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CTN Solutions has been serving the greater Philadelphia area since 1997, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Tip of the Week: Sync the OneDrive Files You Need with Windows 10

Tip of the Week: Sync the OneDrive Files You Need with Windows 10

Microsoft OneDrive is a cloud file hosting service that uses synchronization to allow users real-time access to saved information. OneDrive, is most associated with Office 365, offers one terabyte of cloud storage (there is a free tier for consumers as well). Since OneDrive is often used to save Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote documents, having access to this information from your navigation pane inside of Windows 10 makes it simpler for users to get to files into OneDrive. Today, we’ll take a look at how to set the feature up to sync with OneDrive.

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Tip of the Week: Optimize Your Chrome Browser

Tip of the Week: Optimize Your Chrome Browser

Google Chrome is much more than just any old web browser; it’s the most popular web browser in the world, being installed automatically on Android smartphones and the browser of choice for countless desktop users. Today, we want to help you get the most out of your Google Chrome web browser.

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How to Leverage Parallelism to Up Your Productivity

How to Leverage Parallelism to Up Your Productivity

As unfortunate as it is to hear, science has kyboshed the notion that multitasking works. However, while multitasking may not actually have any true benefits to productivity, this doesn’t mean that it is impossible to accomplish more in less time. Today, we’ll give you a better option than multitasking, a process known as parallelism.

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Tip of the Week: PowerPoint as a Multi-Purpose Tool

Tip of the Week: PowerPoint as a Multi-Purpose Tool

Microsoft PowerPoint is a well-known solution, well-known enough that the product has become synonymous with the task, regardless of what program one happens to use. Of course, this doesn’t mean that one necessarily must use it to create a presentation to go with a sales pitch. For this week’s tip, we’ll suggest a few other tasks you could complete with the help of a PowerPoint presentation.

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Tip of the Week: Keep Your IT Optimized

Tip of the Week: Keep Your IT Optimized

IT management is critical to the success of your business, but it’s easier said than done. There are countless moving parts that all go into keeping your IT organized. Here are three ways you can make sure IT doesn’t hold your business back from its full potential.

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Tip of the Week: How to Speed Up a Windows PC

Tip of the Week: How to Speed Up a Windows PC

The personal computer is a remarkable tool, allowing us to accomplish levels of productivity and efficiency at speeds that were once only dreamed of… at least, that’s how it feels at first. However, it doesn’t take very long for a computer to seem like it drags on and on before performing the task requested of it. Why is that, and how can this be resolved?

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What Makes Managed Services Worth It?

What Makes Managed Services Worth It?

Most modern businesses depend on technology in at least some capacity, whether it’s for productivity, efficiency, or even security purposes. Without access to important data and applications, your business is a shell of its former glory. This is why it’s so important for businesses like yours to implement managed IT services. It certainly beats having untrained employees maintain your crucial computing systems!

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Facebook Makes Two-Factor Authentication Easier

Facebook Makes Two-Factor Authentication Easier

If you use Facebook, you likely have a lot of personal information stored there. If you use it for business, then your professional reputation also partially relies on what you put into the social network. If you aren’t protecting your Facebook account, you could be at risk for identity theft or worse. That’s why using two-factor authentication on your social media accounts is becoming more important than ever.

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Tip of the Week: How to Adjust Your Router to Improve Your Connections

Tip of the Week: How to Adjust Your Router to Improve Your Connections

Wi-Fi has been one of the single most useful innovations for the modern office. Connecting to your Internet without having to be physically connected to it via an ethernet wire has been an incredibly freeing process--one that opens up all sorts of possibilities of where (and how) you can get work done. How can you make sure that your Wi-Fi signals are as clear and reliable as possible?

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How to Best Utilize a Physical Backup

How to Best Utilize a Physical Backup

How does your business handle its on-premise, physical data backups? This is a question that you don’t necessarily have to ask yourself under pressure of a looming data loss incident. Despite the cloud being the clear victor in terms of restoration and reliability, physical data backup is still an important part of the business continuity process. In the worst-case scenario, a physical backup can be helpful for getting back on track.


First, what do we mean by on-premise, or physical backup? This is the traditional type of data backup that is run and stored at your location, as opposed to only having your backup in the cloud. Unless your data is already fully in the cloud, it’s crucial to have a physical backup of your files on site. Even if all of your data is in the cloud, it doesn’t hurt to have a local copy archived, just in case.

Here are some helpful tips to consider when you are considering physical data backup for your business use.

Types of Physical Data Backup
It’s possible that your business is using all manners of physical data backup devices, even if you don’t initially realize it. The most common types of physical backup devices are USB hard drives, thumb drives (or flash drives), network attached storage (NAS), and tape-based backups. Most have their uses for your organization. A thumb drive could be a great way to make certain information portable. A hard disk drive or solid-state drive can be valuable for storing large amounts of data for portable use. Generally speaking, these devices aren’t necessarily recommended as reliable data backup for your business, but they do exist and are better than nothing. However, don’t EVER rely on a consumer-based storage solution like a USB drive to be the only backup you have.

Also, remember the more portable your backup is, the easier it is to get lost or stolen, and that opens up a whole other can of problematic worms.

Tape-based backups, on the other hand, are a different story altogether. They are meant to be used in tape backup systems that store data on magnetic tape and restore them in the event of an incident. In this case, it’s best to store your tape backups off-site and away from compromising events. Tape backup isn’t the most popular or efficient way of doing business continuity these days, as they are slow and arduous to use (especially when you need to get your data off of them) and hybrid solutions that store your data on disk while archiving it to the cloud have since taken over as the premier business continuity method. This saves the business from relying only on cloud backup, while protecting and ensuring their local physical backup.

How to Effectively Use Your Physical Backup
The most important part of using physical data backup is keeping it safe. This includes making sure that it isn’t misplaced or destroyed in the event of a disaster, as well as performing regular maintenance, monitoring, and cybersecurity protection. Physical backup solutions are just as vulnerable as the rest of your network, so the same level of care (if not more) needs to go into keeping them safe. With these things considered, you can build a physical backup solution that can come into play in the event of a disaster scenario.

The 3-2-1 rule is helpful for ensuring your business continuity is seamless. Basically, you want three copies of your data in total--one stored off-site or in the cloud just in case, one stored on-site for easy access, and the original that you use.

The Importance of On-Premise, Physical Backup
If your data is safely backed up in the cloud, why do you need to put so much care into ensuring that it is also backed up at your location? It comes to a matter of convenience and peace of mind. The cloud isn’t infallible. Even though cloud solutions promise redundancy and near constant uptime, it doesn’t mean something can’t happen. Keeping a copy of your backup on a local device is an extra measure to ensure that you’ll still be in business after a catastrophic data-loss event. Plus, it is more convenient to restore a single file or directory from a local backup than spinning up the data from the cloud in most cases.

In other words, your backup solution needs to have both an onsite and an offsite component.

Does your business need data backup or disaster recovery? If so, CTN can help. To learn more, reach out to us at (610) 828-5500.

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Tip of the Week: How to Reduce the Use of Paper in the Office

Tip of the Week: How to Reduce the Use of Paper in the Office

Paper can be incredibly expensive, especially with the quantity that a normal business goes through every single day. However, not only is it expensive on the monetary side, but also on the environmental side as well. By making some changes, you can be more eco-friendly and budget-friendly by reducing the amount of paper waste around your office.

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How to Go About a Technology Needs Assessment

How to Go About a Technology Needs Assessment

If there is one thing that you can always count on from business technology, it’s that it will inevitably fail at some point in the future. Therefore, your business should have a plan to keep this from happening at all costs. It’s understandable that you would want to make sure that your needs are properly evaluated both now and in the future. To this end, a technology assessment is incredibly helpful.

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How to Keep IT and the Rest of Your Staff on the Same Side

How to Keep IT and the Rest of Your Staff on the Same Side

There are some facets to IT that are universally accepted as important, such as security. However, there are others that create some conflicting opinions between management and IT personnel. When surveyed, business leaders and IT management held vastly different opinions as to the importance of various IT tasks. Is there a way to unify these priorities?


Different Viewpoints and Priorities
According to the 2018 SIM (Society for Information Management) IT Trends Study, management and IT have very different views on how important many tasks are. The 1,200 respondents to the survey indicated that, while owners and management saw alignment between the business and IT as the second-highest priority, IT saw that as the fourth priority. Talent retention was another point where business leadership and IT didn’t quite see eye-to-eye. IT teams ranked that as worry number three, while business leaders ranked it as 17th. Business continuity saw a similar discrepancy, IT leaders ranking it at number eight, while business leaders ranked it 18th.

This isn’t a situation that benefits any business. Instead, the focus should be to align the priorities of IT and the rest of the business in order to achieve a greater, common goal.

Blending Two Priorities into a Common Goal
An effective means of getting the different facets of your team on the same page is to show them that they are all contributing to the success of the same business initiative. For instance, finances are a major concern of any business’s management. An IT team can much more easily communicate with the business side by using their language, so to speak.

Any IT team understands the importance of staying up-to-date with solutions, but being current will incur an expense that may be unwanted by management. However, if the IT team can demonstrate how the investment into upgrades will allow the business to save money down the line, it provides the business half with the motivation to move forward. The same effect can often be accomplished with a frank, honest evaluation of the future, if certain investments aren’t made.

Win-Win or Lose-Lose
It is also important to cultivate the idea amongst your organization that the business half and the IT half should not be considered competitors. The two need to be partners, working together to make the best whole possible.

If there is ever a dispute or disagreement between the two halves of your business, resist the urge to find a compromise. Disagreement can be a good thing, as it provides the opportunity to examine a situation and define the best possible course of action for the business as a whole. This opens the door for more effective collaboration.
Compromise and collaboration are two very different things. While compromise suggests that both sides have to sacrifice something for any agreement to take shape, collaboration implies that both sides are unifying and putting forth their best effort to achieve a common goal--in this case, the betterment of the organization.

How have you found success in encouraging collaboration between your IT teams and the rest of your staff? Tell us in the comments!

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Tip of the Week: How to Type Special Symbols

Tip of the Week: How to Type Special Symbols

The Internet has enabled businesses to establish relationships on a global scale. Now, an upscale restaurant in Minneapolis can use the Internet to order ingredients from a vendor in Bordeaux. However, there can easily be a language difference when doing business internationally. This is when it is fortunate that Windows 10 makes it so easy to change the language of your device.


The first thing you should do is right-click on the taskbar and select Show touch keyboard button on the menu that appears.

Cortana

An icon resembling a keyboard will now display in your taskbar next to your clock and calendar.

keyboard icon

Clicking this icon will bring up a touch-enabled keyboard. If your device doesn’t have touch capabilities, you can also select keys with your mouse.

Touch Keyboard

To insert a letter with an accent mark, click and hold the base letter until the available options appear. Click the option you need to insert, and voila!

keyboard accents

However, if you need to write in a different language regularly enough that the above option isn’t convenient, you can change the layout of your keyboard to suit your needs. Returning to the bottom-right corner of your screen, you can find your chosen language next to the touch keyboard icon.

EnglishRussianKeyboard

Changing this language will also alter how your physical keyboard works. If the language you need to use doesn’t appear in the list of available languages, you can edit this list (and possibly add the language you need) in the Language preferences menu item.

For Other Versions of Windows, Use ALT Codes
If you’re still using an older version of the Windows OS, like Windows 7, 8.1, or even Vista or XP (which we don’t recommend), you can use ALT Codes to insert symbols or letters augmented with assorted accent marks. Each option of symbol or augmented letter has a numeric code assigned to it that allows you to insert that symbol or letter by holding the ALT key and typing the code into your numeric keypad. You can find a good resource here.

Are there any tricks you have for communicating in another language on your computer? Share them below! Partagez-les ci-dessous! Ossza meg őket lent! Compartilhe-os abaixo!

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Tip of the Week: Excel-lent Keyboard Shortcuts

Tip of the Week: Excel-lent Keyboard Shortcuts

How well do you know Microsoft Excel, the premier spreadsheet building software? Depending on your proficiency, you may already be familiar with some of the various keyboard shortcuts. We’ll list some of the most commonly used keyboard shortcuts to help you to become a Microsoft Excel power user.


Before we get started, keep in mind that most keyboard shortcuts that work with Microsoft Word and other products in the Office suite will also work in Excel. We’re talking about the good old staples of Copy, Cut, Paste, Find, and so much more. Be sure to try out some of your favorites to see if they work in Excel, too.

Check Formulas in Cells
Excel doesn’t show you your formulas in the cells--it instead shows the results of the formulas. While you can click on the cell and view the formula bar at the top of the spreadsheet to see how the results are showing up, this can take some time if you’re checking an entire row or column. To toggle between a spreadsheet containing your values and your formulas, you can use the Ctrl + ` keyboard shortcut.

Place Borders Around Cells
If you’re not too concerned with the specific border you want for your cells, just use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + 7. This will surround the selected cells with a nice, simple border that’s very minimalist, but gets the job done.

Remove Borders from Cells
There’s a keyboard shortcut to remove borders from cells, too. It’s as easy as pressing Ctrl + Shift + - (minus). It’s the perfect solution to a botched border job.

Select an Entire Row or Column
You can select the contents of an entire row by clicking on the first cell in the row and hitting Shift+Spacebar. On the other hand, you can do the same for a column by pressing Ctrl+Spacebar.

Format an Object or Chart
Let’s say you want to insert a picture or a chart into an Excel spreadsheet, but you don’t know how to format it. You can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+1 to bring up the proper formatting dialogue box.

Do you have a favorite Microsoft Excel shortcut? Leave it for us in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog.

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Getting Back to Basics with Data Backup

Getting Back to Basics with Data Backup

It’s no industry secret that one of the most important technology pieces is a data backup solution. However, this is like saying that every business should have a plant. The type of plant, and (by extension) the type of data backup, does matter. You want a data backup that is more like a peace lily or a cactus, hardy and resilient, and less like a basil plant or orchid, high-maintenance and requiring very specific conditions to prosper.


In today’s blog, we’ll go over a few basic considerations, if you want a data backup that you can trust.

Keep Your Backup Safe
Your backup is more than just an insurance policy for your business operations. In a disaster or other cause of data loss, your backup essentially takes your business’s place, allowing you to recover more quickly with fewer consequences. This means that your backup needs to be kept safe. The first step to doing so is to make sure your data backup is stored separately from your primary data storage. After all, a backup that is damaged by the same disaster that damaged the original data is hardly worth maintaining. Cloud-based backups are especially effective at preserving your data in a major disaster.

Develop a Disaster Recovery Strategy
How quickly could your business return to full operation after undergoing a disaster? While establishing an off-site backup to preserve your data is a good start, you also need to have a plan in place that will allow you to put that data to use, as quickly as possible. This is where it is useful to have a disaster recovery strategy, as it allows you to proactively prepare for circumstances that would otherwise lead to data loss, wasted time, and decreased productivity.

Make Sure Everything Works
Imagine what it would be like to go through the entire process of establishing an offsite backup, only to have it fail when you rely on it. Fortunately, this can be avoided through some simple tests to ensure that the backup works effectively. You’ll be happy you did, if you ever find yourself in the position that you need to restore from a backup, and it works.

If you can’t trust your data backup, it needs to be modified. CTN Solutions can help. Reach out to us at (610) 828-5500.

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Tip of the Week: Control Where Your Downloads Are Saved

Tip of the Week: Control Where Your Downloads Are Saved

Whenever you download a file from the Internet, the file will, by default, go to an aptly-titled folder in Windows called Downloads. Unless you change the default settings, your files will always be saved here. But what if you want your downloads go somewhere else? You can accomplish this pretty easily. We’ll walk you through how to do it for some of the most popular browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox.


You might be wondering why you would even want to make this change to your PC in the first place. After all, there must be a reason why it defaults to a certain location. Let’s use the example of downloading a large file, like a video. Maybe you don’t want that file to take up so much space on your hard drive. If you have a connected hard drive or a network drive, you can tell the file to download directly to it by customizing where your downloads go. This saves you the pain of moving or copying files to the location after the fact.

For Google Chrome
Open up your Chrome browser and click on the three-dot menu that’s found in the top-right corner of the screen. You’ll then want to click on Settings. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the settings menu to find the Advanced option. Scroll to the Downloads heading. You can then change the default location for any download that you choose to start. Just make sure that you also toggle the option to ask you for the location before you start a download so that you can change the location as needed.

For Microsoft Edge
Just like Google Chrome, navigate through the three-dot menu that hides Edge’s Settings. This will open up a new menu that appears on the right side of the screen. Next, go to View Advanced Settings. You’ll eventually see the Downloads section, which will give you the same settings as Chrome.

For Firefox
Even for Firefox, the steps are largely the same. Open the three-line menu that is in the top-right corner and select Preferences. Then, go to the General tab. Finally, select the Choose button next to the Save files to. You’ll be given the same options that are available for the other browsers.

For more tips and tricks, subscribe to CTN’s blog.

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Have You Tried Google’s Cloud Printing?

Have You Tried Google’s Cloud Printing?

Most people don’t try to print something from their smartphone--particularly because it’s such a new concept. With smartphones quickly becoming just as fast as desktops from just ten years ago, it shouldn’t be such a stretch to suggest printing from them. Thanks to the cloud, you can use your Android smartphone to print something directly from the device.


Consider how often you use your smartphone to access information, including documents or media, via a cloud connection. There’s zero reason to waste time sending messages from one device to another just to print out a form that could easily be printed from your smartphone. By connecting your Android device to a printer via Google’s Cloud Print, you can accomplish so much more without complicating the process.

The first step is making sure that your printer is Cloud Ready--i.e., it’s compatible with the Google Cloud Print service. You can use this web page to find out if your printer is compatible. If it is “cloud ready,” access the wireless setup of the device through your desktop’s printer software. You should be able to find it on your connected desktop. Once you’ve done so, make sure that it’s connected to your wireless network--the same one connected to your mobile device.

Depending on the brand and manufacturer, your printer might need specific instructions for setting up Google Cloud Print. Otherwise, you should see your device in your web browser by typing "chrome://devices" into the search bar. If your device is under New Devices, click on Manage. You should then be able to register the device. When you come back to the chrome://devices, you should see the printer in your My Devices section. You should now be able to select it as a Print destination.

Now download the Cloud Print app on your device. This is an add-on to certain services like Google Docs, Gallery, and other apps. You can then use it by navigating through Settings > Printing > Cloud Print.

Next time you’re thinking about printing a document, consider doing it through your mobile device. All you’ll have to do is access the three-dot menu in the top-right corner and select Print or Cloud Print. Then, select the device to which you are printing.

Do you need assistance with your mobile devices or mobile-related troubles? If so, reach out to CTN Solutions at (610) 828-5500.

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Tip of the Week: 3 More Useful Microsoft Word Features

Tip of the Week: 3 More Useful Microsoft Word Features

Microsoft Word has long since established itself as the primary word processing software in the business world, but some power users don’t necessarily know about all of it's hidden features. Here are three of the best Word capabilities that you can use next time you’re in a pinch.


Changing the Case of Your Text
Sometimes you might be typing something and accidentally hit the Caps Lock key instead of Shift. Instead of deleting everything and retyping it, you can simply use a new Microsoft Word feature that lets you choose the case of your new text. You can select Sentence case, Lower-case, and Uppercase, as well as Capitalize Each Word and tOGGLE cASE.

word ib 1

Automatically Update the Date and Time
Most businesses will use digital correspondence, but there are times when you’ll have to use direct mail. Most organizations will send out a welcome letter to new clients via traditional postage, with some personalization to match the client. Word can be used to make sure that the information offered in the latter is updated automatically. You can set your templates to auto-update with the current date and time.

In the Insert tab, click on the Date & Time button. This will open up a pop-up window. Next, click on the date format and select the Update Automatically box in the bottom-right corner. Your date will automatically be updated every time you open or try to print the document.

word ib 2

Eliminate Unwanted Formatting
When you copy and paste text from a source, it retains the formatting of the original document. If you’re not careful, this text could persist throughout the remainder of your document edits. Thankfully, there is a very simple fix to this issue. Microsoft Word has a keyboard command that you can use to eliminate formatting, and it’s Ctrl + Space. Better yet, you can just use the little eraser button in Word’s settings to eliminate formatting.

word ib 3

Want even more great tips and tricks? Visit our blog regularly for more technology-related tips.

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Tip of the Week: Create Envelopes For Your Whole Contact List With Word

Tip of the Week: Create Envelopes For Your Whole Contact List With Word

Microsoft Office has many capabilities that are not fully utilized by the majority of their users. Mail merges in Word used to be a time consuming, frustrating process. With each new edition of Word, Microsoft has refined the process to make it more user-friendly. Take the following steps to create a professional looking envelope for your business that easily adds a list of contacts from a CSV file, Outlook, and more.

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