As of September 30, 2013, IT By Mike will no longer be serving the DC area with onsite services (remote work will continue for existing clients and will be considered for new clients). If you are a small business in the Portland area, and in need of the services offered, please do not hesitate to get in touch!
Issues with your existing binding? Reverted a snapshot or migrated something or other? Thinking you need to bind to another domain or enter "workgroup" mode, restart, and then rebind (and restart again) because Windows requires you to "change" the domain you're pointing to? I've got you covered.
If bound to example.com, simply attempt to bind to example (no .com). It should resolve properly as example.com and tricsk Windows into thinking you're switching domains so you can proceed with one fewer restart.
Having migrated a handful of clients to new ISPs or servers, I've found one of the trickier parts to be finding out the correct DNS provided them. Often a technician will provide incorrect information or not provide it at all. Also, ISPs are notorious for providing poor DNS service and taking it upon themselves to redirect your to a company-owned site if they can't find the site you need.
Enter public DNS servers. No more hunting around for correct values, worrying about redirection (read: hijacking), or anything of that sort. The following are free services that work, are fast, and you should be using:
IT by Mike is now a member of the Microsoft Partner Network. This will enable us to provide our clients with the latest updates, best practices, and software solutions available. It also serves as a method to reach new clientele, and keep up-to-date on the latest available training and certifications. While already more than qualified for your IT needs, certifications will provide you with an extra bit of assurance that you've got the right guy for the job.
Since February, we have been working with Oculus for desktop, server, and telephone support. Jumping right into it, an ISP change was performed in my first few days. Scheduled over a weekend and at regular rates since that's the preferred time of work for us, their business didn't even hiccup and saved thousands over having the work performed by their existing IT provider. Since then, they've been supported with the basics of any small business, while enjoying the benefits of "the human touch" that larger IT support firms cannot offer.
Lori Graham of Lori Graham Design, has been kind enough to supply me with my first customer testimonial. Check it out! Lori Graham Design was my first client, and the reason I started this company; I was sick and tired of hearing of their IT woes.
Over the first few months of working with them, several major faults were found in their IT plan and remedied: Overhauled their backup plan, which was not working at all; secured their phone system, which was open to fraud; patched their e-mail server, which was not scanning for spam or viruses; created a new website, which will be unveiled shortly, and countless other small tasks that go with being a small business in an increasingly connected world.
I'm happy to announce a new client as of last month. WISPC was a new business in need of some general IT help. Over some coffee and many e-mails, I was able to train them well enough to actually create their own site! In addition to tweaking the site on the back-end here and there, I did some basic graphic design and document conversion.
There are a number of reasons why your Windows PC may slow down with age, but I'm not going to use this post to explain why; it just happens. What can you do to combat old age? The following, which I recently performed on a four year old laptop I received from one of my clients. Before, it was hardly usable. After, it's as good as new. Most IT professionals will simply tell you to format the hard drive and start from scratch, which will work, but will also cause you to lose all of your data unless you've backed it up or had your hard drive partitioned correctly in the first place (chances are you didn't order it from Dell like this and you didn't do it yourself). You'll also then be faced with reinstalling all your programs. If that sounds painful and like something you'd like to avoid, read on:
Note: This guide was written specifically for Windows XP, but the basic ideas and locations of most programs on newer and older Windows operating systems are the same.
- Remove old programs. This can be done by going to Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel. Locate anything you know of that you haven't used in a while and uninstall it. To further clean up, contact a professional who can recognize the multitude of unnecessary applications in the list. This not only frees hard disk space, but likely speeds up your boot process by removing applications that start with Windows to monitor for updates and inputs.
- Run a spyware removal tool. Both Spybot Search & Destroy and Ad-Aware will do the job here. The web is a dangerous place, and through the many security holes in operating systems and software over the years, malicious software (malware) can infect your machine and slow it down. These are not viruses per se, but they typically aren't up to any good. Each respective program will guide you through the process of safely removing items.
- Run a virus scan. If you run one regularly, ensure your virus definition is up to date, and skip this. If you don't, go ahead, and at the very least, install a free tool for a one-time scan. AVG Free is my favored free tool. As with the spyware removal tools, this software will guide you safely through the steps necessary to clean your machine.
- Run Disk Cleanup. Most applications, and the operating system included, create temporary files in various places and don't clean up after themselves, which can really eat up your storage space. Running this tool will delete those temporary/unused files, compress old, unused files, and even empty your recycling bin, allowing you to regain your once "lost" disk space.
- Defragment. Hard drives are basically a collection of fancy vinyl records that are able to store songs in broken-up pieces. The problem, with regular use, is you're moving and removing these bits and pieces of songs (data) all the time to and from various "records" in your collection. Your hard drive is smart enough to know where all the pieces of a "song" may reside across all of your records, but it is much more efficient to have it all in one place. To put all the pieces back into an efficient formation, you need to defragment your hard drive.
- Run CHKDSK /F. As smart as hard drive controllers are, they are always at risk from errors and bad data. Unfortunately, this can greatly slow performance. Fortunately, Windows has a built-in function called CHKDSK that can find these problems and fix them. If you're old-fashioned, you can run the command from the command prompt, but most users ought to follow the steps outlined in the link provided.
- Run MSCONFIG. This final step is bit more advanced and is really "the cherry on top" of this cleaning process. If you're not particularly tech-savvy, skip this step or contact a professional to help, as it is incredibly powerful, and incredibly easy to cause harm with. MSCONFIG is a tool built-in to Windows that wields great power in the hands of a skilled user; it not only allows you to greatly speed up your boot process and general computing by disabling unnecessary programs, but it can also be used to solve hardware or software conflicts.
After having followed those steps and rebooting, you should find your machine performing quite a bit better than before. If it is not, you likely have another issue and should contact a professional for help. If you have found this guide particularly useful or have anything to add to it, please leave a comment.
Need a quick primer for the hottest business tech trends as we move into 2010? The following are at the top of my radar:
- Cloud computing - More and more of our work will take place in the ether. The idea here is if you can pay someone else to hold your data, you can reduce your infrastructure costs even more. Most consumers are already using the cloud on a daily basis [and don't know it]; this is the year of the enterprise.
- Mobile computing - Smart-phones will finally begin receiving business-capable apps, further blurring the lines between what is a computer and what is a phone.
- Collaboration software - Coupled rather closely with cloud computing and the whole "we don't need no stinkin' servers" mentality, there will be a great push away from individual silos of information and applications, and to more centralized, multi-user friendly applications.
- Tablet PCs - Will the industry get them right this time around (they have attempted at the start of each of the previous two decades, and failed)? The technology is there, but is the market?