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Security is important for any size business and an issue that many struggle with. For small to medium sized businesses, there are numerous security options, one being Exchange Online Protection, an online email security platform which can prove to be really effective if adopted in your business. This service, commonly found in Microsoft Office 365 plans could be beneficial for many companies.
This article is an overview of Microsoft's Exchange Online Protection (EOP).
What exactly is EOP? EOP is an online, hosted email security solution. Its job is to filter out spam and remove malicious software and malware from emails. It costs USD$1.00 per user/account per month, and is included for free in Exchange Online and Office 365 for business subscription packages.
This cloud based service can be accessed and administered through a Web-based console - the Exchange Administration Centre - which allows you to manage filters, manage tasks and add or delete users. Administrators can also access reports and manage quarantined files.
How EOP works Think of EOP as an extra layer of email based security. It sits before your network and scans emails, deleting viruses and spam before they actually enter your network and can potentially damage your systems. It will also scan emails that go out of the organization for malicious content before they reach other inboxes or networks.
Three major benefits of EOP Using an email security solution like EOP can provide businesses of all sizes with many benefits. Here are three:
- Enhanced security - According to Microsoft, EOP can detect 100% of known viruses and up to 99% of known spam, which translates to a system that is almost fully secure from a wide variety of email threats.
- Easy to manage - Because this is a cloud-based solution, users can access administration panels from their browser. Of course, if you work with an IT partner, it's even easier to manage, as they can manage this for you.
- Predictability & reliability - As with most other cloud solutions, the cost is either built into your Office 365 subscription or is USD$1.00 per account per month. This means there are no unpredictable costs. Beyond that, Microsoft states there is a near 100% uptime of this program, so you know it is always working.
The PDF (Portable Document Format) is one of the more ubiquitous file types in business. Many online brochures, documents, etc. are posted in this format, largely because the format captures all formatting and layout, allowing files to be presented exactly how they would be printed, and opened by users on nearly any system. If you are sending Microsoft Word documents to customers or other people, it is often a good idea to save these files as PDFs.
Here's how you can save Microsoft Word 2010 and 2013 documents as PDFs.
Saving a Word 2010 document as a PDF
- Create and format the document as you would like the reader to see it if it were to be printed.
- Click File followed by Save As.
- Enter a name for the file in the Filename box. Be sure the name is easy to read and understandable. A bunch of numbers and unintelligible words will likely decrease the chances of the file being opened, or passing spam filters if emailed.
- Click on Save as type and select PDF.
- Select either Standard (for print and publishing online) or Minimum (for publishing online).
- Click Save.
- Create and format the document as you would like the reader to see it if it were to be printed.
- Click File followed by Export.
- Select Create PDF/XPS from the menu that opens.
- Click Publish.
Things to remember when creating PDFs Here are three important things to remember when creating PDFs in Word:
- They are not meant to be edited. Because PDFs capture the formatting and layout of a document, they are often seen to be the final versions. As such, they are fairly hard to edit. It is better to ensure that the document is exactly what you want and error free before creating a PDF.
- The simplest way to edit. The easiest way to edit a PDF is to actually edit the original Word document and then re-save it as a PDF. You can even use the same name, just confirm that you would like to replace the existing file. If this file has been uploaded to a website, you may want to re-upload it to ensure the correct version is online.
- You can open PDFs and convert them to Word documents. To do this in Word 2013 select File, Open and select the PDF you would like to open. This should convert the document and open it with all images and content. Beware that formatting may be off or inconsistent and will likely need some work to make it readable or presentable.
- Be sure to open and check the PDF before sending. Take a look for any formatting issues or problems with spacing and layout. The file should look exactly the same as the Word document.
Cloud storage services, like Microsoft's SkyDrive, have become an important part of computing. By storing files in one of these programs, we can access them from nearly any device that has an Internet connection. While this is great news, accessing a file from a mobile device on a data plan could use an extraordinary amount of data up. Microsoft has recently announced some new features of both Windows 8.1 and SkyDrive to combat this.
With the upcoming release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has noted that there will be deep integration between this platform and their cloud based storage system SkyDrive. Because many users access SkyDrive files from their mobile devices, these changes should also help reduce the amount of bandwidth used. Here's an overview of the three new features the SkyDrive app for Windows 8.1 will have:
1. A new way to access files In the current version of SkyDrive, when you need to access a file on a mobile device, it is usually downloaded to your device's hard drive. Downloading to a device works for small files, but most phones and tablets lack the storage of desktops, which makes accessing larger files a bit of an issue.
A solution to this will be implemented with Windows 8.1, and that is to use what Microsoft calls 'placeholder' files. These files look exactly like normal files and folders, with a name, thumbnail and some basic information. They can be moved, renamed and copied just like normal files. The difference is that the full file isn't actually there. It's only downloaded when you actually open it.
According to Microsoft, a SkyDrive Account with 100GB worth of files will have all of these files available on any Windows 8.1 device. With the use of this new file structure, the total hard-disk space needed on a device would be around 5GB. Of course, if you open all 100GB of files, they will be downloaded and take up 100GB of storage, but the idea is you will have access to all of your files from your device at a fraction of the total hard drive space requirement.
2. Improved offline access There are times when you will need to access a file on your SkyDrive, but don't have Internet access. With the SkyDrive app for Windows 8.1, users will be able to mark files and folders they want to be available offline.
You will be able to open, edit and save files you have designated to be available offline, and when you do connect to the Internet again, the edits and changes will be synced across all devices.
3. File management from Windows 8.1 Many Windows apps, like Outlook, have a function called file picker which allows you to open, edit and save files from within the app. With Windows 8.1, you will be able to select to save files directly to SkyDrive from within the app. For example, if a colleague sends you a report in Outlook, you will be able to save it directly to SkyDrive from within Outlook. The interesting thing about this is that you don't have to be online to do this, the file will save when you next go online.
If you are using the desktop version of 8.1, SkyDrive files will show up just like regular files on your File Explorer and any files added will be synced when you have an Internet connection. Should you loose connection while uploading it will resume when you next connect.
The final new feature is related to the Search function of Windows. In Windows 8, when you search for files those stored in SkyDrive were left out by default. Windows 8.1 will bring about increased Search capabilities and will return relevant files stored in SkyDrive. But that's not all, as files will also show up with an advanced preview. For example if a search result includes a document stored in SkyDrive, the first few lines of text will be displayed in the results along with the name of the file.
When Windows 8.1 is released you can look forward to a more functional SkyDrive. One which should help make your job easier, especially if you also use a Windows 8.1 mobile device. If you are interested in learning more about the update and how you can upgrade to Windows 8.1, contact us today.
When it comes to running a successful business, having an Internet presence is now viewed as a must. While having a website is a good start, it too isn't always enough. You also need to be visible and active on social media. A presence on social media that is active has many benefits, the biggest being brand exposure. If entered into in the right way, you could even see an increase in where your business shows up in search results.
If you are looking to harness the power of social media and potentially increase your ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) here are five tips on how you can do so.
1. Relevant & interesting content When people look at websites and social media profiles, they are usually looking for specific information. When it comes to businesses, most people look at social media profiles to get a better glimpse into what exactly a company does and how they interact with the online world around them.
It is guaranteed that an interested user will look at your About page, so it is a good idea to include information about your company and what you do in this section. This is a great place to use keywords that usually don't fit well into the newsfeed. Try thinking like a customer and asking yourself, "What keywords would I type in a search engine to find my company?" Create a list and try to work them into the Description and About sections of all social media profiles you use.
Because these sections aren't set in stone, you can, and should, update them on a fairly regular basis. If you notice that certain keywords are becoming more popular, or users are using different keywords, update your content to match this. The key here is to try and always be aware of what information your customers - potential and otherwise - are looking for.
2. Promote & maintain discussions Search giant Google has publicly acknowledged that part of their advanced search algorithms have been written to look for social media pages and accounts that have discussion and commentary. In other words: If you create content that promotes discussion, there is a higher chance that your site will feature higher in search results.
It's important to remember that social media is a two-way street. When you post content that starts a discussion, you should be an active member of that conversation or debate. Try prompting users to explain their ideas and comments, or ask more questions to keep the discussion going.
3. Audit all of your links Links have become an important part of the Internet and social media. For an effective strategy, social media needs to be linked to your main Web presence - your website. This can be done by putting a link in your contact information and in your About sections. It is also acceptable to put links in some posts or tweets, as long as they are relevant to what you do. i.e., a post that tells users to check out your new website or page.
The reason for this is because search engines don't just look at websites for results anymore, they also look at social media and so much more. If you can find a way to show these engines that your profiles and site are linked, you should see a stronger overall presence in search results.
There is one caveat with links however: If you post a comment about something unrelated to what you do that includes a link to your website, this can be seen as a negative form of link building and you could end up being punished in search results. To that end, it is a good idea to go over your profiles and make sure all links work, and make sense. By having working links that are appropriate, you could see an increase in your location in search results.
4. Location! Location! Location! For many small to medium businesses physical location is still an incredibly important aspect of your online presence. You should make sure that you include your physical address, contact information and regional location. If possible, it is a good idea to include geo-location in your posts. For example, when creating a post in Facebook, press the button that looks like a pin in the bottom of the post window. This will add your location to the post.
The reason for this can be found in the way people search for businesses. Now, when people are looking for a business they usually conduct a local search i.e., printer in Denver which will return similar businesses in their local area. If you have your location on your social media profiles, the chances of you showing up in local searches is increased.
5. Be realistic While social media is important, it's not the be-all and end-all. In order to increase your search rank, you will need to work hard on your social media campaign. Posting relevant, interesting content on a regular basis and keeping conversations going takes time. Beyond that, you can't expect immediate results. It could take months or longer to see an increase, and even then it may only be slight, especially if you operate in a highly competitive industry.
While your rank may not improve in leaps and bounds, a solid social media presence will bring about an expanded brand awareness overall. Combine this with other business aspects, like excellent customer service, and you could also see increased loyalty and sales. If you would like to learn more about social media and how it can help your brand, please contact us today.
Microsoft Office is the world's most popular office productivity suite. The cloud based version, Office 365, is quickly becoming the go-to solution for small to medium businesses. One of the reasons for this is the stellar programs that come with it which allow for increased productivity and collaboration. Take for example OneNote - Microsoft's collaboration and note based tool - which can be incredibly useful in any office.
Here are five ways you can use Microsoft OneNote in your office.
1. Conduct interviews Let's face it, interviewing potential hires can be a tiring and time consuming task. But, it has to be done. One thing that can help is to come up with a set of questions to ask at every interview. OneNote is the perfect tool for this as you can create a set of questions as a template and then create a new page to include these questions.
During, or after the interview you can fill these out and add in thoughts and notes. The main advantage here is that all of your notes and interview related materials are in a central, easy to find location. This should make interviews just that much easier.
2. Take screen shots One feature of OneNote is that it allows users to easily capture screen shots. By pressing Windows key + S the screen will grey out and you will be able to drag a box around what you want to capture. When you let go of the mouse button, the image is automatically saved to OneNote's unfilled notes section. From here you can copy and paste it into other notes, or even save it as a PNG image file.
3. Share notebooks When working on a project with multiple colleagues from different teams it can often be tough to get everyone on the same page. A good first step is to have a central area where users can input information or make notes about tasks or ideas. OneNote allows users to create and share notebooks in a central location that can be accessed by all involved.
By having a so-called digital whiteboard, where ideas can be pitched and notes kept, you should see more fluid communication and maybe even increased productivity or project effectiveness.
4. Team to-do lists One of the keys to an effective team is where members know what they are supposed to do and what needs to be done. As a leader, setting up and keeping track of tasks and to-do lists can be a challenging task. OneNote has extensive to-do lists that users can contribute to, thus making managing a team easier and ensuring all members know what needs to be done.
5. In-house wiki As companies become increasingly complex, it can be hard to find the information you need when you need it. That's why internal wiki's that contain information and answers to questions have become popular with larger companies.
OneNote allows users to link between notes and notebooks and saves changes in real time. If used correctly, you could create a powerful and useful wiki which can be accessed and changed anytime.
If you would like to learn more about OneNote and how it can fit into your organization, we may have the perfect solution for you, so contact us today.
With the increasing integration of the Internet into nearly every system many companies have started to invest in cloud based solutions. One of the more well known systems is Microsoft's Office 365 - the cloud based version of Office. In an effort to make Office 365 more appealing, Microsoft has recently announced an increase in storage for most accounts.
In late August, Microsoft announced that they are doubling the storage for almost every Office 365 user's email account. Starting from August 29, email storage was doubled from 25GB to 50, which should be more than enough for every employee.
According to a blog post by Steven Brown, Marketing Manager for Exchange at Microsoft: "There's no price increase associated with this change. Our doubling of your mailbox storage is simply part of our promise to continuously deliver value to our Office 365 customers."
Storage increase not for all accounts While Microsoft is upping the storage limit for most accounts, there are a few that will not receive the bump. If you have Exchange Online Plan 2, Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E4, Government G3 and G4, Education A3 and A4 you already have unlimited storage and archive, but Microsoft has increased the default mailbox size to 50GB.
Exchange Kiosk and Office 365 Kiosk users are also receiving an increase in storage limits to 2GB. Beyond that, Microsoft also increased the storage size of shared mailboxes to 10GB.
Paying for expanded storage This upgrade in storage isn't the only recent upgrade Microsoft has announced. The company also recently announced that SkyDrive Pro users have had their storage bumped from 7GB to 25GB, and admins can further increase this up to a maximum of 100GB per user. According to the article posted on the Microsoft Office 365 blog, the cost of expanding the storage above the default 25GB will cost USD$0.20 per GB per month. You will be able to expand the storage in pools of up to 25 users.
If you are looking to learn more about these announcements or how your business can benefit from Office 365, please contact us today to see how we can help.
Smartphones are a utilitarian tool. They have given us the ability to connect while on the move, and many people rely on their phones as their main social tool, often checking email and social networks regularly as they are out and about. However, if you have a Windows Phone, you may feel a bit limited when it comes to social media apps. In truth, this isn't the case at all.
Here is an overview of five useful, and mostly free, social media apps for Windows Phone.
Facebook Beta The Facebook Beta app is essentially the Facebook mobile app, but with some new features that Facebook wants to introduce in the near future. The latest update includes the ability to upload multiple photos, download photos, attach images in messaging and inline tagging (being able to mention another user in a post). While these features may be appealing, they are still in beta, meaning that Facebook is testing them with users. With some beta programs apps may not be 100% stable. That being said, being able to access new features sooner is something many users welcome.
You can download the app for free from the Windows Phone Store.
Pin+ Pinterest has become one of the fastest growing social networks and many businesses have found some intriguing uses for it. The downside is that there is no official Windows Phone app. What there is instead though is Pin+. This unofficial app brings Pinterest to your phone, with almost all of the functionality available with the Web version.
If you want to use Pinterest on your smartphone, this is the app that allows it. You can download it for free on the Windows Phone Store.
4th & Mayor Foursquare is a popular social media service where you can 'check into' businesses and see who and what is around you. While there is an official app for Windows Phone, some users aren't big fans of it. 4th & Mayor is an alternative app that uses the Foursquare programming interface. It has all the functionality of Foursquare, just with a different, more user friendly layout.
It's available for free on the Windows Phone Store.
6tag It's widely known that visual content is the key to keeping users interested and invested in your social media efforts. Instagram is a great program for creating visual content with your device by allowing you to take pictures, apply filters and then upload and share images on various social media sites. Unfortunately, there is no official app for Windows Phone, and likely won't be for some time to come. What you do have is 6tag. This unofficial app was built using the Instagram system, and includes all the same features like filters, sharing on social media, uploading and even video.
The basic version is free on the Windows Phone Store, but does have ads. You can upgrade to remove ads for USD$1.29 and add video support for USD$1.49.
Social Mints Spend any time on social media and you soon understand that trends come and go at an astonishing speed. It can be incredibly hard to stay on top of them all let alone figure out what is worth looking into. Social Mints is an app that lets you monitor and follow social media trends. Put in a popular term and watch as updates pop up in real time. You can even learn through which mediums people are talking about it, including related keywords and top posters.
If you're looking for a way to keep on top of trends, this is a great app. It's available for free on the Windows Phone Store.
Looking to learn more about the Windows Phone? Give us a shout, we'd love to help you explore and exploit the full potential of what you can do and how it could potentially help your business.
Chances are pretty high that you are using a computer with Windows installed on it. You are probably pretty adept at using this system, including how to configure your settings. There are some useful systems settings that many users often don't know about however. For example, did you know that you can configure what the power button on your computer does when you push it?
Believe it or not, you can actually set it so that your system will do one of four things when the power button is pressed. These are:
- Turn off - This will tell your system to shut down.
- Sleep - This will put your computer to sleep.
- Hibernate - This will power down your computer, while remembering the programs you had open. When you wake up the computer, the programs will be reopened as well.
- Do nothing!
How to configure the power button on Windows 8
If you have Windows 8 you can configure what the power button does by:
- Opening the Settings charm by either moving your mouse to the top-right corner and selecting Settings or pressing the Windows key+C.
- Clicking on Control Panel and searching for power or power button. Select Change what the power buttons do.
In the window that opens, you should see two options beside When I press the power button. One will be On battery and the other Plugged in if you have a laptop. Desktop users will likely only see the Plugged in category. If you click on the drop-down box in this section, you will be able to select what pressing the power button does when pressed. Pressing Save changes will implement the selection.
How to configure the power button on Windows 7
If you have Windows 7 you can configure what the power button does by:
- Clicking on the Windows Orb at the bottom left of your screen.
- Selecting Control Panel and searching for power or power button in the Search bar at the top-right of the window. Select Change what the power buttons do.
In the window that opens, you should see two options beside When I press the power button. One will be On battery and the other Plugged in if you have a laptop. Desktop users will only see the Plugged in category. If you click on the drop-down box in this section, you will be able to select what pressing the power button does when pressed. Press Save changes to implement your selection.
After making any changes to what the power button does, it is a good idea to ensure that it is working properly. Save all of your work and then press the button to see what happens.
There is so much you can do using Windows 7 or 8 in your office? Get in touch with us to learn more and see how we can help.
Social media has quickly become an integral component of marketing and brand strategies of companies the world over. Many businesses now view this platform as an essential tool, largely because that's where new customers can be found. Because social media changes at such a rapid pace though it can be tough as a small business to keep up and keep on top of current trends.
Here is an overview of five common social media trends that small to medium businesses should be aware of.
1. Visual content rules Being successful with social media efforts means that you need to have engaging content. Sure written content will get likes and interest, but it's visual content that seems to really engage viewers.
According to a recent study by Kissmetrics, "photos get 53% more Likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than posts containing text only." If you don't already post visual content, like pictures and videos, it may be time to start looking into how you can do this. One great platform that enables this is Instagram. You can also take great quality pics from a smartphone and post them directly onto Facebook.
2. Search and social media are one and the same With the recent release of Facebook's Graph Search, increase of Google+ related content in Google Search, and Google now indexing various social media activity, it's quickly becoming essential for a business to have a presence on various social media platforms. The key point to be aware of here is that Internet search results will likely continue to pull results from various social media platforms, so, you need be active on several of them.
3. Social media monetization Businesses are really starting to realize the important role social media sites like Facebook can play in branding and advertising. Companies are starting to take advantage of paid advertising, like Facebook's Ads, that ensures content is displayed to relevant users or user groups. These paid advertisements have proven to be largely successful for many small businesses.
4. Social currency Social currency is the idea of capitalizing on resources that are discovered by having a presence on social media. Essentially this means leveraging your presence on social media to explore new customer related trends and gain insight into what your customers are doing online and what they want. You can then use this information to create new products, or content related to customer wants, that will not only increase engagement but potentially sales too.
5. Microblogging The popularity of sites related to microblogging e.g., Twitter, is still on the rise. The more popular microblogging sites are actually ones that are more visual, like Vine and Instagram. These short posts allow users to share what is going on through images. As we said above, visual content really is key. If you can create posts using these microblogging sites, you are in a good position to see an increase in engagement with your customers - they will enjoy seeing what you are doing, as long as you don't bombard them.
These are just five social media trends but there are many more. Which ones have you noticed and how have they worked for your business? Let us know and share your social media experiences.