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Directive Blogs

Directive has been serving the Oneonta area since 1993, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Security Doesn’t Always Have to Be a Grind

At first glance, cybersecurity might seem incredibly complicated and difficult to understand, but even a baseline understanding of some of the principles of cybersecurity can go a long way toward protecting your business. Let’s discuss some of the common-sense ways you can keep your business secure, even if you don’t have an internal IT department to ask for help from.

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What are You Doing for Your Employees’ Health in the Office?

The past few years have made many people understandably antsy about their health and spending extended amounts of time around other people—which can make coming into the office a very, very stressful experience for some. How can you make your office a healthier place so your team can feel a little more secure as they work?

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4 Tips to Help You Make Practical IT Decisions

When you run a business, solid decision making is crucial to achieving success. This goes from hiring and managing your staff, choosing the right prospects, supporting your customers, and procuring tools and resources that make your business possible. Today, technology is not only important, it is a major consideration when determining your yearly budgets. Let’s go through a couple of tips on how to make the best technology decisions for your company.

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Why Percussive Maintenance is a BAD Idea

We’re all familiar with the old, cliched joke where someone needs to give their technology a good smack in order for it to work right—and by some miracle, it works. The thing is, it isn’t a miracle, and can sometimes be effective. Having said that, this is not a strategy that we would recommend.

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Cybersecurity is Even More Important when Working Remotely

Unfortunately, cybersecurity is a lot easier to reinforce in the office than it is when your team members are working remotely—and even then, it can be a serious challenge to maintain. However, let’s focus on the remote worker’s situation for a few moments and review a few best practices that can help a remote worker stay secure.

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The Ultimate Remote Setup for Users with Work-Provided Laptops

Working from home isn’t as simple as it sounds for many users. There are a lot of things to consider, ranging from comfort to security. Considering that a lot of people first started to think about working from home two years ago under duress, it’s worth looking at your current situation and determining how you can improve it.

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Why It’s a Bad Idea to Use Your Work Email for Personal Accounts

While we’re all for efficiency, there are some boundaries that should not be crossed for everyone’s benefit. Take, for instance, the email you use to subscribe to online services. While it may be tempting (or, for some people, automatic) to use your work email address when you sign up for, say, your Netflix account or an online merchant, we wanted to discuss why this is a bad habit to get into that could have lasting consequences.

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Using Your Voice to Type in Microsoft Word

Typing on your keyboard is something that you do every day, but sometimes you just don’t want to do it. You can give your hands a break and use Microsoft Word’s dictation feature; this lets you use your voice to write in the software. Let’s go over how you might use the feature on a desktop, web browser, or mobile device.

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What are My Options for Connecting a Second Monitor?

Laptops are pretty great, I think we can all agree, simply due to their portability. Having said that, the one-screen situation that laptops bring with them can certainly get in the way of productivity—particularly for those who are used to using more than one. Let’s discuss why an additional display is so helpful, and what your options may be for hooking one up to your laptop.

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Tip of the Week: Stop Overworking from Home

It’s quite possible for employees to overwork themselves, even in a remote environment. Let’s take a look at some ways that you can minimize remote overwork for your employees, especially as the boundaries typically set in place by the morning commute are eroded and work/life balance blurs.

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The Small Business Guide for Preparing for Disaster

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It's the start of the 2011 hurricane season, and with Hurricane Irene making contact with Atlantic coastlines this week, it certainly doesn't hurt to make sure your business is prepared for a disaster. Even if you are lucky enough to not be affected by these devastating storms, there are plenty of opportunities for nature to cause havoc on our way of life. It's never to late to put together a Disaster Recovery Plan (alternatively known as a Business Continuity Plan) in case a natural (or otherwise) disaster were to occur for you. Nobody wants to think a disaster might happen, but it isn't impossible. Here are a few steps small businesses can take to become better prepared.

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Tip of the Week: Working Remotely, Without Overworking Remotely

Remote work has become a major part of modern business operations for a great many companies, but there is also a difficulty that frequently comes into play with remote work: the phenomenon of overwork. Let’s review some tips to help minimize the risk of overwork as people continue remote work.

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Tip of the Week: How to Minimize Employee Burnout

Workplace burnout is a serious issue that can have far-reaching impacts in your business. Therefore, it is critical that you can identify when one of your team members is starting to feel it, and know what you can do to help reduce it. Let’s go over what can lead to burnout, as well as a few ways to remediate it.

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Tip of the Week: Scaling Your Wi-Fi Network

Most modern businesses rely on wireless internet connectivity in their day-to-day processes. Of course, this means that their potential productivity is tied to the quality of their internet and its capability to serve the entire workforce. As a business grows it becomes more important that its Wi-Fi setup can support it. Let’s go over the process of properly scaling your network to your needs.

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Strategies for Training on New Technology

You may have been in a position where you tried to implement a technology solution in the past only to find that your staff is simply not responsive to it in any capacity. Maybe they do not see the value in the solution, or they do not understand what issues the solution resolves for your organization. To help you instill the correct mindset in your employees regarding technology, here are some training tips!

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Is Discord a Viable Choice for Your Business?

While it isn’t officially a business solution, per se, the collaboration platform known as Discord has seen some popularity as a means of facilitating a business’ internal communications. Let’s go over some handy tips to improve your use of the platform, in case you are part of an organization that does so. Who knows… this might inspire you to give it a chance for yourself.

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Additional Considerations for Your Business’ Data Backup Strategy

We routinely discuss the importance of a comprehensive data backup strategy. With so many workforces incorporating remote work into their operations, making such preparations is extremely important. Let’s go over some of the key steps that you need to take to secure your business’ data from loss.

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Tip of the Week: 11 Ways to Instill Security Awareness in Your Team

While it really would be a nice thing to have, there is no magic bullet for your business’ cybersecurity—no single tool that allows you to avoid any and all issues. However, there is one way to help make most threats far less likely to be successful: building up your company’s internal security awareness amongst your employees and team members. Let’s go over eleven ways that you can help ensure your company is properly protected, simply by encouraging your employees to take a more active role in guarding it.

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Tips to Help You Keep Your Workstation Clean

If you are like many other people, your desktop computer just sits there, day after day, allowing you to run your business. Unfortunately, like any other machine, it will fail. One way to prolong the lifespan of your computer is to keep it clean. Today, we thought we’d give you some pointers on how to do so. 

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Tip of the Week: Tips that Can Help You Be More Productive with Microsoft Word

A lot of businesses rely on Microsoft Word, the leading word processing app for companies, but the question is, are you using it to its fullest potential? Today, we thought we’d go through some of the features that can help you be more productive with Microsoft Word.

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Tip of the Week: Pin a Chrome Tab for Easy Access Later

Google Chrome is far and away from the most used Internet browser on both PC and mobile platforms, so it only makes sense to make using the Chrome browser as convenient as possible. Here’s a tip to help you simplify your Chrome browser tabs management.

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The Power Button is Capable of More Than On/Off

If you’ve ever used technology, the power button has had a pretty consistent appearance, and an even more consistent use. However, there’s a reason that the power symbol we’re so familiar with looks the way it does. Furthermore, there’s more that the power button can ultimately do.

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If You Haven’t Already, It’s Time to Thoroughly Document Your Business IT

A business' technology is by all measures a part of its inventory, and as such, it needs to be tracked. Let’s consider why in more detail, and how to do so properly.

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How You Can Use Workflow Automation to Make the Office Better

While a lot of the focus on any business’ use of technology may be on its front-facing solutions, there’s a lot to be said about the technology solutions that power these businesses behind the scenes. Let’s consider a few ways that businesses are benefiting from automating some of these background processes.

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Tip of the Week: Taking You Through Embedding a Video with PowerPoint

When looking to present an idea, the first two options people think of are often to use a video, or to use a slideshow (typically, citing Microsoft PowerPoint). Our question is, why pick? Let’s go over how simple it is to embed a YouTube video right into your next PowerPoint presentation whether you’re using PowerPoint 365 or PowerPoint 2016.

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How to Use Google Drive to the Fullest

For the business seeking out a comprehensive cloud-based content management and collaboration solution, Google Drive is an option that warrants serious consideration. While we don’t want to recommend it over another one of your options, per se, we did want to provide a brief beginner’s guide to putting it to use. That way, any business that does elect to adopt Google Drive—and the associated solutions it comes with—has more information going in.

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How Employees Can Cause a Threat, and How to Avoid Them

What would you consider to be the biggest threat to your business and its continued operations? Cybercrime? A natural disaster? What if I told you that it was the team members that you have employed—whether they meant to be or not? This is the hard truth that you need to prepare your business to resist.

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Tip of the Week: 4 Resolutions for Your Business Technology

2021 is almost here, and if your business isn’t using technology to its fullest capability, you’re missing out on some considerable opportunities. Let’s go over a few winning strategies that you should adopt in the coming year.

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Your Success Comes Down to Your People

We’re getting close to the end of 2020. Finally? Has it been a long year for you? Has it gone by really fast? I think every other day I have a different opinion about it.

Either way, it’s time to look at 2021. A fresh start, a clean slate. I think if there is one big mindset all business owners and C-levels need to take into consideration for 2021, it’s their people.

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Tip of the Week: Sign a PDF in Windows

PDFs have been around for a while and they have become an extremely useful file format for business. One of the best features of the PDF is that it is useful for securing signatures so that contracts can be handled over the Internet. Today, we’ll go over how you go about signing a PDF in Windows.

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How to Monitor Your Employees’ Activities without Crossing Any Lines

Of all the contentious topics in the workplace, employee monitoring is among the most divisive. As an authority figure in your business, it is only natural that you would want to make sure that your team is working diligently—especially as they are working remotely. That being said, there are some lines that cannot be crossed you should be aware of. Let’s discuss the concept of monitoring your employees and what cannot be done.

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How Businesses Can Use AI to Their Benefit

As technology has become smarter, artificial intelligence has evolved into a more and more applicable solution that businesses of all sizes can use. Let’s take a few minutes to consider the various ways in which AI can be used to support businesses.

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Three Seldom-Considered Elements of a Backup Strategy

If you’ve been following us for any amount of time, it is very likely that you have already heard us talk about the importance of a comprehensive data backup strategy. Recent events have made such preparations no less important for you to have in place. Let’s go over some of the key steps that you need to undergo.

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Tip of the Week: Five Ways to Manage Your Email Effectively

Email—it’s a business tool that we all use and rely on, but (if we’re being honest) it can be a pain to manage properly. Unfortunately, this can also depreciate the value of the solution to its users. To help prevent these problems, we wanted to share a few tips to assist you with your email management.

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Tip of the Week: When Do I Need to Clean My Computer?

As your employees go about their workdays, it is important that they do so with the resources they’ll need to remain optimally productive… and that these resources are in the best condition for them to do so. While this is often an overlooked consideration, this means that their computer needs to be clean and fully functional. Let’s go over a few best practices to follow when it comes to keeping a workstation clean enough to work optimally.

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Tip of the Week: How to Implement Smarter Scheduling

If your business is like most, you and your team likely rely on a schedule to keep your processes moving along efficiently… while also ensuring that everyone has something to work on at any time. However, this is often easier said than done, which is why there are now cloud-based software options that make your scheduling efforts a little smarter.

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A Brief Guide to Leading a Company During COVID-19

Chances are your business has been affected by COVID-19. For those companies who had to shut down their operations, and are in the process of opening back up; or, the business that moved operations out of their location and had their employees work remotely and are recalling their employees, this situation is unprecedented. This month, we thought we would take a look at some of the factors surrounding this process, and how they will affect your staff.

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What Reopening Should Look Like to Businesses

As businesses of all kinds either actively reopen or find themselves swiftly approaching that point, the ongoing status of COVID-19 guarantees that these organizations must carefully evaluate how to proceed. With numbers rising at the time of this writing, it is important that you establish the means to protect your employees from infection and illness.

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Forgot to Save? How to Recover an Unsaved Document

b2ap3_thumbnail_RecoverDoc400.jpgHave you ever closed an application and accidently hit 'Don't Save'? Poof. In one forgetful moment all of your progress is gone and your stomach turns into a giant knot. Before you go out and do something crazy, like forsake technology and modern civilization, you will first want to see if Windows was nice and automatically saved you a copy.

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Tip of the Week: Backup’s Value, in Two Scenarios

Each week, we try to provide some tips to help you out in some way. This time, we want to take a somewhat different approach and instead present you with two potential scenarios that your business could encounter—one with and one without a backup solution in play—and let you see the benefit that our tip this week (protect your business with a backup solution) can present.

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Business Continuity Planning is Your Greatest Tool

Disasters, at least in the business sense, have long been underestimated. While you always, always, hear about disasters that are often seen, there are some (as we are witnessing now) that can go under the radar until they strike. Regardless of the nature of the disaster, however, you need to be prepared to continue both your operations and your communications to some degree.

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How to Make Video Conferencing Less Awkward for Everyone

Right now, more business than ever is now conducted over video chat. You may have found yourself using it as a tool as you work remotely. However, while these conversations may help keep your team connected to one another, the experience certainly isn’t the same as what would be found in the office conference room. Here, we’re sharing a way to get rid of one of the biggest hurdles in remote collaboration.

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Managing Your Business and Remote Workforce During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Companies around the world have or are finding the need to send their workers home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. For many business owners, managing your staff remotely is a brand new paradigm. Here’s what you need to know.

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Tip of the Week: How to Improve Your Access Control

There is no denying that a business’ security--notably, its access control--is absolutely crucial to consider. Here, we’re offering a few tips to help you improve your business’ security through improvements to your access controls and their policies.

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Coronavirus: A Threat to Your Staff, Cyberthreat to Your Operations

COVID-19, or coronavirus, has been a major global health concern over the past couple of months. At this point, it is clear that this disease could have serious impacts on the workplace. We wanted to provide a brief rundown of good workplace and network health practices, as well as a few pointers on how you can handle health-based employee absences.

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Tip of the Week: An Intro to Windows 10’s Built-In Virtual Desktops

On a Windows machine, look at your taskbar, near the Start button and the search function. The next little icon, the one that almost looks like a bit of film, is the Task View button, the button that (among other purposes) allows you to create and manage virtual desktops. For this week’s tip, we’ll discuss how to use this handy feature, starting with why you might want to.

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Tip of the Week: Business Improvement Resolutions

A full week into the new year, have you resolved to make any improvements to your business? In light of all the resolutions that may (or may not) have been broken by now, we decided to share a few resolutions you could put into place to improve your business and its processes.

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Tip of the Week: How to Automate Sorting Your Emails

Emails are a wonderfully useful solution, and quite possibly one of the most commonly used ones in the workplace today. However, not everyone is using every capability that their email solutions offer - and it has led to a lot of time being wasted in the workplace. For this week’s tip, we’ll review how to help cut back on the time spent organizing your emails.

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How to Keep Your Employees from Burning Out

One of the most - if not the most - critical resource your business relies upon is your workforce. Your employees are what keep your operations, well, operational. As a result, they are one of your most important resources to maintain as well. They are human beings, and without the correct treatment and management, even your best employee could burn out.

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Oneonta Employers Should Look to Local Schools for Prospects

Every summer, there is a new crop of recent graduates seeking employment opportunities. This is especially true here in Oneonta. Area businesses should be paying close attention to these young graduates and trying to entice them into employment, as they are likely to have fostered precisely the skills these businesses are seeking.

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How to Test Your Disaster Recovery Preparedness

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

This quote is frequently attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and while it may not have actually been said by the Founding Father, it still teaches a valuable lesson - especially where disaster recovery is concerned. In other words, you need to make sure you have a working disaster recovery strategy - working being the key point.

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Four Essential Business Software Types to Consider

While each business today features its own balance of company culture and processes, there are certain varieties of software that all companies in operation today should be leveraging. Here, we’ll go over what these solutions are, and how they can benefit you.

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Tip of the Week: How to Save Your Keyboard from a Drink-Spillage Nightmare

b2ap3_thumbnail_clean_my_keyboard_400.jpgIt’s a best practice to avoid placing drinks and food near the computer, but for the busy business owner, this practice is often ignored in preference to getting more work done. While it’s typically extremely unhealthy to forsake your lunch break to continue working, some workers might feel that it’s impossible to get all of their work done without doing so. Inevitably, this leads to everyone’s worst nightmare: spilling a drink, most likely coffee or some kind of soda, on your keyboard.

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Tip of the Week: 2 Easy Ways to Compare Edits Made to Your Document

b2ap3_thumbnail_diff_checker_400.jpgRevising documents is a task that can take forever, especially when multiple people have to make edits and suggestions. Before you know it, the sidebar will be filled with comments and the text will be so drastically changed that it will feel like you didn’t write it in the first place. In these instances, it might help to view the original document and the new one side by side. Here are two great tools that let you do so.

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Tip of the Week: It Seems Counterproductive, But Taking Breaks Actually Improves Productivity

b2ap3_thumbnail_break_at_work_400.jpgToday’s workplace productivity has reached a peak, but thanks to this enhanced amount of work, the office environment can often feel hectic and stressful. This usually leads to workers skipping breaks just so that they don’t fall behind. While this maintains the semblance of productivity, it can often lead to a significant decrease in creativity and physical health.

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Tip of the Week: Getting Back to Email Security Basics

Email is a particular favorite attack vector of many who would do wrong by your business, as it is easily one of the most used communications in most businesses today. Do your employees know how large of a responsibility they have to your business’ security just by using email? In order to prevent unfortunate security blunders, you need to make sure you and your employees know a few best practices when it comes to handling email securely.

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Oneonta Businesses Shouldn’t Write Off Older Workers

Let me ask you something… how would you describe your ideal employee? Many people would rattle off a list of qualifications and personality traits - dedicated, focused, and experienced - with little issue, but seem to never be satisfied with the experience level of their young applicants. However, another group could make a great source of promising candidates: older workers.

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There’s a Wealth of Young Talent in Oneonta... Here’s How to Keep Them Around

Here in Oneonta, we have not one, but two institutions of higher education… which means we have quite a bit of talent being developed locally. In 2016, 2,003 degrees were awarded by our local universities - and one of the most popular majors, Business & Managerial Economics, provides a resource that can assist in making educated business decisions. It only makes sense that businesses around Oneonta would want to keep this kind of talent around.

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Tip of the Week: How to Align Your IT with Your Goals

Unfortunately, your business’ technology doesn’t last forever. At some point in the future, you will have to upgrade away from your current hardware, which, regrettably, is not as simple as it sounds. Here are some tips to help you out during this difficult process.

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How to Avoid Business Complacency

As a business owner, you need to be able to see the fine line between being comfortable with your position and being dangerously complacent. Otherwise, you run the risk of hindering your business’ growth, or even actively sabotaging its success. Let’s review why this is.

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Tip of the Week: Evaluating and Assessing Risk

Whenever you decide to implement something in your information technology strategy, you accept some level of risk. Understanding and managing this risk is crucial to your business’ success. For this week’s tip, we’ll review how to manage your IT risks and what your options are.

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Tip of the Week: Preparing For a Successful Upgrade

A business’ IT solutions aren’t the kind of thing that you can worry about once and never touch again - this is why manufacturers and developers are always sending out upgrades. However, you also need to have a strategy ready before you go to implement these upgrades. For this week’s tip, we’ll review how to put this strategy together.

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Tip of the Week: Creating Process Documentation

Businesses are driven by processes. More often than not, these processes are fairly definitive - do this, then do that, then do the other thing - and require a set order of operations. There also happen to be a lot of these processes, which makes it important that they are well-documented so you and your employees can refer to this documentation later. Here, we’ll offer a few tips on how to best document a task.

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Work Smarter, Not Harder

turtle

Want to get more done in a days time? We all do. If you are a business owner, it is likely you'd love to see your employees get more accomplished during the course of the day. There is a lot that can be done to make your time more efficient (that is an industry all on its own!), but one very frustrating cause of lost productivity is faulty technology. The most overlooked culprit? Slow computers!

Hit the jump to see our analysis of what workstation slowness can cost your company.

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Three Gifts for Your IT Resource

The holiday season is here, and the spirit of giving is in the air. Why not give the IT professional in your life a few things that they’ve been wishing for all year? Here, we’ve compiled a list of things you can give them, some of which will cost you (and your business) nothing.

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This Scammer Raid Proves Just How Useful Monitoring Can Be

It can be easy to underestimate the importance of monitoring your solutions, to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. However, the benefits of persistent monitoring were recently thrust into the spotlight, when 24 spammers were arrested in October by the Delhi Police’s cyber cell for impersonating Microsoft support staff and duping American citizens.

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Tip of the Week: 5 Simple Browser Tricks

We all know how to use the Internet (you’re here now, after all), but there are a lot of hidden secrets to it that far fewer people know. Today, we’ll let you in on five of them to try and make some basics a little easier.

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Tip of the Week: Managing Your Windows Arrangement

The modern worker (or really, the modern person) spends a lot of their time looking at a computer screen. Considering this, it only makes sense that their screens and the items displayed on them are arranged in a way that they like. Our tip covers a few shortcuts to help you arrange and view the items on your workstation a little quicker.

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A Happy Computer is Clean

dusty computer insides

Have you ever noticed that the vents around your computer seem to pick up a lot of thick dust?  Computers and Laptops house internal fans that keep the inside components from overheating, which essentially makes them mini-vacuums that constantly suck air and dust in.  Dust can act as an insulating blanket and prevent your hardware from cooling, causing damage over time and wearing down your computer faster.  Hit the jump for some more information and some ways to help keep your computer clean so it can live a long healthy life.

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4 Internal Threats Every Business Owner Should Understand

In light of all the data leaks and vulnerabilities that have been brought to light over the past few years, network security has to be a priority for every business. One problem many organizations have is that while they are protecting their network and infrastructure from threats outside their company, the real threats are actually coming from inside. Today, we’ll look at four ways threats can cause havoc from inside your organization.

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Leave Your Moving Stresses In Your Old Office

There’s nothing quite like signing off on your first business space. It’s like officially saying, “My business is up and running. Visit my office today!” What’s even more exciting, however, is when your organization is growing so quickly that your business space becomes cramped or too small to grow unhindered. Either way, the way you set up your office is going to be an important part of running your business.

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Work Hard? Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself

woman doing yoga while on laptop

We talk a lot about business and technology and all of that good stuff here on the Directive blog, but believe it or not, there are (at least) a couple things in life that are more important that that. One of the big ones is personal health. This goes double for all you hard workers out there who put in long stressful hours trying to run and manage your business - it's easy to forget or skip over the routines for proper health maintenance. Unfortunately, we don't offer a flat-rate remote monitoring and maintenance service for humans, but here are a few tips you can do to keep yourself in tip-top shape while on the job.

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Tutorial: Master the Art of the Mail Merge, Part 1

excel screenshot

Want to send out a large number of documents that are almost the same aside from a few specific areas? One example would be a letter to all of your existing clients about a new product or service, but you want each letter to address the recipient's name and company. This looks like a job for the mail merge!

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Save Often. Save Often. Save Often.

lightning strike

I'm sure nobody has missed out on any of the storms happening here in New York. Even our lights have been flickering. Mother nature can be cruel to your IT; a well-placed bolt of lightning can do plenty of damage. Of course, we always recommend quality UPS systems to our clients to protect their most valuable tech, and good surge protectors for everything else (not power strips, mind you, they aren't the same). Regardless, whether there's a risk of the power going out or not, it's important to save often and keep your files backed up. Here's a few tips after the jump.

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Save Money by Switching to LCD Monitors

computer depicting warning sign

Computer equipment is expensive, but most people don't even think about the costs it takes to run an entire office worth of tech.  Modern hardware is becoming more and more energy efficient, but older equipment can take a lot of electricity to run (not to mention the maintenance of keeping things running smoothly.  One of the biggest energy hogs in an office these days are old CRT monitors.

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Microsoft OneNote: Your Desktop's Productivity Swiss Army Knife

onenote screenshot

Microsoft's OneNote is often seen as one of the extra applications that is bundled in with several Microsoft Office packages.  In this article, We'll introduce OneNote, and show off some neat things it's used for, and how it can make your life easier.  OneNote has a whole slew of neat features that you can take advantage of, which we'll cover in the article as well.

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Is your Company's Internet Connection a Bottleneck on Productivity: Part 1

Time is Money written on clock

The words Productivity and Internet have been fit together in many different sentences, and usually in the sense that the Internet is a Productivity-killer. Take Facebook, for example; there are many arguments stating that Facebook is costing companies billions of dollars because employees are spending too much time on the social network while at work. Of course, Facebook (and the other social networks) are practically mandatory for businesses who want to market themselves. Other companies are clamoring that personal social media use greatly improves productivity and employee moral.

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How New Businesses Slash Start-up Costs

person stacking change

Veterans to building and running small and medium-sized businesses probably know about the huge initial start-up costs.  A small business needs to consider investing in all of the necessary infrastructure, from things like desks, chairs, computer equipment, security devices, break room appliances, heat, air conditioning, a website, marketing materials… the list goes on.  Today, small businesses are finding new ways to streamline and reduce the costs of getting started.  Hit the jump to see a few ways small businesses are cutting high start-up costs.

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Health for the Office

woman stretching in chairDo you work in an office and sit in front of a desk all day? Chances are, you have experienced back pain or tight shoulders. Maybe you get headaches from staring at the computer all day. Well today we will discuss some tips on how to reduce the negative effects that office work can have on your body. Working these tips into your day can have a dramatic effect on your mental and physical health and you will feel all the better for it.

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Going Green for Small Businesses

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Today, small businesses that go green and take action towards reducing energy consumption, waste production, and apply sustainability concepts benefit from a lower cost of day-to-day business. Being green looks great for investors, employees, and consumers alike and can contribute to press and media attention. That sounds great, right? Unfortunately, like most things, going green isn't something you can do over night. It takes time, dedication, and sometimes, a little bit of investment. Hit the jump for some tips to go green with your business.

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A Clean Computer is a Happy Computer

cartoon computer thumbs upHopefully, you have a list of personal items that you regularly clean. Obvious belongings that need a good scrubbing are things like bed sheets, dishes, and your bathroom floor. If your computer is not on your cleaning chore list, then it needs to be. A clean computer is a happy computer, and not disgusting like a dirty one.

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6 Tips for Working Better While Traveling

man on beach with tabletModern technology makes it easy to get things done from anywhere, allowing employees to work while on the go. One of the caveats of working while traveling is keeping focused. Unlike sitting in the office where an employee can focus, traveling puts workers in busy airports, coffee shops, or poolside at a hotel. Here are a few tips to help you focus on tasks while on the road.

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5 Steps Toward Making Documents Presentable with Microsoft Word

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Plenty of Upstate New York businesses use the Microsoft Office suite of productivity tools. From Office 2007 and on, Microsoft has made it extremely easy to dress up your documents and presentations. These tricks will typically work with most Office products, from Word to Power Point, even Outlook; although in some apps the options might be in different places. Today's tutorial will focus on Microsoft Word.

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How to Covert PDFs to Word Documents

b2ap3_thumbnail_pdfword400.jpgHave you ever been frustrated by not being able to edit information locked up inside of a PDF? Now, with Microsoft Word 2013, the issue is resolved, making it super easy to edit text, tables, and graphics within a PDF file.

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Telecommuting: Good or Bad for Businesses?

Telecommuting (also known as working remotely) is where some or all of your staff have the flexibility to work in the location of their choosing (and in some cases, the hours that they choose). Not to be confused with freelancing, telecommuters are dedicated employees who work under a management style geared towards the final results (as opposed to how the work gets done). While telecommuting isn't for everybody, it is often practiced. Microsoft is well known for having certain positions where the employee spends most of their day in a coffee shop working remotely, and that trend certainly doesn't stop with the big M.

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Tip of the Week: Fight Workplace Distractions With These 3 Tips

b2ap3_thumbnail_email_issues_400.jpgWhat’s your reaction to your mobile device beeping at you? If you’re the kind of person that drops everything to see what it says, then you’re probably way more distracted at work than you should be. It’s a bad habit to look at your phone every minute or two, but with hard work, habits can be broken. Here are three actions you can take to minimize workplace distractions so you can be more productive.

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Tip of the Week: How to Make Sure Your Meetings are Productive

b2ap3_thumbnail_efficent_meetings_400.jpgFew people like going to meetings. Yet, there seems to be no way around them. The key to having a successful meeting is to run it as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, according to a recent study by Blue Jeans Network, meetings are becoming much less productive.

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Tip of the Week: 3 Ways to Recover from Your Vacation

b2ap3_thumbnail_post_vacation_day_dream_400.jpgEverybody loves a vacation from work, but nobody enjoys the stress of catching up when returning from said vacation. It doesn’t have to be this way. By taking a few precautions, you can avoid ever again having to say, “I need a vacation from my vacation.”

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Tip of the Week: The Best Workers are Looking for a Flexible Work Environment

b2ap3_thumbnail_happy_employees_flexible_workplace_400.jpgOne of the biggest challenges of running a business is attracting and retaining quality workers. To accomplish this, you’re going to need more than an old-fashioned “help wanted” ad. These days, you will need to offer what quality employees are looking for--a flexible workplace environment.

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Tip of the Week: Don’t Let Work Ruin Your Friendships, or Friendships Ruin Your Work

b2ap3_thumbnail_be_the_boss_400.jpgAs a business owner, you walk a fine line between boss and friend. While you want to be approachable and have a company culture that’s friendly, you can’t have your employees be your closest friends. Being too close to your staff will blur your authority, breed favoritism, and make it difficult to fire people; but not being friendly will make for a cold working environment. How do you manage this social dynamic?

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Tip of the Week: Engage Your Workforce to Improve Employee Retention

b2ap3_thumbnail_bad_leadership_400.jpgThe leaders of today’s business world are staring down a problem unlike anything they’ve seen before; their workforce, or rather, engaging them in their work. A study by Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends shows that a meager 13 percent of employees in the world are legitimately engaged in their work. That’s a pretty small percentage, and to make matters worse, over a quarter of the world’s workforce are disengaged to the point their negativity will impact others.

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Tip of the Week: What to Look For and What to Avoid in a Consultant

b2ap3_thumbnail_consulting_tips_400.jpgSometimes you just don’t know what to do, and you don’t know where to turn for help. You don’t want to ask your competitors for anything, because they don’t need to know your weak points, and you feel crushed under the pressure of day-to-day operation. Maybe a hand once in a while isn’t such a bad thing.

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How Much is it the Employer’s Responsibility to Ensure Employee Productivity?

b2ap3_thumbnail_employer_responsibility_400.jpgEvery business owner knows what’s expected of them when it comes time to onboard a new hire. When the training videos are all watched and the new employee is lined up to kick butt and take names, is that when your job as overseer ends, or is there more that you can do to get more productivity out of your staff?

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Tip of the Week: 5 Technologies to Get Maximum Productivity Out of Your Employees

b2ap3_thumbnail_maximum_productivity_400.jpgWhen it comes down to it, your employees are being paid for their time spent at work. Business operates on the principle of “time is money,” which means that every minute wasted cuts into your bottom line. If you’re looking to squeeze the most productivity out of your employees, then there are technologies available that can take back those precious minutes.

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Tip of the Week: How to Avoid Office Burnout

b2ap3_thumbnail_office_burnout_400.jpgWhen a hard-working business owner such as yourself gets going, you keep working until you’ve got nothing left to give. This is commonly known as “office burnout,” and isn’t healthy for anyone, or anything; especially your business and office relationships.

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Are You on Constant Inbox-Watch?

b2ap3_thumbnail_email_spew_400_20150206-135251_1.jpgAre your eyes constantly glued on your email inbox during the workday? It’s not bad to keep up with what’s going on in the office, but a recent study has linked constant email-checking to higher stress levels. This probably isn’t surprising to some, but some folks, like the researchers at the University of British Columbia, claim that there’s a maximum number of times to check your email throughout the day to minimize stress in the workplace.

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Tip of the Week: Try an Ergonomic Workstation Setup

b2ap3_thumbnail_ergonomic_workplace_400.jpgSometimes you feel exhausted when you get out of work, but you have no idea why. It might be because you’re straining your eyes too much by staring at the computer screen. Or, maybe it’s your back that’s killing you, and even moving slightly is a pain. Perhaps it’s carpal tunnel ravaging the nerves in your wrist. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s safe to say that you could use a workstation overhaul.

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Procrastination Nation: How Doing a Little Now Can Lead to a Lot Later

b2ap3_thumbnail_procrastination_is_not_always_bad_400.jpgHow are you coming on those New Year’s resolutions? If you’re already putting off doing them due to a case of getting bit by the procrastination bug, then you might be feeling down on yourself and thinking about giving up. But, did you know that doing something a little later might actually be a better way to get something done?

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Tip of the Week: How to Give Your Team the Best Working Conditions

b2ap3_thumbnail_great_working_conditions_400.jpgWhen it comes to the workplace, people want more than they used to. It used to be all about the salary and decent working conditions, but that has significantly changed in the past decade. In order to attract the best talent and stay ahead of the competition, you want to provide optimal working conditions when possible. Thankfully, by providing your team with a few accommodations, it doesn’t have to be difficult for everyone to enjoy their workday.

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New Office Trend “Hoteling” Provides Workers a Collaborative Work Environment

b2ap3_thumbnail_hoteling_office_trend_400.jpgEveryone is well aware of how mobile technology is changing everything. Therefore, it's a matter of time before we see new tech drastically change the office layout. This is what's happening in forward-thinking offices with a trend called "hoteling." If your business enjoys mobile technology and you want to get the most collaboration out of your staff, then hoteling is right for you.

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