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Posts Tagged ‘productivity’


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.

7 Ways VoIP Increases SMB Productivity

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

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Voice over Internet Protocol solutions can help your business increase productivity by enhancing your communication potential. VoIP isn’t just a simple digital upgrade over your existing office analog phone service: It opens the doors for new ways to look at customer management and employee communication. A managed service provider can help your business implement numerous best practices to reap the technological benefits of VoIP.

The following list covers just some of the ways VoIP can increase productivity:

1. Share a Phone System in Multiple Locations

If your business is looking to expand to additional locations or already operates from more than one building, VoIP can help consolidate many phone-based services. VoIP can share a singular phone system across multiple geographical locations. This means your business does not need to operate things like customer support and appointment scheduling at more than one location.

2. Seamless Remote Work

If your business receives just a handful of support calls on weekends, it’s wasteful to pay an employee to sit around and do nothing for most of the day. VoIP allows employees to connect to the service anywhere there’s an Internet connection. This way, you can allow on-call employees to work from home, meaning your business only has to pay for the time you need them.

3. Voicemail-to-Email Transcription

Employees often find themselves wasting time navigating voicemail systems in search of a specific recording, and then burn through more time sitting through entire messages full of unimportant information. VoIP services open the door for voice-to-text transcription capabilities so employees can quickly locate and read a message summary. This is a much more efficient way to handle voicemail, allowing employees to respond more accurately to more messages in less time.

4. Facilitates Employee Response to Issues

VoIP is a digital system you can integrate with your customer relationship management system so your staff will immediately have information about a customer or client on hand when they call. For example, if a customer has an outstanding service ticket, the representative answering the phone will have all that information on-hand.

5. Scales to Grows with your Business

Unlike the analog systems of old, VoIP is very easy to scale with your business’s needs. Adding an extra line for an additional employee isn’t necessary, as the system can accommodate capacity as needed.

6. Video Conference for Better Collaboration

Employees aren’t limited to audio-only conversations with VoIP: It supports video conferencing. Video calls can be very effective at increasing productivity in the workplace when employees who aren’t located together collaborate on projects.

7. Cost Savings

VoIP can also help your business bottom line. According to Forbes, Utah State was able to save six figures by switching their phone system from analog to VoIP. VoIP is also easier to maintain, with fewer technical problems when implemented: Utah State saved around $120,000 annually on labor by eliminating most of the trouble tickets.

The experts at MPA Networks are ready to help your business manage your VoIP services. Make sure you are properly configured and your network is built to handle the extra traffic without slowing down other services. Contact us today.

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.

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.

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

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.

Digital Sticky Notes: A Time-Saver for Your Entire Team

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

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It’s a familiar sighting in the workplace: the employee with half a dozen sticky notes attached to their computer monitor. While not the most confidential or elegant solution, these employees are on to something.

Fortunately, technology has stepped in to embrace this practice and increase productivity through digital sticky notes. Teaching your staff how to use this feature helps keep your office not only more organized, but also more secure.

Boosting Productivity and Security

Like their physical counterparts, digital sticky notes have countless helpful applications: They can serve as reminders, cheat sheets, and to-do lists, to name a few.

Employees can create and destroy as many digital sticky notes as needed without wasting any paper. And digital sticky notes actually work better than making notes in a Word or Google doc, because they are continually accessible/viewable when switching between tasks.

Digital sticky notes have the following advantages over physical versions:

  • Content on the notes can be rearranged, edited, and erased at will. Reworking the list does not mean drafting a new note.
  • They serve as excellent interactive to-do listshelping employees stay organized.
  • No physical waste is created when the sticky note is no longer being used.
  • They are more secure because they’re not visible when the screen is off, the user logged out, or the system locked.
  • They come with theoretically unlimited space. Digital sticky notes allow for scrolling when more space is needed.
  • They offer an easy place to store login credentials that all employees in the workplace can access.
  • They provide a simpler platform to manage important, frequently used links than an ever-expanding bookmark list in a web browser.
  • Employees can use simple copy-and-paste commands between programs to add to the sticky note.
  • The notes facilitate email communication between devices and people.
  • They won’t fall or get knocked off the screen.

Sticky Notes with a PC

Windows calls its digital notation program “Sticky Notes.” It behaves similarly to program windows and can be accessed via the Start Menu. Searching for “Sticky Notes” in the search bar may locate the program faster.

Accessing the application will expose all existing notes; if there are none, it will create one. Users can drag and expand these digital notes to any size they deem appropriate. Click the “+” icon on an existing note to make additional notes, and click the “X” icon to delete unwanted notes. Notes can also be color-coded via the “right-click” menu. Power-users may like the available keyboard shortcuts as well.

Sticky Notes with a Mac

Macs also support a built-in digital sticky note solution called “Stickies,” which can be accessed via the “Applications” folder. Users can drag and drop the Stickies to any desired locations and resize the windows by clicking and dragging the corner icons. Employees can customize individual note colors through the “Color” menu and can add shortcuts to media files by dragging and dropping icons over notes as well.

Mac OS even features a handy keyboard shortcut to create a sticky note from highlighted text: “Command + Up Shift + Y.”

Both of these applications are free and included with the computer your employees are already using. Some employees may find digital sticky notes an incredibly valuable tool—but, if nothing else, they will help your team create a cleaner, more secure workplace. If your business is looking to boost its productivity through stronger IT practices, contact the experts at MPA Networks today.

Breathing New Life into Middle-Aged Computers

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

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Your employees’ computers may not be up to speed anymore after two or three years of use, but in many cases your staff can upgrade or tune up these devices to keep pace with work demands. Upgrades can often be purchased and installed for under $100 a system, offering an inexpensive way to extend the life of a desktop or laptop computer.

Talk with your IT staff or your IT managed services partner to learn more about your options for addressing the classic employee complaint “My computer is too slow.”

Upgrade to Solid State Drives for Faster Loading

Outside of cost-per-gigabyte storage rates, Solid State Drives (SDDs) are a comprehensive upgrade to traditional hard disk drives. If your employees are complaining about long load times when opening programs or accessing files, an SSD upgrade can make a world of a difference. According to the manufacturer Crucial, SSDs are more durable, faster, lighter, and more energy-efficient than their disk-based predecessors.

A few years back, the opportunity cost may have been prohibitive, especially when it comes to your entire staff. But now that prices have dramatically dropped, going SSD makes financial sense.

RAM Upgrade

While CPU upgrades are usually impractical, a computer’s other main performance component often represents a simple, far-reaching upgrade option: RAM. The RAM, or the system’s main memory, handles all the active applications on the system; when it runs out, the computer has to fall back on the far slower HDD/SDD storage. However, the law of diminishing returns applies to this upgrade, and adding more memory than the computer utilizes at a maximum won’t improve performance. Your business may be able to upgrade a few computers’ RAM for free by pulling compatible modules from decommissioned, broken, or unused machines.

Newer Laptops = Fewer Upgrade-Ready Parts

Desktop computers are still the kings of upgrade-ability, but their portable counterparts can’t say the same. The industry is trending toward integrating parts together instead of in a modular configuration, so the RAM and storage may not be upgradeable on some devices. For example, as of 2015, Apple started using soldered RAM and proprietary SDDs, making upgrade-ability and repairs extremely difficult (if not impossible).

Backup and Reinstall Windows/Other Software

This tip applies specifically to Windows devices that are approaching the middle of their lifespan: Back up all important data, nuke the main hard drive, reinstall Windows, and restore all useful applications. Because of the way Windows operating systems work, a part of the code called the “registry” is changed over time with newly installed/updated applications, leading to slower performance. While newer iterations of Windows aren’t affected as badly by this problem, it still exists—and the best way to fix it is to reinstall Windows.

If you’re looking for ways to ensure employee devices keep up with workload demands, the IT experts at MPA Networks are ready to help. Contact us today to get started.

Using Snap and Split-Screen Modes for Increased Productivity

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

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Multi-tasking wizards have a secret: Modern operating systems offer a handy technique for managing multiple windows while maximizing available screen space, significantly increasing productivity. Depending on the OS, this feature may be referred to as “snapping” or “split-screen mode.” The concept, however, remains the same: Users can quickly dock windows on both sides of their screen using simple shortcuts.

Are your employees wasting valuable seconds shuffling back and forth between windows or screens?

This window management trick can make day-to-day work smoother and more efficient.

Modern Display Shifts Make It Possible

Two major changes in our expectations of screen displays created an environment where window docking thrives. The first is a general push to make both application and web content display effectively in both landscape and portrait mode. The second is the widespread adoption of 16:9 monitors in the desktop and laptop world. This combination of factors means that users today can take a single-landscape monitor and comfortably display two applications in landscape mode at once (though it’s worth noting that this method works better on monitors with an aspect ratio wider than 16:9).

Using Windows Snap

Windows 7 first popularized this technique via the “Aero Snap” feature and now uses a retooled version for Windows 10 called “Snap Assist.” The Snap feature is easy to use via a mouse and keyboard shortcut. Mouse users can drag the window against the side of the screen to make the content automatically extend full-vertical and half-horizontal. Windows 10 expands this functionality by displaying a selection of windows to fill the other side of the screen.

The following keyboard shortcuts can then be used based on preference:

  • Ctrl+Up Arrow: Shrink to quarter-screen or expand to full-screen
  • Ctrl+Down Arrow: Un-dock or minimize window
  • Ctrl+Left Arrow: Dock window on the left-side
  • Ctrl+Right Arrow: Dock window on the right-side

Repeatedly pressing either “Ctrl+Right Arrow” or “Ctrl+Left Arrow” lets the user alternate which half-screen segment of their monitor the window occupies, which is extra-handy when using more than one screen.

Split-Screen in Mac OS

Mac OS added this feature in the El Capitan update. To activate this feature on supported apps, click and hold down the green app window corner button, then drag the window to the desired half of the screen. The operating system will display a selection of compatible apps in the free side of the screen; simply click on one to expand it to occupy the available side.

Snapping in Chrome OS

Chrome OS features a similar window management method. Dragging windows to the side of the screen will activate a gray outline that represents where the window will expand in half, quarter, third, or two-thirds orientation. Pressing either “Alt+[“ or “Alt+]” activates left-side and right-side docking respectively.

These tips are even more helpful for employees using dual- or multi-monitor configurations. If your business is looking to increase productivity through IT managed services and IT consulting, contact the experts at MPA Networks today.