Technology Advisor Blog

"Patch Tuesday" - Get your security up-to-date!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 4/13/11 12:38 PM

WinUpdate 74x74Yesterday was a big "Patch Tuesday" with 17 new security patches released by Microsoft, 9 of which were listed as "critical".  The second Tuesday of each month is known as "Patch Tuesday", and this is when Microsoft regularly releases free security upgrades.  As vulnerabilities are discovered, upgrades are made to the software to prevent hackers from exploiting the vulnerabilities.  Full details on the April 12, 2011 Microsoft Security Bulletin can be found on the Microsoft web site.  

Fifteen of the bulletins address vulnerabilities that allow attackers to remotely execute code - Very Serious!

In Massachusetts, as of March 1, 2010 it's required by law for all computers containing personal information on Massachusetts residents to have up to date security patches. 

Recommendation:  We strongly advise clients to participate in a managed service program that involves full testing of all updates before installation, with tracking and reporting.  For clients who don't choose this option, then enabling automatic updates through Microsoft Windows is advised.  In Windows 7, open Windows Update by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows UpdateNote that updates can also be manually installed.

Tags: computer security, Microsoft Windows Update, MA Security Law

How to Delay or Schedule Sending an eMail in Outlook 2010

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 4/8/11 10:20 AM

Did you know that you can delay or schedule sending an email?  Let's say you have an email ready to go, but for some reason you'd rather send it at a later time.  Maybe you know the recipient is away and you'd rather not have your email sitting in a giant queue when they return.

Here's how:

In the message, go to the Options tab and select Delay Delivery.Outlook2010 Delay Delivery

Under Delivery options, select the Do not deliver before check box, and then click the delivery date and time that you want.

After you click Send, the message remains in the Outbox folder until the delivery time.

VERY IMPORTANT: Note that if you use a "POP" or "IMAP" email account (which is the most common configuration for small businesses), then you need to have your computer on and Outlook running during the scheduled delivery time.

What version of Internet Explorer are you using?

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 4/6/11 9:20 AM

Internet Explorer 9.0If you run into a problem using a web site, one of the first questions you'll be asked is "What version of Internet Explorer are you running?"  At first, you may be stumped because your program will just say "Internet Explorer", but finding the version is easy:

1. Open Internet Explorer

2. Press ALT+H and then click "About Internet Explorer".

You'll be able to see the version and cipher strength (SSL Encryption) you're using.

By the way, if you're running Firefox instead, using ALT+H will also give you the version number.

Updates to Internet Explorer are provided free of charge from Microsoft through Windows Updates.  Keep in mind that staying up to date with the current version is highly recommended for full functionality and enhanced security. However, if you rely on web-based applications for running your business, always check with your vendor before making a major update to make sure they support the latest browser version.

The latest version is Internet Explorer 9.0, and you can download it and read about it on the Microsoft Web Site.  The site has information about whats new in the latest version, and feature comparisons to other browsers.

Tags: Internet Explorer, Software Version, ALT+H

3 Things to Do BEFORE your Hard Drive Crashes!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 4/1/11 2:43 PM

Hard DriveUnless you're already using one of the new solid state hard drives, all of your critical business data is spinning around at 5400rpm or faster on a magnetic disk inside your computer.  Think about it - it's a miracle any hard drive can actually work, and all your data is in a perilous situation!  One of the most common system failures in a computer is a hard drive failure, but it doesn't have to be a disaster for you if you plan in advance.

Here are three things to do before your hard drive crashes:

  1. Check that you're backing up EVERYTHING you need to backup.  A common "gotcha" is using a specialized program that writes files to another location other than "My Documents".  Make sure your QuickBook files and any other critical business files are included in your backup.  One of the great things about Outlook 2010 is that finally your e-mail file is stored with "My Documents", so you won't have to go looking for it in hidden files.
  2. Make sure you have a list of all the software on your system and corresponding license keys.  Keep any disks you may have in a safe place too, including all the disks that came with your computer.
  3. If you're using an online backup, make sure you know the password!  Your backup may run automatically every day, but you also need to make sure you can retrieve files from the web if your system completely dies.  "Set it and forget it" is great for making sure your backup runs all the time, but just be sure NOT to forget the password!

With a little advance preparation, you can turn a complete catastrophe (lost data, expensive software replacement, lots of down time), into a minor inconvenience of buying a new hard drive for under $100.

Tags: computer, backup, hard drive, data

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