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What is WannaCry, and why it didn’t make us shed a tear?
On Friday the 12th May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack started. A worldwide cyberattack which targeted computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments in Bitcoin.
 
Ransomware Trojans have been around for a while now and I can’t deny that they have given me sleepless nights. A virus that can bypass most antivirus filters and encrypt a company’s data. When you run a managed service support company that doesn’t charge for clean-up work if a client gets infected, it means that if we slip up and it gets in, it’s us who will be running around trying to recover the situation (whilst trying not to lose the client!).
 
Then again that is exactly why clients hire us. We look after their security patching, their Anti-Virus and their security, so our clients expect us to make sure these things are up to date and secure. If we get it wrong it’s only fair it becomes our issue, not the clients.
 
Historically though, ransomware is spread slowly by malicious emails. It is able to bypass security software because it’s the user who opens the email attachment, and so the user inadvertently gives it permission to start encrypting. As the user has granted permission it is not picked up as a virus.
 
I won’t go into exactly why WannaCry was different, but rest assured it was. At its simplest form, WannaCry spread by using a vulnerability in Windows Operating Systems, rather than via email. Any machine that had this vulnerability could be infected and there were many vulnerable devices, especially at the NHS!
 
By Saturday morning we were seeing the full impact, it was front page on BBC News. Friends and ex colleagues were desperately patching their systems trying to fix the vulnerability before they got attacked.
 
But let’s step back. WannaCry spreads due to this vulnerability, not due to users clicking on attachments. Our clients pay us to make sure their machines are patched, and the patch for this vulnerability had been released 2 months ago!

So what were TechSolvers doing on this disastrous weekend? Simple answer was not panicking. Our systems had already applied the patches, yes we double and triple checked, but the systems we look after were secure and patched, our clients were safe.
 
However, even companies who thought they were up to date with patching may have still had a problem. For years, we have all known that XP should no longer be used. Microsoft neither patch or support it anymore, so if we had have been supporting XP machines, they would have been vulnerable like any other unpatched machine. Thankfully we had been advising our clients for a long time to get rid of XP, and while some initially objected, after explaining that replacing XP was essential for security they eventually all followed our advice. So with no XP machines and everything else patched, TechSolvers clients were safe from Wannacry.
 
Then on Sunday it stopped, a kill switch was found and the virus was disabled around the world in one easy move.
 
Many companies are still patching this vulnerability, as while its stopped for now its highly likely that WannaCry, or a variant of it (with no kill switch) will be back.
 
So the simplest lesson to learn from this is that systems must be patched, and that if you are running Operating Systems that are out of support (and can’t be patched) it is time to replace them. Do that and Wannacry won’t make you shed a tear.
 
Even if your company doesn’t need TechSolvers to provide support, we do provide a service called Cloud Secure. This service is simple. It means managed security patching, managed Anti-Virus and managed Web Filtering for all of your devices. If you have concerns about security but are happy with your IT Support then this is a service worth considering.

   
 
Note: Before I get called out; Yes, Microsoft did release a patch for XP, but this was only on the Saturday. They didn’t have to, but due to the scale of the attack, they did. If you think this means that XP is safe, it is not. It left a gap from Friday to Saturday when every XP machine in the world was vulnerable, and if Microsoft hadn’t released a patch (they had previously said they would never patch XP again) then the situation would have been far worse!
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Gold!
Phil and I started TechSolvers 8 years ago. Two engineers determined to create the company we wanted to work for, to do the work we wanted to do, and to provide our customers world class customer service.
 
It's been a journey, and an adventure and as individuals we have grown and learnt from the new roles we have taken. Each year has seen developments, whether it's been learning to run a company by the management accounts (rather than only judging success by happy clients), or when we realised that as much as we hate it, sales is a critical part of any business that can’t be ignored. Not to mention having to learn HR laws and regulations. What can we say, a steep learning curve at times.
 
But it's days like today that make it all worth it. Being primarily a Microsoft house our partner status with MS has always been important, however we always thought for a business the size of ours to gain Gold Partner status would be just out of our reach. However now with our full team, trained & certified, and our cloud business consistently growing the jump from Silver to Gold almost happened over night. To be honest without us even realising we had met the requirements.

 
What does it mean to us as a business;
  • The recognition from Microsoft of all our hard work.
  • Better support from Microsoft for us, premium MS Support access that we can use for our clients.
  • The ability to show our existing and prospective clients, that we are focused and delivering.
  • A shiny new logo to add to our web site & social media
  • An invigorated support team, thriving on knowing they are doing a great job and being recognized for it. 

But what does it mean to Phil and I, personally. It means 8 years ago we made the right call, we could be more than just 2 engineers. We could provide service, successfully complete projects, manage a company, employ staff and watch them grown and implement our apprenticeship scheme to help youngsters get into the career we love. Most importantly though we come to work each day with a smile on our faces knowing we love the challenges and opportunities ahead.
 
We never would have expected to have done so well considering how much we had to learn.
 
I guess all that’s left to say is;
 
Gold,
We’ve got the power to know  
You're not unsupportable
Always believe in TechSolvers, because they are
Gold!
 
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Why use IT managed services for your company?
Simply because it will be cheaper and more cost effective in the long term for your business. Not only that but it will ensure that your IT systems are looked after by a team of professionals who do this day in and day out. Still not sure if IT managed services are right for you? Let's take a look at an example company. This company is based in London and has one physical server running a Windows Server Operating System, 25 machines (some desktops, some laptops), 3 printers, as well as various mobile devices and Office 365 being utilised for Exchange and SharePoint.
 
So, what does this company need to provide efficient and effective IT management for its systems and staff?

Round the clock monitoring and alerts, a single point of contact for all IT issues, vendor management, on-site hardware support, system administration (password resets, user account creation etc), change management, reporting and root cause analysis, research into new technologies that are relevant to what the company does, Service Level Agreements, software and application support, backups, Printer Admin, Network Management, Server Management, Desktop Support, remote access, regular incident analysis, discounted hardware and software? The list goes on.
 

To be able to provide all of that, what can this London based company do?
 
Maybe they could employ someone that has a basic IT knowledge to help out with any problems?
The new employee may be great at fixing computers at home, but having the experience and knowledge of IT in business is very different, and will not provide the company with many of the above requirements.  It could also cost a lot in wasted time, if the new employee is attempting to fix a problem without the full knowledge it will end up taking them a long time and will take them away from their assigned tasks and projects, and they may end up not even being able to fix it. Effectively, you would be paying for a lot of wasted time and for a non-IT professional to do the job of a professional. So, what other options are available?

The next setp up from this is to employee an IT Professional, or maybe even a team?
 
On average a company is likely to need one IT employee per 40 members of staff, so if you're running a large company you could end up needing more than one IT professional. However our example company only has 25 machines to look after, so one person should do, right? Well he/she is going to be busy trying to cover desktop support, helpdesk, network support, R&D, root cause analysis etc and that's when they're not off ill, on holiday, or needs to be looking at two incidents at the same time. They'll also need to be well trained in desktop, server and network support, not forgetting the customer facing skills. As they haven't got any backup they'll also need to be a senior technician, able to work on their own. An approximate salary of an IT Support Professional is between £40-£50k, as well as benefits, training and holiday cover. Maybe there's a more cost-effective alternative?
 
Use a London based IT Company. When you have a problem pay them by the hour to come in to your office and fix it.
 
The benefit of using an IT company is that you'll only pay when a problem arises, so you may go months without paying a penny. But when a problem occurs do you think the IT company will just fix the issue or spend time to fix the root cause of the problem so that it never happens again? Are they preventing problems before they occur? NO! When the problems start to affect the running of your business and your IT systems start to degrade you'll probably have to pay for a quick fix. But not only are you paying the engineer that comes out to your office but you are also losing money as your employees can't function at full capacity when their systems aren't working. In fact you could be paying twice as much when you have a problem.
 
Plus for all the money you are paying out you're only getting problem fixing support. What about all the things we mentioned that make up effective IT management support? It's impossible to plan for what may or may not go wrong and therefore to budget accordingly. 

The Solution - Use an IT Managed Services Company.
 
The first thing to mention is cost. Simply by multiplying the number of servers, desktops and laptops you need supported by a fixed monthly cost you set your IT support budget for the year.
 
For our example company this cost would be around £10,000 per year. Which you'll note is considerably less than hiring your own staff. It's also likely to be a lot less than using Pay As You Go IT support. So what do you get for the money? You get everything mentioned at the beginning of this article:
 
Round the clock monitoring and alerts, a single point of contact for all IT issues, vendor management, on-site hardware support, system administration (password resets, user account creation etc), change management, reporting and root cause analysis, research into new technologies that are relevant to what the company does, Service Level Agreements, software and application support, backups, Printer Admin, Network Management, Server Management, Desktop Support, remote access, regular incident analysis, discounted hardware and software. So how do IT Managed Services give you so much more than the other options, while still costing less?
 
They are designed to be the IT department for multiple companies, and structured to do so effectively. With the right tools, processes, experience and software, IT support costs are reduced due to increased levels of efficiency.
 
IT Managed Services companies are set-up to monitor IT systems and work by fixing issues as soon as they arise, which in many cases is even before the client has noticed. 24/7 alerting means that as soon as an issue arises the Managed Service company is aware and the problem can be resolved before it impacts your business. It also means that the issue is fixed faster, as the engineer has direct access to your systems 24 hours a day. They don't even need to come in, all of the work can be done remotely. They just connect to the problem device, resolve the issue and move on to the next incident.
 
An IT Managed Services company will also only employ professionals that are well versed in dealing with different IT systems and have all of the skills required. This will mean that all of your problems will be dealt with quickly, and you can be sure that a experienced professional is on the case and has the expertise to fix the issue correctly. 
 
In most cases they will also help you with strategy. This is done by monitoring and analysing the information they get from alerting systems, and the incidents raised by the users. Using this information IT managed services companies work with their clients to reduce the number of incidents raised. This saves your company, and theirs, time and money.
 
Of course having an IT Managed Services company on your side does not mean everything is included. If you have development work, or other new requirements then additional charges may apply, though your support budget should be fixed.



If you have any questions or want to know how IT support management could work for your business, contact us here
 
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Revisiting How it All Began
There were many reasons that Tom and I decided to found TechSolvers together, but probably the main one was that we wanted to engage with the customers more. From our experience we had found that a lot of IT companies used faceless engineers in data centres, or architects stuck behind a desk, who rarely got to connect with their customers. This was not what we wanted to be, and not what we thought the customers deserved.
 
From the get go we made sure that customer service was at the core of TechSolvers, and have worked very hard to make sure that every team member is trained to liaise with our customers, and offer the personal service that Tom and I are so passionate about. 

At TechSolvers we believe in exceeding our client’s expectations of IT service providers, working alongside our partners by providing a quality service and expertise at best value, that our competitors find increasingly difficult to match.

This ethos and business plan has worked extremely well for us, and we couldn't be more proud of how TechSolvers has grown and developed over the years. 

However, Tom and I were talking about just this the other day, and realised that as we have grown we have moved away from that core aim. As business owners our time is used in many ways, but that doesn’t really include being on at the sharp end, taking customer support calls. Yet, it's taking those initial calls (as well as the 3rd line ones) that lets us truly understand when our customers are happy, and when they are maybe not so. By taking these calls we could identify areas in which we're excelling and where perhaps we could do with improving - making our business better all round!
 
So, it’s time to go back to the floor, and work from the ground up how we can better improve our customer service at every level of the company. 
 
Over the next few weeks Tom and I will be spending time, working as both 1st line and 2nd line engineers.
 
During this time we hope to gain;
 
  1. By assisting the team on how they could better do their jobs. We started by doing these roles so we can lead & teach by example.
  2. By getting more involved we hope to learn and understand any issues our teams may have with their roles, and look at ways of fixing them.
  3. By getting to speak direct to customers, and to people that we may not normally speak to, we'll be able to gain a better understanding of our customer's needs and requirements. 
 
In the long-term we hope that by doing this will allow us to react better to the customers’ requests, and build lasting relationships with key staff members across all of our clients organisations.
 
Being on the phone ourselves will allow us to directly ask the questions like 'are you happy with our service, is there anything we have done where you think we can improve?'. Because it's conversations like this that make our clients realise that we really do care about their experience of using TechSolvers, it starts a conversation, and allows us as a company to better support our client’s needs.
 
Plus Tom and I get to go back to what we love, talking to clients and fixing their issues, after all that's how we both started in IT in the first place.

So if you're a current or prospective client, we very much hope that we get to speak to you in person!

Phil Long
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#ModernWorkplace : Cloud Computing
Simply put, cloud computing is computing based on the internet. Where in the past, people would run applications or programs from software downloaded on a physical computer or server in their building, cloud computing allows people access to the same kinds of applications through the internet anywhere, any time.

We've mentioned several benefits of using cloud computing for business before (see our very informative blog here) but we thought we'd put together some of our top reasons for going remote, and how cloud computing will benefit your day to day life. 

1. Work from anywhere 
With cloud computing you can set up your office anywhere, and you'll still be able to access all of your programmes, files, emails and data. 

It Support London

2. Never leave your pet alone
Obsessive pet lovers rejoice! You can stay at home with your pet all day long and still be able to access your work PC from home. 

IT Support London

3. Stress Relief
Taking a day working from home, or working out of the office can help to reduce stress and clear your mind. You'll also have the benefit of extra stress relief knowing that by using cloud computing all of your data is backed up and secure on the cloud. 

IT Support London

4. Flexible schedule 
Not only can you work from anywhere, but you can work at any time too. Cloud computing is ideal for flexible working and will allow you, and your employees, to fit in work around your busy schedules. 

IT Support London

5. Collaboration 
Shuffling documents (or presentations, videos, etc.) back and forth undermines productivity, instead collaborate online with all of your colleagues and never worry about forgetting the important documents for a meeting. If your computer is ever destroyed, all your data will be safe in the cloud. 

IT Support London

6.  Multi-device
Access from any internet connected device... well within reason! With most serious cloud services offering mobile apps, you’re not restricted by which device you’ve got to hand.

IT Support London

7.  From One to Many
Start small, grow big. With the Cloud, you only pay for what you use. So you've got plenty of time to turn your small start up in to a enterprising blue-chip company, the cloud can scale with you. 

IT Support London

8.  Scalability
Start small, and work your way up! All of the servers and network device resources can be increased easily and without disrupting services.  This also works in reverse and will save you a lot of money as you'll be able to choose all of the services and resources you need, and will cut out the cost of investing in a server, all the hardware, and the work required to implement it. 

IT Support London


Join in the conversation on Twitter using #ModernWorkplace, and let us know why you think Cloud Computing is amazing, and how it helps your business!

   
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Why IT Support London?
I am constantly asked why our website address is itsupportlondon.org.uk and not techsolvers.co.uk, and in fact there are many reasons why we decided to make the change. 
 
IT Support London
For a long time we did use techsolvers.co.uk, it helped us to showcase our company name, build our brand and start to rank well on Google. It's also the logical choice for customers to type in when they're trying to find us. But, it had its limitations and wasn't allowing us to rank particularly high on Google for some of our key services.

One of our main services at TechSolvers is IT Support, and in particular IT Support in London. However we knew this would be an extremely competitive key phrase to rank well on Google for, so we thought why not outsmart our competition and get our top key phrase in to our website address and give our SEO (search engine optimisation) campaign a boost. Ergo, itsupportlondon.org.uk was born!
 
We didn’t want to lose all the backlinks to TechSolvers though, so we put a 404 redirect on techsolvers.co.uk to itsupportlondon so that it directs through automatically. Doing this meant Google knew to keep the reputation of TechSolvers and apply that to the new domain name, therefore even further supporting our SEO campaign.

Google is extremely clever and is very careful and considerate with how it ranks websites for their chosen search terms, and it can be very hard to climb your way up. Essentially the more you can mention your key words and phrases,i.e. IT Support London, the more likely you are to rank highly. It even has an algorithm that can work out how well the text including the keyword or phrase is written to make sure that it is easily readable and makes sense - gone are the days of keyword stuffing! It's always much better to talk about your key words and services on specific page on your website, or on a blog post.

See what we've done here? By explaining why we have London in our domain name, we have further helped our SEO campaign to rank well (and beat our competitors) for that very key phrase.

Giving you helpful advice, whilst also helping our selves - way to go!

​Tom Mitchell
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Want to start saving money on your printer costs?

All business are continually trying to find new ways of saving money. Some sacrifice the quality of a product or service to ensure that their companies are improving their margins, whilst others would look to staff or equipment cuts. Yet we have found a money saver that we can assure provides the same quality, but at a much cheaper rate. How is this done you ask? By changing your printing methods!

Recently we were made aware of a company who were paying out over £700 per month on consumables for their printer. However they were quickly able to reduce that to just £100 per month, simply by outsourcing and using alternative devices! Once they had looked over their finances for the first quarter they realised that they are now saving over 85% on their monthly outgoings! - Amazing right?!

With this cost per page managed service, you are not only saving huge amounts of money each month but support issues are easier to resolve too. You are provided with continual free support, making it much easier if any problem were to arise. 

Not only this, but you no longer have to order the consumables for the printer. The support provider will order it in for you when supplies are running low, leaving you more time do all of the important stuff whilst at work. Less stress and less money, it really is a win win solution for your printing needs.

Still skeptical? Well, many companies don’t believe that they’re paying a cost per print with their printer, when in actual fact they are. If a black toner cartridge costs you £ 100 and you get 5,000 prints from it then it’s costing 2p per print. In general the  higher the average toner content of a print the higher the cost to print is.

View the graphic below to see the breakdown of prices.
 


By using a cost per page managed service your company will only be paying for the paper you are using, rather than the further costs that come along with owning your own printer. Not only this, but your support and maintenance is looked after by your provider, making it a time and cost effective method, and elevating plenty of unwanted stress!

For more information, contact us today
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The synergy of good coffee and wifi
As many people know, there's not many things better than enjoying a good cup of coffee in a nice, and cosy coffee shop.  There are however hundreds of coffee shops to choose from, so how do you pick the right one?
 
Well if you're anything like us,  avid users of Office 365 so that you can escape the office (click here to see our previous blog post), then a good coffee shop will be judged on it's fast, free and easy to connect to WiFi. 

This is not only great for customers, but a recent study has suggested that small retail businesses are also seeing a much higher return from offering complimentary WiFi to their customers.


In particular the survey, commissioned by Deviscape, found that providing free WiFi for customers increases:
 
  • Foot traffic
  • Time spent on premises
  • The amount customers spend

With this in mind, TechSolvers are always on hand to help any retail or business establishment improve their internet connection and speed. Just recently we have completed a network improvement project for a client of ours who has multiple coffee shop establishments across London.

Their aim was to improve the internet connection in their stores, which was a challenge in itself as each store, due to location, was limited to basic ADSL internet services. As we've previously discussed, however, the internet is now an essential service, and if customers cannot get a good connection (while they drink their coffees) they will soon find another shop for their next caffeine hit.

Whilst completing this upgrade the chain also had secondary aims such as improving support responsiveness, simplifying PCI/DSS security, trackling footfall in the shops, and potentially changing the authentication method for customers from a standard password, to having them like the clients Facebook page before being allowed full internet access.

We knew this was going to be a challenge, so we needed to find a way to make the best use of out of the services that were available.  We achieved this by rolling out Cisco Meraki Firewalls and Access Points.

The previous network design used across the storess  was that each store has 2 ADSL lines, with Firewalls configured in such a way that the second line was only ever used if the primary line had a fault i.e. the second line was for redundency.

By using the new cloud managed Meraki firewalls and access points, we configured the 2 ADSL lines, so that one was dedicated to customer WIFI, and the second for business traffic. In affect this resulted in a doubling of the available bandwidth, as now both lines are always in use, with the traffic split over them.

The new access points allowed us to install a rock steady customer Wi-Fi, which also allowed Facebook authentication and enabled the owners to track the foot fall in and around the shop.

Both of the new devices are 100% Cloud managed, giving the support team here a birds eye view of the various networks. Any fault in the system is immediately and automatically logged as a ticket in our system so that we can swiftly and efficiently deal with the issue. It also help us to stay ahead of the customer, and saves them the time of ringing to alert us of a problem. 

Finally, the Meraki devices have modules to simplify the process of making sure the networks were PCI/DSS compliant.

All in all the project was a great success, and with the new devices the client is extremely happy! Their customers now get a far better experience when using the Wi-Fi, plus any issues get picked up and resolved faster than ever. A win win, and great proof that coffee and speedy internet go perfectly hand-in-hand.
 
 
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Multi-Talented Team
Did you know our staff are not only IT experts, but also have expertise in many other fields, hobbies, industries and interests? Take one of our engineers Mahmoud for example, he flies Quadcopter Drones, or one of our Junior Engineers, Dylan, who used to be a professional Parkour athlete, or our Senior Engineer, Jason, who used to represent Team GB in Kayaking! It’s amazing to have such a mix of talents and skills across the workforce and here at TechSolvers we really embrace any out-of-the-box thinking or contributions from the team.

We’d like in particular to highlight the efforts that our engineer, Billy, recently put in to designing our new staff t-shirts and to help improve our office productivity with a new dashboard. We cannot thank him enough and are thrilled to have someone so multi-talented within our team.

Over the last year we have put a lot of time and effort into improving our branding and website, so quickly found ourselves in need of new uniforms to reflect this. Billy was very quick to offer his services, as he previously had a lot of experience designing and producing clothing for events he organises outside of work, and we were very quick to accept. Having Billy design them would obviously save us from having to outsource the work but would also enable us to have someone who knew the company well to design something we knew we would love.

When speaking about his design process Billy said “I chose a simple design for the new TechSolvers polo shirts, using the new wording and altering the logo colours slightly so that it popped nicely on a black background. I also found a nice polo shirt from my supplier which had the orange accents that complimented the logo really well”.

He also added that “It’s much nicer for the staff to have something comfortable to wear not only to the office, but especially when going out to client sites. A nice branded uniform always looks far more professional to the customer”. We couldn’t be more pleased with the new uniforms, they really help to accentuate our new branding and look very professional.

 




Billy’s talents don’t stop at design though; he is also an esteemed problem solver and developer. At TechSolvers we always aim to be as responsive and reactive to any client issues that may arise, but Billy was able to devise a system that would help us to constantly be a step ahead. When asked about his new solution he said “the Dashboard that I’ve built stemmed from an initial thought that it would be much nicer to be able to call a client as soon as their internet goes down, rather than waiting for them to call us to enquire about it. I devised a plan to put together a system that was simple yet effective, and that I would be able to achieve with my skill set. It was relatively easy to create a nice display which listed all of our clients and their current internet status, with an alarm that sounded every time our connection with the client was lost”.

Everyone quickly found the new dashboard a lifesaver, not only our staff who found it saved them time, but also our customers who were amazed how fast we were able to react to their problems. With the dashboard now in place, more possibilities were suggested. Billy then implemented a similar system which is able to monitor ~60 chain stores nationwide for one of our larger clients, without taking up too much room on the dashboard or impacting the system too much.

A few of the team here then asked if it would be possible to have an element of the dashboard monitor our phone system, to display who is currently on a call and who is available. This would help us save time performing attended transfers to see if someone is available or not, which in turn would reduce the amount of time our customers are kept on hold. Speaking about this new feature Billy said “There are many expensive dashboard solutions that you can buy to tie in with IP phone systems, but I was able to achieve it myself by using some very simple PHP code, and in turn helped to save the company some money”.

The dashboard has quickly become a vital part of TechSolvers and greatly helps us to stay a step ahead of competitors and offer a high quality service. There’s always a bit of room on the dashboard for something fun though, most recently it featured a countdown to the next Star Wars film. Which we see as vital information to have when you work in an office full of sci-fi fans! 

Big thanks to Billy, for all your support and innovative thinking. 

 
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Promoting and Championing Women in IT
At TechSolvers we’ve always been advocates of promoting female employment in the IT industry. Both the Technology and IT industries have always been very male-dominated. We feel this shouldn’t be the case, and are pleased when we get a chance to help change the balance.

Over the last few years, computing has become more prevalent in all aspects of our lives, and as the possibilities and complexity of technology grows, more and more young people are becoming interested in the IT industry, and how they can get involved. To help support them in their learning the government offers support to small businesses to help them run apprenticeship schemes. From this, we have seen a great rise in IT & Technology apprenticeships, and more excitingly an increase in women taking on IT apprenticeships.
 
When sixteen year old Freya contacted us to ask if she could start an apprenticeship with us, we were delighted, and couldn’t wait for her to join the team!

Since starting with us in early October, Freya has really taken it upon herself to get involved with the team and learn as much as she can. When asked about her new role at TechSolvers she answered, “I really like working at TechSolvers as I get to learn new things every day. The team are so nice and easy to get along with. They're all down to earth people and I love working with them. They are always helping me when I need it, and making sure I progress as much as I can in the career I have chosen”. It’s so refreshing to see how determined Freya is to forge a career in IT, and TechSolvers are here to support her all the way.
Freya - IT Apprentice

We’re so excited to see what the future holds for women in the IT industry, and can’t wait to be a part of all the success stories. One story that recently inspired us to boost our own apprenticeship scheme was the first ever female winner of the Microsoft Apprentice of the Year competition. It was such a great achievement not only for Tanya Stittle herself, but to all young women who are considering a career in IT.
When speaking about the award, Tanya said "This is such a surprise – I can’t believe it. I’m so proud to be the first female Apprentice of the Year. We need to get the word out to more girls, because generally a lot of women feel that IT is more of a male thing, but if they knew it could be the start of a successful career then they’d definitely want to."
"What I really love is the way we get to learn every day; from our training providers, from our work colleagues, it just builds your skill set more and more. And, of course, it’s always really interesting."

You can read more about her win here.

We’d like to wish Freya all the best success in her time here at TechSolvers, and encourage all young women to explore and develop their IT skills just like she has. Please contact us if you would like to discuss the opportunity of an apprenticeship at TechSolvers.  

Apprenticeships at TechSolvers
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Take the office, out of the office
As a business owner imagine a world where you can work from any location at the drop of a hat. Files are traditionally stuck at the office or on your computer at home, but the flexibility of the cloud has opened up a world of business opportunities, packaged perfectly as Office 365.
 
During the summer holidays most business owners are reluctant to be cut off from their business but with office 365 this means you have the freedom to work from any location and yet still remain in contact with co-workers, due to Hosted Exchange Email and cloud hosted document libraries in SharePoint. Any destination becomes the office, whether it’s a tropical location or simply an annual holiday trip to your favourite spot in Cornwell.
 
Now people who work from coffee shops, hotels, airports and trains can still stay connected. Remote workers such as frequent travellers, freelancers or contractors with clients in multiple locations can communicate more efficiently.
 
The cloud has revolutionised how we work and remote working is no longer simply classified as ‘working from home.’ With the help of Office 365, remote workers are now frequent travellers, sharing and syncing documents from any location, no matter where or when they are working.
 
Office 365 was developed to meet the demand of remote working, enabling teams and customers to connect and be managed efficiently. Make no mistake, remote workers are still working and can be even more productive out of the office.
 
Whilst working remotely, you can catch up with team calendars and see when colleagues are online. Collaborating is made even easier with instant message or face-to-face with video conferencing. Teams are even able to work on the same document together in real-time.
 
Office 365 comes with all apps that we know; you've got Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and the rest of the Office favourites, all connected by cloud driven features like co-authoring and video conferencing, automatic updates and uptime guarantee.
 
And best of all employees and business owners are gaining flexibility and work-life balance. Companies are seeing spikes in productivity and creativity. And everyone seems to be benefiting.

Why have I written this? Well the fact I can say it’s true after just returning from my own holiday on the Costa Brava could be a clue. ;)
 
Tom Mitchell


For more information or to get in touch, please click here 
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Why London Colney?
Whenever we get asked were our office is the response is London Colney, but often that’s not what people actually hear. Many people seem to switch off after the word “London”, leading occasionally to clients being confused. Then when we explain that London Colney is in Hertfordshire, near St Albans and Watford, they ask why and how we service our clients that are in London?
 
It’s simple really, pick up a map and you can see why we are based out in the sticks. 
London Colney IT Support
 
Based where we are we have easy access to both the M25 and the M1, combine that with very fast (15 mins) train services from both St Albans and Watford mainline stations to London, and it turns out London Colney really is the place to be. It’s this location that gives us the coverage we need. We can provide IT support to clients in Hertfordshire, we can, within an hour, get to sites in Milton Keynes, or go south of the M25, to locations like Weybridge, & via the train IT Support can be provided to clients in both central and North London.
 
So that why we picked London Colney, it puts us in a location that allows us to provide our IT Support services across Hertfordshire & London. 
 
Combine that with the fact we are able to resolve well over 90% of faults remotely, and you can hopefully see why London Colney, Hertfordshire makes sense.
 
Oh, and did I mention the cost of office space in central London vs Hertfordshire..
 
Plus we get views like this..

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OpenDNS Interview
Ok well we know this is a bit old, but this is one of a few entries from our old website that we wanted to take across to our shiny new site;

OpenDNS is a company that we here at TechSolvers love. Their service is an important layer in our clients’ defense against the harmful side of the internet.

Why do we love it? It’s simple to use, quick to setup, doesn't make protected machines slow down, but most of all helps us to reduce issues at our client sites.
OpenDNS Interview
 
How? There are many pages on the internet that would explain how OpenDNS works, but as a simple answer it blocks users from being able to access the web pages we don't want them to access. Sites that spread malware, sites that try to steal your personal details & sites that control botnets. It can also block just about any web site you want, based on what you want your users to access.

Internet Security is made easier by preventing infections, OpenDNS does just that.

As you can probably tell it's very different than anti-virus software. That deals with infections after they get onto your network and anti-virus applications slow your PC down. OpenDNS stops them before they get in, and doesn't slow your PC down.

Anyway the reason for this blog post is that our Managing Director, Tom, was interviewed by Erin from OpenDNS, and we thought it would be good to share that interview here. If you would like to read it just click the link;

http://blog.opendns.com/2011/10/10/five-questions-with-an-opendns-user-thomas-mitchell
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Malware Issues
Recently we came across a virus, not a hugely unusual occurrence, but in this case the infection was identified via IPCONFIG. It's a useful command but not one I would have expected to help with finding infections.

The client called us with a machine that was suffering from slow internet speeds. Once we identified that it was a single machine problem we knew the issue was with the PC, not the internet connection itself.

On investigation we found that when the user typed in a domain it would take 60 seconds to 2 minutes for the page to display, yet once it had displayed navigating around the site was fast. To those who know this sounds like a problem with DNS.
Malware Issues
 
Now this particular network has a manually setup IP configuration and used multiple internal DNS servers (complicated reasons for all that). The immediate thought was something in the machines config was wrong. However, after double checking every setting we could find nothing. Yet still the problem persisted.

Eventually we ran a command to show the local DNS cache, IPCONFIG /displaydns. In here we saw evidence of the issue, multiple calls to domains with completely random names, jsfwfwpqdj.com for example. Now the machine should not have been trying to find these domains and the immediate thought was a virus or botnet trying to phone home for instructions. Thankfully OpenDNS was in use and had been blocking the domains so no real harm had been done. In fact, what was happening was each time they tried to get to a web site the machine would try contacting malware sites for a minute or two. Only after having tried, and failed, would it then go to the correct website. Who knows what would have happened should it have been able to reach the infected sites!
So now we understood the issue we needed to clean up the infection, and get the machine working properly.

Anti-Virus software would not run, Malware cleaning tools wouldn't install and Safe Mode resulted in a Blue Screen of Death. Leaving only a few options.

So we turned to a trusty old Rescue CD, and booted the infected machine from this. If ran a full scan, found the problem files and fixed them.

The lesson learnt;
  • Rescue CD's do what they say on the tin
  • OpenDNS really does work, and prevents issues
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