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Must Read for QuickBooks Users!

If you use QuickBooks for your accounting and bookkeeping, then there’s one key thing you must be doing on a regular basis.  Failure to do this can result in the loss of data, months’ worth of work, and critical financial information.

At its core, QuickBooks is a database of information.  Unless you’re using the Enterprise version, the file that stores the information are what we call a ‘flat file’ database.  This means that all your data is stored in a single, proprietary database format file.

The issue is that QuickBooks files are picky.  A sudden computer shutdown, multiple users in the same file, and even large files can all lead to corruptio.  A corrupted file usually means that you are unable to access your data.

On more than one occasion we’ve had someone come to us in a panic because their QuickBooks file is corrupted.   When this happens, you have two avenues of recourse.

First, you can send the file off to Intuit who can repair your file, in most cases.  The cost for this is usually around $900.00.  Of course, there are no guarantees and this can take them days to complete.

Second, you can restore your file from a backup.  You do have a backup correct?  However, if you are not using QuickBooks backup feature, then you really do NOT have a backup.  What?  You say.  You don’t need to use QuickBooks’ built-in backup feature because your file is stored on a server that is being backed up?

Yes, I’m here to tell you that is a false sense of security.  Your file may very well be getting backed up every day, by whatever method backs up your server.  However, all this provides you with is a slightly older version of a file that is probably already corrupted, or may be soon.

You see, the QuickBooks’ built-in backup feature does more than copy your data file from one spot to another.  In the background it performs a very important set of checks and maintenance on this file.  Each time you run the backup, it performs an integrity check on the file, and does any repairs that might be necessary to prevent data corruption from ever occurring in the first place.

So, no matter what you may be doing to back up your file, our recommendation is that you regularly use the QuickBooks backup feature.  It’s perfectly fine to save these backup files on your server, or external drive, if you like.  It adds an extra layer of data protection.

You can set QuickBooks to prompt you to run a backup when you close the file.  To set this up, run a manual backup.

Use the Options to set the data integrity verification, and how often you want to be prompted to back up your file.

If you need help setting up this type of QuickBooks maintenance plan, we can assist!  Call our offices to schedule one of our Solutions Engineers to help you keep your data protected.

The ONE Thing You Must Do to Keep Your Data Safe in the Cloud. Is Your IT Guy Doing This?

How secure is your data? Cloud data storage is becoming a massive industry in this country, and many businesses and other institutions are putting their data into the cloud. Some of this data is pretty harmless. Other stuff — like hospital records, banking information, or company payrolls — are prime targets for bad actors. Is the cloud storage trade off worth it?

The short answer is yes, but only if your IT guy is encrypting your sensitive data. Every cloud storage company you talk to will claim to take top-of-the-line security measures on behalf of your data. But that, in a nutshell, highlights the problem with cloud storage. Your data is entrusted to a third party for safekeeping. It’s possible that they’d do everything in their power to safeguard your information. But bad things, like ransomware, phishing, or just plain going out of business, do happen. And when they happen, it’s not the cloud storage company whose data is on the line; it’s yours.

Even if that doesn’t occur, let’s be honest. Most of the major cloud storage companies are based in the United States, the U.K., or France, where they could be subject to NSA snooping (or questionably legal surveillance from any other government entity). Despite the best efforts of many storage companies to prevent government intrusion, your data could still be at risk, even when it’s locked up tight.

Most cloud storage companies protect your data with their own encryption, but you’ll have to find out if they are able to access the data (since they may have the keys), or not. Further, your IT provider should be instituting some additional means of encryption whenever feasible. Laptops, for example, should always be encrypted if they are used by employees. An encrypted laptop protects your data, even if the laptop is stolen.

Additionally, your IT Provider (even with Cloud-based products) should still discuss redundancy and backups with you. Most Cloud storage companies, including Microsoft and Google, do have a regular backup of your data in place. However, we also recommend that you implement an additional layer of security and use a third-party backup product as well. Not only does this give you additional control, multiple protections against failure and outages, but it also allows you to access your data if the initial storage location has a service outage or failure.

Many people have a misconception that these criminals will just use a magic program to crack your encrypted files. Decryption does exist, but it requires a lot of time and processing power. It’s far more likely that hackers will target your email or other aspects of your system and try to find out the encryption codes that way. And never forget that people are the weakest part of your IT security. Educate employees so they aren’t vulnerable to phishing scams, downloading questionable software, and visiting the wrong websites.

How to Copy or Move Appointments to a Different Outlook Calendar

If you have more than one calendar, you can easily move, or copy, appointments between them.   Click and hold the appointment you want to move and drag it over to a different calendar in the list on the left.  To copy it, do the same thing but hold down the CTRL key while you are dragging it.  You will see a “+” indicating that it will copy instead of moving the appointment.

Resize Columns and Rows in Excel 2016

To accommodate your data, you can change the size of your columns and rows! If you go to the Home tab, hit Format (in the Cells group), and then click Row Height to adjust the rows and Column Width to adjust the columns. You can then enter the exact measurement! You can also use your mouse to adjust cells by clicking and dragging the divider line to expand.  Also, if you double-click the divider between two rows or columns Excel will resize the row to fit the contents.

Choosing the Right Operating System -One of the most important business decisions you can make!

What’s good for home use isn’t for business.

Microsoft gives you a variety of choices when it comes to an Operating System for your computer.  Unfortunately, you frequently only hear about one or two. The home-based ones.

Operating Systems like Windows 10 Home and Windows 7 Home are all Operating Systems specifically designed for casual, home use. These operating systems are less expensive than their business-grade counterparts and dominate the computer world.

Unfortunately, for a reliable and stable business system you shouldn’t consider anything except one of the business-grade Operating Systems such as Windows 10 Professional.

Windows 10 Professional offers huge performance jumps over its home counterpart. Additionally, it is more resilient. If you’re sick and tired of the “Blue Screen of Death”, Illegal Operations, and lock ups and crashes, then the Professional version of Windows will be a welcome relief.

The business versions of Microsoft Windows crash infrequently, use memory more efficiently (making many tasks noticeably faster) and handle networking better than the home versions. Also, if a program does crash, there’s seldom a need to reboot the computer. Just restart the program and away you go.

More important than reliability is security. Windows Home versions provide significantly worse security than Windows Professional. Since the home versions cannot take advantage of centralized security features, such as those from your company’s server, or Microsoft’s cloud-based Active Directory, most people rely solely on a log in and password.  Even if your computer is currently prompting you for a password when you turn it on, it is a trivial task to get around it. Even a slightly experienced computer user can still get to your sensitive data!

The business versions of the operating system however, provide true security, when configured properly.  When connected to, and managed by, a Windows Server, whether in your office or in the Cloud, business computers can be locked down,  encrypted, remotely wiped (in case of loss or theft), and take advantage of other security and maintenance features that simply are not available in the home version of Windows.

The downfalls of these operating systems? First off, they cost more. Secondly, they require more experienced users to configure them (but not to use them). But the trade-offs are well worth the extra expense and effort.

The bottom line is, if you value your data and want computers that run smoothly, then you’ll need Windows Professional and a properly configured server in your office, or the Cloud.  Whether your business has 1 or 100 employees, resist the temptation to purchase the Black Friday, Back-to-school, or department-store deals.  These systems rarely include Windows Professional, placing your company and its sensitive data, at risk in this age full of ransomware, identity thieves, and cybercriminals.