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May 10th, 2016

2016May10_Hardware_AServers are the heart of most modern SMBs. They host intranetwork data, customer data, and facilitate product delivery. Like any piece of equipment in your workflow, servers need to be carefully cared for in order to keep you up and running. With the strain that most businesses put on their servers, one of the most important maintenance variables is temperature management. Understanding why keeping your servers cool is vitally important and could save you from an expensive crash, troubling data loss or reduced hardware reliability.

How does temperature affect my servers?

Extreme temperature in server hardware can result in different forms of damage. Most SMBs see total failure as the most concerning outcome. A server that completely crashes for any reason results in costly data loss and service interruptions, but the unbiased advisory organization Uptime Institute warns about overheating that doesn’t result in total failure. Every 18 degrees higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, hardware reliability decreases by 50%. This decrease in reliability can be just as, if not more, expensive for your hardware budget in the long run.

Cooling methods can’t just be implemented and forgotten, they must be closely monitored to ensure the health of your server hardware--short and long term. Options for temperature management range from simple low-budget solutions to expensive outsourced alternatives; determining your server management budget will greatly depend on what types of methods you intend to implement at your SMB.

Cooling methods

Which system you use to cool your server largely depends on how much power your hardware is using. The higher the watt, the harder it’s working. It will be easier to determine the scope of your temperature management needs when you have a thorough understanding of your power consumption.

PCWorld advises that simple conduction management is adequate for any equipment operating at less than 400 watts. This means simple solutions like positioning your server away from walls, low ceilings, cable clusters and anything else that can block hot air from dissipating naturally.

For watts between 400 and 2,000, strategic ventilation becomes a necessity. Adding passive ventilation is viable up to 700 watts, but fan assisted ventilation will be required above that up to 2,000 watts. With the increased power consumption, temperatures will rise and air movement needs to be more closely managed. At this stage simple vent and oscillating fans will suffice.

Anything higher than 2,000 watts needs to utilize dedicated cooling solutions. This means air-cooled units to actively reduce server room temperature. Depending on the size and arrangement of the space, a simple self-contained unit may be enough to reduce rising temperatures back into acceptable ranges. However, if you’re not sure, you should schedule a consultation with a vendor to consider more drastic cooling and monitoring methods.

Keeping your servers running at ideal temperatures means smoother data operations, lower hardware budgets and one less thing to worry about at your SMB. As your business continues to grow and develop, keep close tabs on increasing server loads--it could save you from devastating data loss. If you’d like more detailed advice about server management, or have any other questions about your hardware setup, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
April 26th, 2016

2016Apr26_Hardware_AHave you been stuck using the same mouse for several years now? If you’re feeling a bit of pain in your mouse clicking hand, then it’s probably time to consider an upgrade. We don’t always pay attention to it, but a good mouse can make a big difference. The perfect mouse will let you work efficiently, be easy to wield, and is comfortable enough to save your wrists and fingers from injury. So the next time you’re in the market for new mice, keep these these tips in mind.

Cable or wireless?

Choosing between a wired or a wireless mouse is a factor you have to consider if you’re planning on purchasing a new mouse. Wireless mice are generally more comfortable since your range of movement isn’t limited by a cable and they’re usually very travel friendly. However they tend to be less responsive than their wired counterpart, which can be a problem for users requiring more precise mouse control. In some cases, wireless mice can also interfere with other wireless devices nearby. Furthermore, wireless mice require batteries, which can be a drag if you forget to buy some at the store. If you’re planning on using the same mouse for both work and home, you run the risk of losing the tiny USB receiver for your wireless mouse.

On the other hand, wired mice are cheaper and easier to use since you simply plug it in and you’re good to go. The only problem you’ll have to worry about is dealing with tangled wires. So when you’re deciding on a new mouse, think about whether you’re looking for comfort or convenience.

Ergonomics matters

You’re going to be using the new mouse for a while, so it’s important to choose a mouse that feels comfortable in your hands. When deciding on the right mouse, focus on the size and the grip of the device. The size of the mouse usually comes down to the individual’s hand size. For example, someone with smaller hands might find larger mice quite unwieldy. Certain mice can also accommodate for different types of grips:
  • Fingertip grip: With a smaller and flatter body, this mouse allows you to control the entire device with just your fingertips. This type of mouse usually provides you with more precise control of your cursor. However, it doesn’t give any room for your palms to rest on, increasing the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Avoid using this grip unless your work requires a lot of photo, video or sound editing.
  • Palm grip: Palm grips are the complete opposite of fingertip grip mice. With a bump at the back end for your palms, this type of mouse reduces the stress on your forearm and wrist. This grip sacrifices precision for comfort so people prone to repeated stress injuries (RSI) should definitely opt for this type of grip instead.
  • Claw grip: This type of mouse is usually the one people are most accustomed to. Named after the shape your hand makes when you hold this type of mouse, claw grip mice give you the best of both the palm grip and the fingertip grip. Like the palm grip, your palms can rest on the mouse but this type of grip also gives you a bit more control. While the palm grip is still the most ergonomical mouse, the claw grip gives a good balance of both comfort and precision.

Do more than right and left clicks

Don’t just assume that extra buttons on a mouse would mean that it’s only meant for gamers. Extra buttons add more functionality to your mouse. For instance, you can assign your spare mouse buttons to Copy and Paste so you’ll no longer have to input keyboard shortcuts. Want to switch between open windows quickly? You can assign the Alt + Tab (for Windows) and Command + Tab (for Mac) to those mouse buttons. While this isn’t a requirement when picking a new mouse, it’s definitely a neat feature that will save you some time.

DPI (dots per inch)

For precise movements, higher sensitivity is a must. Whether you’re editing images, videos or audio files, you’re going to require more precise mouse movements to execute them well. If you ever had to move your mouse around because your cursor was stuck, then a high sensitivity mouse can solve your problems. Try looking for mice with 1200 DPI or greater for finer control.

Mouse specifications could be the last thing on your mind when it comes to buying new hardware. But comfort is important. A good mouse with the right fit, can make you more efficient and reduce the risk of injury. If you need some help setting up the best hardware for your company, give us a call. We’re happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
April 6th, 2016

2016Apr6_Hardware_AEverything seems fine at first, your PC is running normally but then a blue screen suddenly greets you. After restarting your computer you find that a lot of your unsaved work is gone. If this has happened to you before, rest assured, you’re not alone. What you’ve just encountered is the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) and it appears when there is an issue with either your hardware or software. Fortunately, there are ways to troubleshoot these problems. Here are some of the common causes of a critical failure error and how you can fix them.

Find out what caused your BSoD

The next time you get the blue screen, don’t panic. This is just an alert to prevent further system damage to your computer and to indicate the cause of crash. The most important part of the blue screen is the error name which displays messages like “Driver_IRQL_not_less_or_equal”. For Windows 8 to 10 users, this information is usually displayed at the bottom of the screen. For troubleshooting advice, a memory dump containing details of your latest crash can be found in Event Viewer > System > Windows Logs and click any messages indicating an error. Under the General tab you will see a full report of your latest crash -- this should be given to an IT technician so they can help you further.

Fixing the problem:

Update your drivers

Crashes are generally caused by problems with hardware or the driver software that is allowing that specific hardware to run. If you’re getting frequent blue screens, try to recall any recent changes you have made to your computer. Have you recently installed a new driver for an external device? You can also check if any drivers are conflicting by going to Control Panel > Device Manager. If you see a warning icon on any of the devices, there is something wrong with the device. Chances are, specific drivers are either outdated or weren’t properly installed.

To update, simply search online for your specific computer manufacturer and install the drivers provided in their list. Remember to only install the drivers that apply to the specific model of your device and your operating system. For example, if your operating system is Windows 8, only download Windows 8 related items for your specific model.

Other hardware problems

BSoD can also indicate hardware problems. Running very intensive programs that your CPU can’t handle will cause your computer to overheat and eventually crash. If you use a laptop, try to keep it on flat surfaces and away from fabric material as this could block the fan vents and cause your laptop to overheat.

Your RAM could also be faulty. Check if it’s attached to your CPU properly or go to Windows memory diagnostics to find out if you’re straining your RAM.

System restore

Using system restore will allow you to undo any significant software changes that are crashing your PC. To restore your computer to a previous time, go to Control Panel > System and Security > Backup and Restore then click on Recover System Settings for your Computer. From here you can select a restore point to a date where you think your computer was not experiencing frequent crashes.

Check for viruses

Some types of malware can cause instabilities in your operating system causing your PC to crash. If you are aware that your computer is infected with a virus, try running antivirus software. However, make sure you’re not running two antivirus software at the same time while you’re doing this. Both programs can conflict with each other and, in some cases, cause system crashes.

Clean reboot

This option is your last resort if none of the solutions above work. For Windows 8 or 10 users simply go to Settings > Update and Security > Recovery then select Reset this PC. If your computer is still getting frequent blue screens then it would be best to go to an IT consultant and have them look over your hardware.

The Blue Screen of Death is one of the biggest problems your company’s hardware is going to face. Consider using any of the above solutions to fix your blue screen and hopefully everything will be back to normal. If you would like to know more about any general hardware advice, or if you have any concerns regarding your IT, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
March 17th, 2016

2016Mar17_Hardware_AIt can be tough to see your laptop die. While you likely shared many good moments with it, undoubtedly, there will come a time when it’s ready to be retired to the back of the closet or disposed of. If you are lucky enough to still have yours hanging around the house or office, then there’s no better time to dust it off. A new software is available that’s breathing new life into old laptops across the country. Here’s what you need to know.

A New York City based startup known as Neverware has developed a dual-boot system that essentially turns your old laptop into a Chromebook, and even uses the same operating system as a Chromebook: Chrome OS. The software that enables this is called CloudReady and, once installed on your system, you can switch between your old OS and Chrome OS at startup.

How does CloudReady revive your old laptop?

Because the Chrome OS operating system is lightweight, it frees up your laptop from its old, sluggish operating system. With CloudReady installed, your old laptop can boot up more than twice as fast, and you can browse the web twice as fast as well. However, it should be noted that these times vary, and in some cases, you may see no difference in speed.

Does it work for all laptops?

Most, but not all. CloudReady can be installed on many different models of the Macbook Pro and iMac. As for Windows, it will only work on PCs preinstalled with Windows 7 and up, and installed in UEFI mode. While that last bit may sound a bit confusing, if your laptop is ten years old or younger, CloudReady will likely work.

How to install CloudReady

To get started, you’ll need the following two items:
  • A laptop with internet connection
  • A USB drive with at least 8 gigs of storage
Everything else you’ll need to install the software can be found at Neverware’s website. Once you’ve got all your tools handy, here’s how you install it:
  1. Download the OS
  2. Install OS on a USB drive
  3. Insert USB into your old laptop and reboot it to CloudReady drive
  4. Install the OS on your laptop’s internal drive (make sure to backup your files first).
Depending on how tech savvy you are, the installation process can take anywhere between 45 minutes, to well over an hour.

So is it worth trying? Well, besides maybe an hour or two of your time, you don’t really have much to lose by giving it a shot. If you’d like more ideas on how to improve the life of your hardware or are interested in buying some new tech gear this Spring, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
March 4th, 2016

2015Mar2_Hardware_AIf you’re not an IT professional or have an in-depth knowledge of technology, computer terminology can seem like a foreign language. While you certainly don’t need to be fluent in geek speak, having a basic understanding of it can help in a number of ways. For example, it can help you purchase the right equipment when searching for new hardware or more clearly explain a technical issue you’re having to your IT provider. Here are a few computer terms that can help you along.

App - These days when someone hears the word “app”, they usually think of a program for their tablet or smartphone; however, the word “app” actually has a much more broader meaning. Apps, which is short for applications, have been around since the birth of computers, and the word really refers to any type of computer program. Some examples of common apps used today include Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, and Symantec Antivirus.

Browser - Your window to the Internet, a browser enables you to access all the information there is online. In fact, the Internet is virtually inaccessible without the use of a browser, and you’re likely reading this article on a browser right now. Google Chrome, FireFox, and Microsoft Edge are a few examples of common browsers.

Search Engine - Not to be confused with a browser, a Search Engine is a page you visit within your browser that allows you to search and find what you’re looking for on the web. You type keywords or phrases into a Search Engine, press enter, and then the web pages and files that contain those phrases and keywords are presented to you. Google, Bing and Yahoo! are a few of the Search Engines available.

Hard drive - A hard drive is essentially a storage unit for everything on your computer. Everything from your operating system to applications, such as Excel and PowerPoint, are stored on your hard drive, and it allows your computer to access these files and programs for your use. The more hard drive space you have, the more applications, videos, documents and various files can be stored on your computer.

Motherboard - If your computer had a heart, the motherboard would be it. The motherboard is a circuit board that powers your RAM, CPU and hardware, enabling it all to communicate with each other. If the motherboard is taken out of the equation, your computer will be unable to operate.

CPU/Processor - If the motherboard is the heart of the computer, then the CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is the brains. A CPU carries out the instructions it receives from the different hardware and software operating on the computer. At one point or another, everything on your computer goes through the CPU. And the more powerful it is, the faster it will be able to operate and the more advanced applications you’ll be able to run.

RAM - Random Access Memory stores all the temporary programs and data that your computer is currently using so they can quickly be accessed by your computer’s CPU. For example, if you are running Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, Adobe Reader, and Skype all at the same time, RAM enables you to access them fast - without having to reopen them every time. The more RAM you have the quicker these programs will run. Once your computer shuts down, it will no longer store these programs in the RAM, but instead in the hard drive.

These are just a handful of terms a layperson may come across when asking for technology service or talking about computers. If you’d like to learn more about the tech talk that is native to us IT professionals, or have any concerns with your current IT, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 27th, 2016

2016Jan27_Hardware_AWhen servers are working properly, you would never know they were there. When they are malfunctioning, servers become the scourge of the universe single-handedly bringing your business to a halt. In many ways, your servers are the heartbeat of your business. A strong one ensures good health while down servers are likely to leave your organization flatlining. Don’t let that happen to you. Here are three questions to ask about your company’s servers.

When do my servers need to be replaced?

This is a difficult question to answer but there are two factors you will want to consider - age and performance. The useful life of a server tends to be around three years. After the third year, your support costs to maintain them will rise drastically. While it’s not unheard of for servers to function properly beyond year three, relying on them beyond this point can be risky as their health can’t always be guaranteed. This means you will have to deal with costly repairs and possible downtime that you can’t predict.

Performance is another factor when it comes to servers. Even if your servers are only a year old, it doesn’t make sense to keep them around until year three if they are slow and are costing a fortune to maintain. It’s important to do a cost benefit analysis in these situations and look at how much money you will lose in repairs and downtime and then compare it to the cost of buying new hardware.

Do I have an alternative to buying new servers?

Believe it or not, the answer to your server problems might not necessarily be purchasing more physical hardware. One way to avoid this is by embracing virtualization. This process allows your servers to be stored and maintained off-site with everything being delivered to your office via the internet. There are two notable benefits of virtualizing your servers. The first is that you don’t have to spend a bunch of money buying new equipment. The second is that virtualization is a scalable technology meaning you only pay for the space you use. For instance, if you only need two and a half servers, you can do that. This is in contrast to having physical equipment which would require your business to either make do with two servers or splurge and buy the third one even if you didn’t need all of that space.

Of course there are a few things you need to consider before making the switch to server virtualization. One of the biggest issues is security. You’ll have to ask yourself if you feel comfortable keeping all of your data off-site. While this isn’t a concern for some companies, others don’t see this as palatable. There are several workarounds to this issue including the hybrid option where you keep sensitive data on-site and everything else off-site.

Can I do anything to prevent a full-scale server replacement?

Yes. It’s certainly possible for you to buy some time and give your current servers additional life, but these are short term fixes, not long term solutions. Server upgrades are a good place to start if your servers are less than three years old but are degrading in performance. Adding additional CPUs or memory may increase server performance at a fraction of the cost of buying new servers.

You can also utilize old servers for non-critical workloads. It’s possible to extend the life of servers that may have four of five years of wear and tear on them via repurposing. Instead of swapping out all of your servers, use the old ones for the non-critical processes and purchase new ones to handle critical workloads. This will help you get a better ROI on your technology while avoiding a wholesale hardware purchase which could cripple your budget.

If you have any questions about your servers and how you can increase performance, get in touch with us today. We can help you procure new hardware or show you the benefits of virtualization.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 15th, 2016

Hard disk drive and solid state drive isolated on white backgroundThe standard hard disk drive (HDD) has been the predominant storage device for desktop computers and laptops for a long time. But now, with the invention of solid state drive (SSD) technology, computer buyers and users now have access to the latest innovation that’s setting new trends in the storage market. So which one should you go for - the HDD or SSD? Read on to find out.

What is an HDD?

A hard disk drive (HDD) is basically a storage device in a computer. It is comprised of metal platters with magnetic coating, spindle, and various moving parts to process and store data. The common size for laptop hard drives in the 2.5” model, while a larger 3.5” model is usually found in desktop computers.

What is an SSD?

A solid state drive (SSD) is also another type of data storage that performs the same job as an HDD. But insteading of storing data in a magnetic coating on top of platters, an SSD uses flash memory chips and an embedded processor to store, retrieve, and cache data. It is roughly about the same size as a typical HDD, and bears the resemblance of what smartphone batteries would look like.

HDD and SSD Comparison

Now let’s take a closer look at the two devices. We break it down into the following main categories:

Speed This is where SSDs truly prevail. While HDDs need a long time to access data and files because the disk must spin to find it, SSDs are up to 100 times faster since data can be accessed instantly. This is why an SSD-equipped PC will boot within seconds and deliver blazing fast speed for launching programs and applications, whereas a computer that uses a HDD will take much longer time to boot the operating system, and will continue to perform slower than an SSD during normal use.

Capacity As of writing, SSD units top out at 16TB storage capacity. Although there are large SSDs, anything that’s over 512GB is beyond most people’s price range. HDDs, on the other hand, have large capacities (1-2TB) available for much more affordable prices.

Durability HDDs consist of various moving parts and components, making them susceptible to shock and damage. The longer you use your HDD, the more they wear down and most eventually end up failing. Meanwhile, an SSD uses a non-mechanical design of flash storage mounted on a circuit board, providing better performance and reliability, and making it more likely to keep your files and data safe.

Noise An HDD can sometimes be the loudest part of your computer. Even the highest-performing HDDs will emit some noise when the drive is spinning back and forth to process data. SSDs have no moving parts, meaning it makes no noise at all.

Heat More moving part means more heat, and HDD users will have to live with the fact that their device will degenerate over time. SSD uses flash memory, generating less heat, helping to increase its lifespan.

Cost To be frank, SSDs are much more expensive than HDDs for the same capacity. This is why most computers with an SSD only have a few hundred gigabytes of storage. HDDs are about twice as cheaper than SSDs.

Despite the high costs and low capacity, SSD is a clear winner over the HDD in terms of performance. While you’re paying more for less memory with an SSD, you’re investing in a faster and far more durable data storage option in the long run.

We recommend using an SSD as the primary storage for your operating system, applications, and most-used programs. You can install another HDD inside the same computer to store documents, movies, music, and pictures - these files don’t need to leverage the incredible access times and speed of SSD.

Looking to invest in some new hardware for your business? Make sure you talk with our experts before you make the decision - we can provide sound advice and help guide you in the right direction.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
November 10th, 2015

Hardware_Nov10_AWith the holidays approaching, computers are likely to be among the season’s best-selling gifts. But there are so many different types of computers out there, each with varying specifications and capabilities - how do you find the best one for your needs? Whether you’re purchasing a computer for yourself, for your loved one, or for your friend at work, here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you make the right decision.

Desktop or Laptop?

This depends on your working style and environment. The rule is quite simple: if you rarely work out of the office, get a desktop PC. If you need to work at home, on the go, or at client meetings, then go for a laptop. It’s worth noting that desktops are generally cheaper than laptops at similar specifications, have a longer usage life, and make for easier changing or upgrading of components. Laptops, on the other hand, are very portable due to their compact size, they consume less energy, and they offer a more flexible user experience.

Processor

If you want a computer that loads programs in a flash, completes tasks almost instantly, and runs smoothly at all times, then we recommend you invest in the strongest processors available. The performance of a processor is determined by its number of cores and speed, so the bigger the number, the better. Processors with two to four cores will often suffice for most users. However, if your tasks involve rendering high-definition images, animations, graphics, and analysis, then for optimum results it makes sense to get a processor with more than four cores.

RAM

Random Access Memory (RAM) allows your computer to perform multiple tasks at once without a hitch. Just like processors, the amount of RAM your computer has will determine how fast it will run when you work on several programs simultaneously. Nowadays, standard computers come with 1-2GB of RAM. However, we advise you to get at least 4GB, or even 8GB, of RAM so that you can navigate smoothly between tasks such as email browsing, Internet surfing, and working on word processing documents and spreadsheets.

Hard Drive

The bigger the hard drive, the more space you have to store files. If you plan on using your computer with no peripherals, you’ll want to choose a computer that offers the biggest hard drive. But remember that you can always purchase an external hard drive to transfer or store files if your current hard drive is running out of space. Another thing to consider in a hard drive is its spin speed. Modern computers usually have 5400rpm or 7200rpm drives, the latter being more efficient. The faster your hard drive disk is spinning, the quicker data can be transferred to and from it.

Operating Systems

Picking an operating system is a big decision when it comes to choosing a new computer. You’ll probably want to stick with an operating system you’re already familiar with, since it can take some time to adapt yourself to a new OS. Here are some of the popular options available on the market:
    • Windows
    • Mac
    • Linux
    • Ubuntu
Most people will just go for either Windows or Mac OS, because the complexity of Linux and Ubuntu mean they are are not popular among everyday users.

Want more hardware tips and tricks? Get in touch with our technology experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
September 16th, 2015

Hardware_Sep16_AEven in today’s world where electrical outlets are more numerous than ever before, there will still be times you need to push your laptop’s battery to the edge. Ever wish you could buy yourself a few extra minutes by extending your battery life? Here are a few tips to help you get every last drop of energy from your laptop battery.

Dim the screen

The easiest way to conserve your battery is to dim the screen of the laptop. The screen eats up a lot of energy, and chances are you don’t really need it that bright in the first place. The more you dim it, the more energy you will save. If you are desperate for battery life, turning it down to the lowest setting that still renders screen readable to you is the way to go. If you just want to conserve energy, taking it down to halfway will help conserve the battery and give you additional time down the road.

Stop charging your phone

It is almost second nature for people to charge their phones when they have a chance, but doing so while using your laptop can be a serious drain on its battery. If you need to maximize your laptop battery then unplug your phone, tablet or other device from it. You should see a big difference in battery performance almost immediately. In fact, it is best not to have any USB accessories, such as a wireless mouse, plugged in at all. These can also deplete your laptop battery in short order.

Only use what you need

While it’s fine to keep open multiple programs, applications and other features when your laptop is plugged in, these will eat away at your battery life when you’re away from a power socket. You should run a quick inventory on what you are using, and then close out of the rest. Do you really need to be running Skype if you are not talking to anyone? Probably not. Don’t just push them into the background, though. Be sure to close out of them completely. By only running what you need, you can reduce the burden on your battery.

Shutdown Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi can be one of the biggest drags on a laptop battery, because it is constantly using energy to search for new networks or to stay connected to the one it's on. Not only that, but internet browsers, especially ones with multiple tabs open, can increase energy consumption. If you aren’t using the internet, you should shut off the Wi-Fi and close out of any browsers. If you do need to use the internet, avoid opening multiple tabs, watching videos or streaming music.

Plan ahead

If you aren’t sure when you will be able to charge your laptop again, it is best to implement some of these battery-saving techniques before the situation gets critical. Chances are if you aren’t using certain apps now, you probably weren’t using them 30 minutes ago either. The best way to conserve your laptop's battery life is by being vigilant and alert to usage in advance. It is almost always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the battery life left on your laptop.

Let us show you how to get the most out of your laptop. Our trained experts can also answer all your hardware questions. Drop us a line for more information.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
August 5th, 2015

164_HW_AWith cyber attacks becoming a seemingly monthly occurrence, more and more these days it seems like simple passwords just aren’t cutting it when it comes to online security. Because of this, a lot of online services use two-factor authentication. But for anyone who has used the technology, they know how much of an annoyance this can be. The extra 30 seconds to a minute it takes to login adds up - especially when you’re signing in to dozens of websites a day. But now there’s a new piece of hardware that hopes to make this process easier than ever, and it’s called Yubikey.

What is two-factor authentication?

Even if you have no idea what two-factor authentication is, you’ve likely been using it already for well over a decade. Two-factor authentication is a security measure that is essentially what it sounds like: you use two different types of identification to verify who you are.

Two common accounts where you’ve likely already used two-factor authentication are email and online banking. Ordinarily when you normally logon to either of these services, you only use a single password - your first method of authentication. However, if you are logging on from a different computer than your usual one, you’re likely asked to go through an additional step to check that you are who you say you are. This happens when you’re prompted for a one-time password - sent to you via text message, email or via some other method. That is your second method of verification, which adds up to two-factor authentication.

Oh, and how have you been using this process for over a decade? Well, another common means of two-factor authentication that’s been in widespread use for over a half century is the ATM. Your physical ATM card is the first form of authentication and your PIN is the second.

Introducing Yubikey - the easy solution for two-factor authentication

Yubikey is a small hardware device that looks similar to a USB drive and is designed to make two-factor authentication on the web easy. In addition to your normal username and password for a given website, it acts as your second form of authentication. Once you’ve registered it, you can use this device with a variety of websites or services that support two-factor authentication. Additionally, you can use Yubikey as a second method of authentication for your computer login, disk encryption for a hard drive, or password manager.

How does it work?

Once you’ve registered your Yubikey with a website or service that supports two-factor authentication, you simply insert the key into the computer, and then tap or touch it to provide your second method of authentication. Bear in mind that the Yubikey is not a biometric device. Similar to an ATM card, its identity protection power lies in the fact that is a physical hardware token. This prevents phishing, malware and other attacks that would need your physical key (in addition to your password) to breach your account.

However, since the Yubikey is a physical piece of hardware, some may wonder, “won’t it be easy to lose?” Well, when was the last time you permanently lost your keys? if the answer is never, then you’re in luck. Yubikey simply attaches to your keychain.

Curious to learn more about the latest hardware developments? Need a new hardware solution for your business? Call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware