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Posts Tagged ‘efficiency’


Android and IOS: Is the Device Just Old, or Is It Obsolete?

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

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When trying to determine if a piece of technology is simply old or completely obsolete, keep in mind that there are different criteria for Android and iOS devices than for desktop and laptop computers. An employee stuck using an obsolete device is likely, after all, to argue that replacing it would increase their productivity.

On the flip side, replacing functional devices too often can spiral out of control into unnecessary expenses.

An IT consulting firm can help your business understand how long a device should remain in use, a safe time range for buying older models, and how to plan upgrade cycles.

How Long Before It’s Over?

The general rule is that a device becomes obsolete about four years after its release. This means that trying to save money by purchasing older devices on the cheap may not work out well, as they are unlikely to receive updates as long as a newer device. Usually you can buy only the most recent and second most recent smartphone devices new, but older refurbished devices are readily available.

The Issues with Old Devices

Determining if a device is aging vs. obsolete is pretty straightforward: If the employee can still complete all necessary work with the device, it is not yet obsolete.

However, older devices often have performance issues; notably, they may operate slower than the latest models. Older devices using Android often receive updates late, too, so users won’t receive security and interface improvement patches as soon as they’re available.

Obsolete Device Issues

Forbes paints a pretty grim picture of aging devices, declaring that smartphones have about two years before they’re obsolete. Still, users can typically continue on without any major problems for an additional year or two.

Once obsolete, however, many devices are prone to disruptive conditions:

  • Security updates are no longer provided.
  • Vital applications are no longer compatible with the operating system.
  • The web browser ceases to display web pages correctly.

The Apple Situation

Officially, Apple considers any product more than five years old obsolete, meaning the company tends to support their devices for a little longer than Android distributors. Apple usually supports iOS devices with the latest operating system for about four years. At this point the device will not receive updates, but it will still likely work for a while longer.

The device typically hits the obsolete category when it no longer runs the most recent version of iOS. If you buy an iOS device that’s already been on the market for two years, you’ll have to plan to replace it in another two years. A one-year-old device will be good for at least three years.

The Android Situation

Android devices have a two-tier obsolescence system in which system updates stop coming and applications stop working. Android is a much more difficult case to gauge because updates need to come through Google, go to the manufacturer, and then reach the phone provider.

Android users can expect operating upgrades for two years after the phone is released, and a few additional months of security updates; both are soft obsolescence moments. What finally ends an Android device’s life (or, at least, its usefulness) is application incompatibility after about four years, which is dependent on the developer. Most try to support the oldest version possible, but this is not always the case.

If you want to make sure your employees are using up-to-date devices that increase productivity, MPA Networks can provide an IT and productivity assessment. Contact us today.

Scheduling Security: Take Control of Your OS Updates

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

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It happens to everyone: You turn your computer back on after you intended to leave the office, or come in early to get a head start on a new project, only to be greeted by a 20-minute operating system (OS) update session. This common workplace frustration turns what should have been a four-minute job into a half-hour ordeal, forcing you to stay behind or defeating any time gains from starting early.

OS updates provide essential security fixes that keep your business safe, but the platforms have a knack for pushing updates at what feels like “the worst possible time.”

Here’s what you can do to remain one step ahead of your updates at all times.

Change the Default Settings

Don’t leave operating system updates on their default settings, because they’re likely to interfere with work when you need the devices. The solution to this productivity- and attitude-killing problem is to adjust the system settings to force the updates at a specified time when your team won’t need them. Other software, like Office, Photoshop, and web browsers, tend to be less of a problem, since their update sessions are usually much quicker.

Updates Are a Security Issue

The worst solution to update inconvenience is to disable automatic updates. While updates that don’t add any new features may seem irrelevant, they’re actually doing lots of work keeping you safe behind the scenes in areas like IT security and virus/malware prevention.

According to TrendMictro, malware and other security exploits tend to target known security holes that have already been closed through updates and patches. Instead of finding new exploits, it’s easier for hackers to continue to exploit the old ones and take advantage of users who do not update their computer software.

Schedule Around Work to Increase Productivity

Microsoft usually posts their updates on the second Tuesday of every month, which is commonly known as “Patch Tuesday.” However, this may not work well with your business if it disables employee computers Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. The ideal time for updates will differ depending on your business, but for the typical Monday-to-Friday 9-to-5 office, you will be best served by installing updates around 2 a.m. on Sunday morning. Devices can even be individually customized for each employee based on their personal schedule.

The IT Consulting experts at MPA Networks, serving San Francisco, San Mateo County, San Jose, and other San Francisco Bay Area cities, are ready to help your business make technology work for you, not against you. Scheduling updates is a desktop management and support issue, which IT Managed Services can deliver. Contact us today to find out how we can help you better manage your office computers.

The Dock Returns: Anticipating Trends for Productivity Potential

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

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Samsung’s March 2017 announcement that its flagship smartphone would support first-party peripheral that makes the device work like a desktop computer could mean big changes for how people look at their productivity devices.

While this is not the first attempt to treat a smartphone as a computer substitute, it is the first time a market shipment leader put its weight behind the concept.

Business and IT professionals should watch these trends closely, because new ways of looking at existing technological mainstays may offer incredible opportunities to increase productivity.

A Note on Convergence

Samsung’s dock is another indication that the smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop device classes are gravitating towards convergence. Tablets and smartphones overlap each other in use and functionality: In many cases, you would not be able to tell the difference between a large smartphone and a small tablet outside of the ability to make phone calls.

Galaxy S8 Dex Dock

The Samsung Dex allows any Galaxy S8 user to connect the device to a charging dock that augments the smartphone with a desktop monitor over HDMI and USB peripherals. When connected to the dock, the Galaxy S8 display switches to a more computer-esque interface, making the phone function like a “fake desktop.” This is excellent for business continuity for three reasons:

  1. Employees can take a highly portable device with them anywhere they go, which can be plugged into a dock when available to function as a primary productivity device. It’s easier to carry a phone around than a laptop.
  2. Employees will no longer need to use a dedicated workstation. This means employees can easily relocate their main device.
  3. Sharing a desk workstation will be much simpler. Instead of requiring a centralized server and individual login credentials, employees can simply plug in their mobile device.

Similar third-party devices exist for laptop augmentation, such as the Mirabook, which works for both Android and Windows 10 devices. If these docks add support for multiple devices including multiple operating systems, this platform could be incredibly useful for businesses.

The Motorola Atrix Legacy

Businesses have been working on expanding smartphone capabilities to emulate what a traditional computer can do almost as long as the smartphone and tablet device classes have been popular. The Motorola Atrix, released in late 2011, is the first well-known example of turning a smartphone into a netbook. However, earlier takes on the convergence concept didn’t perform well because of high costs ($300-$500 for the Atrix compared to $150 for the Dex) and missing functionality.

Nintendo Switch Dock

The Nintendo Switch, released in March 2017, is a tablet-like device that connects to a dock to work like a traditional console on a TV. With the system selling well, the Switch will serve as the first tablet-like device millions of people have in their homes that works with a dock. “Living room infiltration” can make the public more comfortable with the dock concept, which could lead more people to try docks with other devices. The Nintendo Switch could do for docks what the Playstation 2 did for DVD video.

Even without the dock, the tablet and smartphone industry is pushing towards convergence. For example, Apple is selling the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement device with reasonable success. However, backup and disaster recovery will be more important than ever with docks—mostly because smartphones are easier to break and to lose than desktop computers.

Our IT consulting experts at MPA Networks are ready to help your business look into technology opportunities like the Dex dock. Contact us today.

This Is the End: Microsoft Takes a Hard Stance on Phasing Out Older Windows Versions

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

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If your business hasn’t already made the switch from Windows 10’s predecessors to a new operating system, it’s time to make the initiative a priority. While your IT staff doesn’t need to upgrade every computer in your office, it’s necessary to make sure all vital software is compatible with Windows 10 because new replacement devices won’t fully support older Windows versions.

According to ZDNet,

computers running Intel’s 7th-generation Core CPUs and AMD’s Ryzen CPUs will no longer receive operating system updates for Windows 7 and 8.

Without updates, you are likely to experience IT security issues.

The Writing Is on the Wall

The change does not affect computers built and purchased before the last few months of 2016, but it matters for any new computer running new hardware. Back in January of 2016, Microsoft announced that new CPUs will only be compatible with Windows 10, so anyone looking to buy new hardware and put an older version of Windows on it is out of luck. However, Microsoft will continue to support Windows 7 and 8, with extended support for security updates through 2020 and 2023 respectively.

Plan Your Transition: Business Continuity Concerns

This change in policy means that moving over to Windows 10 will eventually be the only option. Your business should begin to develop a migration strategy with the help of IT consulting services to phase in Windows 10 devices as you replace older systems running incompatible hardware. Also, if your business plans to look into other options like Macs and Chromebooks, this is the perfect time to do it.

Make sure to consider these issues in your transition away from older versions of Windows:

  • Run a pilot Windows 10 system to ensure continuity for your existing work environment. Test your employees’ daily workflow on this system.
  • Install all the software your business uses on this system and see if it works with Windows 10. Your tests may identify legacy software that’s no longer supported but that you’re currently using for important operations. This can lead to expensive, painful transitions to replacement software.
  • Adjust your upgrade strategy to accommodate your findings. This could involve changing the schedule to allow more time for employees that run incompatible software to work out a solution. It’s most efficient to plan to upgrade to Windows 10 upon device replacement; however, if your tests don’t find any problems, you may opt to upgrade existing systems early. Note that the Windows 10 free upgrade period ended in July 2016.

Legacy Software Concerns

Your company may find that some of the software you’ve been using for the past 15 years without any problems will not work under Windows 10, which puts your business in a difficult position. Replacing software that’s vital to day-to-day operations can be a very disruptive process. Managed services providers can help your business devise a contingency plan to keep the old software running, but it’s a best practice to migrate to a contemporary solution eventually. There are a few options your company has to keep those older systems running so you can keep using the old software, including upgrading/repairing the old systems and running older versions of Windows through a virtual machine.

The experts at MPA Networks are ready to help your business find its best OS solution to balance productivity with security. Contact us today.

Avoiding Disaster: Overheating Computers

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

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If one of your office computers always seems to shut down or slow to a crawl at the busiest of times, you may have a case of overheating on your hands—especially if IT can’t find anything wrong on the software level. Performance hiccups might seem like a mere nuisance, but overheating shortens the lifespan of a computerModern computers are designed to protect themselves from dangerous temperatures, but they can’t prevent all long-term damage.

You can increase productivity and avoid disaster recovery situations in your workplace by making sure your computers are operating at safe temperatures.

The Symptoms

An overheating computer will exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

How to View Temperatures

The easiest way to tell if a computer is overheating is to take its temperature via software. Your staff can install monitoring programs like CPUID’s HWMonitor or Almico’s SpeedFan for Windows devices, or enable CPU temp viewing on a Mac to get active temperature readings.

These programs show current operating temps and indicate overheating with red colored text, a fire icon, or a warning. Have employees keep an eye on the monitor program during normal work: If the test identifies a heating problem, it’s time to resolve the cause.

Ambient Temperature

Ambient temperatures, or the temperature of the room the computer is in, boost the base temperature of computers and cause parts to run hotter than usual. These problems could simply be the result of the room lacking climate control, or other nearby devices blowing hot air in the direction of the computer.

This is one of the reasons that server rooms feature extra cooling. Either reduce the environmental temperature, or move the computer to a cooler area.

Insufficient Fan Cooling or Blockage

Problems with the computer’s built-in cooling system can lead to overheating during regular use. In some instances, cooling fans can wear out over time.

With desktop computers, the system may have been designed with fans powerful enough to push adequate air through the case. This can usually be resolved by adding new fans or swapping in larger fans to move airflow in the front of the desktop case and out the back. On the outside, physical objects within 6 inches of the fan vents can hurt airflow. On the inside, loose cables and new components can restrict airflow.

Dust Buildup

Dust buildup can restrict airflow and cause a computer’s temperature to increase. While dust alone won’t typically break a computer, it can amplify other problems associated with overheating. We’ve talked extensively in the past about how dust buildup can cause crashes. Laptops generally do not have this problem as they don’t move as much air.

Failing Thermal Paste

Computer CPUs use a compound called thermal paste or thermal grease to help transfer heat to the cooling system. It’s possible for this material to wear down over time, which makes it far easier for a computer to overheat.

The solution is to disassemble the computer and replace the compound, but the process requires substantial expertise (especially with laptops) and can break the computer if done incorrectly. If this is the problem, it’s best to defer to the experts.

If your business is looking to keep its computers and network infrastructure running for maximum productivity, contact the IT managed services experts at MPA Networks today.

Mesh Networking for SMB Offices

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

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If the sounds of disgruntled employees complaining about poor Wi-Fi connectivity are all too familiar in your SMB, it’s time to consider switching to a mesh network.

Unlike traditional Wi-Fi networks that use a single point of origin and optional extender networks, mesh networks utilize a series of nodes to create a single, wide-reaching network.

According to the technology analysts at ZDNet, the cost of implementing mesh networking has dropped to the point where it is now practical for small businesses. Mesh networking is a great way to increase productivity in your office by ensuring a strong network connection in every location.

Decentralized Access: A Better Solution for Resolving Wi-Fi Deadzones

A traditional Wi-Fi network tasked with covering a wide area features a singular router connecting to Wi-Fi extenders. However, the main problem with this configuration is that extenders cannot daisy chain, so you’re still forced to use the router as a centralized access point. If a single extender doesn’t adequately boost the Wi-Fi signal, you’re out of luck. This can be a problem for small-to-medium sized offices where the main Internet connection comes in at one side of the building, limiting coverage and expansion potential.

Mesh Wi-Fi still uses a single Internet connection, but features multiple nodes that can daisy-chain and sport multiple node connectivity to provide signal as far as necessary. A traditional Wi-Fi network would have the router at the access point and an extender in a centralized location, while a mesh network can feature nodes at the access point, a centralized location, and anywhere else in the office that requires coverage.

Mesh networks eliminate the need to run expensive wires throughout the office to compensate for traditional network limitations. Moreover, this system helps to improve stability and performance because traffic can take different node paths if a part of the network is overloaded or not functioning.

Singular Network Solution

Wi-Fi extenders can be difficult to configure and require a change of Wi-Fi networks depending on where you are. The hand-off solution is not very elegant, because the extenders behave like additional networks. For example, you may still get great signal from the main router in your office, but not in the conference room; if you move your laptop to the conference room you’ll still get poor signal from the main router and need to manually change your laptop’s Wi-Fi settings to use the extender.

Mesh networks behave like a singular network between each of the nodes, so there’s no need to change networks as you move around the office. This can be very helpful for smartphones and other devices as well.

An Easier-to-Manage Environment

Mesh networks are much easier to set up and manage. When adding Wi-Fi extenders, each device needs to be managed and set up independently, whereas all nodes in a mesh network share the same setup and management process. Setting up a traditional network means configuring the router and individual extenders one at a time, but you can set up a mesh network all at once. Users may find managing mesh gear easier because it’s typically performed through an Android or iOS app instead of a web page.

If your office is fed up with running multiple Wi-Fi networks and Wi-Fi extenders, it may be worthwhile to invest in a mesh network. Contact the experts at MPA Networks today, located in San Mateo County and serving the South Bay and San Francisco Bay Area, to see how your business can better approach networking solutions.

You may also want to read:

Network-Attached Storage: Data Backup and Transfer Options for Small Businesses

The Benefits of Laptop Docks and At-Desk Peripherals

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

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With a little bit of effort, your staff can reap all the benefits of a laptop, and many of the perks of a desktop, with a little bit of planning and some additional hardware. It’s a common perception that laptops lead in portability, while desktops specialize in expandability. But improvements in peripheral device connection standards including USB 3.0, eSATA, and Thunderbolt have reduced (if not eliminated) the performance differences between external and internal devices. The main caveats of using external devices to enhance laptop capabilities include the need to physically haul extra pieces of hardware around, which defeats the portability perks.

If your business is looking to boost productivity and improve business continuity, it’s worth looking at configuring employee desks to work as laptop extension environments through docking stations and peripheral hubs.

Docking Stations

Docking stations are devices that connect to laptop computers to convert them (more or less) into desktop computers.

Docks feature a wide range of ports and may include built-in augmentation components like extra storage. The user can connect all their peripheral devices to the dock in advance and utilize them simultaneously just by connecting the laptop to the dock. This supports business continuity for employees who are often in and out of the office, eliminating the need to use two different devices for the same tasks.

USB and Thunderbolt Hubs

Advances in peripheral port bandwidth have made devices like USB and Thunderbolt hubs viable alternatives to docking stations that function as a “choose-your-features” option.

Hubs are essentially a collection of ports that can be used to connect several devices to computer through a single port.

This means utilizing all the hub devices is as easy as connecting a single cable to the laptop. Hubs can also be self-powered so the laptop is no longer limited by powering external devices.

Peripheral Rundown

  • External Monitors: One or more external monitors can be added to docks or hubs to suit employee needs. The worker may prefer a singular, larger monitor, using multiple external screens or using an external display as an extended desktop. Employees may find having more viewable space than a laptop offers a productivity booster.
  • Additional Storage: Attaching external storage devices to the dock or hub serves two primary purposes: It acts as a backup solution for the “three copies” strategy, and it lets employees store extra data that would be a burden on the laptop’s built-in storage. This is a big help when it comes to disaster recovery; in the event that the laptop is damaged, destroyed, or stolen, you’ll have a recent backup on hand.
  • Keyboard and Mouse: Adding a keyboard and mouse to the dock or hub not only helps boost productivity, but also improves ergonomics by allowing employees to position devices where they are most comfortable. Employees who prefer a mouse over a touchpad and want to add a number pad to a laptop that doesn’t carry one will find this solution helpful.
  • Wired Network Connection: Hubs and docks can be configured to connect to the local network via Ethernet. This is a great option for offices already wired for connections that have inconsistent Wi-Fi.
  • Speakers, Webcams, and Microphones: Docks and hubs can also connect to external versions of the laptop’s audio/video devices for an enhanced experience.

The IT and productivity assessment experts at MPA Networks are ready to help your business find a hardware configuration that works best for you. Contact us today.

Network-Attached Storage: Data Backup and Transfer Options for Small Businesses

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

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Network-Attached Storage (NAS) servers are a great asset for small businesses managing data. For the uninitiated, NAS is essentially a streamlined server designed specifically for sharing files between devices.

Because of their simplified nature, NAS devices are typically easier to use and substantially more cost-effective than full-fledged servers.

While most NAS solutions are space-efficient standalone server boxes, some higher-end routers can also be used as NAS devices by attaching an external hard drive. If your office is looking to increase productivity and improve disaster recovery, NAS may be worth its weight in gold.

Easy-to-Use Data Storage

NAS devices work as an inexpensive, easy-to-use data storage option for your business. These devices are so simple to configure that your office doesn’t even need to have a local IT staff to use them. Once configured, accessing the storage can be as simple as using Explorer or Finder as you would with any internal storage device.

Practical Backup and Recovery

In their most practical form, NAS devices can be used as a backup and disaster recovery option for office computers. This way, if a computer hard drive fails or a laptop gets destroyed, your staff can recover recent versions of important documents and files.

However, NAS does not replace the need for Cloud or off-site backups for vital information. An office fire, for example, would wipe out desktop computers and the NAS. Combining both NAS and Cloud backup processes gives your business the best level of protection from data loss.

Faster Information Sharing

NAS is also a viable business continuity option as it does not require Internet connectivity to work. Employees who use multiple devices, such as a laptop, desktop, and tablet, can use the NAS to access the same files from any deviceThese data servers are also excellent for employees collaborating on the same files; gone is the need to use email or Cloud storage to sync or send updates.

Cost-Effective Hardware Comes at a Price

NAS devices aren’t as sophisticated as traditional servers. Designed only to focus on sending and receiving data, they offer substantially less processing power. You won’t be able to use a NAS device to run an email server, for example, or to run any server-based applications. For these, you’ll need to look into server management solutions.

Because of this trade-off, however, NAS devices cost a fraction of the price of a dedicated server. Moreover, your business doesn’t need to worry about wasting money buying too much or too little storage because you can install additional hard drives in the NAS device as needed.

Security Issues

As mentioned above, NAS servers should not be used as a replacement for an off-site, Cloud-based backup. IT professionals often recommend storing important data in at least three locations: two “on-site,” which includes the computer and the NAS, and one “off-site,” like a Cloud service. Additionally, if your business is using NAS storage, you’ll want to make sure it is only visible to authorized individuals. Security in this case could include something as simple as password-protecting the Wi-Fi.

Use our wealth of knowledge at MPA Networks to your advantage to meet your business’s server and storage needs. Contact us today.

8 Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Office Computers

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

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When it comes to your office computers, a little bit of spring cleaning goes a long way. Sure, cleaning office computers can seem tedious. But think of it like preventative maintenance on a vehicle: In the best-case scenario, you’ll never know all the breakdowns you avoided.

Keeping your office computers clean and healthy minimizes your risk of downtime and increases productivity.

Here are 8 tips for your next round of spring cleaning:

1. Update All Software

Run updates and patches for the operating system, commonly used programs, and security software on every system. Program and operating system updates don’t just add features; they’re loaded with security updates that keep your devices safe. Most problems with computer security exploits stem from outdated software that allows hackers to break through established breaches that the developer already closed, so running updates and patches is your best line of defense.

2. Run a Full Anti-Virus Scan

After updating all the software on the computer, run a full anti-virus scan to catch any malicious software hanging out on the device. Active anti-virus protection does a good job of safeguarding the system against infections, but sometimes malware slips through the cracks.

3. Run a Full Anti-Malware Scan

Anti-virus programs go after specific, high-risk malware infections, meaning lower-level malware can still find its way onto your computers. Anti-malware programs including Malwarebytes and Spybot are better equipped to identify and remove malware that the anti-virus misses.

4. Defragment the HDD

Older PCs with traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) may experience load time improvements from an annual drive defragmentation. However, newer Windows systems—and all currently supported Mac OS versions—handle this process in the background, so you don’t need to worry about it. If the computer is running a Solid State Drive (SSD), do not bother with the defragmentation process.

5. Remove Unnecessary Launch Programs

It may seem like every program installed on your computer wants to launch itself at startup—even those you rarely use. Removing unnecessary programs from the system startup can help improve performance and reduce login times. Windows 10 features a handy “Startup” tab on the Task Manager that lets users quickly toggle which programs launch with the system.

6. Check and Create Restore Points

Restore points can be a major time saver in returning a compromised computer to full operation. Restore points reverse most of the damage caused by malware and bad configurations, all with minimal effort. Check whether the computer is already using them, and create one if it isn’t.

7. Run a Full Backup

Backups are like restore points for when very bad things happen to a computer. It’s best practice to make at least two backups of a given computer’s files, and store them in different physical locations. This ensures that in the event of catastrophic loss, all the data saved on the computer up until the backup point is preserved. Mashable recommends verifying if automated backup services like Time Machine and Windows Backup and Restore are actually working.

8. Bust Dust on Desktops

This part of the spring cleaning process is literal. As we’ve previously discussed, excessive dust inside a computer obstructs airflow, which can cause crashes due to overheating and even damage components. CNET has a helpful guide on how to go about the dustbusting process.

A little spring cleaning makes for a more efficient office and stronger disaster recovery. The expert desktop support and management staff at MPA Networks is ready to help your workplace in San Mateo, San Francisco, the South Bay, and other Bay Area cities implement better practices. Contact us today for more information.

Getting a Clean Start: Managing Windows Startup Programs

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

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It’s quite common that, over time, Windows systems accumulate a laundry list of programs that load when a user signs in.

While generally benign, most of these “startup” programs are unlikely to actually benefit the user—so the computer ends up doing a whole lot of work for no reason.

Fortunately, it’s very easy for someone with a little computer experience to control which programs launch at startup. Read on to find out more about the what, why, and how.

Benefits of Trimming Startup Programs

The primary benefit of trimming the startup program list is a substantially faster login process. If your employees don’t have to wait for useless programs to launch, they can access a fully-loaded desktop several minutes faster. Moreover, the system will have more available memory to run programs that are actually being used. This means the computer will be less likely to fall back on the slower-performing hard drive to operate programs, eliminating a major cause of lag.

Cutting down on startup programs also removes bloatware and other unnecessary programs the computer manufacturer installed on the device. These often extend the boot time, waste available memory, and cause errors—so you’re much better off without them. Employees who don’t reboot as often as they should will be more easily encouraged and motivated to do so if the process doesn’t drag on and on.

Accessing and Using the Built-In Startup Manager

Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft moved the Startup Manager to the Task Manager window, which can be accessed by pressing “Ctrl+Shift+Esc” and clicking the “Startup” tab. The Manager can be found on older systems by pressing “Windows Key+R,” entering “msconfig,” clicking “OK,” and selecting the “Startup” tab.

In the Windows 8 and later Managers, simply select the programs you wish to enable or disable and click the “Enable/Disable” toggle button. Enable or disable programs by checking or unchecking the box next to the desired programs in older versions of the Startup Manager, and press “OK” to finalize the changes.

At this point it’s best practice to restart the machine and ensure the system is in working order before moving on. If something vital is missing, access the Startup Manager again and turn it back on.

What to Disable, What to Keep

Generally speaking, the only programs that need to remain in the system startup are security-related: that is, anti-virus, firewall, and remote access applications. Most of the programs featured in the Startup Manager should have familiar names—so if a program doesn’t immediately strike you as essential, it can probably be disabled. PCWorld recommends researching unknown programs before disabling them.

If you’re unsure of which programs can be disabled, free applications like “Should I Remove It” can help guide you. MakeUseOf.com has a handy list of 10 common startup programs that can be safely disabled for (sometimes significant) performance improvements.

If your business is looking to increase productivity by running more efficient technical infrastructure, the IT Managed Services experts at MPA Networks can help. Contact us today for more information.