Networks: The (Very) Basics

Net What?! Computer Networks ExplainedComputer Networks

 

“The Network”. Did you feel a pang of fear when you read that? We get it — even the word sounds intimidating, which may be why so many people feel lost when it comes to what networks really are.

In this week’s Explain IT! series we’re going to take a big picture look, starting with the basics of computer networking, so that the next time someone talks about IT networking, you feel connected (hint hint) to what’s going on.

What is a Network?

When someone talks about your network, they’re talking about the computers, servers, mainframes, network devices, etc that are connected to each other in some way so that they can share resources. Think: In your office, you probably have multiple computers that can print from the same printer, that can access the same server, and that are connected to the same internet router — because all of those devices can communicate with each other, they’re on the same “network”. To make that communication possible, cables, telephone lines, satellites, etc. are used. Networking then, is the process of linking systems and devices so that they are able to talk to each other.

Generally, there are two types of networks – and chances are that you’ve heard of them before without even realizing it:

LAN – Local Area Network

LAN is a kind of network that is generally pretty small and is typically limited to a certain area (think: your office, your home, your school, etc.). In a LAN, servers are usually set up to host and relay services to workstations, making it easy for lots of different users to get access to data from a centralized location. Computers (or workstations) may connect to the server by cables or by using wireless access points, which act as bridges between computers and networks.

WAN – Wide Area Network

Wide Area Networks, on the other hand, are used in really large areas — think cities, states or countries. Often times, companies use WANs to enable data exchange between offices in multiple cities or even between offices in different countries. WANs can link two LANs, enabling communication between the two.

 

Ready to hear more? Stay tuned to the DP Knowledgebase for additional quick and easy updates on networks, and other tech topics!

How Can Managed Services Save You Money

Components of Managed Services

Managed services means saving money and preventing headaches.

What are “Managed Services”?

Breaking away from the break-fix tradition in IT, managed services is the newest industry buzzword.  Rather than being a fleeting trend, however, the shift looks to be a permanent enhancement to how services are provided to subscribers. But hold on…what exactly IS managed services?

Let’s take a step back: the traditional way of handling tech problems is to, well, wait for there to be a problem. Your team members go along throughout their day until disaster strikes – overheated computers, hard drives crashing because they’re too full, servers slowing down –  followed by a panicked, emergency call to your tech provider (ahem, DataPerk).

Simple enough, but what if there was a better way? What if these kinds of emergencies could be prevented, so that employees could spend less time waiting for repairs and patches, and more time, well, doing everything else?  

That is managed services — a service designed to make life for the user easier, by monitoring technology proactively, in order to identify and fix potential hazards before they wreak havoc in the workplace. Using remote monitoring programs, managed services allow tech-firms, like DataPerk, to keep an eye on your IT 24/7, watching out for a slew of potential problems that otherwise couldn’t be predicted.

 

Does Managed Services Save Money?

The biggest question around managed services isn’t about the actual effectiveness of the solution — there is no doubt that this approach reduces headaches for the enduser — it’s about the cost effectiveness of it. Is it worth the cost?

Our answer? Yes. Absolutely. Investing in managed services results in real cost savings for our partners year after year, which is one of the reasons why, we’re happy to say, DataPerk has such a strong retention rate in managed service subscriptions. So how exactly does investing a little bit more each month mean real cost savings in the end for our partners? Let’s take a look:

 

Budgeting

We’re going to go out on a limb here and guess that one of the hardest things about technology for your business is the difficulty in effectively budgeting costs for the year ahead. You’re not alone – this tireless problem is one that is reported across all industries and sizes of businesses. The variance in monthly billing is a headache for business managers, CFOs, and CIOs in almost every industry, as they try to balance the very real need for technology-based problems to be solved, with the knowledge that it’s like a game of whack-a-mole in trying to predict when pesky problems will pop up.

DataPerk managed services help with this problem by offering a reliable, easy to understand pricing structure that is consistent, month after month, year after year. For a low monthly rate based on users, your technology is monitored constantly and you’re alerted when it looks like a problem may be looming, meaning surprise bills for pop-up problems become a thing of the past, while accurate budgets become a thing of the…now!

 

Prevention

More than just knowing about when and what to expect from invoices, managed services means that your technology provider can help prevent pesky problems from turning in to budget black holes. How, exactly? Let’s look at how this plays out:

Scenario 1: Your team continuously piles pictures, presentations, records, and more onto your company’s server without thinking twice, until one day, Sarah, your business director, tries to save your latest expansion plan when…nothing. Your server is full, frozen and you’re freaked out. You call your tech-team, who tell you that it’s going to take time that you weren’t planning on to get it cleaned up, and running again. Ouch. That means another bill, and who knows how much down time for your staff, where you can’t access the documents you need to get your jobs done.

Scenario 2: Your team continuously piles pictures, presentations, records, and more onto your company’s server without thinking twice, until one day, you get a friendly phone call from a DataPerk tech expert that you trust, letting you know that your server looks like it’s filling up, and that someone will need to remote in to quickly clean it up a bit, at a time convenient for you and your staff. The next day, Sarah tries to save her expansion plan…and doesn’t have to worry about a thing.

By preventing potential problems up front, you get to reduce the surprises that cost both your team’s time, and your bottom line.

 

Who is Managed Services Right For?

DataPerk’s managed services are a scalable solution for any size business, plus our simple service structure means that your company can get as many, or as few, features and add-ons as you need — all the things you want, with nothing you don’t. Want to talk to a solutions expert to see what you could gain from managed services? Call or click today, and enjoy a totally free consultation! 

Email Configuration

Email is great! Setting up email on your computer…well, let’s just say it leaves a lot to be desired. We know the frustrations that can come from trying to get your email up and running, which is why we’ve provided these easy, step by step instructions on how to add your email account to your computer. Still have questions? Just give us a call at 879-4600!

 

Option 1: Outlook is already configured

If you need to add an account, you will need to access your current account settings.  Open Outlook.

In Outlook 2007, choose Tools > Account Settings at the top of your screen.

In Outlook 2010, click on the File Tab > Info > Account Settings > Account Settings

Choose “New” and then click Next.  Then follow the instructions below.

Option 2: New computer, new profile

If you have never setup an email account in Microsoft Outlook, when you first launch Microsoft Outlook, you will be presented with a wizard that will guide you through setting up your email account.

The first screen is simply a startup screen, click next.

The next screen asks if you want to configure an account. Choose Yes, and click next.

The next screen is called “Auto Account Setup” – choose “Manually configure server settings or additional server types” and then click next. [Screenshot below]

On the next screen, select Internet E-mail and then click next. [screenshot below]

On the next screen, input the information as shown in the example below.

Account type is POP3.

Both servers are mail.dataperk.com.

Your user name is your full email address.

Use the password that you were provided.

Click “More Settings” before continuing.

On the More Settings screen, choose the “Outgoing server” tab and make the selections indicated in the screenshot below.

Next click the “Advanced” tab and make the changes shown below:

Change the outgoing port to 366

Make sure items are removed from the server after 2 weeks.  Leaving too much mail on the server can cause problems later.

Click OK, then click Next on the previous screen.  You should see a message that all settings check out and your account should now be working.

Please call Dataperk at 205-879-4600 if you encounter errors during this procedure.

Mobile Email Configuration

iPhone iOS 6

Make sure that you have a stable and reliable internet connection before beginning.

On your phone, launch “Settings” by tapping the icon.

Choose Mail, Contacts, Calendars

Under Accounts, choose “Add Account…”

Choose “Other”

Choose “Add Mail Account” and enter your information.  Name is your full name as you want it to display when you send email.  Email is your full email address.   Description is whatever you want it to be in the Mail app (example: Work Email)

One the next screen make sure you select POP – IMAP is not broadly supported by our mailserver for all clients.

On the next screen, input information for Incoming Mail Server and Outgoing Mail server.  For both, the settings are as follows:

Host name:  Mail.dataperk.com

User Name: your full email address

Password: the password you were provided. It is case sensitive.

Once all the data is entered, click save at the top.  The account will now be verified.

If prompted about SSL, click “Yes”.

Your account should now appear under the Mail app.

Android

NOTE: every version of Android is slightly different and there will be some variations in these steps.

Make sure that you have a stable and reliable internet connection before beginning.

Begin by accessing your mail settings—usually under Menu > Settings > Email.  From here you should be able to choose “new account”, “add account” or hit a “+” symbol.  From here, phone-specific clients vary a great deal in the information requested and at what step. Here is a general list of the info you may need:

  • Account type: POP3 (do not choose IMAP or Microsoft Exchange, etc.)
  • User name: (this will be your full email address)
  • Server/host name (both incoming and outgoing): mail.dataperk.com
  • Use SSL: No/off
  • Incoming port: 110
  • Outgoing port: 366

Outlook 2003: Copying Internet Headers

1. Open Outlook 2003.

 

2. Locate the message you would like to copy the internet headers from and using your mouse, right-click the message.

 

3. Next, left-click on Message Options… from the menu as shown below.

 

4. This should open a window called: Message Options. You should notice the mouse pointer located around the area labeled: Internet headers, close to the bottom left corner.

 

5. Move your mouse pointer to the box of text to the right of the Internet headers label. This will cause the mouse pointer to shift into an icon that resembles an upper case I, as shown below.

 

6. Next right-click in the box to open a menu that will allow you to select all of the text.

 

7. Left-click the Select All option at the bottom of the menu, to select all the text in the Internet headers:.

 

A. This should cause all the text under the Internet header box to be highlighted similar to the method shown in this example.

 

8. Right-click in the area to open another menu box.

 

9. Select copy from the menu, by left-clicking the option.

 

A. The process above, allowed the Internet header to be copied for transfer to another application. There are many different applications this data could be pasted too. For example: an email in Outlook, office document, notepad, wordpad, etc…

10. For this example I am going to paste the data to another email. In order to do this, the Message Options window will need to be closed.

 

11. Next open a new message to paste the Internet header information to, by left-clicking the new message option as shown below.

 

12. Right-click in the new message as shown in the example.

 

13. Left-click the Paste option to paste the data into the new message.

 

A. This should paste the text into the new message.

 

14. Now that that data has been pasted into the new message, it could be sent to an IT department for review by filling in the To… field as shown below.

 

The copy / paste method could also be used to transfer the data into Word, Excel, NotePad, WordPad, and similar applications.

Outlook 2007: Copying Internet Headers

1. Open Outlook 2007.

 

2. Locate the message you would like to copy the internet headers from and using your mouse, right-click the message.

 

3. Next, left-click on Message Options… from the menu as shown below.

 

4. This should open a window called: Message Options. You should notice the mouse pointer located around the area labeled: Internet headers, close to the bottom left corner.

 

5. Move your mouse pointer to the box of text to the right of the Internet headers label. This will cause the mouse pointer to shift into an icon that resembles an upper case I, as shown below.

 

6. Next right-click in the box to open a menu that will allow you to select all of the text.

 

7. Left-click the Select All option at the bottom of the menu, to select all the text in the Internet headers:.

 

A. This should cause all the text under the Internet header box to be highlighted similar to the method shown in this example.

 

8. Right-click in the area to open another menu box.

 

9. Select copy from the menu, by left-clicking the option.

 

A. The process above, allowed the Internet header to be copied for transfer to another application. There are many different applications this data could be pasted too. For example: an email in Outlook, office document, notepad, wordpad, etc…

10. For this example I am going to paste the data to another email. In order to do this, the Message Options window will need to be closed.

 

11. Next open a new message to paste the Internet header information to, by left-clicking the new message option as shown below.

 

12. Right-click in the new message as shown in the example.

 

13. Left-click the Paste option to paste the data into the new message.

 

A. This should paste the text into the new message.

 

14. Now that that data has been pasted into the new message, it could be sent to an IT department for review by filling in the To… field as shown below.

 

The copy / paste method could also be used to transfer the data into Word, Excel, NotePad, WordPad, and similar applications.

Is It a Scam? How to Recognize Fraud in Emails

What is Phishing?

Phishing is the fraudulent process in which a criminal attempts to acquire sensitive information such as user names, passwords, banking and credit card details by pretending to be a legitimate business through the form of emails or instant messages. In most cases, a phishing attempt will direct a user to a fake website that mirrors the look and feel of a legitimate website.

Spear Phishing is a more refined/targeted process to gain sensitive information. A good example of Spear Phishing is a fake email sent to your email address, that contains a certain amount of your personal information to make the email look and feel genuine. For example, it may contain your name in the subject and body of the email.

Tips – Avoid Phishing Schemes

1. Do not trust email headers, they are easily forged.

2. Just as the header is easily forged, the “reply to” and the “from” email address’s can not be trusted.

3. Pay close attention to the links contained within the email. Links are just shortcuts, the actual link and what appears as text may be different. Hoover over the link and make sure that it is a website that you want to visit (Email clients will show the actual link under your cursor, and web based email will show the link on the bottom bar of your web browser). Also note that phishing scam artist’s will make the link look as close as possible to the real thing.

4. The emails quite often have official looking or duplicated logo’s from real organizations and other identifying information taken directly from legitimate websites.

5. Try to avoid filling in any forms that are contained within emails, the forms are not secure and you should never enter in any personal information.

6. Avoid phrases that are like: “Verify your account.”, “If you don’t respond within 48 hours, your account will be closed.”, “Dear Valued Customer.”, “Click the link below to gain access to your account.”.