Two Flavors of Network – How Do They Compare?

Different sizes and types of businesses need different types of networks. Do you know what kind is right for yours?
 
For small to mid-sized businesses, the big distinction is between peer-to-peer and client-server networks. In a peer-to-peer network, all machines are created equal; they each provide their own “resources” – meaning applications, computing power, and so on. If you take one machine out of the peer-to-peer network, the remaining machines can carry on as if nothing happened. A typical configuration might be two or three desktop computers, each connected to the Internet and to a common printer and fax machine. If two users need to share or exchange files, they’ll usually email them to each other or post them to a common Web portal.
 
In client-server network, the server acts as the primary provider of resources to the other machines. For example, a file server provides data files to the client machine whenever the client requests it. In order to access email, the client machine must “talk” to the email server, and so on. Client-server networks tend to offer a more secure environment than peer-to-peer networks because the server can better control access to resources. They also tend to be more conducive to collaboration, because clients can share resources from a single location rather than having to swap individual (and often duplicative) copies of data on a one-to-one basis. However, if a server fails, every client will lose access to the resources it provides; therefore, you’ll need a backup server or a failover strategy.
 
In short, a very small startup may need nothing more than a peer-to-peer network. But in order to scale well and make sure the company can grow in an orderly, organized fashion, you’re probably going to need a client-server network eventually.

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Use Search Folders to Group Messages by Sender, Topic, Keyword, and More

The Search Folder is an easy way to organize your correspondence without actually shuffling copies of messages between folders in Outlook 2003 and 2007. For example, say you’ve been working with someone on several different projects.  You might keep a folder in Outlook under the name of each project.  But with a saved search folder, you can put together a virtual copy of all the messages you’ve sent to that person and received from them, regardless of which project it is related to.
Here’s how to do it:
1.       Go to the New button on your toolbar and click the arrow for the drop-down menu.
2.       Select Search Folder.
3.       You’ll see a number of Search Folder options. You can organize them according to whether they’re flagged or not, who sent the message, how large any attachments are, and a host of other options. You can also customize folders by more advanced criteria.
4.       Say you want to create a folder for all of your communication with a particular person. Select Mail from and sent to specific people under the Mail from People and Lists column. Then select Choose.
5.       Type in the person’s name in the From or Sent to field at the bottom. It doesn’t have to be their actual address. Click OK, and click OK again to close out of the Search Folder menu.
6.       You’ll see a new Search Folder listed in your mailbox that will contain all of your correspondence with that person.
The real value of the Saved Search folder is that it collects messages sent and received messages, so you don’t have to go trolling through your Sent Items to get a full picture of every conversation. And when a particular folder isn’t useful to you anymore, you can go ahead and delete it – the original messages remain intact regardless of what happens to the Search Folder.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the capabilities of recent releases of Office. If you haven’t upgraded, now might be the right time. Contact CMIT Solutions to find out more.

Stop Mousing and Use Your Keyboard to Quickly Navigate Windows Explorer

At this point, most users are pretty comfortable with the basic keyboard shortcuts used in popular Microsoft programs like Word and Excel; most know how to copy, paste, and undo without having to mouse over to the Edit menu. But when it comes to working with Windows Explorer windows or folders, “common knowledge” becomes a little less common. Here are some useful keyboard shortcuts for whenever you’re navigating through Windows Explorer windows and folders.

Key Combination = Result

CTRL+N =Open a new window

END = Display the bottom of the active window

HOME = Display the top of the active window

F11 = Maximize or minimize the active window

NUM LOCK+ASTERISK (*) on numeric keypad = Display all subfolders under the selected folder

NUM LOCK+PLUS SIGN (+) on numeric keypad = Display the contents of the selected folder

NUM LOCK+MINUS SIGN (-) on numeric keypad = Collapse the selected folder

LEFT ARROW = Collapse the current selection (if expanded), or select the parent folder

ALT+LEFT ARROW  = View the previous folder

RIGHT ARROW = Display the current selection (if collapsed), or select the first subfolder

ALT+RIGHT ARROW = View the next folder

CTRL+Mouse scroll wheel  = Change the size and appearance of file and folder icons

ALT+D  = Select the Address bar

Tony Puzzo is the September 2009 Franchise Partner of the Month

Tony PuzzoTony Puzzo is not only the President of CMIT Solutions of Greater Hackensack, but also the Area Developer for North New Jersey and South New York State. Prior to opening his CMIT location, Tony was the Director of IT for Verizon. He oversaw the Back Operations, Human Resources, Supply and Financial departments, which gives him an edge in understanding what multi-level organizations need in terms of IT support.

Because of Tony’s dedication and organization, he has proven himself an important asset to the CMIT Team. He is a team player and is always willing to offer his advice and assistance to those in the system, making him an outstanding Franchise Partner of the Month for September 2009.

Don’t Let Your Small Business Fall Prey to Phishers, Scammers, and Credit Card Fraudsters

If you hear about identity theft in the news, it’s often in the context of individuals impersonating other individuals. But while consumers are often protected by stringent identity theft protection laws, the situation can be a lot murkier when somebody tries to impersonate your business.
 
Because they need to make themselves visible to prospective customers, businesses are compelled to share with the public a lot of information that individuals tend to keep private, such as their phone number and address. All an identity thief has to do is open up a mailbox in your shared office building, fake up some letterhead, and obtain your business license number — something many businesses are required by law to display — and they’re well on their way to opening up credit card accounts in your name, filing purchase orders, and running up bills that will eventually come to you.
 
So what can you do to prevent small business identity theft? 
  1. Review your business credit report regularly.
  2. Go over employee charge card billing statements with a fine-toothed comb before they are paid, especially if you’ve issued multiple cards for a single account.
  3. Educate employees to be on the lookout for phishers and phone and email scammers. People who would never think to open a suspicious-looking email in their personal inbox might not hesitate to turn over your Federal Tax Identification Number and names of key executives to someone posing as a vendor or a government representative. 
  4. Once an employee leaves the company, make sure you immediately cut off access to all your IT resources. Unfortunately, a lot of identity theft is still an “inside job.”
  5. Lock up your data! Install a business-class firewall, encrypt your network, assign access privileges sparingly, and perform regular updates to your security software.
According to security firm Panda Security, a shocking percentage of small businesses haven’t taken very basic steps to secure their data assets. A recent survey showed that “97 percent of U.S. SMBs have installed anti-virus and 95 percent claim their security systems are up to date. Yet 29 percent said they have no anti-spam in place, 22 percent are without anti-spyware technology and 16 percent do not have firewalls. 52 percent said they have no web filtering solution in place. 39 percent of respondents said that they have yet to be trained about IT threats.” (See this article on CIOZone for more details: http://www.ciozone.com/index.php/Security/SMBs-a-Gold-Mine-for-Identity-Thieves.html)
 
Like a lot of security trends, this one will probably get worse before it gets better. But until every state enacts small business-protection laws on par with the ones recently enacted by the state of California (http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/jul2009/db2009079_858536.htm), vigilance and a good cybersecurity plan for your small business are absolutely key.
 
CMIT Solutions offers anti-spam, antivirus, and anti-spyware protection as part of CMIT Marathon — our suite of monitoring and maintenance services that keep your IT systems up, running, and protected, 24/7. (For more information go to www.cmitsolutions.com/marathon.php) We can also set up firewalls and perform other network security measures to make your network safer.