Serval Systems Ltd Blog

How to make IT systems more efficient for accountants

Posted on 23/03/15, filed under Cloud Computing, IT Guides | No Comments

Today’s accountancy professional must find new ways to manage an ever greater quantity of client data securely and confidentially, and also engage with the technology that allows access to this data ‘on the move’.

At the same time, large businesses are expected to take a more thorough approach to their reporting.  Bosses and boards need expert accountancy advice – in particular, people with the technical know-how to help guide them through increasingly complex regulatory requirements.

Equally, smaller businesses who may still be feeling some aftershocks from the economic crash want to extract the maximum value from their accountancy service.

Meeting client expectations requires an efficient, robust, fit for purpose IT infrastructure.  Serval Systems has helped accountancy firms to acquire one.

Offsite storage

In our offsite server room we can build the latest IBM rack-mounted host server to take the pressure off your existing system and ensure the capacity is there to allow for more data to be stored  – ready for a future in which, hopefully, your client base has expanded.

Using a host company which provides the very latest in server technology, as Serval Systems does, will speed up your applications and handle the toughest workload challenges.

Further efficiencies

An offsite solution means you can concentrate your energies on your core, chargeable business.  IT maintenance is taken care for you.  Strong and streamlined backup and disaster recovery processes go on ‘behind the scenes’, but you can still gain access to them if you want to.

Meanwhile, in the virtual world of the cloud, you and your staff will be able to access files wherever you or they are.  You will be able to make very best use of time spent travelling to meet clients as your desktop travels with you.

Virtualisation

If you feel comfortable with your existing server and are reluctant to make a change that may feel abrupt, then it can be virtualised by a host server.  The interface you have become accustomed to will remain the same, but you will also have the option to launch the hosted desktop from a smartphone or similar device.

Clarity Accounting is one of the firms we have helped.  Our service included upgrading all the firm’s PCs to Windows 7 Professional, which users found made a noticeable difference to performance.

If you think your firm needs advice on making your IT infrastructure more efficient, what backup method is best for you, or any aspect of cloud computing, please call the Serval Systems team today on 0843 636 6700.

Top 5 IT solutions to increase office efficiency

Posted on 12/03/15, filed under Business IT Services, IT Support, Top IT Tips | No Comments

In a competitive world, it’s a case of ‘survival of the fittest’ for many small or medium-sized businesses.
If your office is lean and streamlined, you will reap the rewards in terms of time efficiencies and increased productivity – and it comes down to getting your IT right.

So here are five tips on how IT solutions can improve your business efficiency.

1. System upgrades
Many companies are relying on old equipment. Just a look at the shape of your computer monitors will remind you how long you have had them.

You might only need to upgrade the hard drive and ramp up the memory, though a completely new system is often the best choice.

2. Outsourced technical support
You and your employees have enough to do without also dealing with IT security and network problems. Turn to specialists wherever possible: they will apply the expertise your team lacks, from First Line Support (immediate access to a helpdesk consultant) through to Third Line Support for complex matters.

3. Project planning
Strictly speaking, project planning is a management approach rather than an IT solution, but we think it’s important so include it in our ‘top 5’.
Replacing obsolete hardware interrupts the flow of work: think beyond your immediate needs and work out just what it is your business needs to meet its objectives in the longer term. It might be better to do a couple of major upgrades in one go rather than cause disruption through several smaller, staggered upgrades.

4. Offsite data storage
A data centre doesn’t only offer safe storage for your information, it’s also a crucial back-up, should something go wrong in-house. What’s more, when these offsite servers are undergoing maintenance, your business will be able to carry on its normal operations without hold-ups. Even just moving to the cloud will help – with the bonus that your staff will have access to their data and information wherever they are.

5. Smart devices
Talking of cloud computing, for efficient IT on the move, it’s well worth considering investing in smartphones, tablets and similar devices. Employees can effectively take the office with them when they’re out and about, and create presentations or spreadsheets while sitting on a train. A number of apps have come on the market, which help the employee-on-the-move to prioritise tasks.

Finally, the experts at Serval Systems can ensure your IT works for you: contact us today on 0843 636 6700 or info@servalsystems.co.uk.

Is your Data Really Hidden in The Cloud?

Posted on 19/02/15, filed under Cloud Computing, IT Security | No Comments

The concern which, above all others, causes IT heads to think twice about migrating to cloud computing is security.  This is understandable: from the hacker’s point of view, the cloud has a silver lining – a rich store of sensitive (and therefore valuable) data.

This is why it is important, if choosing a provider, to make sure the company has a robust approach to handling security matters.  If you are not completely reassured after completing your homework, then look elsewhere.

So, what are some of the issues around cloud computing and how are they being overcome by reputable suppliers?

A cloud service provider often uses the same software and infrastructure to serve several customers.  The term for this set-up is ‘multi-tenancy’.  It has its risks: for example, there have been cases of software bugs passing from one customer to another.  You should make a point of discussing the options – which include a personalised, ‘single tenant’ model – with a provider who places a premium on security.

A cloud service provider will typically work with a range of third parties. If you turn to a provider which demonstrates a professional approach you can at least have a degree of confidence that its associates can be relied on to keep your data safe.  You should also ensure that the provider can answer some vital questions.  Does it own both servers and software (this is not always the case)?  What is the level of technical support, should things go wrong?  Is there a disaster recovery plan?  The provider should specify the same level of protection which you would have in place if you were storing the data yourself.

The customer is unaware of where their data is being held or which country’s laws apply. Before finalising your contract you should find out exactly which jurisdiction and laws would apply to each party involved if certain incidents developed, and also satisfy yourself that the data centres comply with the particular regulatory standards of your business sector.

A provider must, of course, heed the basics: safeguarding data with a web application firewall, taking due care that any third party code it uses passes the same security tests as their own code, and carrying out proactive testing of systems.  A high degree of anti-virus protection and a system to prevent malicious code arriving via email are other essentials.

Security must always be integral to a company’s move to cloud computing – and not just an add-on to be considered later.

If you would like to discuss potential security threats or wish to know more about cloud computing, contact us now on 0843 636 6700 or info@servalsystems.co.uk.

Learning Safe Internet Use in Schools

Posted on 03/02/15, filed under News, Top IT Tips | No Comments

Digital technology has transformed the classroom and revitalised learning for children in all parts of the world. But exciting as it is, the new online world has its dangers.

Bullies whose misdeeds would once have been largely confined to the playground are now active in cyberspace.  A pupil’s internet research for homework purposes may lead them to unsuitable sites or even to make contact with an adult who is posing as a child.

Fortunately, the internationally celebrated Safer Internet Day (SID) is now well-established, encouraging young people, teachers, policymakers and the public to join together in ensuring the online world is a force for good, not harm.

In the run-up to this year’s SID on the 10th February, schools can make use of the resources provided by the UK Safer Internet Centre – including lesson plans, assembly presentations and drama activities designed for both primary and secondary school audiences.

Schools can also arrange for a UK Safer Internet Centre partner to come and run a session on internet safety for pupils – and, if necessary, staff and parents.

Key risks and advice

Schools are well-placed to promote safe computer use and alert pupils to the risks by reminding them to:

–    take care to establish the identity of someone who they suspect is not who they say they are
–    open files from trusted sources only
–    safeguard their reputations – this is relevant to older pupils who may soon be entering the job market

Schools can use blocking tools to restrict access to inappropriate websites, though at the same time children should be given a little leeway so that they can learn about safe use for themselves.

How the curriculum can help

Teachers in any number of disciplines can contribute to safe internet use, because many areas of the national curriculum have a bearing on this issue – from Computing/IT lessons to personal development (PHSE).  Interestingly, Ofsted’s 2013 report on PSHE education emphasised that to achieve an ‘outstanding’ rating a school must ensure that online pornography and social networking safety are properly discussed.

This year’s Safer Internet Day falls on 10th February, with the strapline ‘Let’s create a better internet together’.

If you would like help making your school’s IT system as safe and secure as possible, call the Serval Systems team now on 0843 636 6700.

Top Products to Ensure Your Data is Secure

Posted on 27/01/15, filed under Business IT Services, IT Security | No Comments

Surveys of business owners consistently reveal that among their biggest concerns at the moment are the uncertain economic outlook and cyber risk.

While Serval Systems cannot, unfortunately, promise to speed up the economic recovery, we can certainly assist with data recovery (should the worst happen) and safeguard your system from cyber attacks.  Here are our top ‘data security’ offerings:

Anti-virus software

The best approach is to prevent viruses infiltrating your system in the first place.  As a company grows, more sophisticated ways are needed to ensure protection: this means swapping a firewall on each computer for an external email monitoring system and more active virus-checking.

At Serval Systems we can provide a number of effective anti-virus software products from the likes of Panda and Sophos, and also customised solutions to block attacks before they can cause harm.

Business backup software

Even when no malicious intent is involved, a data loss (perhaps due to accidental deletion) can spell disaster for your business.

Our software range includes Symantec Backup Exec for Windows Small Business Server, which not only helps to reduce storage costs but also uses integrated de-duplication and archiving technology to boost backup performance.

Our centralised data storage gave expanding law firm Mayo Wynne Baxter a disaster recovery system to replace an unwieldy set-up, in which each site server had been responsible for its own security.

Data replication servers

Unexpected downtime is a risk faced by every business, especially in an era when systems have to cope with ever greater data storage demands.  To mitigate this, data replication is key; we can provide solutions that monitor changes to files on your source servers whenever they occur, copying them in real-time to a target server.  If necessary, the replication servers can seamlessly take over from the failed server.

Corporate Email Security software

Mailsweeper and Messagelabs Webroot are two market-leading solutions we offer to protect your business from email threats.

Off-site backup system

When things go wrong it’s a relief to know that your information is stored off-site.  We can store your data at our East Grinstead office, providing the sort of backup an onsite system cannot – for instance, in the aftermath of a fire.

For accountancy firm Clarity Accounting we used an IDSBox to back up the data on their Windows Small Business Server, giving them the peace of mind that comes from knowing both where the data is stored and that it is secure.

The team at Serval Systems will help you with all aspects of your IT security – contact us today on 0843 636 6700 or info@servalsystems.co.uk.

The Lessons Every Business Should Learn From 2014’s iCloud Hack

Posted on 14/01/15, filed under Cloud Computing, IT Security | No Comments

The 2014 iCloud hack that saw intimate images of celebrities being accessed and posted on the net, brought the security of the cloud into question last year. But is it the cloud itself that is the problem here?

Many argue that cloud computing is actually more secure than storing data within your own business, and with its significant efficiency and cost advantages, it undoubtedly has the potential to grow your business. Couple that with the fact that the 2014 hack was down to hackers correctly guessing passwords or using phishing techniques to acquire them from the victims and you start to realise that the problem lies not with the cloud but with those using it.

The end user is often the biggest risk to the security of the cloud – but the good news is that we can all do something about it.

Here are 5 lessons that businesses should learn from the 2014 iCloud hack

1. Implement a cloud security policy
IT policies provide a set of instructions for the correct handling of equipment. Implementing a cloud security policy will increase the efficiency of your business and getting it right will save you both time and money.

2. Improve staff training
You need to ensure security beyond the software – if your staff are not aware of the risks then they will not know how they are supposed to avoid them. Implementing a security policy will provide them with rules and regulations but simply handing them a set of instructions is not enough – you need to spend time training them. If they have been taught how to spot a phishy email, they will know how to avoid the security risks it poses.

3. Use strong passwords
This is one of the simplest ways to shield your business from cybercrime  – but possibly the most crucial. An easy-to-guess password is the quickest way in for a hacker; this is what they will try first. The strength of your password can be improved in three ways:

4. Ensure employees’ own devices are secure
If your staff are accessing data from their own devices, how sure are you that the devices are secure? It doesn’t matter how tight your security is within the business if you are not extending these requirements to your staff’s own devices. Don’t let this be a gap in your defence.

5. Monitor access to the cloud
Both user activity and cloud activity should be monitored so that any potential security threats can be prevented before it is too late. Don’t just assume that your cloud provider will automatically alert you to user and cloud activity – make sure that it is in your agreement and run regular checks on it in-house as a back-up.

Talk to the experts at Serval Systems on how to avoid security threats and use cloud computing successfully – contact us now on 0843 636 6700 or info@servalsystems.co.uk

Common IT Problems Facing the Legal Industry

Posted on 04/12/14, filed under Business IT Services, IT Security, Top IT Tips | No Comments

Legal firms are directly in the firing line when it comes to cyber crime thanks to the large amount of sensitive and confidential information they hold. Yet while such bounty is highly prized by hackers, surprisingly few law firms are prioritising IT security, making their business protection much weaker than that of other industries.

Remote access to sensitive and important information is a key requirement for solicitors, who need to be able to access data from anywhere in the world at any point in time. But with this comes significant risks.

In an industry where reputation and confidentiality are the bywords for success, data protection is crucial. Clients need to fully trust that any information they disclose will be kept secure and protected. Once a reputation is tarnished it is a long road to recovery, with 66% of people saying that they would never deal with an organisation again if a data breach occurred where financial data was stolen.

 

How to protect your business and your reputation

 Reduce access to sensitive data

Ensuring that only those staff within a law firm who really need it have access to sensitive data will increase data security. A sure-fire way to ensure that no-one else within or outside the organisation can access this information is to encrypt the data, so that only those who know how are able to read it.

Improve computer security settings

Keeping security settings up-to-date is simple but vital for data protection. Simply installing the latest versions of software and increasing the strength of your passwords can have a huge impact on improving business security.

 Educating staff on malicious software

Whether it be opening an email, clicking a link or downloading a program, malicious software often requires some form of user action for its cyber attack to take place. Staff need to be trained to spot the signs and understand how to take preventative measures against malicious software. Staff training in IT security should be standard practice.

 Disaster Recovery Plan                                                  

At the end of the day all legal firms are at high risk of cyber crime, but it is how a security breach is dealt with that will make a business stand out from the rest. Of course, every client wants to know that everything possible is being done to prevent them from being a victim of a security breach, but more importantly they want to know that in the event of a breach there will be damage control measures and that they will be protected in a professional manner. The risks are real and businesses must have a plan for when disaster strikes.

Find out how you can improve your business IT security by contacting the experts at Serval Systems on 0843 636 6700 or via info@servalsystems.co.uk

Implementing IT Policies For Business

Posted on 18/11/14, filed under Business IT Services, IT Security | No Comments

Why are IT Policies Necessary?

Clear policies about how IT is or may be used lead to a well managed, effectively run business. They provide a set of instructions to ensure the smooth running of operations on a day-to-day basis.

An up-to-date, fully functioning IT system is now fundamental for the majority of businesses to open their doors, and with such technical systems, policies need to be employed to ensure the correct handling of the equipment. IT systems increase the efficiency of business processes and getting it right will save you both time and money.

Whilst IT has hugely enhanced business efficiency, this has not been without its risks. Hackers and scams pose a constant threat to IT security, while any breaches in data protection laws put businesses at risk of legal action. Policies therefore need to be put in place to govern IT use, to keep risks to a minimum and protect your business. With potentially damaging consequences, there is little room for mistake here.

Protecting your staff is part of protecting your business. These are the people who can lead you to success and they need to be looked after. Impose policies that teach them how to be secure and protect data. Don’t leave them exposed – look after your staff and they will look after you.

Implementing IT Policies

  • Be specific – when creating policies it is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. You need to create policies specific to the different areas of IT within your business e.g. protecting data, email use and staff internet use at work.
  • Be realistic – it is important that your IT policies accurately reflect the real day-to-day running of your business. Creating a policy based on an idealistic view of how your business operates will only lead to employees falling short of your expectations and will have no benefit to your business.
  • Be thorough – the majority of your IT policies will affect your staff, so include them in the process. Find out what they don’t know and how it will be best communicated to them. Getting their input will help you to create a usable document that will be simple to understand and easy to follow.

Reviewing IT Policies

It is important to review your policies regularly to assess their strengths and weaknesses. Frequent reviews will ensure you are getting the best out of both the policies and your business.

If your staff are not following the policies in the way that you had hoped, you need to consider the reasons for this. Are the policies being ignored or misinterpreted? Could it be that your staff just need more training? Run training sessions or refresher sessions to ensure that your employees are clear about what is expected of them and to remind them of the details of the policies.

As your business grows and evolves, policies need to be consistently reviewed to make sure that they are still relevant and accurately reflect your business and your goals. Out-of-date policies will not get you results.

Get advice on how to create policies for your IT solutions from the experts at Serval Systems by contacting us on 0843 636 6700 or via info@servalsystems.co.uk

What Type of Backup is Best for You?

Posted on 04/11/14, filed under Business IT Services, Cloud Computing | No Comments

Hundreds of new pieces of information are being created in your business every day and what a costly disaster it would spell if all of it were to get lost. As you know data backup is essential for every business, but it can be difficult to know which one is best for your business. The right backup method suited to your business can make it easier for you to manage your information on an everyday basis and save you time and worry because it is thoroughly protected from loss or damage.

Incremental and Differential Backups
Incremental backups store all the changes made since the last backup, differential backups save the changes made since the last full backup. These methods are much easier and quicker than a full backup and use storage space more efficiently because files are not duplicated like with full backup.

Full Backup
Full backup is where all of the folders and files selected will be stored. This is used as an initial backup and a few times per week, with incremental or differential ones in between. This type is easy to manage and allows you to restore different versions. Unfortunately full backups take a long time and space compared to incremental and differential types therefore full backups should be done during out of work hours.

Local Backup
Local backup is where the files you store are saved close to hand e.g. external hard drive or USB plugged directly into your computer or on a local shared network. Local backups offer good protection against hard drive failures and viruses and storage can be cheap and very fast. The only downside is that in the case of a theft or a disaster e.g. a flood, saved data can be lost or damaged.

Offsite Backup
Offsite backup is where files are stored in a different geographical location to the source. Offsite backup tends to be fully protected by a separate team or an experienced third-party IT supplier. They provide many benefits and are ideal for companies with a large amount of sensitive data.

Online Backup
Online backup, also known as cloud backup, is where data is saved on a storage server connected to the source via the internet. Since this backup is performed online to another site your files will be protected against damage from a disaster. Since the data can be updated and replicated from several storage devices and serviced by a few internet connections, the system is not at mercy of a single point of failure.

There is no one type of backup that provides the best results, but a perfect combination of a few. Having the right combination suited to your business enables you to manage and update your files easily for your specific organization, whilst effectively protecting them from loss or harm – and give you peace of mind.

Talk to Serval today to find out which backup method is right for you on 0843 636 6700

Related Articles:

Data Protection – Are you secure?
Enhancing Your Business with the Right IT Solutions for You
In Safe Hands: The Benefits of Offsite Backup
Your Business Hero: Why You Need a Disaster Recovery Plan

5 Everyday Tips to Protect your Data

Posted on 21/10/14, filed under IT Security, IT Support, Top IT Tips | No Comments

With all the essential high-tech security measures in place, such as firewalls, anti-virus and email security, it is very easy to sit back and think your data is fully protected from being lost or stolen. However, human error and our everyday habits can make our sensitive data vulnerable. Adopt our five everyday tips to guarantee you will never be the one to lose vital information:

Use a unique password – avoid using the same password for everything otherwise you may inadvertently give someone access to all your accounts if you ever reveal it to, say, share some documents. Each password, whether it be for your PC, phone, email or individual documents should be unique, strong and extremely difficult to guess.

Lock your screen/Log off – in the time it takes you to make a coffee someone can access your data on your PC or device. Each time you leave your desk be sure to lock your screen and remember to log off correctly when you leave at the end of the day.

Use auto-save – how many times have we all got so engrossed in our work we forget to save it regularly? Avoid this common human error by setting up auto-save on your documents and emails.

Back-up your work –some accidents, damage or human errors can make your work at risk of being lost if it is only saved in one place. So your work is not lost forever, regularly back it up on a cloud network or on an offsite server.

Send emails through a virus scanner – you shouldn’t automatically open email attachments or download images in your emails as these could contain viruses. Stay safe by running any attachments or downloads through a virus scanner first.

With Serval Systemssecurity and back- up solutions and ongoing support you need never worry about losing your data or to having it stolen – call us NOW on 0843 636 6700.

Related Articles:

Shield Your Business from Cybercrime

Data Protection – Are you Secure?

The IT Security Checklist for Businesses

Security Beyond the Software: IT Training for Staff

Shield Your Business from Cybercrime

Posted on 07/10/14, filed under IT Security, Top IT Tips | No Comments

The average cost of every single, successful cyber attack is £180,000 and data breaches can cost a company millions – both are still increasing.

These are alarming statistics against evidence that such attacks are becoming more sophisticated everyday. Only recently 1.2 billion usernames and passwords, and 500 million email addresses were stolen by Russian hackers, where records can be sold on the black market or used for identity theft. They have also targeted vulnerable websites with a virus and extracted the contents of databases and many websites are still left vulnerable now.

Protecting against this kind of theft and corporate reputation damage means businesses must take their cyber security seriously and keep it up-to-date if they want to prevent this happening to them.

Update your security software – protect your network, computers and data by keeping your software, operating systems and browsers up-to-date and by having good security software such as anti-virus. This will scan your computer after every update.

Guard your internet connection – your internet connection could be the gateway to hackers if not protected. Guard it with a firewall to stop hackers getting hold of your data, including the computers of employees working from home. Also make sure your Wi-Fi connection is secure, encrypted and hidden.

Back up your data – you have heard us emphasise the importance of backing up your data in order to recover it should something go wrong. You should back up weekly, potentially automatically by storing your data offsite or on your cloud.

Secure mobiles and tablets ­– your data may also be vulnerable if the wrong person gets hold of or hacks your employees’ mobile or tablet. Make sure your employees lock their mobile devices with a password, they encrypt the sensitive data on it and have security apps to protect the information in public networks.

Install passwords and limit access – employees should only have access to the relevant files they need for their work. Files, computers and other digital devices should have passwords to prevent unauthorised access to sensitive information and each employee should have their own user account.

Train employees about security – almost two thirds of data breaches are caused by human error and 52% by insiders. Therefore it is essential to teach your employees security etiquette, such as strong passwords, internet guidelines, email security, how to handle confidential, sensitive data and having permission to install new software.

Avoid the risk of cyber attacks and have peace of mind by adopting the right security IT systems and behavioural tactics. Contact Serval Systems to find out about our ongoing security measures and support to shield your business from harm’s way.

Related Articles:
Security Beyond the Software: IT Training for Staff

In Safe Hands: The Benefits of Offsite Backup

The IT Security Checklist for Businesses

What Are Your Data Protection Obligations?

Posted on 16/09/14, filed under IT Security | No Comments

The Data Protection Act was introduced in 1998 to protect the privacy of individuals’ information. The Act covers how personal information is collected, stored and used. However, awareness and understanding of the obligations that businesses have under this law is decreasing and placing businesses at risk of fines up to £500,000 for not abiding by these rules.

Here’s a reminder of the key obligations that businesses have under the Data Protection Act:

  • Only information relevant to what you need can be gathered
  • The information holder must be told why you need the information, what you will use it for, and their get written consent provided.
  • Data must be accurate, up-to-date and deleted once there is no further use for it. Cloud computing allows you to easily organise and keep information up-to-date across your network from your secure cloud account. Personal information must only be accessible to those with permission to read it and cannot be passed to or accessed by another organisation. Having passwords on individuals’ computers and sensitive data files, as well as training your staff in these security measures, will ensure this regulation is met.

Not only do you need to follow the regulations enforced by the Data Protection Act, but it is important to make sure your IT systems support your data protection practices. This involves having security measures in place to protect personal information and ensure it cannot be accessed by unauthorised personnel or organisations. Reliable data replication and storage solutions are also essential to restore data if lost and ensure access to authorised personnel and to the information holder, if requested.

Discover more about how Serval Systems can provide the right solutions and support to ensure you stay on the right side of the Data Protection laws by contacting us on 0843 636 6700

Data Protection – Are you secure?

Posted on 02/09/14, filed under IT Security, IT Support | No Comments

Companies come under cyber attack an average of 2 million times a week. An attack affects businesses in different ways – from a few hours downtime through to the loss of data and potentially customers. The effects of data loss can be tragic. Studies have found 94% of companies who have suffered from a catastrophic data loss did not survive. So when was the last time you reviewed how well your data is protected?

Software and applications can always be reinstalled, but your data is valuable and often irreplaceable. Should it be lost or fall into the wrong hands could you afford for it to be abused? Therefore your first priority should be to protect it.

2013 was the worst year for data breaches – 740 million online records were exposed and in the first half of the year alone there were 500 data breaches, 89% of which were avoidable. The UK accounts for 8% of the world’s data security breaches and 90% of organisations have sustained at least one data breach in the past year. Many businesses don’t have the most basic security controls in place, never mind enforcing good data protection practices.

Data protection enforcements don’t just safeguard against data breaches but practices, such as data back-up and disaster recovery planning, prevent data loss.

The internet and technology now play an integral part in the daily running of businesses, in addition malware and hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated coming up with creative ways of gaining access to your data every day. Each application you install, webpage you view, email you receive or file you save carries a potential risk without the correct security measures in place. Keeping your data protection practices up-to-date, from security measures and reliable data storage to training your staff to be secure,will ensure potential threats are kept at bay.

Start securing your data from potential loss or theft with our data protection measures and on-going protection from Serval Systems. Simply contact us on 0843 636 6700 to find out now.

Security Beyond the Software: IT Training for Staff

Posted on 21/08/14, filed under Employee IT, IT Guides, IT Security, Top IT Tips | No Comments

Anti-virus and firewalls may be the front runners in the battle against security threats however you may have another weak link lurking in your midst. Unless properly trained, your own staff could be the biggest threat to the security of your business network and information.

Nowadays massive data breaches can be tracked back to a single click made by an unsuspecting staff member. With security threats becoming more individually targeted, e.g. spear phishing and email phishing, training your staff needs to be a key part of your data security strategy.

Training your staff about security threats

  • Check your staff are fully trained on your business software and systems, such as using cloud computing.
  • Set boundaries for what classes as appropriate computer and internet use at work and ensure you have an internet usage policy.
  • Train your staff how phishing scams operate, to enable them to spot potential security threats.
  • Reduce access and add passwords to sensitive resources and documents so that only staff who need to can access them. This also adds an extra layer of protection against hackers.
  • Ensure that any staff working from home or remotely continue to adhere to the same rules and standards as are expected in the office. Cloud computing is a great way for your staff members to work from the same network in various locations.

Naïve or careless employees who don’t think about data theft or malware could be one of your biggest risks. Win the battle against security threats with the right security software and staff training by contacting Serval Systems on 0843 636 6700.

Related Articles:

How to Spot a Phishy Email

The IT Security Checklist for Businesses

Enhancing Your Business with the Right IT Solutions for You

Posted on 07/08/14, filed under Business IT Services, Employee IT, IT Support | No Comments

During our 15 years in the industry we have seen how IT improves businesses. However, simply adopting every kind of software that comes along is not necessarily going to do the trick. Instead you need to know which will be the right IT solutions for you, in order to be cost-effective and grow your business. This is where Serval Systems can guide you and, along with our IT solutions and support, help enhance your business.

How our IT solutions and support enhance your business:

  • Improved organisation – our IT solutions help your business to keep track of and update your files, schedules and deadlines. This allows you to access your data easily and store large quantities conveniently, whilst reducing expense and space.
  • Increased employee performance –employees work more productively when paperwork is minimised, data management improved, all data is stored in one place (e.g. server or cloud storage) and IT support is in place to swiftly eliminate problems.
  • Better data security – whether you are becoming a paperless office or adopting new software, our support and IT solutions (e.g. security measures, data storage and backup methods) guarantee that your data will be better protected from cyber attacks and will not be lost in the event of a disaster.
  • Money and time well spent – our IT solutions and support can save you time, not only by improving productivity and performance but also by helping to speed up business operations, e.g. research and development, and communication and document exchange with other employees, clients and customers. Saving time and working more efficiently with our solutions and support is a cost-effective way forward.
  • Allowing your business to grow – finally with your operations streamlined, your data protected, being able to save time and money, our IT solutions and support can spare you the worry and allow your business to become more efficient and grow.

Start growing your business today by adopting the right IT solutions for you whilst having support from us on your journey. Simply call Serval Systems on 0843 636 6700 or contact us at info@servalsystems.co.uk

Related Blogs:

How to Improve your Business Productivity with IT

Becoming a Paperless Office – Avoiding Data Loss and Protecting Your Business

Staying Protected 101: The Business Firewall

Posted on 17/07/14, filed under Business IT Services, IT Guides, IT Security | No Comments

When you leave the office at the end of the day you lock the doors behind you. The same should be the case for your computers, in order to protect the information stored on them. A firewall is that locked door to secure your business IT network, designed to block unauthorised access from other, less secure networks such as the internet.

Hackers attempt to access your financial and personal information and go after your high-speed connection in an attempt to send malicious viruses and worms. While some will cause inconvenience and perhaps damage your reputation, others can destroy your entire operating system. A firewall is an absolute basic requirement to protect your data from these kind of threats without obstructing your work, internet access or emails.

If your business has an office network it is essential you protect every computer by employing:

  • A hardware firewall (e.g. a router) to secure your whole network
  • A software firewall on each computer to prevent a virus spreading to your whole network if one becomes infected.

Larger companies should look for a multi-layered approach and adopt anti-virus software to work alongside the firewall on-site and offsite to protect the greater volume of sensitive information. Check out our IT security checklist for the fully secure approach.

Serval Systems’ team are all fully experienced, qualified professionals who can offer security solutions tailored to your own business and ongoing support to keep your sensitive information safe from malicious attack. Call us today to find out more on 0843 636 6700.

.uk – Should your business adopt the new domain name?

Posted on 03/07/14, filed under Fresh News, IT Guides, News | No Comments

Is your business using a co.uk or org.uk domain name? It might now be time to secure the new slimmer model .uk.

Last month saw the release of new leaner domain name .uk by UK domain registry organisation Nominet. In its first 24 hours after launch .uk registrations surpassed 50,000 and Nominet expects this will rise to over 10 million. Nominet reported 93% of users prefer the new .uk to the 1000s of new domain names released in February 2014, such as .company and .london.

The new .uk domain name will bring Britain in line with the other major European markets where country domains have been available for some time e.g. Germany (.de), France (.fr), Spain (.es) and Italy (.it).

The advantages of being short

Shorter extensions

  • create more memorable domain names for your website’s visitors
  • establish a local identity for your company, making your location clear to your website visitors
  • attaches Britain’s global enterprise reputation to your business, helping to boost website traffic, trust in your website and, as a result, leads and sales.

How to secure your .uk domain

If you already have a web address that uses .co.uk or .org.uk you will get first dibs on its shorter equivalent. With the ability to reserve .uk versions for up to five years, you will be able to adopt it when it is convenient for your business e.g. when you can change your logo or print materials. However, it is important to note that while .co.uk is open for use by companies anywhere in the world, to use .uk you have to prove your business is based in the UK.

What else you need to know about securing .uk

With thousands of new domain names problems will occur and one such issue is cyber–squatting. This is when someone registers a well-known brand to a new domain name and either uses it to tarnish the brand or offers the domain name to the company at an inflated price. To avoid cyber-squatters companies have registered domain names that match their company so others cannot use them.

Find out more about the new domain name .uk here

Or further discover how IT can enhance your business by calling Serval Systems on 0843 636 6700

In Safe Hands: The Benefits of Offsite Backup

Posted on 19/06/14, filed under Business IT Services, IT Security, IT Support | No Comments

Offsite backup is an essential component to any business’ disaster recovery plan. Without one you’re at risk of losing vital data should the unexpected happen, such as a fire, flood, theft or a major software or hardware failure.

Protecting your essential data from being permanently lost with offsite backup will enable your business to continue functioning as normal and protect your credibility, which can be jeopardised in the event of a disaster.

How Does Offsite Backup Work?

Offsite backups take your data from your main database such as network, files, phones and emails and replicates it in a different geographical location (e.g. with Serval Systems).

So when disaster hits your replicated data is waiting to be switched on, enabling your business to continue as usual with minimal disruption.

The Advantages of Off-site Backup

No data is lost – data is constantly being replicated in another geographical location. Therefore if your business experiences a disasteryour up-to-date data can swiftly be recovered.

Data automatically updates – the magic of offsite backup is there is no need for you or anyone else to manually update data. It will automatically update itself if anything is altered, eliminating risk of human errors.

It is secure– when data is transferred from your office to your offsite backup it is encrypted to ensure it is secure.

Recovery is quick – with all your data correctly catalogued and up-to-date in the offsite backup a disaster should not disrupt operations, delivery of customer service or waste your time – resulting in happy staff and customers.

It saves you money – owning your own physical storage solutions can be costly because you need to maintain them and backup data regularly yourself. Having a secure offsite backup run by an experienced team of professionals can ultimately save you time and money allowing you to focus on your business.

Save yourself the worry and take disasters in your stride with Serval Systems’ Offsite Backup Solutions. Simply call us on 0843 636 6700

Your Business Hero: Why You Need a Disaster Recovery Plan

Posted on 05/06/14, filed under Business IT Services, IT Security, IT Support | No Comments

Disaster has struck, you have had a major hardware failure, a fire or flood, or accidentally deleted critical data – what are you going to do?

What would happen to your business should one of these scenarios strike?

  • Long periods of downtime
  • Unhappy customers
  • Permanent loss of data

With an effective disaster recovery plan (DRP) in place you can avoid downtime and potential loss of customers and data.

What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A DRP is a set of well planned procedures designed to recover mission critical data should your business be hit by a disaster. A series of steps, such as onsite and offsite backup, are implemented to ensure your business can easily recover in these scenarios – getting your systems back up and running as quickly and effectively as possible with minimal disruption to your customers.

Benefits of a Disaster Recovery Plan:

A DRP reduces costs – you can imagine any disaster is going to cost money to a business, but having a recovery plan speeds the process of system and data recovery, reducing the time and cost of repairs.

A DRP protects your reputation – experiencing a big disaster can be devastating for a customer facing business, however a DRP allows you to deliver all main business services to customers therefore protecting your credibility.

A DRP protects your data – a disaster recovery plan means you can quickly restore that vital data which keeps your business running and your customers happy.

A DRP maintains work productivity – having a recovery plan in place gets your operations and services up and running as soon as possible so minimal time is lost and your staff are not badly disrupted.

The bottom line is a disaster recovery plan is essential and for a vast majority of companies having a fully tested, satisfactory DRP embedded into the business is a must have.

Save yourself the time, costs and worry if a disaster should hit by having a disaster recovery plan right for your business. Simply call Serval Systems on 0843 636 6700

How to Spot a Phishy Email

Posted on 27/05/14, filed under Business Email, IT Security | No Comments

Ever had an email from an ‘official’ organisation asking you to disclose personal information, but you were not sure whether to trust it?

Your instincts may be right.

Scammers are sending emails disguising themselves as legitimate organisations, linking recipients to a fake log-in page in an attempt to hijack personal information, known as phishing – and scammers are getting better at it. Whilst some emails are obviously fake e.g. spelling mistakes and poor design, some are not, and have put people and organisations’ sensitive data at risk of abuse.

The Devil in the Detail – How to Sniff Out the Phishes

1.  Check the web address of the web page – if the login page is genuine the URL will be the official URL of the company e.g. www.hsbc.co.uk/1/2/ways-to-bank/internet-banking. If you are unsure login from the official website online rather than from your email inbox.

2. Login manually – if you receive any kind of email from a company asking you to confirm your details by logging in, do it manually by visiting the company’s official website, do not click on any link buttons within an email if you are unsure, these will not direct you to the official company page.

3. Don’t ignore security warnings – security notices from your email and web filters, and security software could just be the warning you need when a web page seems official to the human eye, so don’t ignore them.

Serval Tip: take all of these precautions all of the time, one may not be secure enough. If in doubt, call the company directly and ask them.

Note that now it has been publicised that eBay has had a security breach and users should reset their password, scammers may use this to produce eBay phishy emails. To be on the safe side reset your password through eBay.co.uk and not through any email.

Maximise your business’ email security with Serval Systems. Simply call us on 0843 636 6700

The IT Security Checklist for Businesses

Posted on 14/05/14, filed under Business IT Services, IT Guides, IT Security, IT Support | No Comments

Every day businesses are becoming more reliant on the internet – from storing data in the cloud to running their systems through computers and the internet. But lurking in the shadows sophisticated malicious software is being created, e.g. viruses, worms and trojans, ready to exploit weaknesses in networks and steal personal data. For instance, did you hear about the damage the recent Heartbleed bug had on businesses?

A security breech will cost your business both time and money, a serious breech can be too much for a business to return from. Take a look at our security checklist to ensure your business is protected.

Stay Protected: The IT Security Checklist Every Business Should Have

Antivirusantivirus software detects, prevents and removes computer viruses and other malicious software. It is a fundamental security shield for your business, without it you are at risk of your files being deleted, your personal and client data stolen, your software being corrupted and even your computer hardware being ruined. Rectifying the damage caused by a virus attack can cost a lot of money and possibly a business’ reputation if any confidential information is compromised.

Back-up – 48% of companies don’t back up their data, which is surprising considering it is one of the most important assets. If there is a system failure or accidental deletion you will not be able to restore this data, which could have disastrous consequences e.g. your employees unable to work without this information and risking your company’s reputation. On-site isn’t the most reliable back-up but off-site back-up with Serval Systems gives you piece of mind your data is protected and secure 24/7, especially if your office gets damaged from a flood or fire.

Email Security – as the easiest form of contact to your business it is important to protect your business against the unwelcome aspects of email such as viruses, spam, trojans etc, which can create financial and operational burdens. Without a form of email security in place you risk losing private information, waste bandwidth and storage space, and are liable for illegal or offensive content.

Firewall – you need a sophisticated business class firewall to have complete protection from threats and secure your network. On-board firewalls on your Windows PC don’t offer much protection. However, if you have a sophisticated firewall it needs to be monitored and managed 24-7 by qualified people for it to be effective and up-to-date. Firewalls will also save you money on consulting labour.

Save yourself time, money and worry with Serval System’s IT security solutions and have a security system put in place that works for your business. Simply call us on 0843 636 6700

Heartbleed Bug – How to Recover if you Got Hacked

Posted on 22/04/14, filed under Fresh News, News, Top IT Tips | No Comments

Last week it was revealed that there was a bug in the encryption software OpenSSL putting you and your business’ private information at risk of being hacked.

The Heartbeat Extension was introduced into OpenSSL on December 31, 2011; little did the developers know that they would be implementing the Internet’s biggest security threat, the Heartbleed bug, into the source code. OpenSSL is responsible for protecting thousands of websites, including internet giants such as YouTube, Google, Tumblr and Yahoo, but the bug wasn’t discovered and reported until 7th April 2014. It is unclear how long potential attackers were aware of the bug and the extent to which it has been exploited.

Routers, firewalls and switches have all been affected by the hack. Therefore when you are on websites either on your desktop, mobile or other devices the data exchanged between you and the website could be accessed including passwords, users’ session cookies, private keys and other personal information.

Two Recovery Actions to Take:

1. Check if your website is affected by Heartbleed

If you have a secure website (a padlock displays in your browser) then your web developer or hosting personnel should analyse which encryption you use and by putting your website’s address in the Heartbleed checker.

If your website has been compromised by Heartbleed it is important you update it with the latest version of OpenSSL, which is free from the Heartbleed bug, immediately.

2. Check if the websites you use have been compromised

There is a high chance that you use one of the 500,000 websites that have been compromised by Heartbleed. It is advised to change your passwords on these websites, especially the ones you regularly use. However, only change your passwords once the site has been fixed (using the Heartbleed checker) otherwise you are putting your new password at risk. The safest way is to make your passwords strong and different on each website.

Tip: not all hacks are common knowledge, or at least straight away, so it is important to check your website and personal accounts e.g. online banking, email, social media profiles etc, and investigate if you notice anything suspicious or out of the ordinary.

Find out more about how to keep your business secure and protected from potential risks in the future. Simply call Serval Systems on 0843 636 6700

5 Ways Cloud Computing Can Grow Your Business

Posted on 10/04/14, filed under Business IT Services, Cloud Computing, Top IT Tips | No Comments

Cloud computing has been hailed as an IT game changer.

Thanks to the Cloud, you can now discard your internal, complex infrastructure and manage your business’ data through the internet. Cloud computing is fully encrypted to your business and you are in charge of who accesses your company information. It is very secure, in fact it is often more secure than companies can store internally.

Cloud computing allows you to start small with almost no upfront capital investment and develop your IT resources at the same pace as your business growth.

So how exactly does cloud computing grow your business?

1. Cuts the Cost – with cloud computing there is no need for expensive infrastructure costs e.g. servers, routers or storage equipment. Cloud computing can serve many business needs e.g. Customer Relationship Management (CRM), accounting, collaboration, marketing etc. The cloud even cuts the cost of small elements such as printing because you can access and share documents anywhere without needing to print copies.

2. Enables Access Anywhere – cloud-based storage solutions allow your employees convenient access to company information anywhere, from any device, saving time and improving work efficiency.

3. Frees Up Time – Because the cloud can consolidate many processes, you now no longer have to manage a complex web of IT systems, enabling you to focus on your business and allowing time and money to try new business strategies, including those only affordable to bigger companies.

4. Increase Productivity – as you grow your business cloud computing provides you with enough resources to develop and host your own applications in the cloud. For instance you can easily update, manage and share documents across the whole company, such as you update a document on the cloud on one device it synchronises so that the document is updated on all other devices automatically. Therefore this enables you to have more employees in various geographical locations enabling them to collaborate with each other and share up-to-date versions of documents, with no need to save multiple versions of the same documents.  In turn this increases work efficiency and productivity as well as a clean, easy admin management system.

5. Allows International Growth – using the power of the internet cloud computing enables you to bring in business across the world. Not only does the cloud make it easy for your employees all over the world to collaborate as if they were in the same room, but it also allows collaboration with your clients. On the cloud you can easily share documents across the internet – no need for ongoing email tennis. But don’t worry, you can manage which documents clients can view and which they cannot, making your cloud even more secure and under control.

Cloud computing adds value to small business by helping you raise your small business to enterprise level. Now with the government planning on doubling UK exports by 2020, more businesses planning on expanding across the UK and the rest of the world and employees needing company information at their fingertips anywhere on any device, cloud computing is the IT solution for business growth.

Find out how you can grow your business with Cloud computing, simply call Serval Systems on 0843 636 6700 and find out how.

What is Cloud Computing?

Posted on 27/03/14, filed under Business IT Services, Cloud Computing, IT Guides | No Comments

Have you ever been on the move or sat at home and really needed access to documents from your office at work? If your documents are hardwired in the office server then they aren’t going to budge, leaving you unable to complete the task you intended to work on.

But what if you could put all your documents onto a device which accompanies you everywhere?

How Cloud Computing Works:

Imagine your documents are a train you want to catch. Your devices (these could be your mobile, pc or laptop) are the stations you can catch them from. The internet and cloud software are effectively the tracks your documents travel along to get to your devices i.e. the stations. So you can access your documents on your devices anywhere there is an internet connection.

Key Features:

  • Access your documents anywhere – inside or outside the office whenever you need them, whether you’re away at client meetings or working from home.
  • Update one document, update them all – if you updated a document at work you would be able to access the same document at home and see all of the amendments.

Syncing your devices onto the Cloud makes accessing crucial up-to-date information seamless, regardless of your location and providing many benefits. 

In our next blog we will discuss these benefits and how cloud computing can actually grow your business.

Take the first step in growing your business with cloud computing, simply contact Serval Systems on 0843 636 6700 and find out how.

Becoming a Paperless Office – Avoiding Data Loss and Protecting Your Business

Posted on 13/03/14, filed under Business IT Services, Cloud Computing, IT Support, Top IT Tips | No Comments

The idea of the paperless office has been around since computers first arrived on the business scene and yet, all these years later, it is still largely a myth. Why does the thought of relying completely on electronics give us such cause for concern?

Well, first, we’ve all heard the horror stories – from information theft and fraud, to system attacking viruses. Second, how reliable is your computer system really?

But there are ways to prevent these scenarios and maintain secure backed-up data, without the need to print out everything and use up the resources of an entire rainforest in doing so:

Back It Up – unless data is properly backed up, you could be at risk of losing it. Saving information on to a disc or USB stick will not protect you from flooding and fire risks or theft and they are also far too easy to misplace. The secure alternative is Cloud computing, hosted virtual desktop technology. Essentially it is an online storage system, from which you can access your files at anytime, from any device in any place where there is available internet access. Serval Systems offer this complete IT solution, which will provide you with reliable access to your data whenever you need it and give you complete piece of mind that your documents cannot be lost.

Security – If everything is to be stored online, what about cyber attacks? Although such attacks are a risk, this should not put you off converting to a paperless office; it is simply a matter of managing security threats via a top notch system. This is not something you need to worry about though as outsourced IT suppliers can provide you with a secure solution and take the hassle and worry off your hands. Serval Systems provide a practical management solution that is cost effective. We take business security seriously and take pride in protecting your business.

If your business is securely backed up and protected from security threats then a paperless office could have big benefits for your business. Not only will it reduce the clutter and endless muddled sheets of paper that take over your desk, it will save you large amounts of admin filing time which can be better spent on your business. You also have added advantage of being a greener business, which may win you more clients as environmental issues become ever more important.

So what are you waiting for? Start your switch to a paperless office today:
• Request your invoices and receipts electronically
• Use online banking
• Scan all your documents to the computer and send via email rather than printing copies
• Scrap your pen and paper and start using Apps to take your notes digitally
• Invest in e-signing technology so you can sign on the dotted line electronically

For more information on Cloud computing and secure IT systems contact Serval Systems on 0843 636 6700

New Web Domains = New Business?

Posted on 27/02/14, filed under Business IT Services, Fresh News | No Comments

Have you heard that web domains such as ‘.com’ and ‘.org’ are running out? Now new domains are being created such as ‘.london’ and ’.gallery’ and even wacky ones including ‘.ninja’ and ‘.cool’. This could mean big business for companies in the future.

The first of the new top-level domains have been released, and over the course of 2014 is set to explode from 22 to more than 1,000. Domain names are also being released in other languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Russian for the first time, enabling companies to reach millions more online consumers by appealing to them in their own language.

Domain names associated with a location such as .london will be an exceptionally good move for exporters. Meantime Brewing Company has already noticed an impact after the brand upswing for London following the 2012 Olympics, which doubled their visitor numbers. They are hoping launching the new web address meantimebrewing.london will further boost their business, as one of 200,000 London-based small businesses planning on buying one of the new domain names.

Seven that are already live include .bike, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, .singles and .ventures, with more expected, including .camera, .equipment and .graphics. It is predicted that people will register for a handful of new top-level domains every week most of this year, which may continue into 2015.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is increasing the choice in order to promote innovation. Many companies believe in this opportunity and view it as a digital asset; some have even applied for their own brand name domains e.g. .ford and .fox.

Today’s marketplace is very crowded and these new domains offer businesses that key element of differentiation and a wave of innovation in the digital delivery of services. So take care not to look out of date with developments and missing the opportunity of owning a new top-level domain.

Find out more about the new domain names at here

Or to learn more about how IT can enhance your business contact us now by calling 0843 636 6700.

8 Windows 8 Tips and Tricks that Will Help the Way you Work

Posted on 13/02/14, filed under IT Guides, Top IT Tips | No Comments

For those of you who have used Windows before you would have realised how different Windows 8 is compared to its predecessors.

The new touch Start screen makes you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere vaguely familiar but which doesn’t feel quite right. In addition to making you feel a bit awkward, the new Start screen has apps and interface conventions which even computer experts have had had trouble getting their heads around.
So we’ve provided 8 tips to help you navigate your way around this unfamiliar territory:

1. Basic Navigation
You might notice Windows 8’s interface has become touch-friendly, which makes it simple for tablet users to navigate around. But for traditional desktop users you need to move the mouse wheel or scroll backwards and forwards with the mouse. Alternatively, you can also navigate on the Windows 8 interface by using the keyboard:
• Pressing the Home and End keys enables you to jump from both ends of your Start screen.
• Using the arrow keys allows you to navigate around the tiles, while pressing Enter selects the tile.
• Pressing the Windows key returns the screen to the Start Menu.

2. Access an App More Easily
Do you have an application that you use all the time and find it a hassle to constantly use the search system to find? In order to easily access it you can Pin it to the Start screen:
• Start typing your favourite app e.g. Microsoft Word.
• Right-click the ‘Microsoft Word’ tile on the Apps Search screen and press ‘Pin to Start’.
• On a touch screen, press and hold the icon and flick down and press ‘Pin to Start’.
• Once you are back on the Start screen (by pressing the Windows key) drag your favourite app tile to the left hand side to make it easily accessible.

3. Putting Apps Into Groups
If your Start menu is cluttered with lots of apps you may want to sort them into groups so they are easy to find when you need one. Say if you dragged People, Mail, Messaging and Calendar to the left-hand side to form a separate ‘personal’ group, if you zoom out by clicking the ‘minus’ key in the bottom right corner, you can drag and drop a new group around the other group. As you are zoomed out, right-click in the group block and name your group.

4. Turning Live Tiles On and Off
The tiles on your Start screen can look static, but Live Tiles allow you to view real-time data on your Start screen without the need to open your apps e.g. the weather app displays the current conditions at in your location and your mail app shows the subject headline of your latest email. But don’t worry, you can customise which apps are live by right-clicking on the tile and clicking Turn Live Tile on or off’ on the settings bar. But note that not all apps have the live, real-time data streaming option.

5. Closing Applications
Sure this sounds simple enough, but it is actually quite difficult to find the close buttons on Windows 8. Microsoft allows you to run apps in the background so they are easy to access but you may want to close an app to help your device to run quicker. To close an app simply drag it with your mouse or finger from the top of the screen to the bottom. As you do this the app will minimise and disappear when you get to the bottom of the screen.

6. Boot Straight to Desktop
One of the most noticeable differences about Windows 8, and maybe annoying for some of us, is that it boots straight to the Start screen.
• On the Start screen type ‘schedule’ to search for Schedule Task in Settings.
• Click on ‘Task Scheduler Library’ and select ‘Create Task’.
• Name your task e.g. ‘Boot to desktop’.
• Select the ‘Triggers’ tab, choose New, and use the drop-down box to select starting the task ‘At log on’ and click OK.
• Go to Actions tab, select ‘New’, and enter ‘explorer’ for the Program/Script value. Press OK and save the task.

7. Refreshing Your PC
Want to hear something cool? Windows 8 allows you to reinstall from within Windows without losing any data – no need to call for back up. Simply go to Settings, click ‘Change PC Settings’, select the ‘General’ tab and find “Refresh your PC without affecting your files” section. Select “Get Started” and press “Refresh”. After your computer has restarted you will have a fresh Windows 8.

8. Shutting Down
To shut down on Windows 8 move the cursor to the bottom right corner of the screen and press the settings icon. Alternatively, you can press ‘I’ whilst holding down the Windows key. Click the power button that appears which will give you the option of ‘Shut Down’ or ‘Restart’. Note some of the methods from previous versions of Windows still apply.

For any other queries or IT support contact us now by calling 0843 636 6700.

How IT Can Improve Your Business Productivity

Posted on 30/01/14, filed under Business IT Services, Employee IT, IT Guides, IT Support | No Comments

Productivity is a key component to achieving business goals and is a firm indicator of success, or possible failure. So what steps do you need to take ensure high levels of productivity? How do you know your employees and business are performing productively to maximise your business success?

Using IT, such as business productivity software, creates the platform to improve and manage your business’ productivity by driving business processes more efficiently and optimising results:

• IT allows greater visibility and a communicative environment enabling managers to easily communicate business strategy and tasks to their employees. Employees will be able to see the big picture to understand how their individual tasks and goals fit into the business’ overall objectives, which in turn engages and motivates them, increasing productivity.

• IT virtually connects teams into portals to enable people to work productively within their team and utilise their relevant work and people into categories for different tasks or departments e.g. technical tasks or sales tasks.

• IT allows you to monitor your business’ productivity at each stage of the goal completion process and offers immediate reinforcement to keep performance and deadlines on track. Employees will learn new skills and be challenged to do their best, and in turn they will be motivated to work harder, guaranteeing productive work ethic and performance.

• IT allows you to analyse your business’ performance so your fellow employees and managers can access performance metrics to analyse and set or redesign productive work strategies.

Business productivity software can bridge the gaps in communication and energise your employees to work to their highest capabilities, therefore encouraging productive and effective work ethic and results.

To find out how we can help your business work productively contact us now by calling 0843 636 6700.

How IT Can Help To Grow Your Business in 2014

Posted on 16/01/14, filed under Business IT Services, IT Guides, IT Support, Top IT Tips | No Comments

Happy New Year!

As a business owner or manager you’ve probably made some resolutions, from how to grow your business with new leads through to ways to increase engagement with your existing customers.

Why not follow our tips below for business success in 2014:

• Get your IT systems in order
Before you can consider increasing your leads and customer activity, do you have the systems in place to handle any increases? A system failure is the perfect way to alienate clients old and new; it’ll degrade your company’s reputation and lose you customers. Don’t hinder your chances of business growth and building leads in 2014 – get your IT system up to scratch and fully supported so that should the worse happen you carry on with business as usual.

• Get your website up-to-date
Like it or not online is the way forward for businesses. If you’re guilty of leaving your website to its own devices, chances are it’s well overdue an update. From updating pictures to integrating a blog, there are plenty of quick steps you can take to awaken your company’s website. Company’s that blog get around 55% more website visitors.

• Get social
90% of data in the world today was created in the past 2 years due to the growth in digital marketing channels, such as social media. Digital channels, like Facebook, Twitter and email marketing, allow you to engage directly with customers old and new – all from the comfort of your desk. Social media and your website are now the best channels to network with and address potential and existing customers, as well being a great way to gain insight into your business growth.

To get your IT systems in shape for a successful 2014 get in touch with Serval Systems now on 0843 636 6700

Improving Your Warehouse efficiency with IT Support

Posted on 27/12/13, filed under Business IT Services, IT Guides | No Comments

Imagine being able to run your warehouse more efficiently, without having to be concerned with making human errors or boring stock taking. Did you realise that a reliable IT support system can take care of many processes and help you manage your warehouse much easier.

IT support manages most warehouse processes – from pulling orders directly from the internet for processing, to monitoring stock levels and payment details. Because the IT support will handle these processes you will have the time to work on other operations and become more productive. As productivity increases an opportunity opens up to save and make more money. This is because your warehouse will be running more efficiently and more work can be done. This may even lead to being able to manage more clients and stock.

Without IT support, errors are far more likely which could result in orders being affected, stock levels not being monitored accurately, processes taking longer and the warehouse failing to meet the fulfilment for its clients and it could ultimately let down your clients’ own customers.

Warehouse IT support provide many benefits including:
• Improved warehouse visibility and capacity management – improving speed and productivity and minimising mistakes and errors.
• Monitoring what stock sells more than others, in turn improving the layout and organisation of the warehouse. This is because you are able to organise the stock which sells the most so it is easy to access.
• Reducing extra stock, lost stock and shipping errors due to better accuracy.
• Greater monitoring of staff productivity.

This improved efficiency may also allow you to cut overtime and temporary staff as well as reducing paperwork, saving both time and resources.

Whether you have multiple clients who use the warehouse or just stock from one company it is highly advised and beneficial to have IT support for your warehouse. You cannot afford to postpone your IT support until your manual warehouse system fails and customers and clients are distressed, which could potentially lose you thousands of pounds, your good reputation and could mean the end of your warehouse.