Are you ready for the big ISDN switch off?

December 3rd, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

In 2015 BT announced that ISDN networks for businesses will be switched off.  The phase out starts from next year, with completion expected to be by 2025.  Are you ready for it? 

 
Why Is It Being Phased Out? 
ISDN was the fastest internet access available at one time and it was the primary connection source of communication amongst UK businesses.  However, the advancement of technology has meant that it just can’t keep up with other internet access connections such as DSL and WAN in a cost-effective way so it’s now outdated! 

What does this mean for my business? 
The ISDN phase out means you really must consider the set up you use to communicate both internally and externally.   This is as an opportunity for you to look at every area of your business and how it can be improved.  

What is the alternative? 
We will replace old ISDN lines with VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) systems. If you’ve ever used Skype, Zoom, Facetime or WhatsApp to speak to family, friends or colleagues, then you’ve used a VOIP system. 

The benefits of VOIP are significant. It is much more flexible, great for disaster recovery and back up as you can access the number wherever you have internet access (as opposed to it just being on one site). VOIP systems are more feature rich, are great for multisite businesses as it means you can have a telephone number presence in a geographic location without having to have an office there, plus here are many more benefits.   

What’s next? 
There’s five years to complete the phase out so why should you be thinking about this now? Being prepared early, means giving your business the best opportunity to implement an effective solution.   You don’t want to be in a position of not knowing how you’ll continue communications internally and externally when the switch off is imminent.  Explore your opportunities now by ordering a full review of your communications solutions and making a plan of action for a seamless switch over.  The last thing you want is for this to affect your business. 

Let us help you! 
To find out how we can help review, design, deliver and support you through this huge change, get in touch with us today on 0300 020 000 

  

 

 

 

 

Microsoft is Ending Support for Windows 7

November 18th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

If you’re working on a PC with a Windows 7 operating system at home or at work, you need to pay close attention! 

After January 14th 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide security and quality updates or support for PC users of Windows 7.  Whilst your PC will still work, you will become vulnerable to security risks such as malicious hackers stealing data or planting viruses.  There will be no more technical support from Microsoft either.  

 
What does this mean for your business? 
Not doing anything is not an option if you want to keep your business information safe.  The most obvious and natural next-step is to upgrade to Windows 10.  This is an easy and hassle-free upgrade which we can help you with and ideally should be done before the support end deadline, so you are not left open to cyberattacks.   

So, what’s next? 
If you’re business is running on Windows 7, then get in touch with us for a no obligation chat.   There are minimum PC requirements for upgrading to Windows 10 which we can talk you through and if your current PC doesn’t meet these requirements then you will have to consider a PC upgrade as well.   

The support end deadline is looming so get in touch with us on 03300 020 000 or email sales@microcomms.co.uk

Is your business prepared for extreme weather?

July 26th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

The UK is in the midst of a heatwave right now and  yesterday (25th July 2019), temperatures reached highs  of 38.1 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country.

Water pipes are bursting and trains are running slower for fear of tracks buckling, causing disruption to thousands of passengers.    

But have you thought about the disruptions the weather can have on your IT systems? 

And it’s not only the hot weather that we need to think about either.  Storms are set to follow the heatwave, and if your IT systems aren’t adequately equipped to deal with these extreme weather conditions, you could find yourself in trouble.    

We’ve put together a checklist of precautions to take to ensure minimal downtime for your business. 

HEAT 
Make sure your servers are in tip top condition so they don’t overheat 

  • Keep them clean and dusted out.  If this is something that you don’t currently do, contact us as we can help! 
  • A tidy cab is a happy cab (e.g. using the server room, cabinet to store paper work etc can insulate a server causing a fire risk). 
  • Make sure your servers are not over loaded.  This will ensure they are running at optimum speed, reducing heat production. 
  • Planned power distribution will also help with a reduction in heat, and reduces the risk of fire or electrical overloading. 

LIGHTNING 
Are your servers protected against a lightning strike? 

  • Lightning strikes to your phone lines can travel into your network if they’re not protected. 
  • Lightning strikes on power lines can travel into your sockets and into your systems if not protected. 

POWERCUTS  
Could you ride a power outage? 

  • Make sure you are battery-backed up via UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply). 
  • Provide constant power to critical systems 

INTERNET BACKUPS 
Would you lose business if your internet was interrupted? 

  • Consider a backup internet such as a secondary 4G device. 
  • Upgrade to fibre to the premise if available.  Lightning cannot travel down fibre lines. 

SERVER BACKUPS 
Protect your information by backing up your servers 

  • If the worst happens, you should ensure you have multiple backup locations and types. 
  • A backup and restoration plan would also assist in an emergency. 

AIR CON 
Is your server room temperature controlled? 

  • If appropriate, an air-conditioned room will allow full temperature control. 
  • Server room monitoring, such as temperature monitoring can also alert you if the temperature does start to rise. 

PLANNED MAINTENANCE 
Maintain your server to ensure prime operation 

  • Keeping your server up to date with the latest firmware can help with internal cooling control. 
  • A regular ‘eyeball’ check will ensure no flashing red lights or other issues that may cause down-time. 

If you would like to discuss any of the above, just give us a call on 03300 020 000  

Get involved in World Environment Day on 5th June

June 4th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

With a Green Team now in place at Microcomms, we’re making every effort to make changes, big and small,towards reducing our impact on the environment. 

Wednesday 5th June is World Environment Day and the theme this year is focused on air pollution.  Apart from the obvious health risks, air pollution damages our natural environment and decreases the oxygen in our oceans.   We all have a role to play to keep our air clean and we wanted to share some ways in which you can make changes in your personal and work life,  contributing to a more healthy living environment.

INDOORS

  • Open the window when cooking or using cleaning products.  Good ventilation is the key to avoiding air pollution in the home.  It also helps to avoid the build up of air polluting moulds. 
  • Regularly service your boiler, not only for your own safety, but also to ensure it’s working efficiently, emitting less fumes into the environment. 
  • Think about how you do your cleaning – keep dust levels low, use fragrance-free or naturally scented products.  If you can, switch to mild cleaning products and avoid aerosols.  Mop hard floors regularly to pick up dust and pollutants that vacuuming and dusting might miss.  Even better, steam clean floors to kill bacteria and allergens. 
  • Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible.
  • Consume less energy.  Gas and electricity contribute to air pollution – gas creates fumes when we burn it to heat our homes and electricity produced by power stations burning fossil fuels has the same result.   There are lots of things we can do to conserve energy (lowering our bills too!), such as switching off lights, turning off computers (rather than putting then to sleep), filling the kettle with just enough water for what you need and only run the washing machine and dishwasher when there is a full load.   It’s simply being more conscious about how you do things around the house.  
  • Consider switching energy suppliers.  Choose renewable energy tariffs for your home supply to reduce the pollution produced by power stations.
  • Recycle compostables.  Rather than burning garden waste, which releases gases into the atmosphere, compost them and turn them into food for your garden.  
  • Wood- burning stoves look great and they’re cost, but burning wood produces lots of air pollutants.  To reduce this, consider a Defra – approved stove, use authorised fuel and only light when you really have to.  
  • Eating a healthy diet reduces the risk of developing health problems that can be made worse by air pollution. 

OUT AND ABOUT

  • Walk or cycle when possible.  Did you know drivers can be exposed to more air pollution than pedestrians or cyclists?  As well as cutting down the amount of pollution we make, we can reduce our exposure to air pollution and get some exercise too! 
  • Use quieter streets when walking or cycling as it can lower exposure to air pollution by 20%
  • Switch off vehicle engines when stationary (if safe to do so).  This will make the air cleaner for you, other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. 
  • Regularly service vehicles which not only ensures that they are safe to drive, but also helps them run more efficiently and cleanly.
  • Ensure car tyres are inflated properly.  This means vehicles run more efficiently and use less fuel.  
  • Driving more slowly reduces emissions. 
  • When fuelling vehicles, be careful not to spill any fuel and tighten the fuel cap securely.
  • Hot temperatures and fumes create ground-level onzone – reduce the effect and refuel early in the morning or when cooler, where possible.  
  • Think about travel miles for personal deliveries.  Consider using a pick up point rather than having couriers make special trips to your office or home. 
  • Going abroad?   Research the most carbon efficient airlines using the Atmosfere website which profiles 200 of the world’s top airlines for carbon efficiency and lists carbon friendly tour operators, travel agents and offers top tips on how to travel with a climate-friendly conscience.    For instance, be realistic about how often you need your room serviced.    Changing towels and bed linen is not something we do at home everyday, so why would we do it on holiday?  Just think of all the extra water, electricity and detergents that are used unnecessarily!  It’s easy to get involved in World Environment Day. 

Simply make a commitment to making a change, however big or small, that will positively impact the environment!  Take a photo or make a short film of yourself fulfilling your commitment and post it on social media using hashtags #WorldEnvironmentDay #BeatAirPollution and tag UNEnvironment. 

Together we can beat air pollution!

Meet the team: Emma Noy

May 31st, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

Meet the Team: Janet Reed

May 20th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

Microcomms Offers New Data Sanitization Service

May 14th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

Shocking research shows high level of data remaining on used hard drives for sale
Recent research conducted by The Marketing Heaven, revealed that 42% of used drives sold on eBay were holding sensitive data and 15% contained personally identifiable information (PII).
What’s even more shocking is that the type of information found included high level government information ( scanned images of passports, birth certificates, CVs and financial records), university papers with associated student email addresses, internal office emails from a major travel company, freight company data including shipping details, schedules and truck registrations, school information (student names, photos and grades) and a high volume of photos plus other information from a music store.*

As this research highlights, ensuring sensitive and personal data is adequately wiped from any hard drives that are no longer in use by your organisation is imperative, especially if they are going to be sold on, and here at Microcomms, we have launched a new service that will do just that. Check ilimoww.com.

Ensuring adequate data erasure is crucial for organisations in order to avoid the recovery of sensitive and personal information in the wrong hands.

Microcomms partners with global recovery agency to sanitise hardware 
A new partnership with a global asset recovery agency, means we can provide a service that ensures the secure erasure of your data. 

The key benefits of this new service include: 

  • Arranging worldwide collection, dismantling and packing of your hardware
  • Live, round the clock tracking so you know where your data is
  • Erasure of any hard drives using industry standard**
  • Buy-back scheme gives you cash-back for any hardware with a resale value

Get in touch 
If you have redundant IT equipment in need of proper data sanitization, give us a call for further information 03300 020 000. 

*To read the full research article click here 

**Blancco is certified for data destruction by over 18 governing bodies including NATO, ADISA and the National Cyder Security Centre (British Government) 

 

Meet the Team: Paul Hodgson

May 7th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

Microcomms Helps St Petrocs Society to Rebuild Their IT Infrastructure

April 2nd, 2019 Posted by Case Study, IT Services, Networks / Data

St Petrocs work to end street homelessness in Cornwall by providing accommodation, support and advice to single homeless people. The charity has been established for 32 years and has been a Microcomms client for the past two.  Formed at the instigation of the Bishop of St Germans, the charity has considerable support from local churches, local communities and dedicated groups of ‘Friends.’   

Starting over from the ground up
We helped St Petrocs start from scratch with regards to their IT, completely rebuilding the IT infrastructure of the organisation from the ground up. From new servers and network design through to WiFi and software, we’ve enabled the charity to work more efficiently, to save money and improve performanc, ensuring charitable licensing where possible. Security is a key priority for St Petrocs as they hold confidential client data, so installing unified threat protection like Watchguard firewall systems was paramount. 

A key driver for the infrastructure refresh was to increase the efficiency of the staff in terms of their IT and remotely accessing data to assist their homeless clients during all hours, including critical times such as medical or housing emergencies and particularly during times of colder weather. 

St Petrocs Society’s Communications Manager, Dave Brown said, Since working with Microcomms to upgrade all aspects of our IT, our efficiency has improved, which has had a positive effect on the service we deliver.   For instance, a new networking system has meant we are able to update client notes easily and efficiently and as a result our staff are better informed, especially on shift hand-overs, which has meant a better level of service for our clients. 

We have more flexibility in how we work now – our systems are more secure and consistent because our servers aren’t going down and broadband connection isn’t being lost.    It’s great that we now don’t have to think about IT at all and can focus on the job in hand.  If there are any issues, we just call Microcomms to sort it out! 

Dave Brown, Communications Manager, St Petrocs Society

Better wifi means digital inclusion for service users
Another area that has been a real improvement for St Petrocs is the provision of guest Wifi for the clients accessing the charity’s services, in line with digital inclusion. Many government and assistive support is only available online and Internet access can be a challenge.  The free guest Wifi allows for digital inclusion of even the most vulnerable. 

Simon Murley, Managing Director said, “As a Cornish company our commitment to providing support to local social care organisations is paramount. We can see on a daily basis the need and help given to vulnerable people in the county by St Petrocs and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to work with such a fantastic team of committed, caring people.”  

The full range of IT systems and support that Microcomms has provided to St Petrocs includes: 

  • Enterprise Wifi   
  • Cat5 copper and fibre infrastructure  
  • HP Enterprise Networking  
  • Security and Firewall appliances   
  • Dell and HyperV virtual servers    
  • Comprehensive and ongoing IT Support 
  • Private WAN circuits, PSTN and broadband   

For more information on how we can help your organisation update and streamline its IT systems for more efficiency, better security and an all-round improved service to your end user, please give us a call on 03300 020 000.  

5 top tips for keeping your children safe online

December 5th, 2018 Posted by Latest News, Tech Talk

With Christmas just around the corner, many children are sure to be waking up to new tech from Santa on the big day, be it a new computer, smartphone, laptop or games console.   With all computers and gadgets now having the ability to connect online, it’s extremely important that we educate ourselves and our children on how to not only set up our tech safely, but also how to remain safe when doing anything online.  We can’t escape the digital world that our children are growing up in and we certainly don’t want to scare them, so it’s about working with them to give yourself peace of mind whilst allowing them to enjoy their new gadget! 

Here’s 5 tips for keeping kids safe online this Christmas 

Personal information
When setting up user names, it’s best practice to go for something that doesn’t involve any part of your child’s name.  Your child should remain as anonymous as possible online and this would include a unique username, as well as no other info that can identify them, such as DOB, address or telephone number.      

Images and videos 
It’s a good idea to talk with your child about the importance of what they post 
on social media.  Whilst teenagers may not be too worried about what they’re putting out there, as a 
parent you are all too aware of the potential consequences that can occur when information is posted online, especially photos and videos.  For instance, a person’s online profile might affect their chances of getting a job or applying for a course.  

Work with your child to explore different games, apps and social media channels and choose the right  privacy settings for each.   Them about what kinds of images and videos are acceptable to post online.  
Explain that once they’re out there, they’re out there and can be very difficult, if not impossible to  retract completely. Things can be deleted, but it’s still possible that somebody may have downloaded  an image/video already.   

Adding parental controls to devices is one of the easiest ways to keep children safe on line

Not everybody is who they say they are 
Remember, it’s easy for people to pretend to be somebody else when they’re behind a keyboard.  To stay safe, the rule of thumb for your children is, if they don’t know them, don’t interact with them.  And If somebody tries to befriend them or asks to meet up in person, they need to leave that site, app or game and tell an adult straight away.   

Parental controls
If you have younger children, one of the easiest ways to ensure the kind of content  they see online is to set up parental controls.  This can be done on most devices and allows parents to set filters, so their children can only view suitable content.    An innocent search by your child on You Tube for instance, could throw up some less-than-innocent results, if parental controls aren’t in place.  

Restrictions
Make sure you put restrictions in place on relevant games, shops and apps so children aren’t able to spend your money willy-nilly.  Most games and apps encourage in-app spending to buy extra lives or to enhance characters and some shops allow purchases at the click of a button, so be sure to logout and  Keep your password safe!  You can also add restrictions to your internet browser so you can block your  children from particular websites. 

Talk with your child about what games and apps are appropriate for them

And finally…

We believe one of the best ways of keeping your child safe online is to talk with them openly and regularly.   You might find it easier to approach the subject as a family, discussing in general what’s appropriate and  what’s not.   If you think something needs addressing specifically, you can talk to your child on a one to one basis regarding a particular topic.  They may argue that their friends are using particular apps or games, so be ready to discuss your reasons why you don’t want them to engage in the same content, but also listen to your child’s reasons why they think it’s ok.  A good discussion views the topic from all angles, but ultimately you should do what you think is appropriate in keeping your child safe.