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Now is the Time for Low Cost, High Impact System Upgrades!

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

How old is your existing computer? Did you purchase it longer than three or four years ago? If you haven’t purchased a new computer for yourself, new servers, or new systems for your office, it’s time to take a good look at what’s available! Technology has advanced considerably over recent years and prices have come down at the same time. There are some amazing deals available out there for system upgrades.

Take the Dell Optiplex 780, for example. Here are a few specs from a mid-range Dell system selling for only $750. But don’t let the mid-range category fool you, compared to older computers this is a beast!

  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Intel® Core™ 2 Quad 2.6 GHz Processor
  • 4 GB System Memory (RAM)
  • 160GB 7,200 RPM SATA, Hard Drive

Now, let’s compare this to a very popular system being sold by Dell in 2006 for around the same price range, the Dell Dimension 3100. These systems were very popular, and we still run across many offices with these systems still running today. How does it stack up to the Optiplex 780? Here are some specs from the 3100:

  • Windows XP Professional
  • Pentium 4 3.0 GHz Single Core Processor
  • 512 MB System Memory (RAM)
  • 80GB Hard Drive

The processor on the older 3100 system took 231 seconds to do the same office task that the new 780 system can do in only 114 seconds. Also keep in mind that the new 780 has FOUR cores, and that same task can be performed four times in the same span of time as the 3100 is cranking away on a single task. WOW, now there’s an amazing difference. This is the type of productivity increase that should not be ignored. With every computer in an office running tasks twice as fast, and capable of running 4 times as many tasks at once, it’s easy to see how an entire company can realize a massive jump in productivity after a minimal investment in new computer systems.

Some other benefits: Windows 7 is far more stable than Windows XP, which means fewer crashes and less troubleshooting to contend with. Also, any time a new system is setup and configured, you have an opportunity to clean out old junk files from the previous system that have been slowing you down. There’s also an opportunity to install the latest anti-virus and make sure that software is configured correctly for optimal performance. Finally, let’s not forget about Office 2010. If you’re upgrading computers, it’s probably a good idea to dump that old version of Office 2003 and get the latest and greatest, Office 2010. This software is packed with new features that make it easier and faster to compose and share documents.

The same increase in productivity, speed, and reliability also carries through to the latest laptops and servers on the market. New office technology is very affordable right now and will work wonders for any office of any size. We can help you pick out and customize the system that is right for you. Several important factors to consider include type of processor, hard drive size, network card, and operating system depending on where and how you will use the computer.

When deadlines matter and competition is tight, it’s important to provide yourself and your employees with the latest tools if you want to be successful. Let my PC Techs provide your office with a free, expert consultation. We can help you identify the best use of your yearly technology budget to make meaningful purchases that will increase productivity and save time and money. Call (602) 456-0150 to setup your free consultation today.

Protecting Point of Sale Systems from Costly Downtime

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Point of Sale SystemWe do work for several restaurants and retail stores here in Phoenix, Arizona. These shops are all using windows based point of sale systems. While the software and database that run on the computers to transact credit card payments and process menu items are highly customized and supported by the franchise in most cases, the underlying operating system and hardware is not.

We have learned a lot about these systems and can say with certainty that the biggest issues we have run into are lack of proper backups and lack of spare hardware. When a point of sale system goes down for a store, especially a busy store, it is NO FUN. Employees need to process payments manually by hand and write out paper receipts. As you can imagine, the slowdown at the register does a lot to aggravate customers and employees alike. But there are three things that you can do as a retail store business owner to minimize downtime in the event of a system crash.

1. Perform regular system maintenance

Hiring a firm like my PC Techs to regularly maintain your equipment each month can save you from several hours worth of headache and hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost sales. Our technicians will visit your store and examine your systems for irregular performance. System errors, faulty hardware, failing hard drives, botched OS updates, and corrupted data can, in many cases, be identified and corrected before it becomes a larger problem. Dust can be cleaned out (the largest cause of hardware failure), and parts inspected. Unnecessary programs can be removed and system performance improved. The best part of this scenario, the repairs can be performed before or after regular hours, so customers never experience delay.

2. Perform regular, complete data backups

Usually during the same time as the system maintenance, our technicians can perform a complete data backup of all of your POS systems. This is important. When a hard drive crashes, you want to get your system back online as quickly as possible. To rebuild an entire system, restore data from on off site repository, and get all the hardware and software working correctly could take many hours. With a complete system backup, it could be as simple as popping in the right piece of replacement hardware and running a 30 minute recovery.

3. Identify and build an inventory of replacement parts

When a system failure happens, recovery time can be improved considerably when the right spare parts are kept on hand. Rather than buying hard to find computer equipment online, and waiting for it to be shipped, a replacement part can be obtained from storage and quickly installed to replace the broken component. That part can later be replaced to storage, so you always have a backup on hand for the next time disaster strikes.

When you think about the security of your data and your ability to transact business, keep in mind your local computer experts and ways that they can work with you to help improve the reliability of your computer operations. For help with the maintenance and emergency support of your POS systems, contact my PC Techs today. (602) 456-0150.

Faster computers power faster business growth

Monday, September 13th, 2010

The modern office is definitely an amazing thing to watch. Emailing, scanning, printing, digital document processing, online database systems, more. What isn’t done via computer in today’s office? As a business owner or manager in charge of running an office, it’s important to remember that productivity in a digital office is often directly tied to the computers that power the office. Office productivity can be boosted significantly with simple technology upgrades. When is the last time the computer systems in your office were upgraded? What about the network? ISP? Accessories, such as printers, scanners, copiers? How about recently added mobile computing technologies (laptops, smartphones)?

Information SuperhighwayIt is important for your office to stay up to date with the latest technologies. When humans using computers power the majority of the operations in your office, it makes sense that faster computers will allow for faster work and increased productivity. Computers that have become old and slow due to age act as a handicap to your employees, and will hold them back from performing at higher levels. In addition, the speed factor is not the only negative that comes from using old technology. Older computers, networks and accessories are more prone to fail, causing office staff to take time away from work to focus on bugs, viruses, errors, and repairs.

Every office should maintain a reasonable technology budget that allocates a reasonable amount of money to spend, every year, on technology upgrades. When planning this budget, you should go beyond simply looking to replace computers that break. You should be looking to make upgrades that will increase office productivity. Simple things like replacing still working old computers with faster units, installing faster printers, giving employees access to email while in the field via laptops or smartphones. In addition to upgrades, your budget should include regular maintenance. A technician should visit on a regular basis, as often as once per week. Your technician should keep your computers updated, solve minor errors, and perform cleanup tasks to increase performance. That will limit the amount of time office staff must spend fiddling with computers and will allow them to focus on their work.

Ultimately, faster computers in your office will allow your office to perform more efficiently. You will process more work and, as a result, your business will have the capacity to grow further and faster than ever before.

Effective Blogging for Your Business

Friday, July 30th, 2010

As a business owner, you were probably quick to identify the need for a properly designed and well maintained company website, one that will provide your business with affordable marketing opportunities, help increase sales, and generate new business. You may have gone one step further, establishing a blog with the hopes that frequent posting to the blog will lead to increased exposure of your products and services to new clients. Blogs are invaluable tools for company employees, allowing them to post new articles, videos, press releases, and pages to a website. However, very few businesses are given proper advice or support when it comes to efficient ways to use a blog for business growth, sales, and lead generation.

There is a clear divide that most businesses face when it comes to internet marketing. Most companies find themselves, knowingly or not, increasing the amount of time and effort spent marketing online without generating any significant increase in relevant traffic that will result in new sales. This problem is mostly due to the fragmentation of the website services industry. When you hire a website design and development firm, there is a very good chance that the firm does not understand the importance of internet marketing. They may setup your blog in such a way that it’s practically worthless for the real power and purpose of blogging, which is website traffic and lead generation. Conversely, when employing an internet marketing solution or trying to do it internally, many of the people actually working on your online marketing lack proper website design and web development knowledge. You may, again, find yourself with blog content that does nothing more than take up space and does not result in exposure for your business.

The biggest culprits behind wasted blogging efforts are the online, free blog solutions. Many companies are either sold a free solution by improperly trained website and internet marketing companies or ask employees to establish them, not realizing the loss of productivity that will result. Free blog solutions lack several key benefits that properly developed and integrated blogs do not. Important tools, such as automatic link distribution and site cross-linking are typically not available. The bulk of your product, services, and marketing materials are generally not visible to visitors who click through to read an article on an external blog. Additionally, the majority of free blogs are hosted outside of the company domain and fail to provide fresh content associated with your website, which is extremely important and valuable for a company when it comes to search engine positioning.

Secondary blogs on free solutions, established outside of your company domain with alternative content, can be beneficial for SEO and page rank purposes. However, the primary blog for your business should always be properly hosted on your own website domain, linked correctly from your website navigation, and completely integrated into your existing website. If the URL to your website starts with a URL similar to www.azmassageforwellness.com, your main company blog should be referenced from within a sub-directory of that site, such as www.azmassageforwellness.com/blog. It should also be developed using recent, feature-rich blogging solutions such as the open source blog application WordPress. Finally, the blog should be a total integration, with blog pages sharing few differences in heading, navigation, and footer from your main website. Website developers that realize the importance of page rank, relevancy and online marketing will follow these guidelines to integrate blog solutions for your company that provide a deep set of features and support easy to use Plugins for SEO and link automation.

The reason all of this is important deals with the way search engines index and rank your website. When going through the pages on your site, a properly integrated blog appears to a search engine as part of your website. Every post that is made through the blog becomes an additional page of content for ranking purposes. Search engines love fresh content. The more fresh content you have, the more relevant your website appears to search engines and you will rank higher in search results and generate more new business as a result. It takes time, but after 100 or 200 good blog posts, your website should begin to see some significant benefit in search engines.

There are additional factors to consider when posting to a blog, outside the scope of this article, which are important to consider. A good internet marketing solution will provide you with training and will support your efforts by identifying effective keywords to use in posts. You should be provided tips that will help establish your blog in the community, giving you recognition as an expert in your field. Your website team should help you to identify ways to distribute your content and get your blog posts linked out to other websites. Finally, there should be a good level of customer support and interaction between you and the website team that designed your blog, so that you understand the most effective ways to utilize your blog and get the most value from your time invested.

A properly developed and utilized blog can be the most effective tool available for you to generate traffic and increase search engine positioning for your website. If you haven’t already, be sure to search for and consult with a comprehensive website design, development, and internet marketing firm. One that can provide a variety of effective solutions that work together to increase sales for your business.


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