Change is never easy when it comes to technology. We all love the familiarity of the software we use, we know the navigation menu and we know the shortcuts which adds to the efficiency of our workday. But, with technology, change is inevitable, and the end of support for Windows 7 is a major change.

If you are one of the 184 million small- to mid-sized businesses still using Windows 7, it’s time to mark the date and start preparing for the transition now.

Mark the date:

January 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7.

End-of-Life Explained

Software manufacturers like Microsoft have ever-evolving code in their products. At some point, older versions of software can no longer support the technological advances supported by new solutions. So, the manufacturer moves its focus from an older product to a newer one. This usually involves ending the life of older versions. This is exactly what has happened to the Windows 7 operating system.

What happens when the EOL deadline passes for Windows 7?

  1. No new security updates or patches. This leaves any flaws in the software open for exploitation by hackers.
  2. No more Microsoft support. Without support, if you have a problem, you can’t rely on the manufacturer for help.
  3. Noncompliant with federal regulations. Unsecure software is not compliant with any federal regulation, such as HIPAA and PCI.
  4. Increased risk for your business. Personally identifiable information (PII), confidential data and financial numbers are at risk of theft.
  5. Compatibility issues. Your common line-of-business applications, such as Salesforce, QuickBooks, Office 2016, and Raiser’s Edge, will no longer work with Microsoft 7, leaving you unable to digitally communicate with clients, vendors and partners.

End-of-life issues introduce significant security risks to your organization. If you’re in a regulated industry and still using out-dated software, you’re almost certainly not in compliance with regulations. Further, if you’re still using an older operating system, it’s likely your hardware is dated as well.

Steps to Prepare for Your Windows Upgrade

The time to upgrade is now. If you wait until the end of 2019, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an IT provider with the time to deploy upgraded solutions. Other businesses are already booking-up their schedules.

The least disruptive way to upgrade your organization’s software is to do it in small groups and after-hours so only a few employees are affected as little as possible at one time. This involves a considerable amount of planning. Your IT provider must be able to understand your business tolerance for downtime.

For most small- to medium-sized businesses, the recommended upgrade option is to go from Windows 7 to Windows 10. There is the question of, “Can I upgrade to Windows 8 instead?” Well, unless you like repetitive pain, don’t do it! Windows 8 is next in line for EOL in 2023.

Simplify Your Windows 10 Upgrade  

At Simpleworks, we’ve conducted hundreds of Windows 7 to Windows 10 upgrades and have many lined up throughout 2019. Our team is experienced and certified with Microsoft applications and servers for both the cloud and on-premise solutions, and we have multiple engineers with Microsoft certifications.

The key to a successful and smooth upgrade is to work with an experienced Microsoft IT partner. Here’s a few of the planning tactics we cover to ensure a smooth transition:

  • Document your current technology environment
  • Manage the lifecycle of your hardware
    • Know their age, which are approaching EOL, etc.
  • Plan your budget accordingly
  • Manage user data
  • Backup and verify the restore
  • Stage the rollout in small groups
  • Plan the rollout during off-peak business hours
  • Communicate continuously to the client and team
  • Be available during the rollout process to troubleshoot and provide peace-of-mind

Upgrading and The Cloud

Depending on your business, it may be beneficial to move to the cloud when upgrading Windows 7. Windows 10 is cloud-ready, unlike most older operating systems. And, if you’re already using Office 365, the move is made even easier.

By turning large capital investments into predictable operating expenses, cloud solutions can improve productivity, help your budget and increase the operational maturity of your business.

Upgrading to Windows 10 with Simpleworks

At Simpleworks, we make your upgrades simple. We have proven processes and tools to automate much of the upgrade. After the upgrade, we can push the software and updates your employees need directly to their workstations. The same goes for line-of-business applications. Your business won’t be interrupted for software updates. When you partner with us, we completely handle your technology, including your upgrades and rollouts. If you’d like to learn more about simplifying your IT, contact us here or call us at 719-476-0444.

We don’t often think of it this way, but our technology providers are rather intimate with our businesses. Indeed, technology touches almost every area of our businesses – from allowing us to check our work email from our phones to securing our most confidential information. Our IT, and, thus, our IT providers, have access to the most important areas of our businesses. That means you need to be able to trust your IT provider and depend on them to be there for you when you need them most. It’s not altogether different from getting married.

However, like most relationships, it can take a while to find the right one before settling down for a future together.

6 Signs Your IT Provider May Be Wrong for You

Your IT provider will send signals about the value and future they place in your business relationship. Some will be subtle and some not so subtle:

  1. Recurrent downtime
  2. Never seeming to be able to solve the root cause of issues
  3. Leaving you on hold for support
  4. Nickel-and-diming you for every service
  5. Not helping you align your IT with your business goals
  6. Never calling to check on your IT and your needs

Don’t let your feelings get hurt. They probably treat all their clients the same way. It’s not you; it’s them.

At the same time, you don’t want to become complacent. If you’re not getting the service and proactive IT planning that your business needs to grow, it’s time to move on.

Finding the Right IT Provider for Your Business

The first thing to realize when searching for a new IT provider is that you get what you pay for. If you aren’t willing to invest in your technology, you’ll keep falling for poorly performing IT providers. Remember: the time you spend struggling with inadequate IT is time you could be spending improving your business and readying it for growth.

Once you’ve committed to investing in your technology to help your business grow, don’t fall for the first managed service provider (MSP) you meet. Do your due diligence first. Here are a few key things to consider as you search for a long-term IT partnership:

  • Talk to your peers about their experiences with IT providers. Industry peers are often great resources for insight into how an MSP performs on a daily basis. They can also help you identify MSPs you might want to begin talking to. Don’t take their word for it, though. Trust, but verify.
  • Identify your business’ needs and goals. The only way to effectively align your technology with your business plan is to review and plan ahead for the technology you’ll need. For instance, if you’re planning to hire new employees, you’ll need to also plan for more laptops, more storage, more licensesand other technical considerations.
  • Communicate your needs to prospective IT providers. Does the provider clearly understand your business goals and explain how their technology solutions will help you achieve them?
  • Look for industry-experienced MSPs. IT providers with experience in your industry, especially if you’re in a regulated industry, gives you a leg-up as they already know the requirements you must meet to comply with laws and regulations.
  • Can the provider secure your network and most confidential data? Whether it’s intellectual property or personally identifiable information, hackers are interested in the data that companies store. Your potential IT provider should be able to clearly explain how their solutions protect your business from cyberattacks.
  • Reliable, tested disaster response and backups. Any MSP you seriously consider should have experience developing disaster response plans and ensuring your backups are tested on a regular basis and working. Your backups are your last resort in the event of a disaster or cyberattack.
  • Experienced and expert staff. Does the IT provider have a strong, talented technical team with industry experience, certifications and quality toolsets for managing, tweaking, adjusting and proactively monitoring your IT environment? It should.
  • Verify. As we noted above, you should verify the information you gather by contacting the provider’s other clients and references to get a better picture of how they work.
  • Reporting and metrics. Make sure the IT provider can provide you with regular reports on their metrics for success in serving your business. An honest self-appraisal indicates an honest provider.

Comparing IT Providers – It’s Not Always Apples to Apples.

By starting your IT provider search with the questions above, the answers will help you narrow the field to those providers that better match your business. At Simpleworks, we’ve simplified managed IT from start to finish.

Our new Simple Technology Solution takes the mystery out of IT contracts:

– No hidden fees.

– What you see is what you get.

– Your IT investment is predictable.

– Our program automatically scales with your business’ needs.

Ready for a Simple Technology Solution?

When you partner with us, we completely handle the transition and employee training. We also coordinate with your former or current IT provider, so you don’t have to do anything.

If you’d like to learn more about simplifying your IT, contact us here or call us at 719-476-0444.

Most business owners wouldn’t imagine operating without an insurance policy to cover break-ins, accidents, fires, and other unforeseeable disasters. But many businesses fail to appreciate the need to insure their precious online property—their data.

A catastrophic loss of data can not only disrupt normal business operations; it can actually have an adverse effect on your bottom line, customer service, and reputation. Even if you have solid IT infrastructure and services in place, data loss can happen for any number of reasons. You need a disaster recovery plan in place in case of an emergency. Simpleworks can help.

Colorado Springs Data Disaster Recovery Solutions

With BDR backups, Simpleworks offers a comprehensive disaster recovery service. Here are some of the features:

  • Hybrid cloud backups. The physical BDR device will back up your data automatically as frequently as every 5 minutes and can be easily retrieved. In addition to the physical copy, your data can be backed up off-site on a secured BDR server. This level of redundancy issues that none of your data will ever be permanently lost.
  • Instant virtualization. Your backup data can be virtualized almost instantaneously from either the physical device or the cloud to replicate the failing server. This will keep your business operating while the problem is addressed.
  • Backup Insights.  This service allows us to locate and retrieve deleted files that occur between backups. This kind of retrieval can be invaluable for small scale data loss from misclicks or carelessness.

BDR backup services are also encrypted and comply with current HIPPA standards.

Colorado Springs Data Recovery

At Simpleworks, we have heard a lot of horror stories about catastrophic data loss. As Colorado Springs’ leading IT support and disaster recovery solution, we utilize BDR backups to ensure the safety of our customers’ vital data. This disaster recovery plan provides the protection and redundancy that your business needs.

Don’t put your business at risk. Insure your data with BDR backups from Simpleworks today.