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Published 14th May 2015

Due for release in July 2015, Microsoft is not upgrading Windows 8 but instead are offering their new operating system as a free upgrade for new or existing Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year. Once the device is upgraded to windows 10 Microsoft will continue to keep it up to date for the supported lifetime of the device, keeping it more secure and will automatically deliver updates when they are ready directly to your device. (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/about)

What’s new then?

The start menu is back where it should be and the navigation is much easier to master to ensure you do not need to spend an eternity learning how to use it. There is a two-factor authentication (2FA) as default, which Microsoft believes will prevent most phishing attacks or breaches.

Cortana - The built in digital assistant

The key features of cortana is the ability to find things within your PC, keep track of your calendar, can even tell you jokes. Apparently the more the assistant helps you out the more it learns about you and the better more competent assistant it becomes.

Cortana has the ability to recognise the natural voice, will answer questions using referenced information from BING, will chat and do things for you. You do require a microphone to do this otherwise you can type your instructions in. Cortana's notebook is where it can keep track of all the things you like and can be used to tell it about favourite interests, places and when you do not want to be disturbed.

Project Spartan 

The new built in browser which replaces internet explorer. It is the only browser that offers the annotation functionality to take notes, write, doodle and highlight directly onto webpages. It also provides the option of allowing you to read articles later by saving the items in a hub. Another new feature is being able to change the reading style of the webpage you are viewing in an easy to read layout that is free of adverts, and also save your favourite webpages to read off line later.

Xbox app - preloaded - the app collects all games played on any Xbox or Windows 10 device, a friends list and an activity fee, users will be able to record sessions and share them across the Xbox network. Metro Apps are still available but you are not forced to use these as in Windows 8. It also has a check box that lets you opt for the 'never show me the Metro interface').

Published 8th May 2015

Gigabyte bios chip

The BIOS (Basic Input/output system) despite is modest name, does a huge amount of work to make sure your computer starts. The BIOS is a set of programmed routines built into the motherboard that operates below core software and is responsible for:-

  • Performing a power-on-self-test (POST) which is a set of diagnostic routines and system checks to verify the integrity of all the components within the computer, it then initialises and tests the hardware and if no errors are found will then

  • Load the Operating System - starts the boot loader from a storage device (i.e. Hard disk drives, USB drives).

  • Runs programmed routines that allow the operating system to communicate with the keyboard, monitor the serial and parallel ports.

  • Loads other BIOS routines - on graphics cards, network cards and controller cards on hard drives.

The BIOS software has to be re-writeable as occasionally (but not very often) it may need updating for bug fixes or to be reconfigured to support new hardware additions. Because the BIOS operates beneath core software, it cannot be scanned by security and anti-virus products, making it vulnerable to external attack. Here Malware can remain live and undetected even if the operating system were to be wiped and re-installed. .

The BIOS can be attacked through phishing emails which can deceptively provide access administration privileges. The best ways to prevent a BIOS infection is to take care opening email attachments or email with links asking you to 'click here' or click links on websites that are full of advertisements).

Published 6th May 2015

server300415

A business that has invested in a Server already understands the importance of uninterrupted business operations by keeping their data safe and accessible

To ensure our customers maintain this level of security and continuity we advise subscribing to our Server maintenance plan. This is the least painful and least costly way of ensuring the reliability of your server, as the maintenance procedures identify any known mitigating risks that could compromise the lifespan of your machine

Our Server Maintenance plan ensures operational continuity by the daily monitoring of server activities - such as:

  • Core temperature.- A server works hard and will get hot, this machine requires dedicated cooling (if a server overheats it can quickly damage the Server

  • Load the Operating System - starts the boot loader from a storage device (i.e. Hard disk drives, USB drives).

  • Updates and patches - to monitor resource usage and connection speed as if these are not current, it can compromise the systems security leaving it vulnerable to malware which will exploit these flaws.

  • Lifespan of components particularly their ability to manage updates, patches and new versions of software.

A server, similar to any piece of machinery or equipment, requires regular attention and maintenance, particularly as it is operating for very long periods of time. Failure, faults and damage (both intentional and unintentional) can occur and there can always be unexpected power cuts or surges that can cause damage .

A maintenance plan ensures that there are solid daily backup routines that complete properly and that the most recent copy of all critical data is stored safely off-site.

Do not wait for the damage to be done, It is a known fact that most companies who experience complete data loss (and cannot resume operations for more than ten days) are not likely to survive due to the financial losses and the impact data loss has on their company reputation. (Strategic research institute 2015).

 

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