The 10 best holiday gifts for the techie in your life

As the holiday season is upon us, we are all trying to finish up our holiday shopping.

Below we have rounded up some great tech holiday gifts – and if you have any questions regarding these, you can always feel free to contact your Zarr Tech team for help and support!

1.The Tile Mate

Do you know someone who is constantly misplacing their keys? This might be the perfect gift for them! The Tile Mate is a small square shaped device that attaches to your key ring and connects to your phone via Bluetooth. Whenever you can’t find your keys you simply activate the app and the tile on your keys will ring allowing you to easily locate whatever you attached it to. This also works in reverse – if you are ever looking for your phone but have your tile handy! A single Tile Mate retails for $24.99 or you can get a 4 pack for $69.99!

2.Fitness/Activity Trackers

This is not just a great gift idea for the fitness geek in your life – anyone can really benefit from activity awareness. And since the wearable tech market has really taken over in recent years, you have a ton of options available – from an affordable fitbit (starting at only $79.99) to the Apple Watch ($249) that gives you many additional features as well.

3. Pet Camera

If you are looking to splurge on a gift for the pet lover in your life, look no further. This new tech gadget has gained quite a bit of popularity over the last year and caused some hype on social media as well. Essentially, this device lets you connect your smartphone to a webcam installed in your home so that you can interact with your pet even when you are away. For $249 you can keep your furry friend company using the Pet Cube or for an additional $80 you can opt for the premium version which also lets you dispense treats while you interact with your pet.

 

 

4.Power Bank Phone Case

While this one may not sound very exciting, it is one of those incredibly useful gifts. Everyone knows that one person whose battery is always running low! You can find lots of different types of phone cases that provide an extra charge and prolong your phone’s battery life. Great options for iPhones include of course Apple’s own charging phone case, which runs at about $129, but the company Mophie also makes several different charging cases for both iPhones and some Android smartphones costing anywhere from $49.95 to $99.95 depending on your device.

 

 

 

 

5.E-reader

 

Do you know a book lover but you’re not sure which book is missing in their collection? Try an E-reader! These little devices provide instant access to huge libraries of books – and the constantly evolving technologies built into these devices make for a very comfortable reading experience while providing access to the world’s libraries. With Amazon’s Kindles and the Kobo currently leading the market, you have lots of options in terms of price range. The Kobo will cost you anywhere from $109.99 to $249.99 and Amazon’s cheapest Kindle starts at only $79.99 while their highest end model costs up to $489.99.

 

 

6. Portable Printer

 

This little gadget has been all over social media lately – so chances are this isn’t the first time you’re hearing about it. A printer so tiny that it can fit in your pocket and you can take it with you anywhere. There are lots of versions out there, with the HP Sprocket ($159), Kodak Mini Mobile ($128) and the LG Pocket ($159) being some of the most popular models.

 

 

 

7. Meditation Headband

If there is someone in your life who either loves meditation or especially someone who has trouble meditating – this is an amazing and generous gift idea. Choosemuse is a headband that reads your brain’s activity in order to gently guide your meditation through headphones – if you hear birds chirping that means you’re doing it right! A really interesting new gadget in the realm of wearable tech this can really contribute to your mental health and is definitely worth checking out if you want to splurge on a gift for someone special this season! The Choosemuse meditation headband starts at $299.

 

8.Smart Plugs

Okay – the idea of gifting a glorified electrical outlet may not sound very exciting at first – but bear with me here. Does someone you know frequently question if they turned a device at home off, like for example a curling iron or even just the lights? Or maybe you just laid down in bed and forgot to turn off the lights in the other room. With a smart plug, you can control any device that’s plugged into it directly from your phone – wherever you are. With the rising popularity of home tech, there are a ton of options available. You can get one from TP link for $39.99 or the iHome smart plug, which will cost you $54.99.

9.360° camera

A very cool new accessory for your phone camera is the Insta360 VR. This camera captures 360° images and video so you can share your full experiences. The camera can attach to your phone, but they’ve also come out with a premium model that attaches to a selfie stick that can be used by itself through an app. The Android version is available for only $151 whereas the iPhone version will cost you about $230. The premium version currently retails for $379.

 

 

 

10.Virtual Reality accessories

 

And of course, no list would be complete without mentioning the now readily available technology of virtual reality. Creating a whole new niche in the gaming world, virtual reality is a very cool and fun gift idea. If you want to splurge and really make someone’s day, Playstation’s Virtual Reality headset is an excellent choice, but pricey at $579 which does not include the PlayStation console that you need in order to use the VR headset. There are more affordable options out there that will work on your smartphone, like the Noon and Viewmaster which both cost only $29.99.

Checklist For Your Next Network Design

 

“Which model of access point is best for us?” “How do I ensure everyone will have a solid internet connection?” There are lots of important questions which need to be considered first before getting to the details of your new network design and equipment.

Here is a checklist of items that need to be addressed before the hardware question to ensure your organization gets a network that meets its long-term needs, and to help avoid unexpected costs and delays. It applies to most wireless and wired technologies, including WiFi/WLAN, cabling, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint.

1. Coverage – Where do you need coverage today and tomorrow? Provisions should also be incorporated into the design for likely coverage expansion in the future. Identify any hard-to-cover areas such as tunnels or underground, which may require special treatment.

2. Applications and Devices – What is the wireless network going to be used for? Particularly note the traffic type and bandwidth requirements. Also identify any specific features which may be required.

3. Capacity – What assumptions are you making for number of users and required bandwidth? A spec sheet that boasts “up to 200 simultaneous users” for a single access point doesn’t make any commitments about the quality of the end-user experience. Good analysis here will ensure that the wireless network delivers when you have 10 users and also when you have your anticipated peaks of 200 users.

4. Redundancy – How truly critical is this wireless network to your operations? If it is truly mission-critical then the architecture needs to sustain and self-heal through the failure of an individual switch, link or access point. Expect increased cost for this comfort.

5. Power – What are the power sources for this wireless network? Again, depending on your tolerance for downtime, you may need UPS power backup for multiple hours or days, or to bridge to generator power. Be sure to examine power loads for proper sizing, and if DC or AC UPS will better support the network.

6. Security – What security requirements does your organization or network demand? It may be PCI for financial transactions, AES for public safety and others, or something more industry specific.

7. Environmental – Where are the various network components going to be? Select appropriately hardened gear if outside or in areas inside exposed to water, dust, etc. And lastly, watch for unique mounting requirements so problems don’t surface in the installation stage.

8. Network integration – What will the network be connected to? Wireless networks almost never live in isolation. Determine how it will connect and interoperate with existing networks. Will there be new carrier requirements for Internet access, and, depending on the network type, how will users and devices be authenticated?

9. Spectrum – What is the optimal frequency choice(s)? Depending on the network type, investigate approval requirements for the wireless network for licenced spectrum like 4.9GHz or 700MHz for public safety, or 1.8GHz for utilities, or any of the narrowband frequencies in VHF/UHF/800MHz. Even licence-free spectrum like 900Mhz and 2.4GHz requires frequency planning.

10. Monitoring – How will the wireless network be monitored when it is operational? Determine your monitoring requirements to avoid network downtime, detect security breaches and have the data for capacity planning.

Zarr Tech understands that the foundation for a successful wireless network is a disciplined design approach. This should include documented requirements, definitions, site surveys, staging, acceptance testing, and installation and commissioning procedures.

The Zarr Tech Team includes professional engineers and seasoned technical service staff that is Cisco Meraki authorized and able to handle any network size and complexity. Contact us at 1-800-324-0372 to see how we can help you implement the right network for your company.

Let Zarr Tech Manage All Your Technology Vendors

With the increasing role of technology in our everyday lives and the vast amount of technology vendors that exist, it can be very challenging to choose the right vendor and maintain a relationship with them. Not all vendors or technologies are created equal and their products, services, prices and customer service levels will all vary extensively.

Doing the research to see which vendor is the best fit for your company’s needs can be extremely time consuming. Most companies deal with several vendors and to get the best out of your technology, you need to separate the champs from the chumps. That’s where Zarr Tech comes in with our vendor management service. We save your time by doing all the research to select only the best technology vendors and keep up to date with all their newest products and services. By already knowing your company’s goals, we manage the best technology vendors for your company’s specific needs.

 

We are very selective when choosing which technology vendors to work with. One of the first things we look for is if the vendor is knowledgeable and committed. What is their expertise level? Are they willing to do whatever it takes to provide you the best solution and be there when you need them most? Can they back up their claims with proven results? A lack of technological knowledge can prevent you from knowing if you are working with a knowledgeable technology company or if they’re taking you for a ride. For instance, if you need your printer fixed and the printer service company tries to upsell you, then they’re not serving you; they’re using you. If they can’t distinguish between their needs and your needs then you are working with the wrong company. When working with Zarr Tech, we’re dedicated to focusing on your needs and find technology vendors that can apply the same dedication.

 

One of the biggest benefits of using Zarr Tech to manage your vendors is the single point of contact. If you use multiple vendors for multiple solutions you already know how difficult it is to communicate with so many different account reps. By taking advantage of our vendor management, we’ve already built up the relationship with only the best vendors so we know that you’ll be getting the best customer service and pricing from them and us. This is especially important when you are having an issue and need to deal with product support. By having Zarr Tech handle all communication with the technology vendors, whenever you need assistance you will only have to deal with our friendly professional team.

 

At Zarr Tech, we take pride in becoming the only IT vendor you will ever need to call. We provide vendor relationships to meet your technology needs and work to get you the best solution at the best price. Give us a call at 1-800-324-0372 to equip your business with the best service possible for your company’s technology.

Email Safety – Best Practices

How to avoid Malware, Phishing, Viruses and More!

Even with all the communication methods available in 2017, there’s just no replacement for email. It’s still the standard communication method for almost every company out there and will likely continue to be for years to come. This is why email safety education has become crucial for any business.

Today’s cyber criminals have become very crafty in their methods to make phishing or malware emails look as legitimate as possible. The emails they send can look just like it comes from a trusted financial institution, e-commerce site, government agency, or any other service or business. As data collected by companies become more and more valuable, scammers are looking to get their hands on it – and turn a profit.

To help your company avoid malware, viruses, and ransomware sent via email, we’ve put together a list of email safety best practices:

 

  1. NEVER Open Attachments from Unknown Senders

This one is easy, but most of us are quick to hit the open attachment button on any email, especially if it looks important and creates a sense of urgency. Take a minute to confirm who the sender is and if you’re unsure, you can contact the company directly using information on account statements or through a Google search.

  1. Don’t Click on Suspicious Links

This one goes hand in hand with not opening attachments from unknown senders. You should always be careful with any email from an unknown sender. Hyperlinks can easily lead to direct download pages for executable files, infected Word documents, or other sources of malware or viruses.

  1. Never Share Personal Information in Emails

Phishing is an attempt to obtain sensitive information such as passwords or credit card details by pretending to be a trustworthy individual over email communication. Cyber criminals may pose as IT workers, coworkers or superiors and may say you need to reset your password and request personal sensitive information. Never share personal information like passwords in emails, and be very suspicious of any email asking you to do so.

  1. Change Your Password Regularly

The easiest way to prevent cybercriminals from attacking your data and systems is to change passwords. Passwords should be changed at least once every month or two. If your IT team has no standard for doing so, consider implementing them.

 

Need to Secure your Email Systems? Contact Zarr Tech at 1-800-324-0372.

 

We are located in Oakville, Ontario and offer comprehensive managed IT services. If you’re in need of some IT consultants to increase the cyber security of your systems, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Cybercriminals are not going away, so let Zarr Tech help you protect your company’s invaluable data.

“WannaCry” Ransomware 101

May 12, 2017 saw the largest global cyber attack in Internet history. The “WannaCry” ransomware attack wreaked havoc on over 300,000 computer systems around the world in over 150 countries. Typically, ransomware spreads via email as spam or phishing attacks and relies on human intervention to infect more computers. WannaCry is different because it combines ransomware with a recently stolen vulnerability that allows it to infect and spread to thousands of unpatched computers via the internet.

As a small or medium sized business owner, you may think you have nothing to worry about because most media coverage has been highlighting large companies such as FedEx, Telefonica and the NHS in Britain. However, this type of threat does not discriminate based on company size so any organization with an internet connection is at risk.

The consequences for an infected business can be devastating. This includes temporary or permanent loss of sensitive information, disruption to business operations, and/or potential costs to restore systems. Businesses should adapt a business continuity plan if they have not already. While this can’t prevent an attack altogether, it can ensure a fast and complete business recovery.

What else can your business do to protect against and prevent such an attack?

One of the most important steps to take is to backup your data. As a general rule, you should always be backing up your data anyways with a strategy such as the 3-2-1 rule:

  1. Have at least 3 copies of your data
  2. Keep these backups on 2 different media
  3. Store 1 backup offsite

Not only will this protect against a ransomware attack, but you also just never know when your system will crash, a building will burn down, or an angry employee tries to intentionally destroy data to harm your business.

Beyond backing up data, businesses should:

  • Ensure all anti-virus, anti-malware and firewall solutions are updated and set to regularly conduct scans
  • Apply the Microsoft patch for the MS17-010 SMB vulnerability dated March 14, 2017
  • Scan all incoming and outgoing emails to detect threats and filter executable files from reaching end users
  • Educate all employees on how to identify scams, malicious links, and any attempted social engineering ploys

WannaCry has slowed down drastically over the last couple days, but new versions have been detected and these types of attacks are constantly evolving.

If you have been hit with ransomware or have any questions or concerns on how to get protected, please do not hesitate to contact your IT advisors at Zarr Tech.

We are available by phone at 1-800-324-0372.

Skype for Business Now Available on Your Mac & Smartphone!

Does your business run on Mac? Have you ever wanted to video chat with a colleague or friend? Now you can with the help of Skype and Microsoft!

Enjoy the ability to share content, video chat and conference with 3 or more participants from the comfort of your office or home. With the updated version of Skype for Business there have been many enhancements made to the mobile and desktop app. Including the ability to now present PowerPoint files or video chat on the go or at a local coffee shop.

The tech behind this feature is called, (VBSS) which stands for Video Based Screen Sharing. Users will now be able to setup their devices faster and enjoy a clearer picture and audio transmission. During our tests we found the connection to making a call was very fast and held HD quality for the entire call benefiting everyone included!

Make sure to keep your eyes and ears on Microsoft and their mobile app development as they look to adding more enhancements to their Skype for Business Mobile and desktop platforms such as, call-kit integration. Not a user already? Visit Skype for Business Apps and Downloads for the apps and experience a mobile professional day!

Your trusted IT advisors at Zarr Tech are mobility experts and with the help of technology we can turn your business into a stronger and more mobile workforce.

Contact us today for more information or to get started with our free 60-minute IT consultation.

As always we are available by phone, 1 800 324 0372.

Choosing a Hard Drive Data Recovery Service

Recover your dataBusinesses of any size have come to depend on its data. In many ways, it is the basis for how a company operates. Threats to this data are imminent, and protecting data becomes a top priority for any business if they hope to prevent any serious setbacks to its operations. However, when security measures are breached, having dependable data recovery services becomes your next line of defence in preserving your data.

There are ways to get basic data recovery services from some computer stores. And that may be fine for individuals who are looking to retrieve family pictures or documents saved to their laptop. But for businesses who rely on its data as an essential part of running their company, basic data recovery is not enough. You require a high level of data recovery service to ensure that your business is protected and you can carry on operations as usual.

Dell Hard Drive Data Recovery Service

Hard drive failures are something businesses shouldn’t necessarily expect, but should certainly prepare for. Zarr Tech is able to implement Dell recovery services for all clients who want to be prepared should a hard drive failure occur. This can happen as a result of many different circumstances, including some kind of flooding or office fire, as well as technical issues. Read more

Why Are Companies Hiring Managed IT Service Providers?

managed IT servicesTechnology has infiltrated the workplace and forever altered the way business is conducted. This has pushed IT to the forefront of any business operation, forcing companies to find ways to keep up with the rapidly evolving nature of technology. But for many small businesses, attempting to keep up with the changing technology can prove costly, and not keeping up even more so. The solution for many of these businesses has been to utilize managed IT service providers.

What Does “Managed IT Service” Mean?

Businesses want to always be on top of or ahead of the game when it comes to the implementation and usage of technology. However, they also must consider cost, particularly if they are a small- or mid-sized business. Managed IT services allows for businesses to take advantage of all of the services they would receive should they employ a full time IT professional, but they get those services at a monthly rate. Read more

Should You Upgrade to Windows 10 Now? – Pros and Cons

Windows 10It was just last year that Microsoft introduced Windows 10, its latest operating system (OS). For those operating on Windows 8.1, this meant the option to upgrade to the most recent version and all the frills that come with that. But upgrading to Windows 10 isn’t necessarily mandatory; at least it hasn’t been traditionally. And everyone has his or her own preference when it comes to which system he or she like best or is most comfortable with.

With this version of Windows, Microsoft has been a bit more insistent about users upgrading. They have made the OS “recommended,” meaning the files are automatically downloaded to user’s hard drive, although permission must still be given to accept the end user license agreement (EULA) which starts the installation. With that said, there are reasons for and against immediately upgrading to Windows 10. Read more

Advantage of On-Demand IT Tech Services for Small Businesses

tech support servicesBusinesses nowadays fully appreciate the need and importance of IT. Even for small businesses, the role of IT is vital to the success of their company. And even though they may not have the resources to hire full-time IT staff, the importance of being able to manage IT doesn’t diminish.

For small businesses looking to still efficiently manage its IT, on-demand tech support is an effective option. In addition to saving on costs, on-demand tech support also has many different benefits. Read more