Out of Office Days

Just a reminder… we’ll be attending a Datto Partner and Training Conference in New Orleans this month. We’ll be leaving the area on the 12th of June and returning on the 21st.

This trip will give us an opportunity to network with other Datto partners and to see how other business operators are implementing these products. Plus, the advanced training on Datto’s Cloud Backup services and hardware offerings are a required part of the planned Cloud services business model we’re currently building.

Standard Morning Reports and network monitoring will pretty much stay the same while we’re gone. Also, we have managed to configure a mobile setup that allows us to do direct support while on the road (provided cell service remains available) so for the most part, not too much will change during this trip. Obviously, we cannot do immediate response to issues while in class but as a rule, we’ll be available.

Microsoft Pushes Windows 10 Upgrades

As most of you know by now, Microsoft’s latest Windows update pushed out a little icon in the notification tray concerning upgrading your PC to Windows 10… and as is the rule with Microsoft, general panic and confusion quickly followed.

Some people got the icon and some didn’t. There’s still a lot of muddy water out there about how the upgrade will work and what hardware is compatible. So, here’s the basic lowdown on this Windows 10 thing.

The icon let’s you “reserve” your Windows 10 upgrade. It also has links from there to see if your system qualifies… does that make sense? Free upgrade but do you qualify?

First off, the free upgrade to Windows 10 runs on for a year from the release date of Windows 10 which won’t be until 29 July. That’s a long time to decide whether or not you even want to do this and if so, how to go about it. Do you risk an overwrite on an operational computer (rollback testing has shown big problems with that approach) or do you install a new hard drive and go from there?

In short, we’ll begin testing these and other “exciting” scenarios beginning in early July. In our case, we’ll have a shop machine with Windows 7 Pro, another with Windows 8.1 Pro and one set up for a fresh installation. We’ll be trying all the expected twists and turns of doing this upgrade and report back on how many failed and how few succeeded.

Additionally, even if you wanted to be froggy and leap into this as an early adopter, remember that it’s often best to let others crash and burn as there are always, always problems with any new Operating System… especially a Microsoft one.

Weather, Viruses and Other Problems

Midwest spring weather has been… challenging to say the least. We have had more than 20 major power incidents on supported networks and at least 45 semi-minor incidents, all in May. In most cases, a good Server-level power backup saved the day.

In one case, the now ex-client did not take our advice on replacing the APC SU1500 battery. The building lost power, the Server was corrupted to the point of being non-operational… and the client is now being supported by someone else. Their failure to plan did not mean our need to panic. That approach takes away from our ability to provide the best support to all our other clients and we do not tolerate that at all.

Hackers have been highly active the past month and have continued to be innovative in how they get past our network defenses. While we have had a CryptoLocker block in place for over a year, the newer and more dangerous CryptoWall version has morphed beyond that blocker.

More and more, business operations, everyday research and development functions have moved to the web… far more than even a year ago. That naturally means a higher level of exposure to new methods of attack.

Generally, we have been successful in setting up defenses to contain malicious assaults. This new CryptoWall thing got through one client’s defenses and it took three days to clear the issues from the network. If not for the Datto backup being onsite, this easily would have ended up on a less than happy note. Lesa is going through a number of forums looking for other methods of stopping this new breed of virus.

So, a few simple guidelines on what to do if you suspect you might have a virus or hack attempt…

First, if you’re on the web and get a popup, don’t click the Close or even the X to get rid of it. Use the Control-Alternate-Delete key combination to bring up Task Manager and kill the popup at the  Applications screen.

Second, if you have e-mail with attachments (especially if it’s a .ZIP file extension) and aren’t sure, don’t open them before taking a few easy steps. You can right click on the attachment and save it to the desktop or somewhere on your local system. Then you can right click on the saved file and tell it to scan for security checks.

Third, and most important of all, tell someone or call us so we can insure this doesn’t get out of hand. End users are always the first line of defense and are also our onsite eyes and ears. Call us….

Random Notes

  1. Don’t plug stuff into your network without knowing what it will do to the entire system. Twice in the last 15 days, people have plugged wireless router devices into the business network that had an active DHCP function (that thing that assigns IP Addresses to your PC and lets it function in the network). Once this happens, the SBS Server sees another DHCP Host and stops handing out IP Addresses. Shortly after that, PC units will start to lose access to the network and eventually everything loses communication.
  2. Buying remanufactured toners or drum assemblies for your printers? Make sure you know whether the printer is still under warranty because in most cases, problems resulting from use of these items will most certainly void that warranty. Issues you might see include image ghosting on printouts, excessive toner spill on pages, poorly fused toner and so forth.
  3. Have a quick question and need advice? Quick calls are not billable. Basic info and answers are free. Not calling can result in a simple issue getting ballooned into a billable issue. For example, don’t do rollbacks on your PC without asking what impact that might have- it often breaks a trust relationship between the network and the unit which requires reclienting the unit to the network (30 minute job minimum).