ensure that any issues that are detected are fixed before they cause any down time. We can also provide weekly check-ups to make sure your back-ups are being completed correctly and that all of your data is safe and protected.
     
  5. Help and advice – You’ll have access to years worth of extensive IT knowledge and expertise which means that no matter what the problem, we are ready to help with anything, from simple software installation to full network support.

So, how does it all work? Our support packages are tailored to each individual client. For those needing to keep costs low, we offer support on a ‘Pay As You Go’ basis. However, most of our clients choose to take a support package that includes a timed service level agreement. These cover unlimited telephone and remote support and on-site visits when required – we are your Outsourced IT department.

For more information please contact us to talk through the options.
 
 
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When you buy a new computer it will come with Windows but not normally Office.
Your new laptop or desktop PC will usually have the Windows operating system pre-installed but this will not include Office. Microsoft Office is the suite of productivity tools every business, student or home user needs but which must be purchased separately.

So, how do you get it?

 
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Hosted VoIP Phone Systems
We have migrated a number of old 'fixed line' telphone system to VoIP over the past few weeks and the customers have all been amazed at the ease of moving, the cost savings and the quality of the digital calls.  We offer 3CX hosted phone systems from as little as £10 per month for the phone system, hosting and basic maintenance. We then arrange for a VoIP virtual phone line to be setup with our partner - VoIP Unlimited who bill our customers directly for their line rental and calls. Line rental starts at £10.99 per month which includes up to 10 numbers.  If you are moving offices and have been told you cannot keep your existing phone numbers, we can help you as any number can be transferred to VoIP and can then be taken anywhere.  

Our VoIP phone systems allow users to work away from the office but still make and answer office calls without any additional equipment.  3CX works very well on iPhone and Android and both Apps are free of charge.  They allow the user to maintain an office presence at all times without the caller realising they are speaking to you on a mobile.  3CX also offer a web meeting service that's all included.  This allows for web conferencing using video, desktop sharing, file sharing etc.  It's basically 3CX's take on GoToMeeting but without the associated cost.   

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Locky and other Ransomware - DO NOT IGNORE THE THREAT
Over the past few weeks, there has been a rise in reporting of a new crypto ransomware called LOCKY. This new type of malicious ransomware is as straightforward as they come— gaining access to systems via unsolicited email attachments.

All of the reports have been the same thus far: The user receives an email with a similar title to “ATTN: Invoice J-98223146” and a message such as "Please see the attached invoice (Microsoft Word Document) and remit payment according to the terms listed at the bottom of the invoice":

At first glance, the attachment appears to be a harmless Microsoft Word document; but as we’ve written about previously, this is a highly effective way for hackers to trick you into downloading their ransomware onto your own computer. Teaching your employees to err on the side of caution, especially with suspicious email attachments, is a top preventative measure when it comes to cyber security.

Once the attachment is opened, the document contents will appear as jumbled text. The document will instruct the confused user to “enable macros if the data encoding is incorrect”, prompting many to follow these malicious instructions.
 
Once macros have been enabled, the ransomware instead runs code inside the document that saves a file to your disk, then running the respective file. This file serves as the downloader, which then acquires the final Malware payload from the hackers.  Unfortunately, this is when the ransomware takes hold of your computer. Locky will scan all local drives and unmapped network shares in search of files to encrypt. Locky will then encrypt essentially all of your files:

 .mid, .wma, .flv, .mkv, .mov, .avi, .asf, .mpeg, .vob, .mpg, .wmv, .fla, .swf, .wav, .qcow2, .vdi, .vmdk, .vmx, .gpg, .aes, .ARC, .PAQ, .tar.bz2, .tbk, .bak, .tar, .tgz, .rar, .zip, .djv, .djvu, .svg, .bmp, .png, .gif, .raw, .cgm, .jpeg, .jpg, .tif, .tiff, .NEF, .psd, .cmd, .bat, .class, .jar, .java, .asp, .brd, .sch, .dch, .dip, .vbs, .asm, .pas, .cpp, .php, .ldf, .mdf, .ibd, .MYI, .MYD, .frm, .odb, .dbf, .mdb, .sql, .SQLITEDB, .SQLITE3, .asc, .lay6, .lay, .ms11( Security copy), .sldm, .sldx, .ppsm, .ppsx, .ppam, .docb, .mml, .sxm, .otg, .odg, .uop, .potx, .potm, .pptx, .pptm, .std, .sxd, .pot, .pps, .sti, .sxi, .otp, .odp, .wks, .xltx, .xltm, .xlsx, .xlsm, .xlsb, .slk, .xlw, .xlt, .xlm, .xlc, .dif, .stc, .sxc, .ots, .ods, .hwp, .dotm, .dotx, .docm, .docx, .DOT, .max, .xml, .txt, .CSV, .uot, .RTF, .pdf, .XLS, .PPT, .stw, .sxw, .ott, .odt, .DOC, .pem, .csr, .crt, .key, wallet.dat

After the installation process has completed, you will notice that Locky will rename all of your files in a new format [unique_id][identifier].locky (or something similar to F67091F1D24A922B1A7FC27E19A9D9BC.locky). All of your files are now inaccessible, and any Shadow Volume Copies (backups stored locally) cannot be used to restore the affected files.You will also notice that Locky has downloaded ransom notes called _Locky_recover_instructions.txt within each folder where a file was encrypted, as well as applying the message as your desktop image, 

At this point, unless you have a recent off-site backup, your files are inaccessible— unless you decide to pay the ransom. Ransom amounts have been reported anywhere between 0.5-2 Bitcoins (~$200-800) and require you to pay it within a specified amount of time. If the ransom is not paid before the time expires, all of your files will be permanently encrypted and therefore permanently inaccessible.

If the ransom is paid, Locky will provide the user with a decryption key. This key will allow you to regain access to your files and systems as if nothing happened at all. “Cyber criminals will honor their "code" and release data after the payment, as it sets a precedent for future crimes, Epstein said, noting that some will even offer customer support to ensure the transaction goes smoothly.”
 
How To Avoid Locky

While Locky is certainly a malicious and dangerous form of crypto ransomware, there are ways to avoid it. Businesses need to take virtual threats seriously which must happen in the form of layered security.

First and foremost, educating yourself and your employees on the importance of email security is the very first and one of the most important preventative measures we can suggest. If you can train your employees to “think before they click”, you might avoid this virus all together. Additionally, employees can utilize the following precautionary measures to enhance their email security:

Block mails with DOC, XLS or PDF attachments which contain macros
Configure a setting which prompts the user before Office runs a macro
Block access to Tor nodes
Use browser/email AD blocking

While it is important to take some of these simpler security measures, we recommend getting a complete IT assessment to ensure that you have implemented a secure, layered approach to IT security. It’s never smart to roll the dice when it comes to cyber security, and applying a multi-layered tactic to fighting potential cyber threats is the only way to remain safe in this ever changing threatscape. These viruses can hit and infiltrate many areas of a specific computer and/or a network and have many tactics to do so. Having one approach is not enough. Antivirus alone cannot protect you from these attacks!
 
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Thinking of upgrading your computer to a SSD
Why upgrade to a SSD
With the advent in the last few years of solid state drives (SSDs) as a viable cost effective alternative to the traditional hard drive (HDD), we are now seeing lots of our customer request an upgrade to their existing machine, rather than what is often an expensive replacement. SSDs are built using the same technology that’s used in USB memory sticks are so work much more quickly than a traditional HDD which has moving parts.  The traditional HDD has been around now for over 20 years in its current format and has always been the component that’s most prone to failure.  An upgrade to an SSD is pretty much the best performance upgrade you can buy for your computer.
Yes, it’s true that a faster processor, additional memory, and a faster graphics card may notably better the overall system performance, but compared to what an SSD can do, all those upgrades fall behind.
 
The Advantages of SSDs
There are many advantages solid state drives (SSD) have over traditional mechanical hard disk drives (HDD). The majority of these advantages are resulted from the fact that SSDs don’t employ any moving part in their architecture. In contrast to mechanical hard drives that use motors and moving heads, flash memory chips are the ones responsible for all the storage on a solid state drive. This feature offers faster data access, lower power requirements, and high reliability.
 
The Disadvantages of SSDs
Upgrading from your current hard disk drive to a solid-state drive seems like a natural thing to do. But before you proceed, you should realise that SSDs are not free of downsides/disadvantages, such as their steep price. As an example, a 1 TB SSD costs in the region of £200 (or £0.20 per GB), whereas the cost of a 1TB HDD is no more than £50 (or £0.05 per GB) which is a big difference.
 
There’s also the issue of longevity. The type of storage chips used in SSDs can only be used for a finite number of writes. This ageing process only affects the ablity to write to the SSD so all of the data would still be accessible after many years.  Most SSDs carry a minimum of a 5 years warranty too.
 
In our view, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and we have found that a 3 year old computer upgraded with a SSD, performs as well or better as a new equivalent spec computer with an HDD.
 
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Restaurant Wireless Installation
We've just completed a WiFi installation for a restaurant chain in Cambridge.  The customer needed secure WiFi for their POS system but also WiFi access for their customers.  We've achieved this with VLAN's and Ubiquiti access points.  The customer is very happy that they can now take orders using their hand held devices at all of their tables!
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Thinking about replacing your server
We have recently completed a server replacement for one of our customers.  The unusual thing is though, they now don't have a server!  We migrated their ageing Exchange 2003 setup to Microsoft Office 365 and we moved all of their data to a Synology NAS drive.  This setup cost about 10% of what the server would have been to replace, it's far easier to administer, takes up for less room and even consumes less power!  All in a weekends work for us.  If you are thinking that your existing setup needs a refresh, why not see if we can help?
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How Office 365 can help your business.....
Transform the Way Your Business Functions

Microsoft is continuing to invest heavily in Office 365. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made clear with his “mobile first, cloud first” strategy that Office 365 is part of Microsoft’s long-term strategic vision. This is good news for small and medium businesses. As Microsoft continues to add features and robust functionality, it ensures that smaller organisations will have access to advanced enterprise-grade capabilities that can transform their business and empower employees.

Small business leaders who fail to take advantage of Office 365 risk losing their competitive advantage. Office 365 equips your organisation for success with enterprise-calibre capabilities and leading business technologies. Office 365 optimises employee performance, improves productivity, jumpstarts innovation, and improves team effectiveness.

Here are six ways that Office 365 can transform the way your business functions.
 
1. Flexibility to Work How You Want, Where You Want
Office 365 gives you the flexibility to work how you want, where you want, and on what device you want. Microsoft has been continuing to expand partnerships and is showing an unprecedented openness to support the tools customers want to use. This is shown in its recent support for third-party backup services and expanding availability of native apps for Android and iOS.

2. Mobility: Seamless Experience on Any Device
Most Office 365 plans allow the installation of Office, not just on PCs or Macs, but also on up to five tablets and phones. This allows you to work wherever you are, whether you are online or offline. You can even attend meetings and video conferences from your mobile device. Microsoft has been developing native apps for its Office suite for Android and iOS for a seamless experience. Office 365 provides a consistent and optimised experience across PCs, offline or online, mobile devices, and browsers.
 
3. Collaboration
Office 365 facilitates dynamic team collaboration. Teams can improve communication and work together more seamlessly. Team sites keep important files accessible and easy to find. Team sites support automatic policies, rights protection, and archiving to ensure that valuable information is protected. Office 365 also supports project-specific mailboxes to easily find project emails. Office 365 supports version control and tracks comments and updates. This allow team members to work together on the same document.

4. Secure Encrypted File Sharing and Online Storage
Files are always available with secure, encrypted OneDrive for Business. Files are automatically synchronised and saved online ensuring access to the latest version. Files can be edited and shared from any browser or mobile device.OneDrive for Business is a vital tool to discourage users from saving sensitive corporate information in unmanaged and potential unsecure cloud services. Users can easily access files from any device, on-demand.Files can be shared with others who are in or outside of the organization, such as business partners, contractors, and customers. Access control allows you to determine which users can view and which can edit documents.Those outside your organisation do not need Microsoft Office or Office 365 to edit documents. Microsoft is releasing apps that allow those with no Office 365 subscription to edit Office content on iPhones, iPads and Android devices.In addition to OneDrive for Business, Office 365 support of third party backup services such as Box and Dropbox for Business.

5. On-Click Video Conferencing and Screen Sharing
Office 365 supports HD video for up to 250 people. Online meetings and video conferences can be set up in advance or at the spur of the moment, with a few clicks in your familiar Outlook interface. Meeting can be joined quickly and easily through the Outlook calendar invite. Real-time note taking and one-click screen sharing, recording and file uploads provide a robust collaborative experience.

6. Corporate Social Network
Yammer’s corporate social network allows employees to share information and ideas across departments and locations. The free exchange of ideas and information can jump start innovation by spurring creative thinking, and generating fresh ideas to solve problems and improve processes.
Yammer also helps employees easily identify resources and find information, across the business groups allowing them to work better and faster.

Help Your Business Achieve More
Outsourced IT can help your small business function better with Office 365 and our proactive managed IT services. Managed services and Office 365 ensures a reliable, stable IT infrastructure that is always up to date and secure. This allow you to focus on driving your core business goals.
Outsourced IT can help you evaluate Office 365 and determine if it is right for your organisation. Additionally, our managed services offerings can further reduce IT management burdens and further optimise your computing environment. Contact us to set up a free trial customised for your organization.
 
 
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33 User Office 365 migration completed
We've just spent the weekend migrating one of customer Exchange 2007 setup to Office 365.  All email, calendars, contacts etc migrated without a hitch.  Their existing server is now much quicker as it is not having to run Exchange so not only have they benefitted from an increase in speed, they also don't need waste money on upgrading their server.
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Outsourced ITs own spam protection for only 1 pound per user per month! Give us a call and well get you setup within 24 hours
Have a look at http://spamcontrol.outsourced-it.co.uk to get a feel for the new system.  If you're interested in stopping those unwanted emails, give us a call.
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Just renewed a clients Anti Virus protection on 90 computers without touching a single one!
We've just migrated 90 of our customers computers onto AVG CloudCare and all we did was sent each user an email link. This clever software downloads itself, uninstalls any other anti-virus software, then installs itself and registers on our portal so we can monitor the status.  We are now alerted to any infections they may be unfortunate enough to get but we can also clean and update these computers remotely meaing the customer is not inconvenienced.
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We've just migrated our email to The Cloud
Even when you have experience in house IT (like we do ;-) a cloud based email system now even makes sense to us!  The storage available to users and the ease of migration now means that everyone business should look at their email solution. Don't put up with an antiquated system that stops you seeing email across all of your devices when it's so easy to 'Go Cloud'.
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Update to the failed server....
Managed to get image restored within 14 hours which is not bad for a Windows 2008 SBS server with 400Gb of data and 35 Exchange users! Client very grateful that our disaster recovery service is all included in their mainteance contract.
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Just had a clients server fail
Luckily we have been monitoring their backups so we're confident that we'll have them up and running again on one of our loan servers within 8 hours.
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Have you heard about our Server and Workstation monitoring?
We now use monitoring software on all of our maintenance contract clients so we know there's a problem before they do!
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Wow our website is now live. Enjoy!
Take a look at what the amazing guys at Fluid Studios have done 
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