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Jan
22nd

Holographic computing is here – say hello to HoloLens

HoloLens

Much excitement at Axon Towers today, with the launch of Microsoft’s HoloLens. What is it? It’s the future, that’s what. (Well, we’re hoping so). A holographic headset, it creates hologram illusions in your field of vision, but unlike previous virtual reality devices, you can interact with objects. To give it its technical term – immersive augmented reality.

Sounds intriguing? It is.

It could transform the world as we know it. But will it? Will holographic virtual reality ever become our reality?

Take a quick look at this video and let us know what you think. Mindblowing stuff…

 

Jan
9th

Hot On The Blog – Our Most Popular Tips & Solutions

We’re now at the end of our first full working week of the new year, so we thought now would be a good time to take a look backwards, and to delve in the archives.

Hot on the blog

We’ve pored over an entire years’ worth of data and have identified our most popular blog articles from the last 12 months, which we’ve put together in this article for easy reference. You’re welcome!

1. Unable to remove contacts from Lync Client (Office 365)

Are you having trouble removing contact or groups from your Lync contact list? Then this is the blog article for you – a full step by step guide to resolving the issue.

2. Input language won’t change to English UK from English US in Windows 8.1

When we installed the Windows 8.1 update on a laptop we found that the machine automatically adopted the US English input language. Here’s how to fix the issue.

3. Microsoft Office files slow to open from network share on SBS 2008 from Windows 7 Clients

We experienced the slow opening of Office 2007 files from network shares on SBS 2008 servers when accessed from Windows 7 clients. This article shows you how to resolve the issue.

4. Office 365 Subscription: How to reactivate office – Unlicensed Product

Need to reactivate an Office 365 subscription? Then try the following steps.

5. How to Stop the Local Downlevel Document from Appearing in the Print Queue

The solution is to disable Asynchronous RPC in the registry of the Windows Vista/7 client. This blog articles talks you through the process.

6. ‘shared with me’ not showing shared files in Microsoft OneDrive

If you find that ‘shared with me’ is not showing shared files in OneDrive, try the following fix to show files again.

7. Recovering a deleted mailbox in Microsoft Office 365

We had an issue where a mailbox had been deleted and the mail items hadn’t been backed up. This article looks at how you can go about recovering a deleted mailbox in Office 365.

8. Installing Business Contact Manager (BCM) 2010 on Small Business Server (SBS) 2011

Business Contact Manager (BCM) 2010 can be installed locally on a PC or installed on a remote server where BCM database can be shared out between users of Business Contact Manager for Outlook 2010. Learn more here.

9. How to Enable Microsoft Threat Management Gateway (TMG 2010) to Accept Non-standard SSL Ports

As standard, Microsoft TMG (or ISA) will not allow access to sites that use non-standard SSL ports. Here are details on how to get around this issue.

10. Staged Exchange Migration to Office 365

Step by step instructions as well as useful links for configuring Outlook Anywhere and managing your migration to Office 365.

11. Cannot Access a CNAME network share from a Windows XP PC

We recently faced a problem whereby a customer’s database server stopped working due to a hardware failure. The server was running on a physical box, This is the solution that we found.

12. Cannot access an FTP site on a client PC on a network behind Microsoft Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) or an ISA Server. (502 Proxy Error)

When a user tries to connect to an FTP site from a PC where Internet Explorer is set to use a proxy server, they may receive an error message from the proxy server. Find out how to successfully connect via FTP in this article.

So there we have it, our 12 most popular blog posts from 2014 in order of popularity.

 

Jan
8th

New Year, New Solution

 

2015

If your New Year’s resolution is to give your business a boost, you could do worse than giving your IT systems a good clear out. What worked for you a year or more ago might not necessarily be the best solution for your current needs, and revisiting your IT set up could just save you money.

So here are our top five tips on how to audit your existing infrastructure…

1) Have your needs changed?
Businesses change. But IT systems often remain stagnant and in no time at all the infrastructure becomes outdated. So take a look at how you work. If you need more flexibility with an option for home workers, then a cloud computing solution might better suit your business. It can also be more cost effective as it turns the upfront cost of server hardware purchases into a monthly running cost and can be more easily adapted as your business needs change. You can read more about cloud computing here.

2) Have you grown?
If your business has grown in the last 12 months and you now employ more staff, your software could be under-licensed. Equally, you may perhaps have lost staff leaving you over-licensed.  While over-licensing isn’t ideal, being under-licensed is illegal, so you need to check. Keep a database of which software is on which machines, who uses it and how frequently to ensure you’re only paying for what you need and that everything is properly licensed and above board. But beware, software licensing can get complicated so if you’re at all unsure, ask your IT provider to help you. And remember that with cloud solutions such as Office 365, all your licencing needs are covered and taken care of by your service provider as part of your monthly cost.

3) Speed up your systems
For a quick and easy way to speed up your computers, try getting rid of any clutter you are hoarding. Old programmes, files or documents that are no longer being used take up valuable disk space and slow down your machine, so delete anything not in use – and the same goes for emails. Be ruthless! Use archiving. Keep only what you need and enforce it with employees to ensure that everybody’s desktops and laptops are running efficiently. Have a look here for tips on how to keep your PC in optimum condition.

4) What about warranties?
If you have any hardware that is about to come out of warranty then think about extending the warranties for peace of mind. If you’re not sure what expires when, and you bought your equipment through your IT provider then they should be able to provide you with a concise list. Some hardware might be well past it’s sell by date and need replacing, and as much as you may not want to spend the cash, outdated desktops and laptops will become progressively worse in performance and slow down user productivity.

5) Security check
Keeping your systems secure is crucial. Viruses, hacks and data loss can cause no end of disruption to a business and any glitches in security could result in a major meltdown. Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and that users can only access the areas of the system they are authorised to reach. Test your back up regularly so that if anything does happen to your network, you can be sure of a fast and effective restore. This blog post here gives more details on how to protect your business from cyber criminals.

If you’ve got any questions about your existing IT set up, give us a call or drop us a line here. Oh, and Happy New Year. Here’s to 2015!

Jan
7th

Windows 8 Shortcuts and Tips

Capture

 

Looking for some shortcuts to help make your working life that little bit easier? Then look no further. Give these Windows Key tricks a try…

Want to search your PC for a particular document, image, programme or app?
Simply hit the Windows Key and start typing. This also searches the web.

Want to take a screenshot in a hurry?
Press the Windows Key and the Print Screen button [PrtScn]. This automatically saves the image to your Pictures folder.

Boss is coming and you need to hide your screen quick? (Or you just need to get to your desktop fast)
Try the Windows Key and M to minimise all your windows, or hold down the Windows Key and the comma to get a quick look at your desktop, temporarily hiding your screens. (But don’t tell the boss).

Want to bring your windows back?
Windows Key, Shift and M will maximise everything again for you.

Off on lunch and want to lock your PC?
Hold down the Windows Key and press L.

Want to open Windows Explorer to search for a folder?
Press the trusty Windows Key and the E key.

Want to scroll through all your open apps?
Windows Key and a full stop will do it.

Need some help?
Windows Key and F1 will open the Windows Help and Support feature.

Happy shortcutting!

Dec
8th

What will winter cost your business?

Car in Snow - resize

Brrr… it’s getting chilly in Macclesfield. Sleet, hail and there’s a dubious looking sky here today. The beginning of what is no doubt set to be a disruptive few weeks. The first day of “proper” winter, and we’ve already got one of our engineers snowed in. But that doesn’t matter to us. Not one bit. Why? Cloud computing, that’s why. We can work from anywhere – well, anywhere with an internet connection. So when the snow falls, the roads gridlock, and it’s not safe for staff to make the journey in, or they simply can’t travel, with cloud computing it’s business as usual.

Loss of productivity as a result of snow days costs businesses in the UK millions every year. How does it affect your business? If you lose 50% of your staff to snow for the day, how much money do you lose?

Of course it depends on your line of business. If you’ve got factory or shop floor staff, then of course they can’t really be utilised at home. But your office-based staff can continue to work as normal. And with VoIP telephony, your business comms can continue to work effectively as well.

So what is cloud computing?

If you’re not too sure exactly what cloud is, you can find out more info on our cloud services page. But in a nutshell, you move all of your business data away from your on-site servers and into “the cloud” – so onto your cloud provider’s servers – and you access it via an internet connection. It gives flexibility, it saves money, and it helps form part of your business continuity and disaster recovery plan – meaning that if your offices become rendered out of action, for whatever reason, fire, flood, theft, or you can’t physically get to your office, then your business continues to run as normal.

Working from home on a bad snow day, is a great way of maintaining productivity when the weather turns bad and stops staff being able to get into the office.

Staff can boot up their devices at home – home PC, laptop, iPad etc, and access their files, emails and calendars  in exactly the same was as they would in the office. And Microsoft Office 365 helps to make your tech even slicker. It brings you all the benefits of your usual Office software, together with data storage and internal intranet sites through OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online, access anywhere emails and calendars through Exchange Online and intuitive communication capabilities through Lync Online. Lync takes your comms that step further with online meetings, live video conferencing and instant messaging helping teams to collaborate efficiently no matter where in the world they’re based.

Which brings us nicely onto business comms. If staff are snowed in, cloud computing makes sure you’re all in contact, working effectively, keeping the business running…but what happens to your phone lines? What happens to your customers ringing into the business while your staff are all at home? Well this is where VoIP can save the day.

But what’s VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and it’s the technology of placing telephone calls over an internet line. And the key benefit in this type of scenario, is the flexibility. Mirroring the way that cloud works,  when your telephone system uses broadband instead of traditional analogue lines, it will work from anywhere with an internet connection.

You use either an IP enabled telephone handset, or a headset combined with a piece of software known as a softphone installed onto your computer and that’s it. Well, and the internet. So if you’ve had to stay at home, you just boot up your laptop, connect to the internet, plug in your headset or IP phone and you’re away. All calls made to your regular business telephone number will arrive on your laptop, and you can transfer calls or call internally using your usual individual extension numbers.

Of course, there may be flaws to my plan. I’m assuming your staff all have the internet at home. And a company laptop or home computer. But let’s face it, most of us do these days. If your teams can remain productive when they’re unable to battle through the elements you will reap the benefits on your bottom line. It can also help keep morale high, letting your team stay in touch, keep on top of their workloads and even the peace of mind that they’re not having to make dangerous journeys into the office when it’s not necessary.

Get In Touch With Us

You can find loads of information about cloud computing services and VoIP solutions on our website here, and if you’d like a chat about how cloud could work for your business, pop in and see us – unless it’s snowing. In which case, you might want to catch us on VoIP 01625 837800.

Nov
28th

We did it! Business of the Year 2014

NEC Business Awards Axon Business of the Year credit James Russell Photography

Photo credit James Russell Photography.

Happy faces at Axon Towers this week after we scooped Business of the Year 2014: Turnover £1M – £5Million at the prestigious North East Cheshire Business Awards.

The glitzy ceremony took place at The Mere in Knutsford and was attended by over 400 business people from across Cheshire. According to awards officials this year received a record number of entries with fierce competition, so it’s fair to say we’re chuffed to bits to have come away with such an esteemed award.

Our category saw us up against two highly successful local businesses, Collect a Case Ltd and Topspeed Couriers, but the judges explained that our recent rapid growth, development of  cloud applications and business technology solutions combined with our dedicated team and strategic plans for future growth helped us to clinch the top spot.

Congratulations to all the winners and well done to the finalists. And huge thanks to everyone that’s supported us over the past year, and to the North East Business Awards team, Macclesfield Chamber of Commerce and all the sponsors for putting on such a good show.

Here’s a full list of the winners, along with a few photos. Check out our Twitter feed for the awkward selfies :)

Business of the Year, turnover over £5Million – sponsored by Natwest
Winner: Cyprotex PLC

Business of the Year, turnover £1 – £5Million – sponsored by Orbit Developments
Winner: Axon IT

Business of the Year, turnover up to £1Million – sponsored by Thorneycroft Solicitors
Winner: Sedgwick Riley Ltd

Innovation & Design – sponsored by RA Smart
Winner: Caps Europe Ltd

Excellence in Customer Service – sponsored by Plastic Card Services
Winner: Chess Ltd

Excellence in Social Media – sponsored by Macclesfield Express & Wilmslow Express
Winner: Beauty Works

Community Impact Award – sponsored by KAT UK
Winner: The Rossendale Trust

Export Award – sponsored by UKTI
Winner: Delamere Dairy

Best Design / Creative Award – sponsored by Williams & Crosby
Winner: Boxed Red Marketing

Team of the Year – sponsored by Varda Kreuz
Winner: Decipher Consulting (UK) Ltd

Start up of the Year – sponsored by Cheshire East Council
Winner: Alderley Analytical Ltd

Best Company to Work For – sponsored by Strategic Growth Solutions
Winner: Chess Ltd

IMG_20141128_095036

Awards 1

Awards 5

Nov
20th

Delivering reliable broadband to Cheshire businesses

Do you rely on the internet to keep your business running? You may not even realise just how crucial the internet is to you. Emails, browsing, backups, intranet sites, and certainly cloud and VoIP telephony solutions are all dependent on the internet. So what do you do, if your internet goes down? How does your business run without connectivity?

We understand just how important reliable business broadband is, which is why we deliver reliable broadband to Cheshire businesses. But what should you look for when you’re choosing your broadband package?

Speed and download allowance

Think about what sort of web user you are. Do you have a lot of heavy traffic? Large files, images or videos to upload and send? Or does your business only use the web for small amounts of email traffic? Are you on cloud computing or VoIP and therefore completely dependent of the internet? How many users do you have? The answers to these questions will help you decide whether to go for an entry-level business broadband package, a business fibre or bonded DSL connection or even a leased line.

Cost

An all signing all dancing connection is great, but make sure the cost fits in with your budgets. The flip side of that is, are your budgets adequate? Are you spending enough on your connectivity? If your business is dependent on it, you ought to be making some serious investment. How much do you pay for your home broadband? Now scale that up to your business needs and think about the investment. Are you prepared to spend what you need in order to keep your users connected.

Contract length

Are your business needs likely to change? If you’re expanding, will you outgrow your current supplier? Is there scope within the contract to change your package? Is there an exit route?

Extras

Business broadband packages often come with added extras. Webspace, email addresses, static IPs…if you need these extras, great. If you don’t, then an alternative option might be best for you.

Support

This one’s important – who do you call for issues? What happens if your internet goes down? What’s the SLA (Service Level Agreement) – so, if there is a problem, how long is the fix time, how long are you likely to suffer downtime for and is this acceptable?

Security

We’re all vulnerable to the threats of the World Wide Web, and you should definitely take this into your own hands making sure your business is as safe as possible. But check whether your broadband provider offers business-grade security.

Get in touch with us!

If you’re looking for business broadband in Cheshire or beyond, check out our connectivity options here, or get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

Nov
18th

Getting started with cloud computing

business man with laptop and look sky and cloud

Cloud computing can be of benefit to businesses of all sizes. It brings a simplified approach to IT, with flexibility, scalability and cost-reduction across the board. But how do you get started with cloud computing? What do you need to know before moving to the cloud? What are the pitfalls of cloud computing and how could you benefit from it?

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is the process of moving all of your company data away from your business premises and into the cloud, where it is accessed remotely via an internet connection. So essentially, the data is moved from the servers in your office, to the servers of your cloud provider in a data centre.

The chances are you’ve been using cloud computing in some form already, whether it be Dropbox, Flickr or even Facebook. In terms of business use, you could be looking at Microsoft Office 365, Google Docs or perhaps a private cloud solution. And the benefit to business is vast.

What are the benefits of cloud computing?

1) Increased flexibility, productivity and collaboration – Work from anywhere with an internet connection, at any time and from any device.

2) Reduced IT hardware and maintenance costs – There’s no need to purchase expensive on-premise servers, you pay for cloud on a monthly per user basis. This also brings a reduction in the energy required to power and cool your on-site hardware – therefore a reduction in your energy bills. Plus all licencing, upgrades, patches and updates are handled for you as part of your monthly cloud charge.

3) Scalability – Deploying new applications and services is quicker, easier and more cost effective.

4) Better disaster recovery If your offices become rendered out of action, work from any alternative location with an internet connection.

Why should you move to the cloud?

The above-mentioned benefits aside, cloud also tackles the challenges of running a business by making it easier to future-proof in times of economic uncertainty. It helps companies to align themselves with the demands of a 24/7 society, enabling employees to work around family commitments and counteracting the issue of unoccupied desk space. It boosts the productivity of staff whose roles involve travel and time out of the office for other events by providing the freedom to work from any location and on any device.

What do you need to know?

So taking all of that on board, what do you need to know before moving to cloud computing?

Well you’ll need to plan. Migrating to the cloud is a big operation. And you’ll need to choose your solution wisely. Would a private cloud solution best suit your needs, or is public cloud best for you? Many businesses find that a hybrid solution gives the greatest flexibility. You can read about the difference between private, public and hybrid cloud solutions.

Think about the availability of your cloud service in respect to the way your business functions. Can you afford downtime, or do you need the solution to be available 24/7, 365 days a year? Office 365, which is Microsoft’s cloud computing offering comes with a 99.9% financially backed uptime guarantee. Read more about cloud services.

Do you need your cloud service to be bespoke? Or will an out-of-the-box solution work for you? Will you need technical support? Does it matter if your data is hosted outside of the UK, or even the EU? Can you be tied into a long-term contract or do you need an exit route? What additional services will you require? Will your cloud solution need to be virtualised? You can find out more about virtualisation.

Know the different options available to you and make sure that they’ll work for your business, not just now, but in the future as your business requirements change.

Connectivity is king

So this is all great, you can work from anywhere with an internet connection, boosting flexibility and productivity, saving money along the way. But what happens if your internet goes down? With cloud, connectivity is king. So what’s your disaster recovery plan if you lose connectivity?

Well for starters, you can simply pick up, and move to somewhere that does have an internet connection. Send staff home, relocate to emergency premises, head to the nearest Starbucks. But whatever you do, have a plan for what you will do if you lose your connection. Make provisions to best ensure that a loss of connectivity never happens in the first place. Have a failover broadband line installed. Choose a package with good SLA and quick fix time. Think about your telecoms…. Have you considered VoIP? You can learn more about VoIP here.

Research your providers

Do your research and draw up a shortlist of suppliers. Ask for referrals, customer recommendations and feedback. Shop around and ask whether free trials are available so you can try before you buy.

You can sign up to our free trial of Microsoft Office 365 here or read about how we brought some of our customers over to the cloud.

Get in touch with us, we can help!

If you’re looking for a cloud computing provider in Cheshire, get in touch with us or check out our cloud services page here.

 

Nov
12th

Microsoft to rebrand Lync as Skype for Business

Microsoft has this week announced that it will rebrand Lync to Skype for Business. If you’re already using Lync, then in 2015 you’ll see some changes. If you’re not sure what Lync is, well it’s Microsoft’s video conferencing service. Available as part of Office 365, Lync offers a range of communication features including audio and video calling, live web conferencing, online meetings, screen sharing, virtual whiteboards and much more to improve collaboration across business networks.

But as we all know, in 2011 Microsoft bought Skype, and with that being the more recognised of the two brands it was only a matter of time before Lync got a new name.

The details on what to expect, plus any definitive date for the change are sketchy at the moment, but Lync users can expect to see an interface change in the first half of 2015. Skype and Skype for Business will function as two separate apps, and users will have two different usernames – although the network will function as one. And with 300 million people communicating via Skype, that’s one pretty huge network.

So what’s the benefit of Lync? Well we use it here at Axon, and it not only improves communication, but productivity, collaboration and it brings flexibility. As Microsoft puts it on its blog –

“Lync means the freedom to work anywhere. It’s like tapping someone on the shoulder to say “let’s chat” no matter where you are in the world.”

You can read the full Microsoft announcement here or click on the video above to see what Lync can do.

Want to know more?

If you’re looking for a Microsoft Office 365 provider in Cheshire, or have questions about the changes to Lync, give us a call on 01625 837800 or get in touch here.

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