How To Identify Email Scams

It’s always a good idea to know what to look for in an email that could be malicious. Whether these emails come from someone you don’t know or from a familiar email address, scam emails can occur in three different ways. The emails you should keep an eye out for are spam, phishing, and scams. Here are a few ways to identify each of them and some examples.

Spam:

Spam is the most familiar of the types of common email scams you might experience. Spam emails are unsolicited emails sent en masse. It’s what we refer to as “junk mail.” Unlike phishing and scam emails, spam is usually sent without the malicious intent of getting you to download destructive software. Instead, they may aim to get personal information from you later on. These “old fashioned” scam emails include chain emails, bogus business opportunities, health scams, discount software offers, and advance fee fraud.

Spam emails often include enticing headlines like “More Money Now” or “This New Diet Will Change Your Life.” Common scams will focus on monetary factors, such as building a better credit score, a work-from-home offer, “free” goods, how to earn easy money, and even investment opportunities. In the body of the email, grammar errors will likely give away the fact that the email isn’t sent from a legitimate organization.

Email services like Gmail  have developed ways to identify scam emails based on factors like administrator set policies, empty message content, and unknown sender addresses. But if your spam filters don’t catch the emails, keep an eye out for any email addresses that don’t seem familiar or offers that seem too good to be true. If the scam is common, you may be able to search the web to see if other people have reported it.

Example of Spam Email:

Gmail has already identified this email as spam because it came from an unknown sender and is similar to emails that other users have reported as spam. The “too good to be true” headline and the sense of urgency immediately gives this away as spam. You can also see that the email contains grammatical errors and random capitalization.

Phishing:

Phishing emails are designed to look as if they’ve been sent from a legitimate organization. Their goal is to entice the recipient to click on a link, download an attachment, or provide personal information. Some common phishing scams include fake communications from a bank or IT provider asking for money, or an email asking you to click on an attachment or go to a different site to view a joke, special offer, etc.

Phishing scams likely look like they come from a company you might trust and can even use logos from large companies. Given how sophisticated some of these emails may look, it’s even more important to be able to identify some of the common factors of phishing emails. A generic greeting such as “Hello, Customer” can be one common sign that this email is not from the company it claims to be. Another common identifier for phishing scams is misspellings. For example, the phrase “Eliminate Debt” may be shifted to say “Ĕliᵐińate Ɖebţ” to evade filters but still remain legible. Most scam companies are aware of filters built into email systems, and will purposefully insert spelling errors into their subjects to get past these filters.

The best way to confirm that an email is a phishing scam is to verify with the company from which you’ve received the email. Log in to the official site with your secure information and see if you have received any notifications that match the email or contact a support representative. Don’t follow the links in any email that feels “off” as these links could have malicious software.

Example of Phishing:

This email is an example of a new phishing scheme that appears to be from Amazon. If you received this email and knew that you had not made a purchase, you would likely be tempted to click on the link to cancel the order. When you respond to an email like this, someone will collect your real Amazon login to access your account. Key giveaways for this particular email as a phishing scam are the generic greeting and the phone number which has been programmed with html to hide other characters so that it looks like a legitimate number.

Scams:

Scam emails are most likely to be received from a person who looks real. These emails often come from an email “hack.” If you received a suspicious email from a real email address, it falls under a hack. These emails will likely be asking for money outright. If you haven’t heard from someone in awhile and they reach out asking for money, that should raise alarms. Scammers could have breached a colleague’s email address and sent you the email. A good rule of thumb is to personally ask your contact or colleague if the email is truly from them using a different form of contact. Do not reply directly to the suspicious email if it can be avoided.

Example of Scams:

This person hacked an email account and looked for any emails that referenced payments to try to get more money from people. To avoid any scams, the recipient texted the sender to make sure that it was legitimate before responding, and when he replied that it wasn’t, changed the password to secure the account.

What to do if you encounter a scam email:

If you receive a scam email (particularly spam), you can take a few actions to help protect yourself and other users.

First, update your spam filters in your email to reflect the spam you’ve seen. You can restrict the users who are able to send email by updating your filters. You can customize your level of security from just filtering our junk mail to filtering out anyone who isn’t on your safe list. Second, report the email as spam. This will let the email provider know to filter out the emails on their entire system. Third, install an antivirus software and firewall on your device to help protect against installing any harmful software received via email.

If you would like to receive more training on email safety or if you have any concerns about an email you’ve received, please call our team at (843) 324-5824.

Privacy in the Modern World of Technology

Each day, it seems that we are hearing about a new form of technology. For example, NASA has recently sent a helicopter to Mars! Ten years ago, this technology wasn’t available to us. Since technology evolves so quickly, it can sometimes grow at a speed that makes it hard to understand. With every new wave of fantastic technological advancements, we open ourselves up to new concerns. Many Americans have expressed particular concerns about a growing lack of privacy that has come with increased internet usage. Studies have expressed that six out of ten Americans don’t believe that it is possible to go through daily life without having their data collected. 

Companies like Instagram, Google, and TikTok have been accused of overstepping privacy policies to gain more information and data on their customers, and some cases have even been sent to court. These court cases only shine a brighter light on the larger issue at hand: the lack of privacy when accompanied with extensive technology. 

Instagram:

Instagram was accused of viewing users through their phone cameras without expressed consent; Facebook (the owners of Instagram) responded to the lawsuit by claiming the issue to be nothing more than a bug defect. Despite Facebook’s response, Mark Zuckerberg has used tape over his laptop’s camera in the past. Many interpreted this as Zuckerberg’s own distrust of technology. 

Google:

Google, a product which 90% of people in the world use as their primary search engine, has been sued for $5 billion for tracking users, even while in Incognito Mode. Google offers Incognito Mode as a private way to browse the Web. Chrome’s Help section assures users that “…[N]one of your browsing history, cookies and site data, or information entered in forms are saved on your device”. A misleading concept is that Incognito Mode — or any other private browsing program — keeps you completely anonymous; however, this is not the case. Your data and personal information are not kept private during these Incognito sessions. Websites can find out where you are through your IP address, and figure out who you are from there.

TikTok:

TikTok, a rapidly growing social media platform, has recently edited their privacy policy to include the gathering of biometric data from US users. This includes faceprints, voiceprints, and whatever else can be used to identify an individual. Biometric data is used to uniquely identify someone; this technology has been helpful in forensic studies and maintaining high security. Educating yourself and others on the importance of your biometric data is the first step in bringing awareness to the dangers of data-leaks. Someone with ill intent might attempt to harm your image or use this data to impersonate you.

Why Data Collection Happens:

Why would enormous multi-billion corporations want your data, anyway? Well, if these companies can figure out what you, as a consumer, would be willing to spend your hard-earned money on, then they can place targeted advertisements in front of you, which could earn them money from advertisers. Your interests, buying behavior, and even your political affiliation can be gleaned from your consumer data

Precautions You Can Take:

Because the Internet is a relatively new frontier, very few laws surround your online privacy. So, what can you do as a precaution? It all starts with what you willingly post on your social media: sharing locations, names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, and even pictures of yourself could lead to identity theft or a breach of privacy. We recommend using a VPN (virtual private network) when browsing the ‘Net to maintain anonymity, and antivirus software if you’re concerned about hackers easily accessing your computer. 

As a new wave of technology is explored each day, the need for security and privacy becomes more apparent. If you’re concerned about your online privacy and security, give us a ring at (843) 324-5824; we would love to help you learn more!

Greg Mathis Charter High School: Creating a Custom Portal

Web Design: Creating a Custom School Registration Portal

Creating a secure portal for filling out, storing, and sending forms requires technical expertise in several different areas. In creating a custom portal for Greg Mathis Charter High School, our goal was to create a secure online portal to allow parents to sign their children up for school. We needed to gather a variety of information about each student from health conditions to school supplies. It was important that we create a way for parents to complete the sign-up process in multiple sittings, authorize each form, and send them to the school.

Our portal needed to allow for a simple process to login, fill out forms, and submit them. Let’s take a look at how we accomplished each step.

Step 1- Login:

Parents create a unique account that allows them to access all of the forms needed for enrollment and to edit previous entries. We’ve streamlined the process to be easy for many forms to be completed at one time or across several days. After completing and signing each form, the user is given the option to continue to the next form or to save their progress and return to the process later.

Step 2- Fill Out Forms:

The school provided us with the packet of forms which they typically use at the start of each school year. These forms were printed, scanned in, retyped, and re-formatted. To correctly build each form, we identified a WordPress plugin that allowed us to create custom fields for entries such as dates, times, numbers, and names. We could specify the fields that were required.

The school signup process consisted of 30 forms. Each was formatted to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand. Imputing the forms took several days. We set each form up to show whether or not it has been completed and to allow for future edits.

Step 3- Submit:

Every form is equipped with a digital signature field. Each form is then signed and dated so that all information provided is marked as approved by the parent. We secured each form with reCAPTCHA protection to protect from spam submissions and preserve security. After that, we set up a delivery process that would allow each form to be sent to the school in PDF form once completed. This way, the school could easily keep records for each student and sign them up for the new school year as usual.

Conclusion:

With the start of the school year approaching, ADVYON’s expert team worked tirelessly to make a user-friendly, high tech portal for this local high school. Both our team and the clients were very pleased with the end results. If your business needs a secure portal built for banking, medical forms, or any other secure sign-ups, please contact our team at (843) 324-5824 to see how we can help.

Watch our video for more details on the project!

Social Media Marketing Steps for A First-Time Business Owner

ADVYON was built through lots of hard work and constant effort. We understand the time required to dedicate to a start-up business, so we have created a guide to help you with one of the most important aspects of keeping your business successful: a good social media marketing plan! Once you get a little recognition, the only way to go is up; that is, if you keep a consistent, organized, and simple plan.

Step One: Keep everything organized. 

When you’re starting a new business, it’s imperative that you keep yourself organized. Keeping a to-do list or using a task management system to organize your social media posts is highly recommended. Read this article by Niel Patel which describes why organization is so important, and what you can do to prioritize it. Don’t try to remember everything; write it down, set a reminder, add it to your calendar! Our team uses a spreadsheet to keep track of what we’re going to post, when we’re going to post it, and who will create the content. Use a system that works for you!

Step Two: Stay simple with graphics.

When you scroll through social media, do you focus on each individual aspect of someone’s post? Usually, the answer is no. As you’re posting for your business, keep things simple; think big picture! When using a graphic in your post, keep the colors simple and ensure that all of the information you wish to convey would be communicated thoroughly with a single glance. It’s scientifically proven time and again that the most successful posts are images. Use larger and easy to read fonts for the most important info; if you’re announcing an event, use eye-catching words like “Biggest Event,” “Cash Prizes,” or “Free Food” to get people interested (Check out this article to learn why). Once you have them reading your eye-catching title, you can throw some more information at them to get them convinced that they want to join this event.

When you post on social media, use the same color palette throughout your feed. Humans are visual learners, and there are many subliminal messages through color selection. For example, combining black and white can convey antiquity, wealth, and success (when done correctly)! Color-pick the main colors in your logo or website (if you don’t have either one already, give us a call), and add them to your graphic. There’s plenty of evidence that supports the idea that humans associate colors to different things. When you think of yellow and red together, there might be several different fast food restaurants that come to mind. Use this to your advantage for your business! Consistently use the same colors for all of your marketing.

Step Three: Be consistent. Success favors consistency!

Post on social media most days of the week. ADVYON has found that the best times to post on Facebook for an IT company are Wednesdays between 9 AM and 2 PM. Do your own research on the best times to post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, or any other social media for your specific company. People are inundated with so many media posts within a day, so make sure that your post stands out from among the crowd!

Step Four: Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Starting a business is difficult, especially if you’re doing it alone. Thankfully, you don’t have to be alone in this! We’re here to help you: from the small social media posts to completely branding your company, we do it all! We understand that entrepreneurs are always busy with meetings, appointments, financial discussions, and whatever else you’ve put on your to-do list. We know that you’re busy with the in’s-and-out’s of a business, so let us help you by taking care of your marketing needs. Give us a ring at (843) 324-5824 to discuss the future of your business!

How to Identify Common Domain Scams

Recently, some of ADVYON’s clients have called us to ask about letters or emails they’ve received from fraudulent companies like Domain Listings stating that the customer must renew their business listing or domain. These letters are a scam designed to take advantage of a service that you are already paying for and convince you that their party needs additional payment for this service. The letters often appear very urgent, so we wanted to share some resources to help our clients and the public quickly identify this common scam.

How Can I Identify This Scam?

The best way to identify the scam is to figure out who actually hosts your domain. Use ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to identify your domain ownership. Some popular sites which may be your domain provider include GoDaddy, Domain.com, Bluehost, and HostGator. You should never pay anyone who is not your domain provider for services related to your domain.

What Are the Companies Using this Scam:

Here are a list of a few companies who have recently used this scam:

  • Domain Renewal Group
  • Domain Registry of America
  • Domain Listings
  • IDNS

What Will the Scam Letter Look Like:

Below are some examples of letters and emails received by our customers. Below are some examples of what a fraudulent domain renewal notice will look like. If there is any doubt, contact your IT provider!

Three Questions to Create the Perfect Social Media Plan for Your Business

Social media is a crucial part of an effective marketing strategy for most business owners these days. Consistent posting on social media can provide benefits like raising brand awareness, driving sales, and establishing your brand as an expert in your field. But how do you start using social media? We believe that like many things in life, success on social media starts by creating the perfect plan.

A social media plan can be as detailed as you want, but it starts with just three basic questions:

What will I post? Where will I post it? What will it look like?

Let’s work through some steps to find the answers each of these questions:

#1- What will you post?

The first step in figuring out what you will post is to find your brand voice. Try a chart like the chart below from the Content Marketing Institute to get a concrete idea of what tone your posts should use. First, use general terms to describe how your business sounds like “passionate” or “quirky.” Then you explain what each of those mean. Use a chart like this to determine the “do’s” and “dont’s” for your business’ communications.

Check out our Facebook page for some more ideas about how to find your brand voice: Finding Your Brand Voice

Your voice will determine whether you post about serious or lighthearted topics. If your brand is dealing with an inherently serious topic, you will probably not post memes or funny videos. You will probably stick to sharing news items and general tips for your business. But if your business can afford to be a little silly or wants to be seen as a “friend,” you may be very casual with your followers and use slang or popular viral images and videos on your pages.

#2-Where will I post?

Figuring out where to post also takes some research. You can start by performing an audience analysis. An audience analysis examines the demographics, location, and interests and other aspects of a group.

To figure out demographics and location, try using Facebook’s built in analytics tools. You can use the “page insights” feature to get an overview of the age and gender for your existing audience as well as the cities and countries your followers came from and the languages of their browsers. Simply navigate to the “people” tab under page insights to see an overview of your followers’ demographics like the one pictured below:

After looking at your demographics, you can research to see which platforms they are most interested in by doing a simple Google search. For example when we search this largest demographic, women ages 35-44, we can find statistics that tell us that most of these followers use Facebook and Instagram. From there, we can figure out when the best time to post will be by searching to see when most women ages 35-44 will be using Facebook.

After figuring out the best time to post and the best platform to use, create a social media calendar. This schedule should have what types of topics will be covered each day, the times they will be posted, and the platforms where they will be shared. Check out this example from Hootsuite which addresses the content that will be posted each day on four different platforms:

#3- What will it look like?

What your posts look like will be determined by your brand. No blanket look or feel will work for all businesses. 

If you want a concrete idea of what look to use for your posts, you can create branding standard. In this file, you can document the colors and fonts that your business will use and what situations you will use them in. Your brand standards should include:

  • Clearly defined logo usage, spacing, and colors
  • Specified colors & fonts
    • Make sure the colors and fonts are outlined for use in all instances. For example, for colors, you want to be sure to have CMYK for print usage and Hex for online graphics. For fonts, make sure weights and styles are specified as well as alternatives for both digital and print. You will likely have a greater variety of options to use for graphics.
  • Rules for usage of stock photography, photos from clients, and photos of team members.
  • An overall standard for how your brand’s message should be represented (Voice).

For more information about what should be included in your brand standard, read our blog about brand standards and why you need them: https://advyon.com/brand-standards/

Once you’ve set the colors and fonts you will use, you’re ready to start creating. To get ideas on what your posts might look like, check out the competition. Find social media accounts for similar businesses in your area and make notes on what kinds of graphics they’ve created. Your posts should not be a direct copy, but using similar ideas will help put you on an even playing field with your competitors. You can use design tools like Adobe Indesign or Illustrator or free tools like Canva to create appealing graphics with your colors and fonts.

Final Thoughts: 

Many businesses put off creating a social media plan because it seems time-consuming or intimidating. We think that answering by answering three questions: “What will I post? Where will I post it? What will it look like?,”you can create a solid social media plan that is easy and fun for your team.

Examining your brand voice, demographics, brand standards, and competition will provide you with valuable information on the best approach to social media for your specific business. If you’d like more help with social media planning, strategy, and scheduling, you can always ask an expert! We offer social media posting and plans as a part of our comprehensive marketing services, so please give us a call at (843) 324-5824, email marketing@advyon.com or visit our website, advyon.com for more information on our services or to schedule a consultation.

Your Guide to Cloud Hosting

In our world today, we hear a lot about storing information on the  cloud. But did you know there are different types of cloud storage? In this blog, we will explore what cloud storage can be used for and what the differences are between each type.

What is cloud storage?

All types of cloud storage allow you to access information remotely. The advantage of cloud storage is that files are not taking up any extra room on your computer or servers. Any time you access information remotely, you are using one of the different types of cloud storage.

Cloud computing can be broken up into two basic categories: private or public hosting. On a private cloud, you are responsible for saving the data yourself whereas a public cloud allows you to save data with a larger third party company. Let’s examine each of these types of cloud hosting in more detail.

Type 1- Private Cloud:

A private cloud works much the same way a business would operate its own traditional data center. If you are accessing information on platforms like IBM Cloud, you are likely accessing this information from a private cloud. On a private cloud, the user saves data himself on a hard drive at home or server at the office.

Private cloud is the riskiest of the cloud storage types in terms of security. Without the added security of a big company supporting your data, you may run into problems like:

  • Interruptions
  • Data Security
  • Improper Configuration

To help secure your private cloud, you can take a few simple steps such as using strong passwords and two-factor authentication, enabling account recovery, and signing out when not using your accounts.

Type 2 Public Cloud-

Public cloud is becoming increasingly popular with business owners. Some forecasts for usage of public cloud storage in 2021 are predicting that as many as 60% of companies will use public cloud platforms. Public cloud means that the user does not personally own the server. Rather it is hosted by a third party, often a large company, such as Microsoft’s Azure.

One benefit of hosting on a public cloud is cutting the cost associated with physical hardware. Purchasing a server can cost thousands of dollars and maintaining servers can cost thousands more. Hosting on someone else’s server will likely be closer to a fee of hundreds of dollars.

Another benefit of public hosting is that it removes office limitations. A physical server is limited as to the number of users it can support. Once a business gets to a certain size or expands into multiple offices, it will need a system to support their growth. Cloud storage provides the elasticity needed to grow and change with the company. Cloud hosting is also good for remote work because it allows for easy access, collaboration, and working from multiple locations.

Public hosting is also safer because you are using higher quality servers supported by a full time team of experts. When your server is supported by a full-scale team of qualified engineers, they are less likely to fail. To increase security when hosting on a public cloud, be sure to download backups of any data stored there to protect from security risks if one of their servers goes down.

Public Cloud Subtype: Software as a services (SAAS)

One of the popular subtypes of public cloud hosting is software as a service (SAAS). Software as a service will allow you to export your data for you to download. Well known SaaS companies like Microsoft 365 and Dropbox allow you to periodically download information so you have a hard copy backup. Software as a service is the most commonly used type of cloud hosting because this cloud can be accessed using only a browser. This is the most convenient and efficient type of hosting.

Typically, software as a service does not fail. Other risks to consider when choosing software as a service include low control over your data, dependence on the internet, and speed/ performance.

Which do we recommend you use?

ADVYON is an expert in every type of cloud storage. We believe that private clouds, physical servers, and hosted cloud storage are all highly beneficial for different applications. For most customers, we recommend using a good software as a service provider because they have web interface through browsers, regardless of hardware. Hosted cloud has more limitations because it still requires a stationary machine complete with keyboard and mouse. This makes SaaS most convenient for our highly mobile customers, especially as more of them transition to remote work.

Final Thoughts:

Cloud storage has made a huge impact on the way businesses function from day to day. Private cloud storage allows you to save data on a private server at your home or office, but is vulnerable to the most security risks. Public hosting removes office limitations, allows for mobility, and supports more users with increased expertise from third party support. The type of public hosting we recommend is software as a service, which allows you to store data on a large company’s server using only a browser.

If your business is looking to explore the exciting future of cloud storage, please contact our experts at ADVYON. We work with every type of server and are experts in cloud hosting, so we can answer any further questions you may have! We look forward to working with you on your cloud storage needs.

Try Turning it On and Off Again

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” It’s no secret that this phrase is a favorite of IT professionals. In fact, popular British sitcom, The IT Crowd opens their first episode by giving this line to one of their main characters. But, as the old saying goes, “in every joke, there is a grain of truth”, and it’s no different for this joke. Our ADVYON IT experts really do always ask if you’ve tried rebooting your machine. Why? Because it works!

Rebooting Can Cure Many Common Issues

Tamra Dubis, one of our IT Support Technicians, explained: “I’m passionate about rebooting… It’s important for your computer’s health. A computer needs sleep just like you and I do” According to Tamra, many of our clients’ most common issues including printer and program errors and network connection can be helped by rebooting. There’s almost never a bad time to try rebooting, as long as all files are saved and you aren’t in the middle of an update.

Experts say that rebooting can help with issues such as:

  • Computer Running Slowly
  • Unexpected Freezing
  • Driver Error
  • Hardware Error
  • Slow Internet Speeds
  • Software or Hardware Installation

Rebooting is critical for the speed, storage, and security of your computer. Let’s examine each of these issues more closely to see the difference that rebooting makes.

Issue # 1- Speed

Restarting your computer increases its overall speed. As you go about your work day, you probably open and close browser windows and computer programs without even thinking about it. What many of us don’t realize is that these programs leave a digital footprint in the form of background processes or programs that didn’t close all the way. These unseen programs can take up resources needed for you to perform new tasks quickly. Rebooting your machine sweeps away all the footprints from those programs.

Rebooting is also key to boosting internet speeds. Restarting your router wipes away the current state of your machine, including any bugs that are associated with the way it is working. When you reboot, your routerfrom before any issues that occurred.

Issues # 2- Storage

Rebooting also maximizes storage space for your computer. When you open and close programs on your computer, some of that information is stored in the random access memory (RAM). When this storage space fills up, your RAM can have a memory leak. Restarting clears the RAM, freeing up that needed storage space. A hard restart can also temporarily clear cache and free up storage space for your phone and computer.

Issue #3- Security

Finally, rebooting is vital to the security of your computer. If you leave your computer logged in, this can leave your computer open for security breaches. Restarting can also be crucial for program updates. For instance, Windows releases regular security patches. These patches provide updates to security programs not covered by large scale updates of Defender, etc. The longer it takes to apply these patches, the higher the risk of potential breach. Applying the patches without rebooting could lead to other attacks.

When Should I Reboot?

So, when should you reboot? Our technician, Tamra, recommends that you restart your computer on Friday afternoon. This allows plenty of time for updates and rebooting without disturbing your workday. At the minimum, experts recommend restarting your machine every 30 days.

Tamra also emphasizes that restarts and updates are different from one another. Some software can be updated due to a restart, but an update doesn’t usually have anything to do with the internal workings of your machines. Updates are also different from upgrades. Tamra cautions that an old version of Windows 10 can be just as much of a security risk of Windows 7.

Final Thoughts:

So, if you’re looking to boost the speed, storage, and security of your computer, remember to turn it off and on again. Rebooting your computer is important to restore everything to ideal working conditions without any problematic cache or half-opened programs. If you’d like to know more about why and when you should restart your machine, call our experts today.

 

Why You Shouldn’t DIY Your IT

Imagine for a moment that you are the owner of a small flower shop. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, more and more of your customers have been ordering flowers by using your website. You rely on your website to get the addresses for flower delivery, to send custom messages with each arrangement, and to process payment properly. 

You arrive at the shop on the morning of Mother’s Day, prepared for one of your busiest business days, only to find that your computer is updating. “I don’t have time for this,” you think, and turn off the computer, thinking this will make it restart more quickly. 

Unbeknownst to you, restarting your computer in the middle of an update causes much bigger problems. You soon find that you are missing important files like your spreadsheet of monthly expenses. Now, you have to start your expenses report from scratch and you’ve missed most of the orders for one of your busiest days. In addition, you’ve wasted several hours of your morning trying to fix the issue without any results.

What could you have done to save your files, your computer, and your time? You could have called your IT company before rebooting the computer.

Why You Should Call Your IT Company First

Reason #1- Your IT Company Can Determine Root Cause

Albert Einstein said, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and 1 resolving it.” This quote expresses how difficult it can often be to get to the real root of a problem. That’s why IT companies follow a specific problem-solving process that helps them determine the root cause of technical problems. 

Many of ADVYON’s IT experts reported that our customers are often trying to solve the wrong issue. For example, one common complaint our technicians receive is “my email isn’t working.” This issue can be caused by many factors. When a client tries to solve this issue on their own, they will often immediately jump to delete and reinstall their email. However, this step may still not resolve the issue. 

In more than one instance, the IT team has determined that the person whose email isn’t working has simply clicked the “work offline” button without realizing. Now their email appears to be incapable of sending or receiving emails because it is not connected to the internet. Furthermore this issue would not be fixed by deleting and reinstalling the email and you may waste workdays for one or more employees by trying to fix the wrong issue. 

Let’s  return to our flower shop example. If you were to call your IT company about your issues restoring the flower shop’s spreadsheet, they would ask you a series of questions to determine the root cause of the issue. Some of the typical questions in troubleshooting include, “When did this problem begin?” How many people is the issue affecting?” and most importantly to this issue, “What changes have been made to the computer recently?” When you explain that your computer was updating the previous morning and that you turned it off, your technician will know right away that this was the root cause of the deleted file. Now that you know the reason the file is missing, it will be much easier to come up with a solution for restoring the information.

Reason #2- Your IT Company has a Deep Knowledge Base and Tools

Another compelling reason to call your IT company before trying to fix the issue yourself is simply that they are the experts in the field. Often your IT company has access to knowledge and resources that you won’t find by simply searching the Web. People commonly search for solutions for their IT problems online. We often believe search engines give us the same answer that our IT company would. However, there are several reasons this is not the case. 

First, IT professionals have proven solutions that can be accessed either by a knowledge database or by asking their coworkers. At ADVYON, we’ve documented over 30 common problems and their solutions for our customers to access at https://advyon.com/support/. This is only a small sample of solutions that our technicians are considering every time they solve an issue. We also encourage collaboration between our IT professionals to get the best solution. As CEO Brian Anderson said, “There’s often no ‘right’ way to solve an issue. There may be ways that are faster, but there is no one right way.” If one of our technicians couldn’t solve an issue using their preferred method, someone else is likely to have an idea. While forums may try to achieve the same collaboration online, it is more likely that you will find confusing, conflicting answers to your questions than if you ask a team of professionals all working together.

Second, your IT company brings an outside perspective to the issue. Sometimes you may be so accustomed to living with an issue that you haven’t even thought to address it. Technician Jon Masula remarked that often when he arrives at a client’s workplace, he discovers issues beyond what the client called him to address. Many businesses are so used to issues that they say, “Oh, we just live with this,” or “I have a work-around for this.” Our technicians bring an outside perspective to identify these types of issues and a better, more efficient way to solve them. This can save time and future issues for your business. 

Your IT company has access to several tools which can help them solve the issue. In our flower shop example, your IT company may have several different ideas about how to restore the file. However, testing these ideas could cause problems on the actual machine. So, they will use tools like Sandbox or Wireshark to test possible solutions without changing anything on your machine. This process allows technicians to be 100% sure that the solution they recommend will work. These tools save you time and effort while allowing the IT professionals to more quickly solve the issue. Then they can use remote access software to apply the solution while you’re at lunch so that you don’t lose any more business.

Why Do Businesses Resist Calling their IT Company?

With these reasons in mind, it seems more people should be calling their IT company as their first step. So what’s stopping them? Businesses don’t call their IT company before attempting to fix an issue because the way most IT companies work does not encourage calls. Most IT companies charge by the hour for their services. This not only discourages the company from calling and therefore spending more money, but also discourages the technicians from giving their best effort. An hourly model asks a technician to fix the problem as soon as possible. The first solution may not always be the best solution. In the long term, this can be inefficient. The technician may have to return several times for the same issue, which is frustrating for both parties. 

ADVYON CEO, Brian Anderson explains that ADVYON’s IT services are created to counteract this popular model. We use a “customer centric, MSP model.” The managed services provider (MSP) provides ongoing support at a customer’s place of business for any network, application, and infrastructure security. This model focuses more on building long-lasting relationships with our clients.

An hourly model does not encourage relationships because it is built on the understanding that any interactions with an IT technician will likely be a one-time exchange similar to an interaction with the checkout clerk at the grocery store. Furthermore, by the hourly model’s standards, if everything is going “well,” you won’t hear from your IT company. We check up on our customers even if we haven’t heard any issues from them recently.

Final Thoughts:

Your IT company can be a valuable resource. Rather than spending a whole day trying to Google your way through an issue, you have the knowledge and tools of an entire professional team at your fingertips. Your IT company can help you determine the root cause of your issue and test to find the best solution while you continue the important work of running your business. If hourly rates make calling your IT company impossible, we recommend checking our ADVYON or a similar managed services provider in your area so you can build a long-lasting relationship with your IT company. We certainly think it makes a difference!  

What we Learned from the Lightform LF2 Projection Mapping Device

What is Lightform?

Lightform is a projection mapping device. It allows the user to scan a three dimensional surface and create a map of that surface to project custom designs on. This is the same technology that Disney World uses to create a magical show where Mickey and friends sing and dance on the side of Cinderella’s castle. 

For many years, if you wanted to create custom animations on a 3D surface, you had to put the entire program together in Adobe After Effects or a similar editing software. This process was not user friendly as it required graphic design skills and took a lot of time. Lightform appeals to artists and business owners alike as a simpler way to create a beautiful, custom 3 dimensional design. 

Our company discovered Lightform through our CEO, Brian Anderson. Lightform created a great series of Facebook ads that immediately caught his interest. Anderson said, “I’ve always been obsessed with light. I’m attracted to things that use different forms of light. So [when] I saw this used at an EDM concert where they lit up a skyscraper to match the beat and on Facebook using augmented reality to create shifting blocks,” he knew he had to try it. 

What Can You Do with Lightform?

What could you do with your new Lightform? The possibilities are endless. For personal use, Brian Anderson envisions the product being used for creating elaborate Christmas and Halloween displays projected onto the side of your house. For commercial spaces, “You can have objects that shimmer or increase product placement like glasses with a beach scene that comes to life in the lenses or a fish tank on the wall.” 

We plan to use our Lightform to create a few exciting new projects. For his first task using the Lightform, Anderson plans to create a light-up display of a scene from the movie Tron. If you’ve seen the film, you can probably already picture the glowing motorbikes lit up with the Lightform’s animation. Then, our CEO plans to tackle bringing a skeleton logo for the band The Grateful Dead to life on his wife’s skateboard. 

After we’ve perfected our techniques with these personal projects, we aim to use Lightform as a digital billboard on the side of our office. We plan to showcase the websites we’ve built with animations scrolling through them and to light the building up to attract new customers.

Do We Recommend the Product?

While Lightform is much easier to use than elaborate animation software, Anderson cautions that it still requires some basic knowledge of graphic design, wifi networks, and Bluetooth pairing. “Importing external video and hiding layers were very easy and the initial setup was pretty straightforward. It was hard once the device was paired to pair it with a second device.” 

Anderson also noted that since the technology is still so new, some of the editing tools were fairly basic. “Using the pen tool works best, but as with any art tool, it takes some practice.” 

We advise that if you’re interested in purchasing one of the Lightform projection devices but you have no prior experience in graphic design or you don’t work much with wireless networks that you seek help from an expert. There are not yet many videos explaining how to set up the product yet, so it would be best to talk to someone who’s been through the process before. 

We wanted to try Lightform because of the overall benefit that trying new technology can have on your business. When asked if he believes that it is important for businesses (whether or not they’re in the technology) to try new technology, our CEO, Brian Anderson gave a resounding yes saying, “Businesses that are  innovative are typically more productive, have a better office culture, drive more revenue, and are typically more successful.” 


Key Takeaways:

Our Lightform LF2 projection mapping device has inspired us to continue to be curious about the technology around us. We look forward to perfecting our skills with the Lightform LF2 to create a digital billboard on the side of the building. The LF2 has also given us the opportunity to work on our skills with graphic design and network pairing and to bring an artistic tool to our workplace. Beyond the practical applications and opportunities for professional growth that the Lightform has brought us, we’ve already enjoyed getting to start more conversations with our coworkers about this technology and the other technology that inspires us. Based on this experience, we recommend that you engage with this product and with the conversation- around new technology in your workplace!