Why our VoIP system is the right one for you.

Picking the right VoIP system can save you time and money.

Why VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol. Originally developed to increase voice communication access to remote places of the world, VoIP is now a cost saving tool for many businesses. Instead of a “telephone line”, VoIP uses the internet for voice communications. This means you only need internet service from your Internet Service Provider. You don’t need a land line or an expensive T1 line from your telephone company. You only pay your ISP’s monthly bill. There are no long distance fees on top of a regular phone bill – just your Internet bill. The problem is there are so many VoIP systems on the market, which one do you pick?

(For more information on why you should choose VoIP over traditional phone services you can read this article.)

Our previous attempt at voice products.

Back in the 90′s. we sold a great phone system that ran on a Windows server and it had more features than most of the high-end phone systems at that time.

However, the initial cost of the phone system was just as expensive as normal PBX systems because you needed to purchase a server, Windows server operating system, and hardware to connect the incoming lines (T1) and all the users’ handsets. This cost was a roadblock for most of our clients, so in the end, we closed down the phone services part of the company.

Over time we have researched different internet phone services and products, but didn’t find one that was worth taking the time and effort to use and sell. There are various reasons for this, but mainly because of the following issues:

  • Cost more than the value they provided
  • Lacked all the features you should have in a phone system.
  • Were voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems that were tied to your ISP
  • Poor customer service or support
  • Bad hardware and software reliability
  • Unreliable voice quality

Finally, a feature rich, cost effective solution

After many years we have finally found a VoIP phone system that provides the perfect solution. The only upfront costs are the desk phones themselves and the labor to set up the system which includes training.

The phones start at around $110 each and there are a variety of options. Additionally, companies that currently have VoIP phones may be able to utilize their current phones and forgo the cost of purchasing new ones.

Some of the features that made us chose this VoIP service are:

      • Online Meetings –Host video and screen sharing with computers and smart phones
      • A single number for voice, fax and SMS (i.e., text) messages
      • Your own auto attendant that’s easy to use and set up with rules based on:
        •    Hours of operation
        •    Time of day – for instance, lunchtime
        •    Certain days; you can set up different auto attendants for each holiday
        •    Caller ID; your best clients can have their own auto attendant.
      • The ability to send faxes from your desktop or from Outlook
      • Ring multiple phones simultaneously or sequentially
      • Each user has their own conference number that handle hundreds of callers
      • Each user can select his or her own hold music
      • The ability to dial contacts from your desktop
      • Mark voice messages read or unread
      • Record calls by pressing *9
      • Consolidation of smart phone apps with voice mail, faxes, and texts in one place
      • Send and receive texts from your desktop
      • Easily switch a call from desk phone to cell phone or cell phone to desk phone
      • Block calls based on phone number or callers who hide their numbers so you can avoid solicitations.
      • A smart phone app with a simple view of your calls, faxes and text
      • Configure your phone system and personal settings from your smart phone

 

Need more reasons you should have a VoIP phone system?

 With traditional phone systems, when you lose power or your T1 goes down, your phones are down and customers can’t get through. With our VoIP system, your phone system is still running, auto attendant works, calls are still routed to your cell phones and you can change your auto attendant message if necessary.

The most important factor for many businesses when switching over to this VoIP system is the cost savings. With less upfront cost and a lower monthly bill, this VoIP system is a natural choice. In addition to being cost effective, this system comes with professional, expert support and professional installation. The transition is basically seamless and you do get to keep your existing phone numbers.

Why switch to VoIP? For the same you reason you switched out your flip phone for a smart phone. Why would you not want the latest and greatest technology and features when you can get them for the same or less cost than you are paying for your old phone system?

For more information on this VoIP system, call us at 404-446-3330, and also ask about our referral programs.

Alan Dratch has been in the IT field for over 30 years and at Best Network Support for 17 years. He can be reached at adratch@bnsatl.com

Electronic Signatures & Email Disclaimers

Today I am going to cover two very important parts of any email. Parts that are often overlooked, especially by smaller business: electronic signatures and email disclaimers. Why do you need an e-signature and legal disclaimers in the footer of my email? I am going to tell you why. I will tell you about a unique solution that not only creates your e-signature, but also allows a vast amount of customization including importing individual information such as email address, phone numbers, and LinkedIn information all from the users network account.

Should I create an e-signature? 

Do people in your company have their own email signature and closings? Maybe, maybe not. Small large businesses have letter head, tag lines, and logos, so why not an e-signature? Creating your signature isn’t as complicated as you might think, and something I will cover further down in my blog.

Creating a standardized email signature for your organization is a great professional tool for advertising your services, allowing you to better communicate with your client. This is an ideal way to help your email recipients visualize and recall your name and company. Keep it uniform and simple, and it will work!

Do I need an e-mail disclaimer? It is strongly advised that you include an email disclaimer. Many organizations require a legal disclaimer be posted at the bottom of each email. This disclaimer reduces the responsibility of the company.

By adding disclaimers to emails your company conveys a professional, trustworthy image. A disclaimer can demonstrate that the company has made every effort to act responsibly and professionally. This will build client confidence!

How do I create an email disclaimer?

If you do not have legal council within your company, I suggest you contact your business lawyer or find a business lawyer. They are the best ones to write legal disclaimers. An email disclaimer can limit your business liability and also remind the reader that there may or may not be restrictions in using the content in the email.

All employees need to use the same email signature and legal disclaimer. Obviously, this uniformity is important as this is an essential component for your organization’s marketing and advertising plan, especially branding.

What are the software options for e-signature and email disclaimers?

There are numerous applications out there that help create signatures, however they do not force standardized signatures (signatures that automatically appear at the bottom of the email every time), only a couple products can do that. Signatures can be standardize for an entire company or departments within a company. This also works for emails sent from Outlook Web Access and smart phones.

The product I have been using is Exclaimer – www.exclaimer.com This product manages signatures and disclaimers in a centralized and efficient way.

The template editor helps you create email signatures by inserting graphics and text. You can add social media icons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. There are also user defined variable fields for name, display name, phone numbers, LinkedIn profiles, etc.

Built in rules let you decided when the signature is applied. Rules can be as simple as any message sent from your mail server to anyone or can be applied to emails sent to a particular recipient domain. Other options are to apply signatures based on internal departments –sales, marketing, etc.

For marketing campaigns, you can have rules based on keywords found in the subject or body of the message. For instance, apply a signature to all emails that have “Invitation to Conference” or “Holiday Party” etc.

Even if you don’t have your own mail server, this product works great with Outlook. There are some limitations, however, you can still create professional signatures and have them applied to other users’ email.

To learn more about creating professional, meaningful signatures get this free book The Definitive, Dummies Guide to Email Signatures, 

For discounts and help with Exclaimer Signatures, email to adratch@bnsatl.com

Alan Dratch has been in the IT field for over 30 years and owner of Best Network Support for over 17 years. He can be reached at adratch@bnsatl.com

The perfect phone system for every office

Gain More Time; Grow Your Business

Have you ever kicked yourself for paying more for a product than it was worth? How about buying something that didn’t deliver on its promises?

That happened to Best Network Support in 1990′s. We sold a great phone system that ran on the Windows server, and it had more features than most of the high-end phone systems at that time. 

However, the initial cost of the phone system was just as expensive as normal PBX systems because you needed to purchase a server, Windows server operating system, and hardware to connect the incoming lines (T1) and users’ handsets. This was a roadblock for most of our clients, so we got out of the phone system business.

Since then, we’ve examined other systems, but we chose not to sell them because they:

      • Cost more than the value they provided
      • Lacked all the features you should have in a phone system.
      • Were voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems that were tied to your ISP
      • Poor customer service or support
      • Bad hardware and software reliability
      • Unreliable voice quality

The good news is that we have finally found a system that provides the perfect solution. The only upfront costs are the VoIP phones themselves, the labor to set up the system, and training. The phones start at around $100 each and there are many phones to choose from. Companies that currently have VoIP phones may be able to utilize those phones and forgo the cost of purchasing new ones.

Some of the benefits that come with this phone system include:

  • A single number for voice, fax and SMS (i.e., text) messages
  •  Your own auto attendant that’s easy to use and set up, and has rules based on
        • Hours of operation
      •  Time of day, for instance, lunchtime
      • Certain days; you can set up different auto attendants for each holiday.
      • Caller ID; your best clients can have their own auto attendant.
    • The ability to send faxes from your desktop or from Outlook
    • Ring multiple phones simultaneously or sequentially
  • Each user can select his or her own hold music
  • Each user has their own conference number that can handle 1,000 callers
  • Online Meettings – Host video, audio and screen sharing with computers and smart phones
  • The ability to dial contacts from your desktop
  • Mark voice messages read or unread
  • Record calls by pressing *9
  • Consolidation of smart phone apps with voice mail, faxes, and texts in one place
  • Easily switch a call from desk phone to cell phone or cell phone to desk phone
  • Options for blocking calls:
  • Block calls based on phone number.
  • Block callers who hide their phone numbers, or force them to announce their name so you can avoid solicitations.
  • Have blocked callers get disconnected or hear a busy signal or special greeting. 
  • A smart phone app with a simple view of your calls, faxes and text
  •  Configure your phone system and personal settings from your smart phone

With traditional phone systems, when you lose power or your T1 goes down, your phones are down and customers can’t get through. With our VoIP system, your phone system is still running, auto attendant works, calls are still routed to your cell phones and you can change your auto attendant message if necessary.

A system like this will give your more time to help your clients and cultivate relationships with prospects. For more information, call us at 404-446-3330, and also ask about our referral programs.

Protection from crypto locker and other viruses

Recently I wrote about the crypto locker virus (read that post here). Basically it is a virus that encrypts all your files and they only way to get the un-encryption key is to pay the ransom. The attacks seemed to go away but apparently it just took a little time for the crooks to get better and more sophisticated. But now the bad guys are back in force!

USA Today recently wrote an article that is worth reading – Hackers ramp up computer attacks that demand ransom.  The article gives good examples of problems caused by the virus.  The bad part is that this new version does not give you time to make the payment and, in addition, sometimes after making the payment, you still don’t get the key to unlock your files. Obviously, these are not good options when you are trying to recover your livelihood.

The only real solution is to make sure you have backups of all your data. Removing the virus and restoring from backup could save a lot of money and all your files.

For $10 a month, you can protect your entire workstation computer with a backup software program.  This backup software creates images of the entire workstation. It then backs up all changes based on a predetermined schedule. Plus, if needed, you have the option to backup changes hourly.

By purchasing a network attached storage device (NAS), you’ll have the space to backup as many workstations as you need. This way, you can easily protect all your workstations from this, or any other virus.

As added protection, since it is a complete image being backed up, if a computer hard drives crashes, the image can be restored to a new drive. This alone could save you from re-purchasing software that you no longer have license keys for. 

CryptoLocker RansomWare

The newest virus threat is is called CryptoLocker. This program will encypt your files and the only way to get them back is by paying a $300 ransom to receive a key that will decrypt your files. Don’t worry about payment methods, they are kind enough to now accept BitCoins. If you try removing the virus, you may never be able to recover your files.

This virus is mostly spread through email attachments.  The best way to avoid this is to not open attachments unless you are 100% sure they are safe. Be careful of emails that appear to be from banks or delivery companies such as UPS or FedEx.

Supposedly there is a fix for this but we have not been able to verify if it works on all versions of CryptoLocker http://malwarefixes.com/remove-cryptolocker-virus/ 

Fortunately there is now a way to protect computers from CryptoLocker by blocking attachments from executing in certain folders. Go to the bottom of this link and download CryptoPrevent Installer http://www.foolishit.com/vb6-projects/cryptoprevent 

Of course there is always the chance the next version of this virus will execute differently and bypass this blocker.

For corporate networks, we can create group policies and push these settings out to all computers.

Applie IOS7

Apple released the new operating system IOS7 for the IPhone. There are a few features that are worth writing about.

Improved Font

I use SIRI to create reminders and SIRI so nicely asks “do you want to create the reminder”. The problem is the type was so small you needed a magnifying glass to see the reminder before confirming. Text messages were also hard to read. With IOS7 you can now change the settings so you can easily see the text on the IPhone

For setup…go to Settings – General – Accessibility, then touch the switch for Bold Text and also the Increase Contrast switch below it. It will require a restart of your iPhone, but now you can see text a lot clearer

Calendar Daily Overview

When looking at the calendar, tap the search icon at the top to see the list of all calendar events. You can scroll through the days.

Protect Your IPhone if Stolen

If you turn on the Find My iPhone feature in the iCloud pane of the Settings app, your device is locked to your Apple ID. If it’s stolen and even wiped, that Apple ID is needed to unlock it. You can even send a message to the stolen device so that anyone who tries to activate it or use it gets a message like “This iPhone was stolen!”

Closing Apps

Closing apps is a little easier but it is not very intuitive. When you double tap the home button, it still brings up icons for open apps. Now you also see the open app above the icons. You can press an icon but the red X to shut the app no longer appears.  To close the app, simply swipe the app from bottom to top.

Affordable Enterprise Backup Solution

For many years Storage Craft has been the leader in enterprise backup solutions. Their flagship product, ShadowProtect backup is a fast and reliable disk-based backup that captures full, differential, and incremental backup images of your entire system. That includes the operating system, applications, services, configuration settings, data, Exchange and SQL,

Many companies have built backup solutions using their ShadowProtect software as the main engine. I have worked with many of these products however I have yet to find one that was affordable and provided proper service and support. They also charge an exuberant amount for extra storage; over $1,000 for an extra terabyte of hard disk space.

Other features ShadowProtect include:

  • Utilize backup scheduler to automatically take full and incremental backups of your system at intervals you specify.
  • Mount ShadowProtect backup images as a shared folder for easy file recovery
  • Get granular recovery of individual files and folders in moments.
  • Fully restore systems and data to a chosen past point-in-time after disaster strikes.
  • Rapidly recover an entire system to the same server, or a new server with dissimilar hardware or to and from virtual environments with StorageCraft Hardware Independent Restore.

Until recently, StorageCraft’s ShadowProtect software was only available by purchasing the software outright and paying for maintenance and upgrades. They recently started a managed services reseller program whereby Best Network Support can now sell Storage Craft at a low monthly cost. The advantage to this includes:

  • No large upfront cost
  • Never need to purchase upgrades
  • Service and support always included

Best Network Support has purchased and installed StorageCraft Command Software package. This makes it possible for us to monitor every backup from one central location and provide better monitoring and alerting for Proactive Monitoring and Remote Support customers.

Now that we have the software, we still need a storage device to hold the backups. Data retention is limited only to the amount of storage space you have. The more storage space, the more backups you can retain

There has been affordable network storage devices out for many years. These devices are nothing more than a hard drive on the network. This created a major limitation for StorageCraft. If your server crashed, you could not mount the backup as a virtual machine that you could access. You could only copy files back to the server.

It is reliable Western Digital to the rescue. They have recently teamed with StorageCraft and solved this problem. They have recently released a product running Microsoft Server 2012. In case of a disaster, your server can now be mounted as a virtual machine and be accessible quickly.

For full details, please call Alan Dratch at 404-446-3330