Business Focused IT Support
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MPR IT Solutions and Day of Reflection

by Nicki Dowsett in Engineers, General, Helpdesk, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR IT Work, Remote working

Today marks one year since the start of lockdown.  The last 12 months have been nothing like anyone has ever experienced before. Our team will today be taking a minute to reflect how everyone throughout the world has been affected by the pandemic and of course the lives sadly taken too soon.  No-one ever envisioned the way the next few months would turn out, let alone the next year.

Everyone has been affected in some way – no longer able to visit family and friends, concerns about how they may be affected directly or indirectly, and key workers being recognised for their dedication. With everyone ordered to stay at home, some being furloughed and the dreaded home schooling, it has affected everyone in some form. With the planned roadmap to the end of lockdown including the amazing vaccination program taking place, we truly hope that we can start to see family and friends again soon.

IT Engineers are often overlooked as key workers, and we would like to recognise the hard work and dedication of our team.  From initially setting up businesses to work from home, with over 500 laptops delivered in the week prior to the lockdown announcement through to supporting our customers throughout the lockdown.  The majority of helpdesk team have been working remotely to support our customer base, this allowed many businesses to remain open and trading.  MPR IT Solutions provide managed IT Support across all market sectors including care homes, schools, manufacturers and food chain suppliers, who all rely on our day-to-day support. The team have worked extremely hard over the last 12 months and now as we see them return to the office, we couldn’t be prouder of all their achievements through this tough year.

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Keeping your network secure

by Nicki Dowsett in Anti-virus software, cybercrime, Disaster Recovery, Engineers, General, Helpdesk, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR IT Work, Password Security, Ransomware, Training

Keeping your network secure – this is a subject that should be carefully considered for any network whether business or personal. Technology is the main way that people communicate today and we increasingly rely on email communication. Cyber criminals are using this as an opportunity to send more and more scam emails, texts and phone calls. Often all very realistic. Making sure your network has the best security systems in place will help to keep your network and data secure.

Password Security and 2FA

When it comes to password security the one main rule is NEVER EVER share your password with anyone. Then next is to ensure that your password is difficult to guess. 123456 or password are sadly still often used despite them being so easy to guess. Making sure you have a password that is harder for criminals to guess is vital. Alongside using different passwords for each account. With so many passwords to remember for your work and personal accounts it is becoming harder to separate these out as well as remember them all. This is where 2FA( 2 factor authentication) is an advantage. Many on-line accounts now require 2FA, where you will enter your normal password and are then required to confirm the log in with an additional code generated by text, email or an authenticator app.

Finally if you are ever asked to reset a password via an email – check it is a genuine request. It is very unlikely that any organisation would ask you to reset a password unexpectedly. Many people unfortunately become victims of scams through realistic looking requests to update passwords.

Firewall – why do you need one?

In the construction industry, a firewall is historically the protection between two buildings to prevent fire spreading across adjacent buildings.

The computing equivalent works in a similar format. Acting as a security fence surrounding your network, a firewall observes and restricts information coming in via email or the internet. The firewall will only allow information from sources pre-determined by your firewall and can either be a network or host based security system.

In most homes and businesses, routers are used to enable the connection of various devices to the internet. Prior to routers, each individual device would need to be plugged directly into the modem. When connected directly in this way, a device has a public IP address a allowing information to be accessed by anyone on the internet. As technology has developed most devices will have their own firewall built in. However larger networks will have a separate firewall to protect the security of the network.

Antivirus Software – why do you need it?

Did you know that the first computer virus was released in 1971? The Creeper virus was not designed to be malicious or cause damage but was an experiment to demonstrate a mobile application. Today, it is believed that over 6000 new viruses are released each month.

Antivirus software, also known as anti-malware, is a computer program designed to prevent, detect, and remove malware. Antivirus software can protect users from: malicious browser helper objects, browser hijackers, ransomware, keyloggers, backdoors, rootkits, trojan horses, worms, malicious LSPs, dialers, fraudtools, adware and spyware. There are various levels of protection available on the market. It is important that your choose the right anti-virus software for your network. Some products also include protection from other computer threats, such as infected and malicious URLs, spam, scam and phishing attacks, online identity, online banking attacks, social engineering techniques, advanced persistent threat and botnet DDoS attacks.

Security Awareness Training and Testing (SATT)

In addition to Firewalls and anti-virus software, MPR IT Solutions also offer SATT, Security Awareness Training and Testing. The purpose of this is to stop security incidents on your network, by providing your end users with Security Awareness Training and regular Testing. SATT is a fully managed service that is bespoke and tailored to every individual organisation. It takes up none of your time or resources, and is guaranteed to make a difference.

The SATT service combats the weakest cyber security link in any organisation – your end users – and is delivered in three stages over a 12-month service agreement. The total cost for the 12 month SATT service is far less than the cost of just one security incident.

Contact our team today

Supporting companies from a wide number of industries, MPR IT Solutions are experienced in the multitude of options across the markets and can tailor the right security systems to keep your network secure.

For more information on protecting and securing your network contact our team today on 0800 030 20 30 or email sales@mpr-it.co.uk

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Microsoft Edge to replace Internet Explorer

by Nicki Dowsett in General, Helpdesk, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Microsoft Teams, MPR, Office 2007, Office 365

Microsoft announced in March 2015, it’s plans to drop to Internet Explorer.  The next major update would be re-branded and re-named as Microsoft Edge.

In the 1990’s Internet Explorer was the essential tool for accessing the internet, but later faced a battle with Firefox and Google, which is now probably the most widely used option.

Internet Explorer 10 along with previous versions have not been supported since 2016, with no new further updates.  Whilst Internet Explorer 11 continues with security, compatibility and technical support for Windows, 7,8 and 10.  See here for information on the end of life for Windows 7 in October 2020. https://www.mpr-it.co.uk/microsoft-support-ending/

Microsoft is now actively encouraging users to upgrade to Edge, ahead of support ending 17 August 2021.

Most importantly the Microsoft Teams web app WILL NOT be supported on Internet Explorer from November 2020.  With over 75 million people currently using Microsoft Teams – now is the time to upgrade your browser.

All remaining Office 365 apps will continue to be supported by Internet Explorer until the service ends in the Summer of 2021.

Failure to update to Microsoft Edge ahead of these timescales may result in non-connectivity, along with increased security threats and no on-going support from Microsoft.

Microsoft Edge is very easy to update, depending on your organisation’s administration settings.  Most users will simply be able to download the file and install.  However, if you experience any issues MPR IT Support Helpdesk are available to assist our customers.  Email the team on support@mpr-it.co.uk with a brief description of your requirements and a ticket will be automatically logged for you.

Benefits of Microsoft Edge include:

  • Faster Browsing
  • Extended Battery Life
  • Additional Security Protection
  • More control over your personal data

See the Microsoft service page here for full details: https://microsoftedgewelcome.microsoft.com/en-gb/

To contact MPR IT Solutions for support on this please email: support@mpr-it.co.uk or call 0800 030 20 30.

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Windows Server 2012 – End of Life

by Nicki Dowsett in Audit Reviews, Engineers, General, Hardware, Helpdesk, IT Systems, Microsoft, Server cabinet, Tech-as-a-service, Windows Server 2012

MPR IT Solutions are supporting businesses to upgrade from Windows Server 2012 ahead of it end of life.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 was the fifth version of the Windows Server operating system. Released to market in September 2012, and shortly followed by it’s successor Windows Server 2012 R2, in October 2013.

All Microsoft products and packages follow a fixed lifecycle policy. At the end of life Microsoft will no longer provide support or security updates for their products. These dates tend to be pre-determined from the day of launch, clearly setting out expectations from the start.

Mainstream support on Windows Server 2012 ended in October 2018, with extended support available until January 2023, however Microsoft has since extended this until October 2023.

Type of SupportMainstreamExtendedBeyond
Request to change designAvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Security UpdatesAvailableAvailableNot Available
Non Security UpdatesAvailableAvailableNot Available
Self Help SupportAvailableAvailableAvailable
Paid SupportAvailableAvailableAvailable

For full details on the different levels of support please see Microsoft here.

What this means for your Windows 2012 Server OS

October 2023 seems a long way off, and realistically it is over 2 years until the extended support comes to an end. However there is plenty to consider in looking to upgrade your Windows Server 2012 operating system.

Existing hardware and the compatibility to new operating system

Newer operating systems often require additional memory and processing speed to work effectively. Older servers may not have the capacity to cope with a newer operating system due to the advancement of technology in recent years. Simply installing a new operating system without fully establishing your hardware capability will most likely mean that your existing server and software may not work. This can cause a loss of data and your staff being unable to carry out their tasks.

Existing packages and software compatibility

Most businesses use a variety of software packages from third parties, such as accounting, customer relationship and design software. These third party packages are written to be compatible with the available operating systems at the time of their own launch. By upgrading your existing operating system, it is possible that third party packages will not be compatible to your new operating system. An in-depth review of all the software packages that your organisation will ensure that the correct upgrade is implemented. If they are not carefully considered, the upgrade may mean that your employees are unable to use software that is vital for their role which can be detrimental to your day to day work.

Current and emerging market options

The technology market is constantly evolving, depending on your unique requirements and the packages/software there are a variety of options available when it comes to replacing your server. These include cloud, onsite or hybrid servers. Before any decision should be made on the type of server you need, we strongly recommend an in-depth consultation to evaluate the type of server best suited to your needs.

Budget

Finally, and probably one of the most important to consider is the budget. Depending on the type of new server hardware or operating system upgrade this can be a costly project. With forward planning on the upgrades required you can identify the budget and put this in place in advance. It might be that you need to plan the project to take place immediately or in the future. MPR IT Solutions will ensure that following the audit and consultation of your requirements, the costs involved will be clearly explained and set out.

Time scale – don’t leave till last minute

October 2023, is a long way off, however the project to upgrade an operating system or migrating to a new server can be time consuming.

If you are looking to upgrade your server or operating system we strongly advise that you do not delay in considering your options. For more information and to discuss your requirements contact our team on 0800 030 20 30 option 1.

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Adobe Flash Player Retired

by Nicki Dowsett in General, Helpdesk, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Software

Launched in 1996, Adobe Flash Player is a browser plug-in designed to stream video and animation content through websites. At the time of launch it was the most popular way to stream content quickly. Many internet users had dial up or slow connection and content such as this would take too long to view. By 2009, Adobe Flash was installed on 99% of internet connects computers.

However, with the launch of handheld devices such as smart phones and tablets, Adobe was slow to react and it was not compatible. It was expected to drain the battery life as well as being a security risk. By the time that Adobe had created a flash player that would work on mobile devices the big internet names were streaming content without a flash player. In 2015, Apple disabled the plug-in on their own Safari browser, and Google Chrome started to block some Flash Content. Adobe then announced in 2017, that Flash Player would be retired in 2020.

Adobe announced that the Flash Player will no longer be supported and as of 31 December 2020 no further security updates released. It should therefore be uninstalled from all laptops and PC’s. Through our managed IT Support packages, MPR IT Solutions will be removing Adobe Flash player from our customer packages. If you have any concerns regarding this please contact us on 0800 030 20 30.

From 12 January 2021, Adobe will stop Flash Player displaying content, rendering it retired. Games and content relying on Adobe Flash Player will no longer be accessible.

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Christmas Opening Hours

by Nicki Dowsett in Helpdesk, IT Support, MPR IT Work

As the year of 2020 draws to a close, we would like to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of our clients and suppliers for all the support throughout this year.

This year has certainly been a year like no other, with many businesses and employees feeling the pressure of furlough, lockdown and the uncertainty of what each new government announcement may bring. MPR IT Solutions have been proud to support each of our individual clients in enabling them to move end users to remote working and then the return to the office, even though it may have been short-lived before home/remote working returned again. The directors here have been immensely proud of the way all the team stepped up and went above and beyond at all times this year.

With the festive period now on the horizon, it may not be the same as previous years, but we all wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2021!

Please note that over this Christmas our staff will be taking some well earned time off, however we will still continue to support our customers via the helpdesk should you need us. Support requests can be raised automatically on our system by emailing the team on support@mpr-it.co.uk or by contacting us on 0800 030 20 30 during our opening hours.

Opening Hours for Helpdesk

  • Thursday 24th December – 08.30 – NOON
  • Friday 25th December – CLOSED
  • Monday 28th December (Bank Holiday) – CLOSED
  • Tuesday 29th December – 08.30 – 17.30
  • Wednesday 30th December – 08.30 – 17.30
  • Thursday 31st December – 08.30 – 17.30
  • Friday 1st January – CLOSED

We will return to our normal operating hours on Monday 4th January 2021.

Stay safe and we look forward to working with you in 2021!

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Office 2010 Support Ending Soon

by Nicki Dowsett in General, Helpdesk, Industry News, IT Support, Microsoft

As of 13th October 20201 Microsoft will be ending ongoing support for Office 2010.   Meaning from this date there will be no further updates on this package, include bug fixes, patches or security updates. If you are currently using either Office 2010, it is important to consider your options now.  Whilst Office 2010 will continue to function it does mean that you will be at risk of potentially harmful and serious security risks.

We recommend that you look to upgrading to Microsoft Office 365 as a replacement.  Office 365 is a cloud-based platform that allows access to all applications including – Windows, Excel, Teams, Powerpoint etc from anyway with an internet connection.

MPR IT Solutions are an official Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner and Small Business Specialist. This means we are trained in Microsoft Competencies that directly relate to implementing, migrating and configuring your Office 365 solution. We have vast experience in migrating businesses over to Office 365 and ensure minimal disruption to your daily tasks.

See our web page for details and pricing on Office 365 along with a few case studies on previous migrations we have carried out.

For more information and to discuss your options to upgrade Office 2010 to Office 365 please contact our team on 0800 030 20 30 or email sales@mpr-it.co.uk

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What does IT Support look like to you?

by Nicki Dowsett in Anti-virus software, Audio Systems, broadband, CCTV, cybercrime, Disaster Planning, DNS Web Hosting, Domain Registration, Engineers, Exclaimer Cloud, fibre optics, Fire Alarms, General, Hardware, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Microsoft Teams, MPR, MPR IT Work, New customer, Office 365, Office Move, Password Security, Point to Point Wireless, Ransomware, Remote working, Server cabinet, Software, SQL Server, SSL Certificates, Structured Cabling, Training, TV Distribution, Web Hosting, Websites, Windows 10, Wireless networks

“What does IT Support look like to you?”

Often the simple answer is a helpdesk offering daily support to end users in a fast and reliable manner.

When considering your business as a whole, IT Support is usually much more complex. Have you considered these areas?

  • Who looks after your phone system?
  • Who provides your internet connection and leased lines?
  • Where is your website domain registered and hosted?
  • Do you have malware and anti-virus software?
  • Is your office using a Wi-Fi network? Who maintains this?
  • Where do you purchase new hardware? Is it under warranty and how do you manage an upgrade programme?
  • Are your servers on site or are they cloud based? How are these monitored and supported?

If I was to ask the question again “What does IT Support look like to you?” Would the answer be the same? The chances are that answer has changed.

By choosing MPR IT Solutions, you can be assured that your business will benefit from all-round comprehensive support in all information technology aspects. With a dedicated Account Manager, simple straightforward invoicing and only one point of contact for any technical issues, MPR IT Solutions provides fast, effective and reliable IT Support to businesses throughout London and the South East. Working in partnership with our clients we believe enhances our understanding of their business needs and we always look to find the best and most effective solution. Our core products and services include (but not limited to);

  • Comprehensive IT Systems Support
  • Hosted/ Voip Telephones
  • Website domain registration and hosting
  • Internet connections and Leased Lines
  • Wi Fi Networks
  • Azure Server Support
  • Office 365 & Microsoft Teams
  • AEM Monitoring
  • Malware/Anti-virus software
  • Hardware purchasing and upgrade plans
  • Security Awareness Training (SATT)
  • Email Signature Management
Business IT Support Kent

Through the growth and continued development of MPR IT Solutions and increasing demands from clients, our sister company MPR Technical Services was born in 2019. A Technical Services Integrator, their highly experienced and qualified employees provide advice, design and installation services in residential and commercial developments.

MPR Technical Services and MPR IT Solutions will work together for larger projects, as necessary. With a collaborative relationship you can be assured of strong communication and enhanced understanding of the work carried out and on-going support required.

Extended Services through MPR Technical Services:

  • Structured Cabling
  • Wireless Networks
  • Audio Visual and Digital IPTV Systems
  • Electronic Security
  • Office re-locations

For more information on the products and services from MPR IT Solutions contact our team today on 0800 030 20 30 or email sales@mpr-it.co.uk

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Living on Microsoft Teams

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, General, Helpdesk, IT Support, Microsoft, Microsoft Teams, MPR IT Work, networking, Office 365, Remote working, Software, Training, Uncategorised

Microsoft Teams was originally launched in March 2017 as a planned replacement to Skype for business. By March 2020, Microsoft Teams was used daily by 44 million people. One month later, much of the world was in lockdown and the number of daily users dramatically increased to over 75 million users.

The chances are that, as your team has been working across multiple locations, you have been using Microsoft Teams in your business. We don’t need to tell you that it is predominantly used for instant chat messaging, voice and video calls between employees and customers or suppliers.

MPR and Microsoft Teams

Since March 2020, with staff working remotely initially, and now with a limited staff level physically in the office and others still remote, Teams has been a vital tool in keeping everyone connected.

Daily morning and end of day meetings take place to check everyone is well and to discuss the activity taking place. Whilst some members were furloughed an end of week meeting was put in place to have a general catch up and keep in touch with everyone. In addition to regular group chat to ask questions and the occasional ‘Dad’ joke from team members.

As someone that has worked remotely for the last 6 years with MPR IT, I can honestly say that with the regular meetings and chat I feel more connected to the company and my colleagues in other departments. Previously, I would drop an email or quick call to someone when I needed something now, I see them all daily instead of 3 or 4 times a year when I would normally visit the office.

Click here for a Quick Start Guide to Microsoft Teams or to see the full range of training videos and resources see the Microsoft Teams website. In the meantime, here are a few features we have found to be helpful.

Video Calling Backgrounds

When making a video call to your clients or colleagues you may not want your background to be on display and be looking for a more professional image. Microsoft Teams offer a couple of options to overcome this problem

Blurred background – to avoid people in your video call seeing your homework space, or other people walking around the office you can blur out the background so that only you are on screen.

Virtual Background – a step up from the blurred background is to set up a virtual screen. If you are meeting with clients on video call or in a networking event, choosing a virtual background with your company logo can be more professional than you home or office background.

This can be activated in just a few simple steps: 

  • Generally, you should find the option under your audio and video settings as you start or join a meeting 
  • Click on settings 
  • Check under options 
  • Look for an option to blur your background or choose an image and click on it  

Group videos and Conferencing

Teams Live Events – Microsoft Teams can host meetings from 1-10,000 participants depending on your subscription and you IT Infrastructure. With many networking events, conferences or seminars moving to virtual events you can still easily reach your audience. Within a meeting you can also create individual rooms for different speakers allowing people to more around within the event.

Live Captions – Adding live captions to your meeting can be beneficial for people with different levels of language understanding or for anyone with hearing difficulties. Simply click on the 3 dots in the middle of your screen and speak slowly and clearly into you microphone and the words will appear as subtitles on the screen.

Sharing screens and content -ability to share content or PowerPoint presentations with your audience. This is a feature that has been available on many video conferencing services for many years. Simply click on the share tray and choose the application you wish to share.

Recording and transcribing video meeting – Capture audio, video, and screen-sharing activity by recording your Teams meetings. Automatic transcription allows you to play back meetings and search for important discussion items in the transcript.

Follow up – After your event or meeting you can easily share your recording, files and content and chat with attendees as well as being able to reschedule the next meeting. When all linked together it easy to review previous notes and recording all in one place.

Collaborative Tool

Microsoft Teams is much more than a communication tool, it has many additional features making it an all-round collaborative tool. With many additional apps that can be incorporated to share and edit content, plan projects, connecting with your CRM, social media channels, email platforms and live chat on your website. Additional apps are easily accessed through the main Team’s page.

If you would like to discuss Office 365, SharePoint or Microsoft Teams for your business in more detail please contact us on 0800 030 20 30

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Outstanding Effort by MPR IT

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, Engineers, General, Hardware, Helpdesk, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR, MPR IT Work

Congratulations and a huge thanks to all the team at MPR IT.

With the uncertainty over the last couple of weeks surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak – Alex, Andy and Richard would like to acknowledge the outstanding effort put in by all the team here at MPR IT.

Since it first became apparent that companies should consider alternative plans for working from home – every member of the MPR IT team has put in an outstanding performance, going above and beyond to ensure we can continue to support our customers.

Sales Team

The main priority for the Sales team has been to source hardware – which very quickly became almost as difficult to get hold of as toilet rolls and hand sanitiser. The advantage of MPR IT not being tied to one particular supplier has been an enormous help, and we have been able to source pretty much all the laptops that were in stock. Additionally, Nicki from Marketing has been supporting the Helpdesk Team with taking calls and logging tickets to allow the team to work as efficiently as possible.

Engineers

Just a few of the laptops

Engineers

The Engineers have been rushed off their feet with the setting up and installation of over 500 laptops in a week. Everyone and anyone in the MPR IT family that could work on this task was pulled in – including the team from MPR Technical Services.

Helpdesk

Number of tickets raise and percentage closed within 24 hours

This week32859%
Last week36359%
2 weeks ago28161%
3 weeks ago29661%

During the last two weeks the team has seen an increase in the number of tickets raised. A number of these tickets have been to set up remote access for an entire company which can range from 1 to 20 users. Normally a ticket would be raised for an individual issue and not multiple users. Despite this increase the team have continued to average a 60% close rate within 24 hours. An incredible effort with such a large increase in workload.

Dealing not only with the normal everyday queries, but also supporting our clients that require individuals to be set up for remote working via VPN, access to emails and small glitches as it all comes into effect. In total we have sourced, set up and installed over 500 laptops, and enabled over 1000 users to be able to work from home.

Finally not forgetting setting up our own team to work from home to continue to be able support our customers during this time. The helpdesk team are now all working hard from home to provide continued support to our customers and continue to be contacted on 0800 030 20 30 option 2 with full access to all our systems and phones.

Our Customers

Finally we must say a huge thank you – to you our customers for being patient and understanding during this incredibly busy time. We have had an incredible increase in demand for support. We value each and every one of you and we will continue to support you above and beyond.

Comments such as these mean so much to the team when they are frazzled and weary – please keep them coming in:

We were really impressed by the speed at which Mitch responded to our call and were SO grateful that he got everything working again!

Ian was very efficient and explained what he was doing and the cause of the issue.

Thank you for sorting this so quickly! much appreciated

If you do require support over the coming weeks – please contact us in the normal ways 0800 030 20 30 option 1 for Sales and option 2 for Support. Please also follow us on social media for updates and news articles – Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn.

Keep safe and we look forward to supporting during this time.

Alex, Andy and Richard

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