We speak your language!

by IRIS Solutions January 24, 2013

What are your thoughts on "tech talk?"  We try to always make an effort not to use too much technical jargon when communicating with our clients.  We understand how overwhelming and intimidating it can be to hear, especially if you don't understand exactly what certain words mean.  While there may be some cases when we are required to use specific technical vocabulary, we do take the time to explain what we are referring to and break it down in a simple manner until the client fully understands.  Afterall, if you are the one paying for our services don't you want to understand what is taking place?

If you ever have any questions regarding work we are doing or what something means, please don't hesiste to ask.  We are here to make IT as simple and painless for you and your staff so you can focus on running you business!


Reasons why upgrading to a solid state drive can give you the largest boost in performance over any PC upgrade

by IRIS Solutions September 7, 2011

Solid State Drives are not new to the market but a lot of consumers don't understand their benefit due to their sometimes large cost per GB compared to a standard disk-based hard drive.  When you look at the benefits it becomes clear why it is time to upgrade to Solid State Drives.

A standard hard drive has to move a needle similar to a record player across the disk to access files.  Since a Solid State Drive uses flash media and has no mechanical parts, the seek time (the amount of time it takes for the hard drive to locate a particular piece of data) is almost eliminated.  In real world performance this can bring down the time it takes to boot your computer and load the desktop to anywhere from 18 to 35 seconds.  Applications and games will load almost instantaneously, which can lead to a large increase in overall productivity and make computing easier and less frustrating.

When looking for a Solid State Drive it is important to consider the following:

-Solid State Drives perform best when used with Windows 7 or OSX Lion as they support TRIM. TRIM allows an operating system to inform the SSD which blocks are no longer considered as used so that they can be wiped internally.

-Windows XP is not optimized to use a Solid State Drive so it will underperform and the life of the device will be reduced. 

-There are many brands and sizes to choose from.  For most people an 80GB or 120GB drive is sufficient for a system partition with some applications and/or games installed.  Intel and OCZ are the leaders in SSD products at the moment but for reliability I would recommend the Intel 320 series.

Before you go purchasing additional RAM or a new processor to upgrade your PC, remember that it's your hard drive that is likely the bottleneck.  A Solid State Drive can bring new life to an older desktop/laptop or make your new workstation a performance beast.

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Tech Advice

Bringing Life Back

by IRIS Solutions August 31, 2011

As laptop batteries age, the battery life declines and before you know it, you are unable to use your laptop at all without being tethered to your power cord that's plugged into the only available outlet in a dark corner of your den.  Purchasing a new battery is an option, but before spending the money, give these simple and easy tricks a try to help extend the use of your battery.

- Charge the laptop fully.  Use the laptop unplugged until the battery is almost completely drained and then charge the laptop again.

- It's also been said that a way to recover small amounts of battery life is to charge the laptop fully and let the battery drain completely.  Leave the laptop unplugged and drained for 4-5 hours and fully charge again.

As with anything you could think of, there is also an app that can help you determine the current state of your battery.  The app is called "BatteryBar" and it's available in the Mac App Store as well as the Android Market.  It can be useful in that it will show the battery capacity and the usage of the battery, along with the percent decline of the battery capacity, so you can easily monitor the current battery life.

If all else fails, consider purchasing a replacement battery for your laptop and give us a call.  We'll be glad to assist however we can.

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Tech Advice

Feeling the Heat

by IRIS Solutions August 10, 2011

This has been one of the hottest summers on record.  We have had something like 50 straight days of over 90 degree weather.  This topic has been in every conversation for weeks now and people are staying inside and doing less outside.

You might ask, "Why in the world is an IT shop posting articles about the heat?"  We are not trying to be editorial writers for The Weather Channel, but we are as concerned as you are about heat... in regards to our electronics.

Heat is the number one killer of electronics.  Does anyone remember the red rings from the Xbox 360?  Do you remember the fix?  Put the device in the freezer for a couple of hours and see if they go away.  Pretty scientific, right?

Computers are no different than our human bodies, they crave cool air.  In addition, they are even more picky about the heat as they do not want the temperature to go over 78 degrees.  If  you consider all of the electronics in a computer and everything it takes to make a sentence turn into a sentence or an internet browser to show a webpage, there are millions of instructions on millions of chips working in that black box on the floor.  These components, just like us, need a cool place to work.

Seagate is a major manufacturer of hard drives for all computers.  They have done studies that show the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) on a hard drive spinning all day, every day, is good for 4.5 years.  If you take this to the upper temperature spectrum of 78 degrees it drops in half.

In short, heat kills computers and electronics.  If you feel like the temperature of your computer or networking equipment is too high, please call us and we can look into this for you.  Otherwise stay cool during these dog days of summer.

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Tech Advice

Why am I getting a virus?

by IRIS Solutions July 6, 2011

The past couple of weeks were tough for anti-virus manufacturers and we started getting a lot of phone calls for virus problems.  Our hardware anti-virus solution has proven to be more effective than software solutions but this latest virus attack got through everything.  We were able to find the site that caused the virus and watch it happen.  We tested every single flavor of the major anti-virus software companies the next day and all of them allowed this site through and then a rootkit was installed.

The rootkit is one of the nastiest attacks because it installs software that morphs and changes on every reboot and the latest attack was done with Windows Recovery.  The virus downloads and removes all files and folders from the "C" drive.  They are still there, just hidden.  The virus also reports hard drive failures and system problems.

We had a very hard time removing the infection but thanks to one of our hard working techs, Mike Baldwin, we found out how to kill this nasty piece of software.  The website in question was a plugin from Yahoo Mail and we did find that a fully patched system with Windows, Adobe, and Java updates did seem to stop the attack. 

Keep your system up-to-date and make sure you are cognizant of where you are going to prevent malicious software because sometimes anti-virus is just not enough.

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Tech Advice

What is your Microsoft?

by IRIS Solutions June 29, 2011

We field many calls requesting help with the user's "Microsoft."  These calls can often mean Microsoft Office, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or even the Operating System.  So what is the difference? 

The Operating System (OS) is the software that runs on the PC.  The dictionary.com meaning is "the collection of software that directs a computer's operations, controlling and scheduling the execution of other programs, and managing storage, input/out, and communication resources."  The OS is needed to run the other apps you use in your business.  Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer run within the Operating System.

Microsoft Office is a collection of applications such as Word, Excel, Access, Publisher, Power Point, Outlook, and Info Path.  This collection of applications gives you various functions from developing presentation materials, recording data and housing that data, to simply checking email and keeping up with contacts and your calendar.

Internet Explorer is the application you use to browse the internet.  You can browse web pages and also access web applications via the web browser.

There are distinct differences in these Microsoft products.  Being clear about the issue and which part of the Microsoft collection of applications is causing issues can be vital to a timlier fix to your problem.

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IT Services | Tech Advice

We Listen!

by IRIS Solutions April 15, 2011

Have you ever been so frustrated with service you've received and felt like you had no place to turn to share your concerns?  If you're actually able to voice your frustrations do you have much hope that your comments will be taken seriously and addressed?

At IRIS Solutions we take customer service very seriously.  Our ticketing system, ConnectWise, sends automatically generated emails upon closure of tickets to the primary company contact on record.  These emails are sent as a follow up on the service work that was performed to give you the opportunity to let us know if the issue still persists and to send any feedback, positive or negative, on the service you received.  Also included at the bottom of the email is a link to a service survey to rate our performance.  We encourage you to complete this survey, no matter how high or low the score may be, so that we can work to continually improve upon the service we provide to our valued clients.

We enjoy sharing the scores and comments with our staff to offer constructive criticism or praise for a job well done.  The next time you receive a ticket closure email please take a moment to let us know how our service was for you.  We receive may positive comments but receive our fair share of negative feedback as well, which only helps us to work better for you and your office in the future.

Below are two positive comments received yesterday in regards to recent service work performed for their offices.  Keep the feeback coming and we'll continue to offer the best service and support we can!

  • "I have always had a great experience with every technician that I have spoken with over the phone and in person.  Everyone is knowledgeable and friendly!  Thanks for all you do."
  • "System is working beautifully!  Your entire team is a delight to work with!"

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Company News | IT Services

Can IE9 win back Google Chrome Users?

by IRIS Solutions March 22, 2011

Microsoft Internet Explorer has really been losing market share in the past few years with the new Google Chrome and constantly evolving Mozilla Firefox browsers.  When Google released Chrome a couple of years ago the browser took off and became very popular because of the simplistic views in the browser.  Microsoft was on IE7 at the time and fixed many problems with scripting and security with IE8.  Now Microsoft has truly produced a rival to Chrome with IE9.

Over the weekend I downloaded and installed IE9.  After reading the initial press releases I decided to wait.  However, I found an obscure blog (just like this one) who told me of one good feature, better tab sizes.  My biggest problem with IE8 was the size of the tabs.  I am a power user with IE8 and I have many open tabs at any given time.  When this happens in IE8 it reduces the size of each tab but not so much in IE9.  The program still reduces the size of the tabs but it's not quite as drastic, which really helps when you have multiple tabs open at one time.  Once I installed IE9 I opened 15 tabs.  I tried to close them one by one and the sizing barely changed.  Now this might seem silly but it is helpful when you want to close ten of the fifteen.

Some other very neat features include the interface and downloads.  The interface is cleaned up to look like Google Chrome where the address bar and the search bar are combined.  Microsoft has also cleaned up the address and tool bars.  The annoying tool bars from various search agents have been suppressed which gives you a bigger browser window.  The last thing that I was shaking my head about is pausing downloads.  FINALLY after 9 versions they have decided to add a download pause.  This is helpful when you have to download a 700 MB file and need to stop and resume the download.  This has been integrated with Firefox for years.

After two days of use I am ready to say that Microsoft has a good product with IE9.  With all the browser wars, Microsoft has developed this as a free download to keep up with the other packages.  If you want to download it head out to www.microsoft.com/downloads.

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New Technology

IT Services at IRIS Solutions

by Administrator March 9, 2011

The best business owners know that they are not experts at everything. We encourage you to focus on your core competency and let IRIS Solutions manage your "IT Department."

At IRIS Solutions, we are proud of our diverse and robust IT service offering. Our clients may take advantage of the following IT services that relate to their professional goals:

  • 24/7 Network Monitoring
    IRIS Solutions monitors a wide variety of aspects on your company's system in order to detect signs of system failures. Through the constant monitoring of disk and memory usage, Windows Security Updates, network firewalls and network devices, we are able to reduce the chance of system failures and keep your technology running at an optimal level, help you get more accomplished during your work day, and allow you to sleep easy at night.
  • Onsite Support
    Our onsite support team is comprised of highly trained professionals who offer unsurpassed service to our clients. The goal is to ensure that your network is running as efficiently as possible at all times, and our specialists are committed to resolving the IT issues that can occur anytime, causing big headaches. Through our onsite support, your network problems or questions will be handled quickly and efficiently, enabling your office to be productive, generate revenue and focus on your core business.
  • Help Desk/Remote Support
    Our Help Desk function focuses on you, our client, and has been designed with your needs in mind. We know that when an IT issue occurs, no matter how big or small, the only thing you are thinking about is "how to fix it." Whether you need supplemental answers to a technology question or if you are in need of a responsive, personable, and knowledge-based approach to a technology problem, our Help Desk function focuses on offering support when you need it most. Our specialists are trained to provide solutions which allow your office to work productively despite any technical glitches. By providing immediate support, the Help Desk resolves problems that without any assistance may cause downtime and confusion. The IRIS Solutions Help Desk provides immediate remote assistance in getting you back on track as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Managed Services
    Our Managed Services platform provides you with the most comprehensive solution to your office technology needs. We create a strategy based on the overall requirements and goals of your office and implement a detailed technology plan that assists you in increasing productivity measures, decreasing downtime, and surrounding your employees with the technology support and assurance they require to get their jobs done. Furthermore, we can help manage your company's critical and necessary technology, easing your frustration, lessening your stress, controlling costs, and making your technology work the way it was intended. We will help you plan for, rather than react to, a potential IT issue.
  • Local and Offsite Backup Solutions
    Digital data is convenient, fast, and easy to produce but once lost, unless backed up effectively and tested regularly for restoration, it may be gone forever. The push of the wrong key or click of the wrong icon could result in the loss of important, irreplaceable files that are integral to your company's performance. IRIS Solutions understands that a strategy must be in place to prevent this. To safeguard our clients against the potentially devastating loss of important data, IRIS Solutions offers local and offsite encrypted data backup.

    Our local and offsite backup solutions will store and protect your data. In cases of data loss, natural disaster, or relocation, your company will be able to easily recover your information. IRIS Solutions partners with reputable offsite backup companies that store data in top-of-the-line facilities throughout the United States.

Entrust your IT function to the care of the trained professionals at IRIS Solutions. With our wide range of services, excellent support and competitive pricing, IRIS Solutions looks forward to maximizing your IT performance and minimizing your overhead. Call 800-953-9405 or email sales@irissol.com for more details about how IRIS Solutions can help you work smarter while your technology works harder.

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Company News | IT Services