Windows 10 Enterprise Updates

It’s July, you know what that means… the much anticipated release of Windows 10 is rapidly approaching. On July 29 Microsoft will launch the new operating system, but do you know what to expect with your preferred version? Microsoft recently released the specs and features that will come with the update according to which edition you have.

Windows 10 Enterprise Updates

All Editions Updates

Microsoft made sure to ramp up the standard features that are in all of the editions: home, pro, enterprise, and education. Here’s a short list of what you can expect improvements in after you install Windows 10.

 

Windows 10 Enterprise Updates

On the “business experience” end of the Windows 10 upgrades we start to see a little more difference. Security is a big area that Microsoft improved in the latest Windows 10 enterprise update.

Security Features

Device Guard: This security feature combines hardware and software elements that can put a device on lock down when untrusted applications are accessed. When configured correctly, this feature tells the operating system that an application isn’t trusted and won’t let it run at all. This helps to eliminate the risk of attackers running malicious programs.
Enterprise Data Protection: Separate out business and personal data on a more streamlined user experience. Reduce the risk of  data disclosure without giving up the functionality of your business and personal devices.
Microsoft Passport: Reduce the risk of stolen passwords with Microsoft Passport. This feature replaces standard passwords with two-factor authentication. Use fingerprint, iris, or face recognition paired with an enrolled device.

Management Features

  • Mobile Device Management
  • Business Store
  • Granular UX Control
  • Easy Upgrade from Pro to Enterprise

Support Features

Current Branch for Business: Businesses will get regular security and critical updates. As for feature updates, they will be distributed once quality and compatibility assessments have been made in the consumer markets.

Long Term Servicing Branch: Only get the update you need when you need them. Microsoft will release regular security and critical updates, but will keep features updates less frequent. Keeping you in control of the update schedule.

Want more information? Download the comparison table from Microsoft.

Want recommendations on which version is right for your small business? Contact Flex Technology Group.

Why You Should Buy a 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop

Can’t decide between buying a new standard laptop or a tablet? Well the decision is easy when you have the option to buy a 2-in-1 convertible laptop. No longer have to choose between whether to bring your full laptop or just your tablet on your next business meeting – you can bring both.

We realize that these types of computers have been around for awhile, but that doesn’t diminish their “cool factor.” Even though they have been around, there is still major improvements being made and these devices are getting more and more impressive. From computers who’s screens flip all the way around, rotate, or completely detach – there are so many options with convertible laptops.

 

Flex Tech’s Favorite Convertible Laptops:

Lenovo Yoga 3

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro

Lenovo changed the game when it initially introduced the Yoga. Now it has been expanding on the technology with its latest version. It is heavier than some of the competitors, but it makes up for it in the display specs. The power plug is a USB, so it gives you an extra port for when you need it. Other strengths Lenovo boasts is the extended battery life and fast processing speeds.

Pros: Cons:
Full HD Display Exposed Keyboard
360-Degree Hinges  Bulky in Tablet Mode
Long Battery Life

convertible laptop

HP Spectre x360 

If you’re looking for a windows computer that competes with the Apple Macbook, this is it. The HP Spectre combines the sleekness of a Mac and paired it with the functionality of the Lenovo Yoga. It has comparable battery life and processor speed with the Macbook Air, and is thinner and lighter than the Yoga. This is a great option for people who need the power of a laptop but want the option of a tablet.

Pros: Cons:
Excellent, High Resolution Display Exposed Keyboard
360-Degree Hinges Heavier than Competitors
Long Battery Life
Solid Aluminum Body

surface-pro-3Windows Surface Pro 3

If you’re leaning towards a device that looks like a tablet and acts like a laptop, consider the Windows Surface Pro 3. It is lightweight with 12-inch display and detachable keyboard. This device was designed to seamlessly combine the laptop and tablet. It is reliable with a i5 CPU and 256GB SSD. This device is perfect for people who are constantly deciding whether to pack a laptop or tablet as it can truly function as both.

Pros: Cons:
Excellent, High Resolution Display Keyboard sold separately
Detachable from Keyboard Average Battery Life
Lightweight  Runs Hot at Times
Truly Functions as Both

Do you have a convertible laptop? If you’ve recently bought one or are planning to soon, let us know what you chose in the comments below!

New Mac Bug – Is Your Computer at Risk?

new mac bug

If you own an older Mac, a newly-discovered bug may make your machine vulnerable. But when we say “older Macs,” we’re not talking old G4s and Snow Leopard era Macs. This bug has been shown to affect mid-2014 and older models, including MacBook Pro Retina, MacBook Pro 8.2 and MacBook Air.

New Mac Bug Details:

The new bug, discovered over the weekend by OS X security researcher Pedro Vilaca, relates to the “UEFI,” a part of your Mac’s firmware. It turns out UEFI, which is normally protected, can become unprotected and writable after a Mac comes out of sleep mode. This could give hackers the ability to plant malware on your machine which can be difficult to remove.

So how do you protect yourself from this bug? Until Apple releases a patch, the best thing you can do is shut your computer down instead of putting it to sleep.

If you own a mid-to-late 2014 Mac or newer, you appear to be safe from the bug, according to Vilaca.

The Pros and Cons of Solid State Drives

solid state drives (SSD)

No matter what type of computer you have, there is some sort of data storage device whether it be a traditional hard drive or solid state drive. This drive is what boots up your system when you turn on your computer. It is also where all of your applications, documents, photos, music, and videos are stored.

Like mentioned before there are two types of data storage, the hard disk drive and the solid state drive.

Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

Traditional hard disk drives (HDD) run on moving parts. They use a mechanical arm to move around on a spinning disk in order to read/write data that is stored.

Solid State Drives (SSD)

In a solid state drive (SDD) there are no moving parts. Everything is stored on flash memory microchips.

Advantages of Solid State Drives

  • Fast: A computer with an SSD will start up in seconds, and runs faster while in use as well compared to a computer with a HDD.
  • Durable: Since there aren’t any moving parts, it is less likely for a SSD to break due to drops and bumps. You won’t have to worry about replacing individual parts either.
  • Small Physical Size: SSDs are manufactured to be compact and are much smaller than HDDs, allowing them to fit into smaller devices. With their smaller size, they are also lighter so they won’t weigh down your backpack or briefcase.
  • Quiet: Without a spinning drive SSDs are much quieter when running compared to a HDD.
  • Energy Efficient: SSDs use less battery power to run and have less heat output, allowing you computer to run more efficiently.

Disadvantages of Solid State Drives

  • More Expensive: As with any new technology SSDs cost more than traditional HDDs. You can pay up to double for the same amount of storage if you buy a solid state drive.
  • Lower Max Capacity: Since SSDs are smaller, they have a lower maximum storage capacity compared to the traditional HDD. You can commonly find SSDs to have from 500GB to 1TB of storage.
  • Less Availability: There are more models and types of HDDs compared to SSDs. You may be limited on your options when shopping for an SSD.

Is a Solid State Drive For You?

Usually standard computer users don’t necessarily need a solid state drive, some may choose to have one. Some of the main reasons to get a solid state drive over a traditional hard disk drive are if you are rough with your computer, if you work with audio files and need a quiet system, or if you need to be able to power through tasks as quickly as possible.

Are you interested in upgrading to a solid state drive? You don’t need any additional hardware, simply buy a new solid state drive and replace the HDD. Flex Technology Group can get you set up and ready to go from finding and buying the drive that is best for you to installing it in your computer.

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Why Install a VoIP Phone System

voip-phone-systems

Voice over Internet Protocol

Voice over Internet Protocol is a type of phone system that uses an internet connection to place calls instead of the traditional, analog phone lines. Different service providers have different capabilities, you’ll have to make sure that when you sign up for this service that you have the capabilities to conduct business. Some VoIP providers can use the VoIP phone system to contact anyone on a traditional, mobile, or other VoIP phone.

How it Works: Your voice gets converted into a digital signal that can be transmitted via the internet. Depending on what type of device your call gets delivered to, the signal is converted to another form before it reaches the destination.

What You Need: Broadband (high speed) internet, computer/adaptor/specialized phone

Benefits of VoIP Phone Systems

More Flexibility

easier for remote workers to use and access. Extensions can be sent to home or cell phone numbers at the same time as office numbers. With VoIP you never need to worry about missing a call or customers dialing the wrong number. You can even set up mobile phones as their own extensions.

Scalable

With VoIP it is easy to add new components and lines at any time. You don’t necessarily need brand new hardware to do it. Just make sure that your IP and software settings are set up correctly and you’ll be good to go in no time.

Lower Costs

Overall, VoIP phone systems have lower costs than traditional phone lines. You’ll spend less on hardware and have a lower subscription fee including long distance and international calls. You’ll also save money on maintenance since everything, internet and phones, is on the same network.

Additional Benefits

  • Conference Calling
  • Voicemail
  • Internet Faxing
  • Caller ID
  • Virtual Receptionists
  • Greeting Functionality
  • Customized Call Screening
  • Office Software Integration
  • Advanced Forwarding Options

Have more questions about VoIP phone systems? Check out the FAQ page on the FCC website. If you’re interested in getting VoIP installed in your office, contact the specialists at Flex Technology Group.

Ask Flex Tech: What Is the Best Computer For Me?

best computer for meA new computer can be a big investment. It’s no wonder that some are torn on what to buy. If you’re one of those people that is wondering, “What is the best computer for me?” let us help. We’ve covered some of the technical aspects in a previous blog post, now lets talk about some of the other elements that will affect your decision. Here are some things to consider when picking out your next computer.

Usability:

Is this a personal or professional purchase? What type of programs will you be running? Depending on what you’re planning on using the new computer for you may need a computer with different options and capabilities.

  • Home & Work:  Durability, efficiency, and security are typically things that customers look for when buying a computer for home and work purposes. Depending on how mobile you need to be will determine if you go with a desktop or laptop.
  • Entertainment & Gaming: If you’re looking for a system that you can handle serious gaming and entertainment functions, you should be looking at computers that have high quality sound and graphics cards along with fast hard drives and processors. A lot of times you want larger screens and high performance which can only be found in desktop computers or enhanced laptops.
  • School: If you computer is intended for school purposes, you’re probably looking into laptops that you can take on the go. Make sure that you have plenty of memory space to store your assignments. Consider ultrabooks that are super thin and light weight making your backpack a little less heavy.

Portability:

Where do you need to use your new computer? Will it be sitting on a desk 24/7 or will you take it on the go?

  • All-in-one & Desktop: If being confined to your desk isn’t an issue, all-in-one and desktop computers are a great option. These computers pack a lot of power. Also the larger screens and unlimited power source increases productivity. With these types of computers it is also relatively easy to upgrade their systems and components to fit your needs. These are ideal for most business tasks and gaming stations.
  • Netbook & Laptop: If you’re on the go for work or school a netbook or laptop may be the better option. Netbooks typically are small, 10-12 inches and are limited on their capabilities. Usually they don’t have all the same ports as a laptop, have minimal memory space, and have a shorter battery life. Laptops on the other hand are larger and heavier but are also made to handle more tasks.
  • Tablet: If you’re constantly back and forth and need access to emails and the internet, a high powered tablet may be a good choice for you. It gives you access to your necessary information without weighing you down. Get one that can be connected to a data plan and you don’t even have to worry about having access to wifi to work.

Brand:

The choice you make on what brand to buy is ultimately based on preference. Consider which operating system you like better – Windows or OS X. With PC computers like HP, Lenovo, and Sony you have more options to choose from and can sometimes personalize your device. If you go with Apple, their products are more standard. Although Apple computers and tablets are at a higher price point, they are also less likely to get a virus.

Specifications & Features:

If you’re looking for a computer to do everyday, standard computing it may get a little confusing when looking at all of the technical specifications. Some things to look for in particular are:

  • 500 GB storage: This is plenty of space to store your basic files. If you need more, there are cloud storage options available as well.
  • Solid state drive: Although small, it allows your computer to run faster compared to the standard hard drive.
  • 4GB of RAM: Allows you to have multiple pages/applications open at once without slowing down.

There are the top things to consider when trying to decide on a new computer and which type will best fit your needs. If you need a little more help deciding on a specific model contact the technicians at Flex Technology Group. You can also check out Lenovo’s Help Me Decide tool to get an idea of what to look at.

DIY Computer Maintenance and Why It’s Important

DIY Computer Maintenance

diy computer maintenance No matter what type of computer you have, they all need a little maintenance from time to time. Some things you need to get professional help with, but others can be done yourself fairly easily. It may surprise you that such little tasks can make a big difference in how your computer runs and operates. That being said, here are a few DIY computer maintenance tips that if done regularly will keep your computer running like new.

Antivirus Scans

Every computer should have a working antivirus software installed. Everyday there are new viruses being created increasing the risk to your computer. Simply having an antivirus isn’t enough. You need to make sure that your antivirus program is checking for updates on a regular basis, preferably daily. Once your antivirus is installed and up-to-date make sure that it is running scans on a regular basis as well. You should be able to program it to run virus scans at a certain time on a certain day. When you do this make sure that you computer is on during the scan, it won’t work if your computer is turned off. So if you turn your computer off every night, consider running the scan sometime during the day.

Software Updates

You know those annoying software update notifications that always seem to be popping up whenever you turn on your computer? Actually run them. Software companies don’t release these updates for nothing, usually these updates include bug fixes and offer better security against viruses. This includes updating your apps too. Consider deleting the apps that you don’t use anymore. Not only are they taking up valuable space in your hard drive, if they aren’t being updated they can pose a security threat leaving your computer vulnerable to viruses.

Regular Backups

This one should be fairly self-explanatory. Everyone has data on their computer that they don’t want to lose. To prevent this, if you have an external hard drive, use it. If you don’t have one, get one or take advantage of cloud software. You should be regularly backing up your important files and documents to be prepared for a possible computer crash.

Clear Temp & Unnecessary Files

You wouldn’t believe how many unnecessary files build up on your computer. A majority of these files come from the internet, each time you open a new page a copy of the webpage is stored. Also each time you download something, files are stored in your “downloads” folder. These kinds of files that you don’t even use can take up a lot of memory and really slow down your computer. Make a point to clear your temporary files, browser history, and cookies from your internet browsers. Here are some how-to guides for the popular browsers:

Cleaning

Last but not least, clean your computer regularly. Not only does it look better, dust and dirt from the air and your fingers can have an impact on how efficiently your computer runs. Components inside your computer heat up during use and excess dust can affect how they cool. If they aren’t cooling properly it can kill your computer. So while you can do exterior cleaning easily, if you aren’t familiar with the internal components of your computer it is best to leave that type of cleaning to the professionals.

Your computer, like many things in life, needs regular maintenance in order to keep it running efficiently. Extend the lifespan of your computer by using these easy tips. If you have any questions, contact Flex Technology Group today!

Technical Computer Features & What They Mean

Buying a new computer can be a daunting process. If you were to spend $2,000 on a new computer with cutting edge technical computer features you may be sorely disappointed to find out in a year’s time that you cannot perform even a simple upgrade.

Computer shopping doesn’t have to be quite so confusing. Let’s look at some things to consider that can help you.

computer-features

Start by asking yourself what exactly you need to do with your computer. Each technical computer feature inside your system performs a specific function. Some store your data, some allow the computer to think, and some are responsible for creating the images you see on your screen. Unless you are a power user or hard-core gamer, you shouldn’t need the most high end technical computer features. Instead, consider the idea of future proofing. Nothing is entirely future “proof,” but you can buy a system that allows upgrades in the future.

Here are some of the most important features to consider when shopping for a new computer and what they do.

Motherboard

Arguably the most important piece of this puzzle is the motherboard. The motherboard is the central control hub of any computer, which allows the components to talk to each other. Upgrading a motherboard is a fairly major operation, so ask if the motherboard allows upgrades for of the components.

Hard drives and memory are sometimes confused but they are two distinct elements. The hard drive (or hard disk) is where all of your data is stored, like a filing cabinet which contains not only your own personal files, but the files with instructions for your computer to run and give you your operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.).

Hard Drive

There are two basic forms of hard-drives: traditional “platter-style,” and Solid State Drives (SSD). A traditional hard-drive is sufficient for average needs but make sure the motherboard offers up-to-date expansion slots so you can add a new or additional hard drives in the future.

The SSD form hard drive is fairly new and more expensive. It allows the data on the drive to be accessed more quickly and is far more impact resistant – which is especially beneficial for a laptop that you will be lugging around with you. Whatever form you choose, investing in a drive with 500 GB or more of space for your files should be more than sufficient.

Memory

Memory refers to Random Access Memory (RAM). The computer uses this for temporary storage of data while your system is on as it is faster than having to pull the data from the hard drive each time it is needed. Ask if the motherboard in the system will allow you to add more RAM in the future so you don’t have to buy an entirely new computer in a year or two.

Central Processing Unit

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the brain of the computer, and does all of the calculations and thinking. It is not necessary to get the most cutting edge, expensive CPU but if you consider a mid-range CPU that can be upgraded this will also allow you to avoid buying a totally new system in the near future.

Graphics Processing Unit

The video card – sometimes called the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) – is what the computer uses to send the images to your monitor. There are many styles ranging from basic GPUs built in to the motherboard to high-end gaming cards that plug in to the motherboard. The average home user shouldn’t need an expensive video card as many systems include one that is more than sufficient for day-to-day tasks like surfing the Web, watching videos online, and playing basic games.

Accessories

If you already have a desktop computer there’s no need to buy a new monitor, keyboard and mouse unless you are not happy with what you have. The same goes for your laptop accessories. Most computers have the same ports that you connect your computer accessories to, so there’s no need to replace your whole system unless you want to.

When you are out shopping and considering these technical computer features, do research online and by speaking with a sales representative to see what your upgrade options will be in the future to get the maximum value for your investment.

Windows 10 Features – What To Be Excited About

Windows 10 has been the topic of discussion for quite some time with anticipation building for the official launch of the new operating system. From the looks of the preview demos, this is going to be a great upgrade for business and personal users alike.

Set to launch later this year Windows 10 is said to be a free upgrade to existing Windows users. So if you have Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and even Windows Phone, you’re in luck. Since the OS is getting a major overhaul, here’s a break down of the top ten Windows 10 features to look forward to.

New Web Browser

The days of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer are limited. Windows 10 will be launching a brand new default web browser: Project Spartan. With this browser Microsoft has focused on user experience by streamlining the appearance across different devices which is something Internet Explorer has struggled with. Other things to look forward to in Project Spartan include: an offline-capable reading list similar to Apple’s, PDF support, and Cortana integration.

Return of the Start Menu

Microsoft is bringing back the traditional Start Menu with a twist. They old search functions are back making it easier to navigate your PC. But it’s been updated by and additional area of live tiles that can be personalized so you see the information that is important to you.

windows 10 features - start menu

Continuum

Do you have a 2-in-1 computer? Continuum is a new feature that helps you switch back and forth smoothly between tablet and PC mode. When you detach the keyboard from the screen, you’ll be prompted to enter tablet-mode which is designed to be touch based. Continuum automatically senses if a keyboard and mouse are connected and displays prompts automatically.

Cortana for the Desktop

Microsoft’s digital voice assistant, Cortana, is coming to PCs with the launch of Windows 10. Microsoft is taking the features from mobile and integrating them into the PC for a seamless user experience with Cortana. Launch your favorite apps, listen to your music library, set reminders and alarms, call your contacts, and of course ask everyday questions. Cortana pulls answers from Bing along with data from your computer’s hard drive or One Drive account.

Improved Multitasking

Task view button allows you to see all of your open windows at once and switch between them, making multi tasking a piece of cake. They have also updated the snap assist feature. You can view up to four applications on the same screen. Snap Assist has also gotten smarter. It will intuitively suggest apps that work well together and you often use at the same time.

windows 10 features - snap assist

Multiple Desktops

You are no longer limited to one desktop. Microsoft is adding virtual desktops to Windows 10. You can create multiple desktops that you can switch between depending on what you are doing. Each desktop has another set of windows as if you are on a different screen. You can had a desktop designated for personal use and switch over to a virtual desktop that is specifically set up for business tasks.

windows 10 features - multiple desktops

Notification Center

Notifications got a makeover in Windows 10. Instead of a small notification in the lower right-had corner that is often overlooked, notifications now appear larger in the upper right corner of the desktop, similar to Apple’s OS X.

Universal Apps

Microsoft will be introducing new apps that are, you guessed it, universal. These apps will be integrated into all devices, giving the user a seamless experience when switching between phone, PC, and tablet. The apps include Photos, Videos, Maps, People & Messaging, and Mail & Calendar. Information on these apps are stored in One Drive and can be accessed from any of your devices. Get someone’s contact information on your cell phone and be able to send them an email from your PC in a matter of seconds.

Office Suite

Not only are the apps getting updated, the Microsoft Office apps are getting revamped as well. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook will all be touch based interface that will work on all of your devices.

Command Prompts

Keyboard shortcuts for everyone! Windows 10 is the first operating system in a long time that allows users to personalize Command Prompt. Although this may be a little complex to set up, if done correctly Command Prompt allows you to set up keyboard shortcuts that you can use on your computer.

It seems like we have a lot to look forward to with the release of Windows 10, which is expected to come out later this year. In the meantime, Microsoft is still developing the operating system so there may be more surprises in store before Windows 10 hits the consumer market. What do you think about the new features in Windows 10?

Questions to Ask a Computer Repair Service

So you know that you want to hire a computer repair service company, but not sure how to pick one. Before you do make sure you know who you’re hiring. Here’s a list of important questions you should have answered before you hire a computer repair service.

computer-questions

Money:

How much do you charge per hour? Is there a minimum cost limit? Are there any other charges besides the hourly rate?  First and foremost, you’re probably concerned about the cost of your computer repair. Key things to clarify are the ways that you will be charged for the job. Most computer repair projects are charged by the hour. Sometimes there is a minimum cost limit if your issue is resolved under a certain amount of time. These are all pretty standard in the computer repair service industry. Another thing to ask about is “hidden” fees. Obviously if you need a new piece of hardware for the fix or a software update in order to resolve the problem you’ll be charged for the materials. Although additional fees aren’t common, it is important to ask and see a list before you leave your computer.

Time:

How many hours will it take to fix? When can I pick up my computer? Chances are, you aren’t the first person with this problem. Your computer technician should be able to give you an estimate of how long it will take to fix your computer. This will help you to approximate how much your final bill will be, and gives you an idea of a timeframe. Don’t expect it to be exactly accurate though. Some projects may take a little longer than expected or they could find additional problems with your device. It’s good to get a couple of quotes to make sure that you’re getting standard prices and amounts of time.

Quality:

What are your qualifications? What do you specialize in? How much experience do you have? No two computer repair services are the same in skills and experience. Some may specialize in commercial services while others handle personal computers on a daily basis. Some deal with PCs or Macs while some are knowledgable in both. Depending on what exactly is wrong with your device may determine the level of experience required to fix it. If at all possible at least look at reviews to see if previous customers have left happy with the work that was done.

Process & Data Protection:

Do you offer remote support? Will you save my files?Getting your computer fixed should be the number one priority, but a close second is how it is done. Some circumstances you can’t afford to be without your computer for a day. Most tech companies can diagnose and even fix a problem with your computer remotely. If this is something that you’re interested in, make sure you ask and find out if it is offered. Flex Tech offers support by simply connecting to your computer remotely and diagnosing the problem right away. Depending on the problem they can fix it right then and there. If you computer does need to be left with the technician, be sure to ask if they will back up your files in advance. With a lot of computer problems, files can be lost during the fix. Don’t risk losing your files and photos. Back up your computer’s hard drive yourself if you can or be sure to ask if your computer repair service company will take care of it for you.

Follow Up & Support:

Do you guarantee your work? What happens if there is a problem with my computer after you fix it? How long do you offer extended support? It is important to remember that the job isn’t necessarily done after it is done. Make sure to ask follow up questions. If anything were to go wrong after your computer is fixed you want to make sure you’re covered. Find out the details on what they guarantee and for how long.

 

Contact Flex Tech Group for your computer repair service needs.