10 Tips for creating the perfect office at home

1 A creative environment
A kitchen or a dining room is not a dedicated work space, even if it does mean that the kettle is handy. You will be far more productive in a well-designed, creative, distraction-free environment: a loft, a spare room or even an intelligently adapted area under the stairs.

2 Hot desks
The kitchen or dining-room table might be big, but it was never intended to accommodate computers, desk lamps and stacking trays. You will likely have to tidy away the breakfast dishes before you start, and then clear everything away before you sit down to eat in the evening. A well-designed, dedicated work desk is an absolute essential.

3 Light up the place
According to Neville Johnson, you’ll feel more energised in a well-lit, airy space that makes good use of natural light from windows and skylights, and, when that fades, has some ceiling dimmers and well-placed desk lamps.

4 Comfort zone 
Squeezing yourself into a cramped area, perching on a sofa or at a tiny table on a rickety chair will do your body no favours. A comfortable, ergonomically designed space where you can sit for hours is essential, especially if you’re at a computer. 

5 Well equipped 
If you’re working from home, you’ll need essential equipment to hand – wifi booster to strengthen the signal, ergonomic seating, printer/scanners, phone-charging points, smart speakers – and the reassurance that they won’t be damaged or disturbed by young hands or roaming pets. A secure, well-equipped space provides peace of mind and allows you to work efficiently. 

6 A place for everything  
You don’t want your notes mixed up with the kids’ homework or find that key documents have ended up in the recycling or been “tidied” away somewhere. Well-designed storage in the shape of drawers, shelves and cupboards will allow you to organise efficiently.

7 Get the mood right 
Colour and texture play a strong role in setting the tone for your working environment. The right paint or finish can help reflect available light or reduce glare, neutral colours or light woods can feel empowering, and richer textures, such as walnut, will add a more professional feel to your space.  

8 Cable management 
It’s important that there are enough sockets, a dedicated phone line for a desk answerphone, and even a router point to ensure a good signal. What you don’t want is trailing wires from extension cables running everywhere. Health and safety counts in the home office, too.

 9 Personal setting 
It’s your office and it follows that it should feel like your own space. It should be designed to suit your specific job needs but leave room for your personality. Place ornaments on shelves and use spare walls for personal photos, a good picture or a pinboard. 

10 Discipline yourself 
No matter how many of the items on this list you can tick off, none will matter unless you have the self-discipline to work unsupervised. Give yourself a daily work schedule, avoid distractions such as shopping or cleaning, and make your home office a truly productive environment.

YOU Systems can help you with the technical aspects of working from home. So if you want help sourcing your broadband, PC, Laptop, monitor, printer, scanner or telephone system then please give us a call on 01733 563900 and ask for June or Adam. We can also advise on your security and tidy your cabling if required.

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Seven Deadly Sins


These are the 7 deadliest sins a business owner can commit:
1. Thinking “It will never happen to me!”
2. Failing to carry out daily back-ups. We recommend a 3, 2, 1 approach
3. Not having a paid anti- virus package!
4. Not having a paid anti- malware package!
5. Failing to educate staff on phishing
6. Not ensuring all staff have strong passwords
7. Forgetting to back up all important data

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Make sure you lock the door

I have presented four times this year on protecting your data. One of the 7 deadliest sins (No.6) is to have a week password and (no.5)
not educating staff.

Last week we had a hacker gain access a customer’s data to encrypt
it and the hacker gain access because of a staff members week password. Please educate yourself and your staff on why it is important to have strong passwords. It doesn’t matter if you have a great antivirus or malware package. Having a week password is like leaving your door unlocked at night. It makes it easy for a burglar!

These are some of the don’ts when thinking of a new password:

Don’t use your username, actual name or business name.
Family members’ or pets’ names.
Your or family birthdays.
Favourite football or F1 team or other words easy to work out with a little background knowledge which can be gained on social media.
The word ‘password’.
Numerical sequences.
A single commonplace dictionary word, which could
be cracked by common hacking programs.
When choosing numerical passcodes or PINs, do not
use ascending or descending numbers (for example 4321 or 12345), duplicated numbers (such as 1111) or easily recognisable keypad patterns (such as 14789 or 2580).
If you are stuck for ideas click on the link below

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Security recommendations to help prevent ransomware

Recently we have seen an increase in the activity of malware and ransomware throughout businesses. Ransomware usually comes in via infected emails and due to weak credentials. We advise to always keep vigilant whilst using your computer.
Ransomware encrypts files, making them unusable and they will then need restoring from backups. It is documented that small businesses can lose £100,000 due to repairs and downtime if they are affected by ransomware.
Below are recommendations that You Systems suggests to help keep your business secure.

Top Tips
• If you receive an email from an unknown sender do not open it.
• If you are not expecting an email with an attachment do not open it.
• If you have any suspicions that a website does not look genuine – close it.
• Do not allow anyone to access your computer remotely unless you trust the individual.
• Always have strong unique credentials.

Passwords and Accounts
• Make sure all passwords used are secure. Using numbers, uppercase and lowercase characters. Adding a symbol is also advised. Do not use common words, such as “password” or “welcome”. Use a minimum of 8 characters. Change every 3 months.
• Each user password should be completely different.
• We do not advise you keep passwords stored, but if required please make sure the method you use is secure.
• If a user leaves, make sure the accounts are disabled straight away to prevent unauthorised access.
To change your windows password press ctrl, alt and delete then select change password and follow instructions.
A password policy can be put in place to force the above if required.

All devices on your network require an anti-virus solution as a minimum precaution. Please check that an anti-virus software is installed on your device, if you are unsure please ask. If additional anti-virus licenses are required please get in touch.
We recommend not allowing unknown devices to access your network, this may include visitors or home devices.
On top of your anti-virus, we advise an anti-malware solution and a hardware firewall. These can be quoted on request for the number of devices required to be covered.

End of Life Dates

Windows XP devices have not received security patches from Microsoft since April 2014.
Windows Vista devices have not received security patches from Microsoft since April 2017.
Windows 7 devices will stop receiving security patches from January 2020
Windows 8 devices are required to be upgraded to Windows 8.1.

Windows SBS 2003 stopped receiving security patches in April 2014.
Windows SBS 2008 will stop receiving security patches January 2020. Exchange stopped receiving security patches in April 2017.
Windows Server 2008 will stop receiving security patches January 2020.
Windows SBS 2011 will stop receiving security patches January 2020.

If Microsoft no longer supports your device this is a vulnerability and means your whole network is unsecure. We advise to cease using these and contact us immediately.
Please bear in mind the end of life dates so that you can make allowances to replace these in plenty of time.

It is extremely important that you have a current backup solution onsite, be it to recover accidental deleted files, restore from a system failure or restore from a ransomware attack.
If you have a server onsite then documents should be saved onto this and not kept on the local machine.
We advise that you change the backup drive/tape every day, in the morning, unless we have stated otherwise. Ransomware can infect backup drives and we may need to go back to the previous drive. If this is a week old or longer, can your business afford to lose that much data?
You are responsible for all data and backups. Any data loss can be devastating for businesses, 75% of businesses that suffer from data loss fail within 1 year.
As one of our many services, we do offer onsite and online backup solutions. Please enquire for pricing.

If you need any more information regarding any of the above or have any concerns about your site security please contact us.

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Business Continuity

Companies must test their business continuity plans in the wake of storm Emma this month. A recent survey reveals that only 51 per cent of UK organisations are confident that their business continuity plan is up-to-date
The recent snow storms to hit the UK, should act as a warning for organisations to test their business continuity (BC) plans. Storm Emma brought huge disruptions to the UK’s transport network, notably impacting how people were able to commute to and from work. Because of this, a lot of organisations would have been forced to invoke their BC plans to remain operational.
According to latest research, only 51 per cent of organisations have a BC plan in place, that is up-to-date and have been tested in the last 12 months. This suggests that as the storm intensified, many organisations would have been left exposed to severe business interruptions, simply through poor BC management.
Business continuity is no longer a luxury insurance policy; it’s absolutely essential for all businesses no matter their size and must be updated and tested on a regular basis.
A good BC plan sets out how an entire business will respond to and recover from any incident, enabling it to get back to business as usual, as fast as possible. Critically, an effective plan should include a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). There are some free templates available on the web. This is where the bulk of good BC planning takes place. It determines and evaluates the potential effects of an interruption to critical business operations, resulting from an incident. The objectives an organisation should look to address during their BIA are:
•The types of impact an incident might have on a business; whether that be financial, regulatory or legal impact, for example.
•The business functions and services, that support these services (storage & servers, networks, protecting against threats and facilities).
•Assigning ‘criticality’ to those services.
•From this a firm can then work out the dependencies that will affect an organisation’s ability to deliver these services and functions – for example, power needed to remain operational or suppliers needed to deliver goods.
•Finally, you can then outline your recovery objectives, including your justification for this.
Once a firm has a plan in place you need to ensure that it can be executed. Testing your plan is critical but often the opportunity to actually do this is rare. Instead, firms should look to capitalise on known events to test their plans – ie between Christmas & New Year, when there are just skeleton staff and most of the UK companies are closed for business.
It is important to remember that writing a BC plan is not a one-off project – It’s a working document that needs to be constantly updated.

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Beware of printer helpline scam

The National Trading Standards (NTS) eCrime Team has issued a warning about a scam targeting those looking for help with printer problems.The “printer helpline scam” differs from most scams as it requires consumers to contact the criminals directly using fake “helpline” numbers in online adverts in search engines results or social media.
According to the eCrime Team, the criminals behind the scam are gaining remote access to people’s computers by pretending to help them to resolve their technical problems.
Once victims have allowed access to their systems, the criminals are stealing personal information, including bank account details, and infecting computers with malware.
One particular criminal group, which claims to be affiliated with a wide range of technology brands and printer manufacturers, takes control of victims’ computers and demands payment to release them.
Figures from Action Fraud, UK’s national reporting center for fraud and cybercrime, reveal that cases such as computer service fraud, which includes scams such this, have risen by 47% since 2014.
“This printer helpline scam is particularly pernicious because it encourages victims to unknowingly contact the fraudsters of their own accord,” said Mike Andrews, lead coordinator of the NTS crime Team.
“While victims expect, they will receive help with their printer problems, they have in fact been lured into a trap and find themselves at risking of losing money, important personal information and also have their computer security compromised.”

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End of Life for Microsoft 2007 Exchange & Microsoft Price Hike

The Microsoft 2007 Exchange element of MS Small Business Server 2008 goes end of life in April 2017. This means that there will be no further security updates so you need to think about upgrading your server and software now. The replacement for this product is Server 2012 or 2016 with Exchange 2010 or Office 365. Microsoft no longer do an OEM version of Exchange therefore this option is very expensive when combined with Server 2012/2016, in comparison, to the prices paid when purchasing Small Business Server. Intentionally, I believe to drive customers to take up Office 365 because low up- front costs.
However, buyer beware, prices for on premise software i.e. Server 2012 & 2016 are due to rise by 13% on the 1st January 2017 and a whopping 22% on cloud software.
The changes come as a response to the weaker value of the pound, which has dropped precipitously in the months following June’s Brexit vote. Microsoft said that the new prices have been adjusted in order to “realign close to euro levels”.
Microsoft stated “We periodically assess the impact of local pricing of our products and services to ensure there is reasonable alignment across the region, and this change is an outcome of this assessment. These changes are similar to the recent harmonisation adjustments to pricing in Norwegian krone and Swiss franc we made in April 2016.”
“Even after this adjustment, customers across the region buying in British pound will still find our cloud offerings highly competitive,” the company wrote as part of a blog post announcing the changes.
Microsoft also pointed out that existing business customers with Office 365 agreements have price protection on software and cloud services they’ve already ordered, so these will not be affected by the rises of their subscription term, which is usually 12 months.

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Office workers waste more time on slow tech than they spend on holiday

Office workers are wasting time using slow and outdated technology. In some cases, workers are wasting more time than they spend on holiday each year.

Trying to run an office which is as efficient and productive as possible isn’t easy. Many people might think that technology can help us to achieve this, but in the real world, old devices and software that is not user-friendly are forcing people to waste valuable time.

New research from Sharp has uncovered that the average UK office worker wastes at least 21 days each year due to slow or outdated technology, a time-frame which is longer than the paid annual leave of many UK workers.

The survey of over 1,000 office workers in the UK found that this adds up to almost 40 minutes wasted per employee per day, the equivalent of 167 hours or four weeks of dead time every year, costing businesses over £2,100 per employee per year.

The biggest time drain reported was searching for files on a server – 23 minutes per day – thanks to poor search tools. Other routine time wasters include using the printer: seven minutes spent each day waiting for it to warm up; and nearly ten minutes waiting for pages to come out.

This dead time spent using poor office systems and equipment means lost opportunities, lost profits and even lost employees. Almost 80 per cent of respondents said that their workplace is out of date when it comes to technology. And if their office didn’t have such outdated technology, over half of workers (53 per cent) said they would be more productive, and nearly one in seven people (14 per cent) said they would stop looking for another job, suggesting a big opportunity for businesses to improve both output and staff retention.

Contact us for a free survey network survey and let us see if we can boost productivity and moral!

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Downtime hits Microsoft & Google cloud users as the service providers both have technical difficulties

A Microsoft Azure outage left users across the globe unable to access key services for a couple of hours on 15 September because of a DNS (domain name system) malfunction

The problems began just before midday, UTC time, with Microsoft warning users on its Azure status page that they might encounter availability issues when trying to use a range of the company’s cloud services, including SQL database and Azure backup. The company cited a spike in networking traffic as the root cause of the problems, which were reportedly resolved around 1pm UTC time.

Microsoft was not the only cloud provider to run into technical difficulties, with Google Apps for Work users across the US and UK unable to use the service for 90 minutes on 14 September.

This highlights why companies cannot afford to overlook the importance of business continuity when shifting workloads to the cloud.

In a cloud-first world, you do need to have a strategy in place for when Azure, Office 365 or another critical cloud service goes offline. You need to have plan in place to keep operating when your cloud provider becomes unavailable.

For advice in solving this potential problem contact june@yousystems.co.uk

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Congratulate Adam on his new role – Technical Director!

Adam joined YOU Systems on the 16th of August 2004 as a trainee workshop engineer.  Most of you have watched him develop his career with the company over the past 12 years. It is with great pleasure that I have promoted him from Senior Engineer to Technical Director. 

He has been such a great asset to us all!

adam green


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