I was listening to KWUF the other morning, and a commercial during the top-of-the-hour news got my attention.  The ad said “Is unlicensed software being used at your workplace? You can collect a bounty reward of up to $1,000,000 with your confidential tip. Just go to www.nopiracy.com

 So even if pirated software isn’t on your radar screen, your employees are motivated to put it on theirs.  When was the last time you conducted an audit of your company’s computers to check for unlicensed software? Having pirated software is not only a huge financial risk, but it can also open up your network to viruses and security threats. Companies must manage their software just as carefully as they would any other aspect of their business.

Case Study:

Steven was recently hired as the inventory manager for a small electronics firm. Steven’s new employer – IHT Electronics – does not have a centralized IT department, and as a result the firm’s 75 employees have been free to make illegal copies of unlicensed software and install them on the firm’s computers. In fact, this behavior is encouraged by the firm’s owner, who argues that the software they need to run the business is too expensive for such a small firm.

Steven needs his job and is reluctant to say anything about the piracy. At the same time, however, he knows that piracy is illegal and that everyone will get in trouble if they are caught. During his spare time, Steven decides to do a bit more research on software piracy in order to find out what his options are. His search leads him to Business Software Alliance.

In hard drives, mechanical failures occur when moving parts, such as the spindle motor or actuator assembly inside the mechanism, malfunction or simply wear out.

When a laptop or external hard drive is dropped or jarred, physical damage to internal components or a head crash can destroy the platter surface and the underlying data.

Power disruptions, viruses, operating system errors and improper shutdowns can damage directory structures and cause logical data corruption, as opposed to physical damage.

Power events, such as blackouts, power surges and lightning strikes, can short out circuitry and corrupt data. Hard drives are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, such as floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.

Do you have a rock-solid backup strategy to counter the ever-present threat of data loss?  Call or contact us to help!

Are funny sounds from a hard drive a sign of different types of failures?

Before we answer that, just a reminder – if a hard drive makes any unusual sounds, turn it off immediately. Failure to do so could cause irreparable media damage, making the drive completely unrecoverable.

Indeed, each kind of sound may indicate a different kind of failure. For example, a drive that makes a repetitive clicking sound may indicate that there is media damage. This typically happens when a drive is powered on and it performs a self-test; reading areas of the platter that contain information such as the drive’s model number, capacity, number of sectors, etc. If this area is damaged, the drive will attempt to re-read it which causes the repetitive clicking sound.

To hear some real world examples of failing hard drive sounds visit Drive Savers’ website here.

If you need to use Drive Savers services, please use our reference number to save money: DS14665.

Of course, ideally you want to protect your data BEFORE anything happens!  We want to help you create a data backup plan that is effective, reliable, and economical.  One option that is very popular with our clients who have smaller data backup needs is iDrive. Click for more information on iDrive’s automatic on-line data backup service.

To discuss your backup needs and get a customized recommendation, give us a call or contact us.

If you think you’ve lost data, call Raymond Rent-A-Nerd first! The first recovery attempt is very important. Multiple attempts can overwrite the data.

I get an awful lot of e-mail. Sometimes, people are looking for help with their computers.  There is also the barrage of press releases, sales offers, and an occasional blast from the past when someone I’ve lost contact with drops me a note.
After facing this tidal wave of electronic words for several years, I’ve developed some strategies I’d like to share with you.

Here are eight easy tips you should be aware of to keep your image and inbox in tip-top shape.

Follow e-mail etiquette

  • Don’t write when you’re angry. Wait 24 hours. Calm down. Be reasonable. Have someone else edit your e-mail.
  • Don’t use sarcasm. You may think you’re clever, but the recipient will be put off. Or worse yet, think you’re serious.
  • DON’T USE ALL UPPERCASE! That’s the e-mail equivalent of yelling. Your recipient won’t be appreciative. Go easy on the exclamation marks, too. Overuse dulls their effectiveness.
  • Use clear subject lines. That will help people decide whether to read the e-mail now or later. We’re all busy. Your correspondent will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
  • Keep it short. If your e-mail is more than two paragraphs, maybe you should use the telephone.
  • Change the subject line if you change the topic of a thread.
  • Unless the recipient has previously agreed, don’t forward poems, jokes, virus warnings and other things. You’re just wasting valuable time and bandwidth.

Remember you are not anonymous
If you are sending nasty missives, you might think no one will be able to figure out that the e-mail came from you. After all, you set up a phony Web address. Think again. E-mail contains invisible information about the sender.

That information is in the header. All major e-mail programs can display header information. Here’s how:

  • In Microsoft Outlook, double click the e-mail. Then click View > Options.
  • In Microsoft Outlook Express, click the e-mail. Then click File > Properties and select the Details tab.
  • In Eudora, double click the message. Then click the Blah Blah button.
  • In Netscape, click the message to open it. Then click View > Message Source to display the header.

The sender’s revealing information is in the sections that begin with “Received:.” There may be several of these, depending on the number of computers the e-mail traversed. The originating computer is in the bottom “Received:.”

That section will have an Internet Protocol (IP) number, such as It can be traced on a number of Web sites. I use InterNIC (www.internic.net). The number is probably assigned to the sender’s Internet service provider, rather than the sender. But the ISP will be able to identify the sender using that number. Remember the header if you’re tempted to send an anonymous e-mail. You may be less anonymous than you think

Send e-mail to the correct person
Today’s e-mail programs want to make it easy to send e-mail. This means that when you start typing the address of a recipient to whom you have previously sent mail, the “To:” field may already be populated. Be careful. Always double-check the recipient is the intended one.

In addition, if you’re writing something ugly about Joe Smith, you’ll have Joe’s name on your mind. Don’t send it to him.

Use more than one e-mail address
I recommend four different e-mail addresses: private, public, one online mailing lists, and another for shopping online. These addresses attract mail for those specific areas.

If you own your e-mail server, you can have as many e-mail accounts as you like. If you are using an Internet service provider, you still can have several e-mail accounts. Most providers will give you a half-dozen e-mail accounts. You can also use addresses on the Web for personal accounts. Both Hotmail and Yahoo! are good. You can reach those accounts from anywhere, assuming you have Web access.

Check all of your e-mail accounts
Checking several online accounts such as Hotmail and Yahoo! can be a chore. ePrompter (www.eprompter.com) can check 16 different password-protected accounts. Best of all, ePrompter is free. There are other programs that will do this for a fee, including Active Email Monitor (www.emailmon.com).

Wait to Click “Send”
Reread every e-mail before you send it! I actually get e-mails from job applicants with misspellings and missing words. They all go to the same place: the garbage. This is a pet peeve. I’m not going to hire someone who is careless.

Even if you’re not looking for a job, you want to be careful. People will judge you subconsciously on mistakes. No one is perfect. But you can catch 99% of these problems by rereading the text.

And don’t depend on the spell-checker. It will catch misspellings. But if you use “four” instead of “for,” or “your” for “you’re,” it won’t tell you. It also is not likely to catch any missing words in a sentence that you inadvertently failed to include. So take a minute and reread your text.

Remember the attachment
This seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received an e-mail with a missing attachment. Since we all do it occasionally, it shouldn’t be a huge deal.

However, if you consistently make this mistake, people (perhaps important people) may think you’re over-extended. They might even hesitate to do business with you in the future. When you get ready to send your e-mail, think: “Is this complete and polished?”

Use your domain name
Make your company look professional. You can buy a domain name separately for $20-$30 per year from a company such as VeriSign (www.netsol.com), or as part of a package from a Web hosting and e-mail service such as that offered by Microsoft Small Business. Assuming someone else hasn’t already grabbed it, you can have your company in the domain name.

Let’s say you run The BoolaBoola Co. If you use an ISP’s address, you would have something like JoeBoolaBoola@SomeISP.com. But if you buy your own domain name, it could be Joe@TheBoolaBoolaCo.com. That’s much more likely to impress your customers.

E-mail is almost like talking. We use it so much that we don’t really think about it. But there are rules and courtesies, just as there are with talking. And there are other considerations involved in communicating by written word only.

Giving them some additional thought could make your e-mail experience more satisfying and your recipients much happier.

Possibly you’ve never considered using the Internet to run a background check. Neither did I until I tried it. But it’s really not hard if you know how, and it’s free.

The simple fact is, there are many situations in life where it’s extremely helpful or reassuring to be able to quickly find out something about an associate’s or neighbor’s background.

Consider a few scenarios:

* You’re thinking of investing in a business and you want to know more about the current owner.

* You’re considering dating someone you met on the Internet and want to know more about that person.

* Your son or daughter has a new girlfriend/boyfriend and you want to check the person out.

* New neighbors have moved in next door and they’ve been acting a little odd (or so you think). You have kids and would really like to find out more about these people.

* You’re in college and thinking of taking on a roommate, but before you accept anybody into your apartment you want to check them out.

* A local used-car dealer has a good price on a car you want. But you’d like to check out the owner of the lot and see if he’s been sued or has a criminal record before buying a car from him (i.e., run a quick background check).

The Internet now makes these kinds of background checks possible – for free – and it’s perfectly legal as long as you adhere to a few simple guidelines.

Published by:
Washington Research Associates, Inc.
Editor: Joseph Ryan
For more information check out How to Run an Online Background Check for Free

Here are four tips.

1. Follow instructions: You should properly prepare the battery by following the first charge and use instructions. If you don’t, you could shorten the life or run-time of your battery.

2. Don’t overcharge them. Charging the batteries in PDAs, cell phones or Tablet PCs for long periods of time will reduce the overall life of the battery. Battery chargers normally taper down when the battery is fully charged. However, enduring weeks of even a ‘trickle charge’ creates heat buildup and will eventually cause premature battery failure. How do you avoid overcharging? Remove the charger right after the battery is fully charged.

3. Use them at regular intervals. This is a problem that affects spare batteries, but it can also be a factor on a backup unit, such as a second cell phone. Batteries have to be used in order to get the most out of them. If you have spares, cycle them every three months. This will go a long way in keeping your batteries maintained to properly perform.

4. Stay away from cheap-o replacements. Quality is very important when it comes to replacement batteries. Many lesser-known but cheaper brands cut corners when they make their batteries. That can affect the overall life expectancy and performance of the battery. Worse, the batteries may be defective because “most low-end batteries are refurbished or just not working with quality control. Go with a recognized brand and buy from a reputable source.

Do you have crucial data on your desktop or notebook that is not backed up regularly?

When looking at data backup best practices, you’ll find only two kinds of small businesses: those that have experienced a data disaster and those that will. Countless studies have shown that small businesses without a sound backup and disaster recovery procedure never recover. In addition, small businesses without a comprehensive, regularly tested recovery plan are likely to go out of business within a few months after a data disaster.

Ignoring basic disaster recovery planning can be very dangerous to your company’s survival. Just because your company is a small business doesn’t mean it’s immune from big data disasters.

Just like your Fortune 1000 counterparts, you probably have several mission-critical software applications running on your PCs and network. As information becomes increasingly digitized and highly concentrated, planning for data disasters becomes more important than ever.

A good data backup system is a lot like an insurance policy – you hope you never need to put in a claim, but you sleep a lot better knowing your company is covered. Raymond Rent-A-Nerd has recently partnered with IDrive to offer automated backup service combined with online storage.

Automated service means you don’t have to remember to physically handle the backup media. So you have the assurance that the backup will occur on a regular basis.

Online storage means the data goes off-site immediately. So there’s no waiting for someone to take it off-site and no waiting for retrieval when you need to restore data. Why is off-site so important? If your office gets flooded, burned down or broken into, it won’t do you much good if your backup media were sitting on top of your PC or server.

IDrive enables consumers and organizations to get enterprise-class protection for their critical data at a fraction of the cost. IDrive provides an extensive enterprise-ready feature-set for secure online storage with superior performance including Snapshots, Network Drive, Sharing, Collaboration, Sub-Accounts, WebFolders and Mobile Access. IDrive is the most recommended and used online storage and backup provider. To put it simply, IDrive gets your data restored quickly, easily, and with a minimum of effort.

If you would like to learn more, simply click here. Then use the tabs at the top of the web pages to navigate for more information. Or just give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss all your backup options.