Posts

Microsoft 365 Spotlight focus: SharePoint

Microsoft 365 has so many different products that users often feel overwhelmed with not knowing which ones to use and how to use them and then end up not using many of them at all. In this blog series we will spotlight each of the Microsoft products and break them down to show you the benefits of using each one and how you can incorporate them into your business to help you to work more efficiently.

Microsoft SharePoint is primarily a document management and storage system, but it is also highly configurable. It is a secure place to store, organise, share and access information from any device. It helps you to manage content, knowledge and applications to empower teamwork, quickly find information and seamlessly collaborate across the organisation.

Let’s look at the main advantages of using Microsoft SharePoint:

Saves you money:
Having a total cloud solution as part of your Microsoft 365 subscription, which you are already paying for, eliminates the costs of a separate cloud account and data storage plan. Also, simplifying your operating systems, can prevent you from spending additional money on fixing issues.

Enhanced Security:
Security is an everyday concern for businesses. Using SharePoint can prevent some of those security issues. Your teams can share vital information without revealing any sensitive information in documents through SharePoint real-time collaborations. Hosting your information on a single platform also reduces your risk of attacks. You can monitor user behaviour to help ensure compliance with any internal policies you might have.

Collaboration:
SharePoint is a platform which makes it easy to create and share business information from a single location. It can seamlessly connect employees with documents and information.

Easy Information Exchange:
Easy information exchange goes hand in hand with improving collaboration. Simplifying access to business information for everyone enables collaboration and keeps everyone informed and up to date. Also, users won’t have the same version control issues that are experienced when storing files on a server, you can maintain a single document, allow multiple users to continuously update it, all with a record of the changes and the ability to revert back to an earlier version if needed.

Better productivity:
Microsoft SharePoint makes it easier to transmit data, track information, work on documents and group projects and so much more without confusion or delays.

A more productive workforce means better business efficiency and profitability. Using Microsoft SharePoint can transform the way you store information and your team works and collaborates. If you are not using Microsoft SharePoint yet, it is worth seriously considering starting to use it within your business.

If you feel overwhelmed by the various features of SharePoint, and are confused about how to set it up to use it to its full potential, our team at Ilkley IT can help you to customise it for your organisation. We will talk you through every aspect of SharePoint, explaining each feature and how it works to ensure you are up and running in no time!  Contact us today, we would love to have a chat with you!

Microsoft 365 Spotlight focus: Planner

Microsoft 365 has so many different products that users often feel overwhelmed with not knowing which ones to use and how to use them and then end up not using many of them at all.  In this blog series we will spotlight each of the Microsoft products and break them down to show you the benefits of using each one and how you can incorporate them into your business to help you to work more efficiently.

Microsoft Planner is an easy-to-use mobile and web-based application that comes with most business subscriptions.  With Planner you and your team can create project plans, assign and collaborate on tasks and see the team’s progress.  Planner allows you to create Kanban boards (a workflow management method which helps you visualise your work, maximise efficiency and become more agile) using content-rich task cards with files, checklists, labels and more.

Microsoft Planner is very easy to use, each project is stored as a card that can be accessed easily from your dashboard.  You can move things around and easily edit them.  It is the ideal solution for a team who are looking for a basic task management app.

There are many advantages to using Microsoft Planner, particularly when using Planner and Teams together.  Microsoft has integrated Planner with Teams so you can add a Planner tab in one of your Team’s channels.  This allows your team to create and organise tasks with Teams.  Tasks can be launched and assigned within the Microsoft Teams platform, eliminating the need to switch back and forth between platforms.  All tasks can be viewed through Microsoft Teams as well as Microsoft Planner, making it less likely employees could potentially miss a vital task they need to complete.

If you are not using Microsoft Planner yet, it is definitely worth seriously considering starting to use it within your business.  It can transform the way your team works together and manages projects.  If you feel overwhelmed by the various features of Planner, including its integration with Teams, and are confused about how to set it up to use it to its full potential, our team at Ilkley IT can help you.  We will talk you through every aspect of Microsoft Planner and Teams, explaining each feature and how it works to ensure you are up and running in no time!

 

Why you should be using a Password Manager

Do you use the same, easy to remember password or a variation of it for every account login you have?  You are certainly not alone!  We are constantly being told to use strong, unique passwords to protect our information online but how on earth are we supposed to come up with complicated passwords and remember them with the volume of login details we have!  It is a challenge!

The answer is a Password Manager.

A Password Manager will store your passwords in an encrypted form and also help you with generating secure random passwords.  The password manager will have a password to allow you to access it so you will only need to remember one password.   You will then easily be able to access your passwords without having to remember them.

The risks of using the same password across many sites are enormous.  Passwords are stolen all the time.  If you have a weak password and use it multiple times and a hacker got hold of it, that means that they could log into other sites with that password.  With cybercrime continuing to be on the increase, hackers are constantly looking at new ways and fine-tuning their techniques to crack users’ passwords.

One thing to be careful of is using browser-based password managers – Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer etc, all have integrated password managers.  Chrome and Internet Explorer store the passwords on your computer in an unencrypted form.  These built-in password managers are not ideal and cannot compete with a dedicated password manager product.

There are a number of password managers available on the market:

Myki:  can be used by teams and single users but has also been developed for the MSP market.  Myki securely stores and manages internal and customers’ passwords offline, away from the cloud.

Keeper:  can be used to protect your business as well as your personal passwords and private information.

Dashlane: is a safe and easy way to manage business and personal passwords.  It enables you to keep all of your passwords, usernames, payment card details, and secure notes in one safe place.  Dashlane is also packed with other features, making it more than just a password manager.

LastPass:  is a cloud-based password manager with a browser extension and mobile app for all the browsers and operating systems available.

Once you have chosen a password manager to use, it is good practice to change all your passwords to more secure ones.   If you would like to learn more about any of these products or would like help with choosing the most suitable one for your business, Ilkley IT can help you.   Contact us today to find out more.

Microsoft is ending support for Internet Explorer

This week Microsoft has announced its timeline for ending its support for Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11) by this time next year.  In the article by Microsoft, they have said that on the 30 November 2020, the Microsoft Teams web app will no longer support IE 11 and on the 17 August 2021, the remaining Microsoft 365 apps and services will no longer support IE 11.

This means that after these dates, customers will have a degraded experience or will be unable to connect to Microsoft 365 apps and services on IE 11.   If you still choose to use IE 11 with a degraded experience, new Microsoft 365 features will not be available or certain features may cease to work when accessing the app or service.  Microsoft have said that they know the change will be difficult for some customers, they believe that customers will get the most of Microsoft 365 using the new Microsoft Edge.

Although over the years IE became the dominant web browser that everyone used, enjoying 90% of the market, and has been around for 25 years, it may surprise you to know that it is not very secure.  Over the years, Microsoft ignored web standards and continually missed essential updates and did not follow the guidelines set by the World Wide Web Consortium (the organisation that establishes standards for web technologies).  New features were only added to IE as part of a major product release, which often took years to be implemented.  This continual lack of updates leaves you as the user exposed and unsafe when browsing the internet using IE11 and more vulnerable to being targeted by cyber-attacks.

Naturally, competitors started to appear online and in 2004 Mozilla introduced Firefox and then in 2008 Google Chrome was introduced.  Interestingly, in the 10 years since Google Chrome was launched, it was updated 70 times, meanwhile Internet Explorer was updated only 4 times between its eighth version and its final one (version 11).   Of course there is also the new Microsoft Edge, this is based on a Chronium codebase which is the same as the foundations of Google Chrome but currently this has less than 2% of the market whilst Google’s browser has 65% of the market.  With so much of our information freely available when we search online, you might be looking for more privacy when browsing the internet.  Try out Brave, it provides unmatched speed, security and privacy by blocking trackers.

Modern web browsers have the ‘edge’ offering better security, speed, compatibility and plugin options.  Now is the time to check if the sites you regularly visit will still work, for example many banking sites don’t work in anything other than IE so it would be worth contacting the owner of the site to let them know.   There is still time to do this, rather than being caught out at a later stage with a site that doesn’t work.

Another old technology which is going end of life at the end of the year is Adobe Flash Player.  Adobe will stop distributing and updating Flash Player after 31 December 2020.

Technology does not stand still or nor should we.  We have to keep moving with the times and it is important to make sure we are not left behind using old versions of products which don’t work properly and are no longer supported which poses a security risk to us online.  If you would like more information about anything in this article or feel baffled about which browser is right for you and what action you should take, then contact Ilkley IT, we would love to have a chat about how we can help you.

Microsoft 365 Spotlight focus: OneDrive

Microsoft 365 has so many different products that users often feel overwhelmed with not knowing which ones to use and how to use them and then end up not using many of them at all. In this blog series we will spotlight each of the Office products and break them down to show you the benefits of using each one and how you can incorporate them into your business to help you to work more efficiently.

OneDrive is the Office cloud service that connects you to all your files. You can store and protect your files, share them with others and access them at any time of the day from any location and from any device. You can share photos, Office documents, other files and entire folders.

One of the biggest benefits to your business is OneDrive’s file sharing and collaboration. This can transform how you work in your business, particularly now that most of us are working remotely and from home. You will no longer have to email large attachments or try to keep track of multiple versions, you can simply save your file to OneDrive, share the file with the relevant people and you will always have the most up-to-date version. This will eliminate any worries of not working on the latest version. There is also an option to view the version history and restore older versions of files if needed at any point.

There is also real-time co-authoring on documents saved on OneDrive, meaning you can work on files at the same time with colleagues and external people. You will be able to see their changes and they will be able to see yours, as you make them. This will increase productivity and will really help to speed up the length of time it takes to get work completed.

If you are worried about keeping your information secure, the files and folders you store in OneDrive are private until you decide to share them. OneDrive files and folders can be shared with colleagues in your business as well as externally, but again, this is completely within your control as you can see who a OneDrive file is shared with and stop sharing any time. You can also restrict the level of access.

OneDrive can also be used to connect you to your files in Microsoft SharePoint and Teams, which we will also cover as part of this series.

If you are not using OneDrive yet, it is definitely worth seriously considering starting to use it within your business. It can transform the way you work with your team and external people. If you feel overwhelmed by all the different features of OneDrive and are confused about how to use it to its full potential, our team at Ilkley IT can help you. We will talk you through every aspect of OneDrive, explaining each feature and how it works to ensure you are up and running and using OneDrive in no time!

Contact us today, we would love to have a chat with you!

Just how important is Email Security?

Cyberattacks are rapidly increasing every day with hackers becoming more and more sophisticated and the scams more elaborate than ever before.  It is reported that in 2019, around a third of businesses in the UK identified at least one breach or attack each month. The most common types are phishing attacks comprising 80% along with impersonating emails, viruses, spyware or malware including ransomware.

Let’s look at the jargon being used surrounding these attacks so we can really understand this threat.  Malware is a word used to describe any type of malicious software which usually piggybacks on an email or document containing links, Ransomware is typically spread through phishing emails and Phishing is the use of technology to lure victims into providing sensitive and personal information.

5 ways to identify a phishing email:

  1. If the email asks you to confirm personal information, such as banking details or login credentials, information that you would not usually provide.
  2. The web and email addresses do not look genuine – at a quick glance these might look correct but on closer inspection, they will be slightly varied but intended to look genuine. Hover over any links in the body of the email as these might be malicious.
  3. It is poorly written – if the email is full of spelling and grammatical errors, there is a strong possibility it is a phishing email. Legitimate emails from companies will be written professionally and checked for spelling and grammatical errors.
  4. There is a suspicious attachment – it is always good practice to scan attachments using antivirus software particularly if you receive an email out of the blue with an attachment that you weren’t expecting.
  5. The email is designed to make you panic – it is common that phishing emails will incite panic in the recipient as it will ask for immediate action to be taken on personal items such as bank accounts.

Office 365 has a solution to help protect your emails, files and online storage.  Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) protects your mailboxes, files, online storage, and applications against new, sophisticated attacks. It offers protection for all the major Microsoft apps such as Microsoft Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business.

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) offers the following benefits:

  1. Safe Attachments: ATP protects you against unsafe attachments and provides you with a malware-free, cleaner inbox.
  2. Safe Links: ATP blocks users from clicking on malicious links.  If a link they click on is unsafe, the user will either be informed that the site’s been blocked or warned not to visit it.
  3. Spoof Intelligence: This detects when a sender appears to be sending an email on behalf of one or more user accounts within one of your organisation’s domains.  It enables you to review all senders who are spoofing your domain, and then choose to allow the sender to continue or block the sender.
  4. Quarantine: Messages identified by the Office 365 service as spam, phishing mail or potentially containing malware can be sent to quarantine.

The impact of a cyberattack is not only time consuming but costly. One accidental or careless click by an employee has the potential to compromise your entire network.  Office 365 Advance Threat Protection offers industry-leading, comprehensive protection, can your business really afford to be without it?

No one is safe from these attacks, all businesses are a potential target and need to remain vigilant, don’t wait until you have been the victim of a cybercrime to take action.    Ilkley IT Services can help you to get the protection you need so that you can have peace of mind and get on with running your business.  Contact us today to find out more.

Using Microsoft Teams in each Department

With many of us continuing to work from home, and the likelihood of this carrying on into the future, the use of video conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams has become a daily occurrence.  Also, for people who are going back to the office and having to follow social distancing regulations, using Teams really helps departments across companies to continue to successfully collaborate and continue working effectively.  If you have never used Teams before or have perhaps only used the chat facility, it can feel overwhelming to make the transition to using all the different parts of the software.

Let’s have a look at how Microsoft Teams can help each department individually and improve team collaboration:

Marketing

Marketing teams need to create and collaborate with many groups of people both within the company and outside of it.  Teams provides a shared workspace for all conversations, files and third-party services.  Teams makes it very easy to manage marketing campaigns, social channels, collaborate on content creation and plan events.

Top Tip: Add Adobe Creative Cloud Directly into Teams: https://appsource.microsoft.com/en-us/product/office/WA104381222?tab=Overview

Sales

Teams can help sales teams to deal with enquiries and quickly build quotations and proposals with input from different stakeholders.  Collaboration, reporting, and knowledge sharing can happen in one place, helping sales professionals everywhere – in the home office and the field – work together to meet sales objectives.

Top Tip: Use with PowerBI to create a dashboard for data relating to forecast and actual sales https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/

Finance

Finance teams need to collaborate on aggregating and reporting on data while conducting business reviews on a regular basis. Teams provides a central hub in which all files, data, conversations and meetings can happen in a single place, safely and securely.

Top Tip: Use file sharing to share monthly or quarterly reports with management or company owners.

Human Resources

Teams can help the HR team to manage recruitment and employee onboarding activities, including sharing CVs and interview notes, keeping track of candidate information, communicating employment decisions, and sharing new employee documents.

Top Tip: https://www.simpleinout.com/ and https://www.attendancebot.com/ are great addons to Teams that help keep track of your team.

IT

Teams provides the IT team with a single hub to collaborate, plan, execute, and manage all phases of infrastructure deployments and rollouts.  It is a very useful tool to help drive transformation and change management across the organisation.

Top Tip: Utilise the chat feature to answer questions your team may have about new systems.

Engineering

Engineers move quickly between ideas, development and deployment of a concept when delivering new features. Teams is integrated with developer tools, enabling continuous discussion across a distributed team to keep projects on track.

Top Tip: Utilise Planner to manage projects and OneNote to organised notes.

Project Management

Project managers often use a myriad of planning, meeting, and communication tools and services. Teams enables collaboration in one central hub with all the tools to organise and share project files, manage stakeholder meetings, and track progress for multiple projects.

Top Tip: Use Microsoft Planner to better manage projects within your team https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/business/task-management-software

If you would like more information about how Teams can be used within your business, download this helpful guide.

It can all seem a bit overwhelming making sure Microsoft Teams is set up correctly, but Ilkley IT know all the tips and tricks to help you to set up Teams so that you can use it effectively.  They will take you through each step to ensure that everything is configured correctly so that you use Teams to its full potential.

Contact us today, we would love to have a chat about how we can help!

Why the Cloud is not a backup

There is a misconception that storing data in the cloud means it is backed up.  Unfortunately, people delete data, mostly accidentally, sometimes intentionally.  There are also threats from hackers and malware.  This means that even in the cloud, data can be lost.  Without a cloud backup solution for Office 365, you are missing a critical component of data protection that ensures your data can’t be lost.   

The statistics show that 1 in 3 businesses report losing data stored in cloud-based applications. In addition, out of all MSP reported SaaS ransomware attacks, 49% occurred in Office 365, up 17% from last year. Not only can the loss of the data itself be devastating to a company, but the time lost in attempting a recovery can be equally damaging. 

 

What does SaaS Protection Recover?

OneDrive:  

All files (including One Note) and folders with file structure intact. 

Contacts:  

All contact information (excludes photos). 

Calendar:  

Events (including recurrence, attendees, notes), attachments and any calendars owned by users. 

Mail:  

All emails, attachments, notes and folder structure. 

SharePoint: 

Primary, custom, group and team site collections 

Custom generic site lists  

Folder structure 

Document libraries and sets 

Site assets, templates, and pages 

 

Fast & Effortless Restore

One-click restore means companies easily avoid business downtime. Quickly identify and recover individual items or entire folders without overwriting existing files. 

We recommend using a 3rd party SaaS protection as a backup system to protect your data, reducing the risk of data loss and being vulnerable to hackers.  SaaS protection gives you the peace of mind that data loss can be recovered to the time of the last backup.    

Ilkley IT offer full cloud backup for Office 365 and can manage the entire process for you. Our support packages also offer unlimited restores so you know you will be back up and running quickly.  Download this useful article which provides more information.  Get in touch with us today to talk about cloud-to-cloud backup and how we can help with this. 

 

5 Top Tips for Working from Home

With the events of the last 3 months, it feels as if almost overnight everything changed.  Businesses have had to be flexible and adjust to the changing environment.  Many people found themselves, for the first time, having to adjust to working remotely and from home.  If it is the first time you are working from home or even if you have worked from home before, but now it is for an extended period, how can you make sure that your workspace is set up effectively to enable you to be the most productive, stay connected with your colleagues and to manage your time efficiently?

Here are our 5 top tips for working from home:

Set up your physical workspace:

This is the most important tip – choose a designated workspace specifically for where you will work, separate from personal space, this will minimise disruptions for you.  This space should have good ventilation and lighting and a proper desk and office chair.  It is important to sit at your desk correctly and have your screen as close to in line with eye level as possible and to have the correct posture.   You will need a secure, password-protected Wi-Fi network and when using a wireless connection, you will need to consider your distance from the router as this may affect the quality of your connection. If you do have the space in your workspace, extra monitors can really increase productivity and help you to get more work done.

Set up your virtual workspace:

Working in the cloud allows you to collaborate and stay productive online from wherever you are working.  Microsoft has products such as OneDrive, OneNote, PowerPoint, Excel and Word which make collaborating with colleagues and syncing documents very easy.  With these tools you can make your documents virtual and accessible on the web across all devices.  Always make sure you back up the documents you are working on in the cloud.

How to stay focused:

For many people it is the first time you are working from home and so it might feel very strange and take a while to get used to it.  It is important to create a routine, wake up at the same time every day and give yourself enough time to do everything you need to do before starting work.  Set an ‘end time’ and finish work at the same time every evening so that you can relax before going to sleep.  Tidy up after the day and create to-do lists for the next day.  Block off time for specific tasks.  If you find it difficult to concentrate, try working in 25-minute chunks.  There are many ways to do this, one such app is the Pomodoro Technique (https://bit.ly/2MW5vib) which you can use to manage your time.

Look after your wellbeing:

Have a lunch break and regular screen breaks.  Make time for exercise whether it is 10 minutes or 60 minutes.  Go for a walk and get some fresh air whilst making a call.  It is easy to keep snacking during the day but plan healthy and nutritious meals and stick to designated mealtimes.  Celebrate your achievements throughout the day, for example if you tick something off your to-do list, celebrate it, if you complete a difficult task that you have been putting off, congratulate yourself.  This will keep you motivated to keep powering through your to-do list!  Why not try meditation, this technique can really help to keep you calm, manage stress levels and sleep better.

Remote communication:

It is easier now more than ever to keep connected to your colleagues and clients using one of the many video conferencing platforms such a Microsoft Teams.  Make it a habit to connect frequently with your colleagues either daily or weekly.  Looking specifically at the platform Microsoft Teams, it allows you to record a presentation to a client or training with colleagues, which you can then share afterwards, it also gives you the facility to share your screen during meetings and facilitates  collaboration through the chat facility, making it easy to send a quick message or share a document, updates etc.  Using a camera on video calls helps you to connect with colleagues and clients, read our 5 Top Tips for Successful Video Conferencing for more about this topic.

If you need help with adjusting to working from home, setting up a secure workspace and solving Wi-Fi or printer issues, then the team at Ilkley IT can help you to make sure you are set up to work effectively and productively.  Ilkley IT can also offer advice and recommendations on the Microsoft Products mentioned and get you up and running and using them very quickly and easily.  Contact us today, we would love to have a chat about how we can help!

It is time to swap your physical server for cloud services?

Have you been using your servers for many years and finding that they are now getting old?  Are your systems and applications running slower because your servers have reached their limit?  Are you facing rising costs for the maintenance of your hardware?  It might be time for you to seriously consider swapping your physical servers for cloud services.  All elements of your server infrastructure can be moved to the cloud. The thought of this might fill you with anxiety and seem like an impossible mountain to climb but Ilkley IT can help you and make it a smooth process.

Migrate Files

Migrating your files from your server to the cloud is a straightforward process however the timeline for this needs to be considered.  A realistic timeline needs to be worked out and this can depend on several factors such as the number of files and folders, total amount of data being moved and the complexity of file and sharing permissions.  Ilkley IT will work with you to determine the best plan for this and recommend carrying out the migration during quieter times, such as the weekend to avoid work disruption.

Move to Cloud Software

More and more software companies have cloud-based software products, such as CRM and Accounting packages.  Some companies only have cloud-based software and are moving away from on-premise versions completely.  Cloud-based products can be accessed at any time from any location, whether you are working remotely or from the office.  Accessing tools in the cloud is very secure and provides a huge amount of flexibility.  It makes any product updates much quicker and easier as there is no need to manually install the updates on every single local machine.

Migrate users to Azure Active Directory (AD)

If you are worried that you will lose your log-in details for all the systems and programs you use, there is no need to.  The process to migrate cloud logins for all users can be done seamlessly. Using cloud logins also opens the door for single sign on for 3rd party web applications.

Cloud Printing 

It makes sense if you are moving your server infrastructure to the cloud to also move your on-premise print infrastructure.  Cloud printing is the technology that enables printers to be accessed over the network via the cloud, in simple terms, it is a service that connects your printers to the web.  You can print from anywhere using any internet connected device.

Transitioning Legacy Software to your Cloud Server

Once you have made the decision to migrate your business to the cloud, the second step is to decide which software programmes to take with you.  You might think, well all of them, but it is the perfect opportunity to evaluate the tools you are using and whether these are serving their purpose within your business or not.  Some legacy software might not be compatible with being used as a cloud product, depending on its age but others can be successfully migrated.  It is worth considering if there is a cloud solution offering the same functionality that can replace the legacy software.

The team at Ilkley IT have the expertise to help you to migrate your business to the cloud, so if this is something you are considering, contact us today to find out how we can work with you to do this with minimal disruption to you and your business.