Did you say RBSK IT Road Show?

27 01 2016

Yes, that is what we have taken to calling our group of individuals in the IT Department here at RBSK Partners, PC. Ok, so it is really just a fun name we have given ourselves.  Our IT Department is actually made up of four individuals.  Three IT Consultants: Andy Koetter, Barry Bailey & Brian McReynolds; and our IT Administrative Assistant: (Me) Jennifer Gunter.

The members of our IT Department have been making appearances all month. We began our “Road Show” by speaking at the Optimist Club Breakfast on January 7th.  Our next engagement was at the Rotary Club Luncheon Meeting on January 18th.  Our most recent appearance was on the WTRE Chamber Chat January 25th.

We are having a great time meeting new people and getting the chance to inform everyone that we at RBSK Partners do more than the typical Accounting firm. You might be surprised to know that we offer computer services as well.  Our IT Department can help with all your computer needs.

During our Road Show we have had a few questions that have been asked frequently. People want to know how long your computer should last.  Obviously not all PC’s are the same.  As a general rule of thumb, a PC used in the business world should be replaced after 4 or 5 years.  Yes, they may still be running at that time, but probably not at their top speed or as well as they once did.  The fact of the matter is that technology changes and the needs of the software running on your PC requires more resources than they used to.

RBSK IT Road Show 2Another question we were asked on our Road Show was what we thought of Windows 10. With the release of Windows 10, we see good things.  The main thing you want to think about when considering upgrading to Windows 10 is to be sure the software you use for your business is compatible.  Software companies are not always on the cutting edge as you would think.  If the software you use is compatible, you are probably safe to move up.  Microsoft brought back a lot of the look and feel of Windows 7 that we like and some of the new features offered by Windows 8 that went over well.  As with any Windows upgrade there is a bit of a learning curve.  Overall, we like it.  We would caution you to be sure to take a look at the privacy settings while upgrading to Windows 10.  With the introduction of Cortana, Windows is asking for more approval to monitor how you use your PC to better assist you.  You do have the option to restrict that monitoring.  We recommend restricting that information.

We were also asked about backups and the cloud. There was a movie preview not long ago where the couple are discussing “The Cloud”.   One of them says “Nobody understands the cloud.  It’s a mystery.”  Well, that about sums it up for most of us.  We all know it is important to back up our data.  But do we want it in the illusive cloud?  The answer to that is “Yes”!  Backing up to the cloud is actually a good thing.  If you are running a business, the safest way to be sure your business can stay up and running in the case of a disaster is to backup to the cloud.  Backing up to the cloud means you are saving your data to another location.  So if your building blows away, you can still access your data.  Your building may be gone, but not your business.  You can breathe a little easier knowing that your data is not just out there in La La Land.  The backup software companies actually go to great lengths to keep your data safe by encrypting it so that no one can just happen across it.  Only you have the ability to access your data.

The last thing on everyone’s minds was about us individually. Who we are?  What is our background?  How long have we been in the technology field?  Well I mentioned at the beginning we are calling ourselves the RBSK IT Road Show.  If you have more questions, we can bring our Road Show to you.  We would love to hear from you!

SM Jennifer

Submitted by: Jennifer Gunter

What is Ransomware?

22 12 2015

Ransomware is one of the more dangerous types of malware. It can be downloaded from a compromised website or received as an email with a link or attachment. Once executed it can lock the computer or encrypt the files (documents, spreadsheets, PDF’s & pictures) on your computer and pop-up a message saying to recover your files you need to pay a ransom through some type of online payment method.

If your files have been encrypted, you are in trouble. Usually it is not possible to unlock the files because the decryption key is stored on the cybercriminal’s server. You could pay the ransom. I DO NOT recommend doing this. It does not guarantee that the criminal will unlock your files. The other option is to restore from a backup. This is one reason you should be backing up your important files regularly.

The first step in preventing ransomware from hitting you is to be cautious browsing online. Don’t open unexpected email attachments and be cautious when clicking on a suspicious web page or link. Installing a free browser extension like Web of Trust (www.mywot.com) will help you determine which websites you can trust when doing internet searches.

Add an extra layer of protection by keeping your computer Operating System up-to-date with the latest Security patches using Microsoft Updates and have anti-virus software installed and up-to-date to help protect from the latest viruses and malware.

Backup important files regularly either with an online service or to a local backup device. When using local backup devices, keep at least three backup copies of your data, each on a different media (hard drive, flash drive, etc.) and the third at an offsite location.

Andy 2013

Submitted by Andy Koetter, RBSK IT Consultant

Holiday Schedule

25 11 2015

The Holiday Season is quickly approaching.  RBSK Partners’ offices will be closed as follows:

Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 26th; Friday, November 27th.

Christmas – Thursday, December 24th; Friday, December 25th.

New Year – Noon on Thursday, December 31st; Friday, January 1st

RBSK Partners would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


What am I going to do with all this unwanted computer equipment?

16 11 2015

If you think you can use it, use it.  If you can’t, get rid of it.

If your equipment room is anything like ours (Jake’s room) you will have a room stuffed with old PC’s, keyboards, mice, and a selection of monster monitors.

Clearing out this mess will give you back valuable space, may benefit others, and could even net you some extra cash.  Just remember: If you think you can use it, use it. If you can’t, throw it out.

Look at what you have first

For example, old keyboards and mice that are not used anymore. If they work, use them. If they don’t, it’s not worth repairing them.  You can always get a keyboard or mouse for a little of nothing. So when they fail, get rid of them.

My experience is that most spaces are crammed with things that have been taken out of service and out of sight. You know the saying Out of site; Out of mind. Separate all the usable from the unusable and arrange to dispose of the junk.

Get a dumpster and throw it all away

Tossing all the unusable junk can be beneficial. Just be careful about how you dispose of it. There are strict rules about the way you dispose of old monitors, as they contain some poisonous heavy metals. When you see how much specialist disposal companies charge to take them away, you might want to consider giving the equipment a new lease on life by passing it on to a new owner.

Donate it to a charity of your choice

Plenty of people would like to have a PC but don’t have the funds to buy one. Your local church, school or not-for-profit may need one to help with their computing needs. Again, they may not need anything powerful, and your equipment might just be faster than what they currently have.  And it’s tax deductible.

Use it in the training room

When you’re training, it only needs to work for the most part. Performance may not be a big issue.  All you want it to do is work. Outdated stock can have a rebirth in the training room. Machines can be re-imaged and used for this purpose.  The good thing is, if you wreck it completely, there’s no big loss.

Give it to an employee

Some workers do better at home. Especially when there is a deadline around the corner and being in the office is distracting. But even though it might be good to avoid traveling to the office, it might be hard to justify the expense of a second PC for those workers. Sometimes, the systems that one department finds inadequate for intensive applications may be just fine for another. Pass it on to them.

Break it down for spares parts

You never know when a spare part might just get you out of a bind. Reusing parts is good for the environment and for the pocketbook.  It might just enable a quick fix instead of having a system out of action for as long as it takes to get a new one. Having spare parts ready to use on the shelf is a good idea.  Just remember not to keep too many.

Break it down and sell the parts

Selling or giving a PC away is sometimes not the answer. Data privacy is a big issue these days.  With the availability of data recovery tools, some companies aren’t high on letting whole units go. You can still recover some of your investment by taking some components and selling them on eBay.

You’ll need to check your company’s policy on disposing of old hard disks though.

Make the most of the metal

Those old PC’s and laptops need to go somewhere.  If you have enough of them, your local scrap metal dealer may be interested.

While you’re thinking about recycling, there are companies that will buy scrap and recover the precious metals from them. The money received from this source can be used to pay for other staff equipment.

Here at RBSK Partners, we encourage recycling.  We are happy to assist by taking your old equipment and properly recycle it for you.  Give us a call for pricing or with any other recycling questions you may have.

SM Barry2

By Barry Bailey