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  • 7 Tips to Keep Your PC optimized and Workstation Clean

    If you are like me and work on a computer all day, or just use a computer all day for fun, you will want to make sure your PC is operating at its best. An optimized device and clean workstation will help improve work flow, brainstorming and so much more. There are a few things you can be doing to jump-start your days of productivity and we are here to tell you what they are! 1. Temp Files Temporary Files are files that are stored on your computer by apps or operating systems to help programs run faster and smoother. The thing is, these temp files are created every time you open an app or run an operating system so it can quickly take up space in your hard drive and delay performance. Therefore, it is good practice to clean these up from time to time. Oh! And do not worry... temp files only have short term use and will not store any permanent information. Therefore, you do not have to worry about losing any files, programs, data or integrity when deleting temp file. Wondering how to delete temp files in your workstation? We got you, here is how to delete temp files in Windows 10, 8, & 7: Press and hold Windows + R buttons to bring up the run dialogue box. Once you have the Run Dialogue box open, type Temp and press Enter or hit OK to open temp files. You can now select which files you want to delete individually or you can select them all by pressing Ctrl+A. When you do this, make sure all other applications are closed and only Windows is running. You can also use CCleaner to clean your temp files and much more with a few clicks. CCleaner is a free (for individual/personal use) app that helps keep your computer optimized. You can read and learn more about how to download and start benefiting from CCleaner here. Once CCleaner is downloaded, open the file from your downloads. If prompted, “Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your computer?”, select Yes. Go through the installation wizard and accept the default settings. When you have completed installing CCleaner, you can then open it and navigate to Custom Clean. Here you can select many different items to clean from your computer. These are the settings we recommend to make sure your computer is preforming efficiently. We suggest running CCleaner at least once per week. Note that important logs and technical information will be permanently deleted with this, make sure you understand what the application is doing before running it. 2. Uninstall Bulk Ware and Unnecessary Apps Bulk-ware are applications that are preinstalled in your computer by the manufacturer or distributor. However, these applications are not necessary to run your operating system efficiently. They might look aesthetically pleasing to the eye and seldom have a user interface benefit. Anyhow, in the background of your computer, they are just wasting space and taking up resources. We made an easy step by step guide on how to uninstall unnecessary bulk-ware. If you are uncomfortable uninstalling stuff from your computer, do not hesitate to get in touch with us to see how we can be of service. To uninstall bulk-ware and unnecessary applications press and hold Windows + R to open the Run Dialogue Box. Type control then press Enter or OK. Select Uninstall a program under Programs. Here you can delete any and all unnecessary applications from your computer. 3. Disk Clean-up (Windows) Another easy way to search your entire drive for junk files is to utilize Windows Disk Clean-up feature. This is a little better than just cleaning temp files as shown in step one. Running a disk cleanup will help you delete temp files and also helps you find cached data in other locations that could also be hindering your computer’s performance. To access this, type Disk Cleanup in your search box on the taskbar. Once you click and open it, select the disk drive you want to clean from the drop-down and select OK. A Disk Cleanup window will open for the selected drive. Under Files to delete: check the boxes next to the temp files you want to clear and then click OK. We recommend selecting everything in this section, unless there is a special reason not to. 4. Defragment and Optimize Drives Another way to optimize your PC is to use the Defragment and Optimize Drives application. What does Defragging do? In rudimentary terms, it makes it easier for your computer to fetch and display your files. Therefore, your computer will be faster when opening files or performing other functions after optimizing your drives with this app. How does Defragging accomplish this? For operating systems, such as Windows, a file is composed of several small fragments that are kept in clusters in your computer’s drive. Running Defraggler makes sure all the individual pieces efficiently come together in organized clusters. This makes it a much simpler task for your computer to fetch all the fragments necessary to open your file. Over time, we open and close vast amounts of files. Each action inevitably scatters file fragments into a horrible mess. This makes it harder and harder for your computer to gather all the necessary fragments to open the clicked file, therefore your computer feels slower. When we use the Defragment and Optimize Drives App, Windows then gathers all the file information and fragments into organized clusters. These optimized clusters allow Windows to easily gather your information, which makes your computer perform faster and better. Here is a quick guide on how to use the Defragment and Optimize Drives App. Remember, do this when you are planning on not using your computer for a couple of hours or more. The process should never be canceled or abruptly shut down. How to start defragging? Type Defragment on your Search Box in the Task Bar. Open the app. Once you open the app, select the drive you would like to optimize (if you would like to optimize all drives, Press and Hold CTRL and select multiple drives) then click Optimize or Optimize All. Again, the process might take a long time, therefore make sure your computer will not be needed anytime soon. However, the benefits are sure worth it. Your optimized computer will allow you to be more productive. Pro Tip: make sure you have enough disk space to run the application. 5. Antivirus An antivirus is imperative to helping your PC run smoothly. Antivirus software can help protect your computer against viruses or attacks that are meant to cause damage. We recommend using Webroot. It has many beneficial features but one of the coolest, is that it does not disrupt you. Since Webroot is cloud-based, you get to keep the computing power and keep streaming, working, blogging, or whatever it is that you do! Having a cloud-based antivirus can speed up your day and efficiently secure your device against any malicious malware trying to infiltrate your network. You can learn more about Webroot here. 6. Keep a duster and screen cleaner handy. So far, we have talked about how to keep your PC optimized and clean internally. Now, let’s talk a little about the importance of external care. You should regularly dust your keyboard and mouse as well as your computer case to avoid any damage to your hardware. Remember to handle your hardware with care and use anti-static equipment to avoid permanent damage. If you are planning on opening your computer case, make sure you have the proper tools and space to do so. Pro Tip: Never keep passwords handy in your desk or workstation. It is an easy way to remember passwords and to get suspicious activity in your accounts. 7. Avoid clutter. Your workstation should always be clean and free of clutter for an optimal working environment. It is simple, when an area is cluttered and messy, so are we. Clutter is likely to make you feel overwhelmed and may affect your productivity. It is easier for things to get lost, misplaced, or even forgotten when we do not have a clean work area. Therefore, try to keep things tidy. If need be, acquire organizational tools such as file cabinets, folders, bins, and compartmentalizers to help you keep everything in its place. Staying productive and keeping an optimal work environment just became easier by following these seven tips. Did something not make sense? Do not worry, if you are having a hard time keeping up with all of this. We offer 24/7 IT management and solutions, where we can do it all for you. Reach out to us today and see how we can help! We hope you have found this helpful, if so, check out our blog “5 QUICK TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR DIGITAL WORK FLOW”. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us in the comment section or contact us through our website using our contact form.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Google Starter Guide: Improve Your Google Ranking

    If you want potential clients, consumers, or readers to find your content via Google Search, well you’re in the right place. Here at At Nova Design, we conveniently provide businesses with an all-inclusive digital marketing package that improves online presence, content, and following. But, like we tell all our clients, it’s important to have an understanding as to how Google crawls your website, analyzes your content, and how it then uses that information to rank your page. So we don’t take up too much of your time, we’ve created a simple list that you can go through to see how well you are optimizing your site based on Google’s SEO starter guide. 1. The first rule, arguably the most important rule, is to make sure your website is user friendly. The user should benefit from your website. Every design and feature you include should be aiming to make the users experience better. For Example: You might feel inclined to include various headings filled with keywords on your homepage, but it might be at the expense of the user’s experience. If you’re not careful, your titles may seem redundant and pointless, which can be off-putting. Google’s SEO starter guide even gives us some pointers to consider; 2. Optimize the Title Links, Snippets and Meta Descriptions for all your Pages. The Title Link of a page on a search result looks like this: This title should be optimized to include important information such as Business name, location or even what you do. Google also recommends that your meta descriptions and snippets accurately represent the content on that page. Definitely avoid any kind of false info click-bait tactics here, (actually... try to avoid them altogether). When creating meta descriptions and title links, always include various keywords. But remember, user experience comes first, so make sure it flows and is relevant. If you’re overloading a webpage with irrelevant keywords to manipulate ranking, your basically committing “Keyword Stuffing”, and the Googlebot Crawler won’t like it very much. 3. Make it easy for Googlebot to crawl your Site with Sitemaps. Google makes it easy for you to analyze your websites performance on it’s search engine. On Google Search Console, you can view problem areas of your site, test and submit sitemaps, and overall optimize how your site ranks on Google. Sitemaps are important because this tells Google’s Web Crawler what your website is about, page for page. Google Search Central provides resources on how to create and submit sitemaps. 4. Optimize your site to be mobile ready and friendly. Nowadays, most people use mobile devices to make google searches. Enough to where if you’re lacking in mobile presentation your business is probably lacking in online lead generation. So it might be a good idea to create a responsive mobile web design and really think about the structure and content you want to include while keeping loading speed in mind. In fact, Google provides you with a tool Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check if your mobile site is considered mobile friendly… We actually highly recommend you take advantage of this tool and check your mobile site. And don’t worry, we can always help you optimize your site to be mobile friendly if needed! 5. Make sure your content is unique and relevant. Having good, thought-out content is a terrific way to get traffic to your site. Quality content is what builds your site’s reputation. Be original, use backlinks, and research your target user and find out what kind of information they are currently searching for. Being original today might seem a little hard, given that there’s so much information online, but it’s do-able. Researching your competitors and others in your industry to find out what kind of information they are putting out there is a good place to start. Here’s a good place for you to find blog ideas and keywords: AnswerThePublic Backlinks, are links on websites other than your own that navigate users to your site. Quality backlinks can help you rank higher in search engines, Quality backlinks usually come from websites that have a higher domain authority. Reach out to your community and see if your partners are willing to link to your site. Networking and collaboration is always a good way to expand your business traffic! 6. Your site should cultivate users trust. Based on what you’re doing with your site; you should have specific information readily available to your user. For example, if you’re an online store, Google tells us you should have clear and concise customer service information to helps your users resolve any possible issues. Including a FAQs page or a policy page is also a good idea to provide your users clarity on your business and how you intend to operate. Another good rule of thumb when writing content for your site, is to be specific. We don’t want to mislead the user about information or about what kind of pages you might be linking to. Descriptive text is good for the user and even helps the Googlebot understand a little more of what your page or website is about. 7. Optimize your images for both your desktop and mobile site. There are some things that might not even occur to some people that directly effect the SEO of your site, like image file names, sizes, and alt txt. Providing descriptive file names, and a short and to the point alt txt can make a big difference. Alt txt helps people understand what your image is about in case the image is not able to load right away. Using standard image formats also helps, according to Google, most browsers support JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and WebP image formats. We’ve learned through experience it’s best to go with WebP for mobile optimization and faster loading speed. Not sure how to compress your images? No worries, here are some free online compressors: TinyPNG & TinyJPG Although we recommend using locally installed software to do this like VLC or Adobe, the online compressors should do the trick. Not sure what codec or format is best? We got you covered. Give us a call and tell us about your business. 8. Optimize your website for Rich Snippet Results Test your website's Rich Snippet compatibility here. What is this test? Google will crawl your website and depending on the structured data it contains, it will generate a useful visual description of your business in google searches. This is imperative to appear in the top 3 results in Google searches! 9. Use a Schema Generator to add relevant JSON-LD code This makes it possible for website crawlers to read your website to its fullest potential. While a human may easily understand your website by scrolling through it, crawlers look at the code behind the aesthetics. It is imperative to index and apply the correct schema in each page of your website. Here is a common schema generator you may use to your advantage. Remember to test all your code before applying it to your live website! 10. Simply give us a call! Our mission is to learn about your business and show you how our marketing strategies and technology expertise can increase productivity in your business. Our team of experts is ready to boost your business today! We hope this guide helps you get an understanding of the work that goes into optimizing your site for a search engine. If you want to know more don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re more than happy to help you and your business improve its online presence. Google. (n.d.). Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide. Google. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://developers.google.com/search/docs/beginner/seo-starter-guide.

  • 5 QUICK TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR DIGITAL WORK FLOW

    Looking for new ways to improve your workflow? Here are a few easy tips and tricks to get your efficiency to the next level. 1. UTILIZE KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS When you work on a computer all day, learning a few keyboard shortcuts can speed up the process of looking for documents, browsing through multiple tabs, undoing a mistake, and working in programs such as excel and word. Here’s a short list to get you started. Ctrl + Z Undo an action. Alt + Tab Switch between open apps. Alt + F4 Close the active item, or exit the active app. Windows logo key + L Lock your PC. Windows logo key + D Display and hide the desktop. Ctrl + Y Redo an action. Ctrl + Right arrow Move the cursor to the beginning of the next word. Ctrl + Left arrow Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous word. Ctrl + Down arrow Move the cursor to the beginning of the next paragraph. Ctrl + Up arrow Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous paragraph. 2. SAVE TO THE CLOUD Saving to the cloud not only protects all of your precious time and work, but it makes it so much easier to access all of your files from multiple devices. Saving to the cloud also allows you to easily share and send files with specific groups or audiences. Plus, you’ll use less storage space. - Save Storage Space - Faster Processing Time - Access Files from Multiple Devices 3. ADD & ORGANIZE SHORTCUTS Staying organized is a sure way to improve work efficiency. Keep all of your useful go-to websites bookmarked and labeled (…the last thing you want is a whole bunch of random links in your bookmark list), and make sure to make a shortcut on your desktop for your frequently used apps. 4. CLEAN UP FILES REGULARLY Update and maintain your digital workspace. A clean workspace means you’ll find your files easily and efficiently. Back-up old documents on the cloud or a protected hard drive and delete them from your local files. 5. KEEP UP WITH CURRENT UPDATES Your PC is most likely to run its best when your software is up-to-date. Double check your updates to make sure they are not on pause. Windows Update Settings 1. Windows Update settings, head to Settings (Windows key + I). 2. Choose Update & Security. 3. In the Windows Update option, click Check for updates to see which updates are currently available. 4. If updates are available, you will have the option to install them.

  • The Dangers Within: Understanding Insider Threats

    The year 2020 witnessed an unprecedented onslaught of cybersecurity threats across the world as the global workforce underwent a forced transition to remote working. However, not all cybersecurity threats come from the outside. In a study conducted by Bitglass, 61 percent of businesses surveyed reported at least one insider-related cybersecurity incident in the last year. This could be anything from negligent employees who lack cybersecurity training to rogue employees who facilitate a breach for personal gain. Considering the increasing frequency of insider threats and the severity of data breaches resulting from them, it goes without saying that all organizations need to take proactive steps to combat this serious risk. Before taking any preventative security measures, it is necessary to understand who causes these risks and why. In this blog, we’ll discuss all aspects of insider threats including the motivations behind them, potential actors, primary targets, consequences and more. Actors Behind Insider Threats Anyone with access to critical information can pose a potential insider threat if the information is unknowingly or maliciously misused, resulting in a data breach. Businesses need to identify these actors if they want to curb insider threats effectively. Insider threat types can be classified as follows: · Negligent insiders – This may include careless executives or employees with access to privileged information. These insiders don’t have any motivation – money or otherwise. They are simply careless in their actions or may have fallen victim to a scam. For instance, in one particular incident involving an apparel manufacturer, a careless employee clicking one phishing link from his laptop was enough to compromise the entire network. · Malicious insiders – These are insiders who intentionally abuse their credentials for personal gain. These actors have an advantage over external attackers since they have access to privileged information and are aware of the security loopholes. They may be motivated by monetary gain or may have a personal vendetta against the company. · Contractors or vendors – Sometimes, even third-party vendors and contractors who have temporary access to an organization’s IT network can cause a data breach. The motivation in this case could also be money or vengeance. The US Army Reserves payroll system was once targeted in a similar attack, where a contractor who lost his contract activated a logic bomb to create a delay in delivering paychecks. Motivations Behind Malicious Insider Threats Malicious insiders are usually motivated by one or more of the following reasons: · Money or greed – Most cases of non-negligent insider threats are motivated by money and personal financial gain. A greedy insider with access to restricted information is most often the culprit in this case. For example, two employees of General Electric stole the company’s intellectual property about calibrating turbines and started a competing firm with this information. After years of investigation, they were convicted in 2020. · Revenge – Another familiar reason for insider threats involves revenge. Disgruntled employees, who believe they have been wronged by the company they once worked for, are usually behind this type of threat. In August 2020, a disgruntled former employee of Cisco deleted hundreds of virtual machines and caused about $1.4 million in damages to the company. · Espionage – Many large organizations across the world have been victims of economic espionage from competing firms. This is mainly done to gain a competitive advantage in the market. A state-owned Chinese enterprise perpetrated espionage against American semi-conductor firm Micron by sending compromised insiders and stole valuable trade secrets. · Strategic advantage – Intellectual property theft against large corporations is most often a result of trying to gain a strategic advantage in the market. Korean smartphone giant Samsung became a victim recently when its blueprint for bendable screen technology was stolen by its supplier. · Political or ideological – There have been many documented cases of insider threats motivated by political or ideological factors. These cases often concern national pride or revenge against another nation for the attack. Why Insider Threats Are Dangerous Insider threats often have a massive impact on your data, primary assets and your bottom line. On top of it all, these threats are often hard to detect and contain. A study by the Ponemon Institute estimates that it takes 77 days on average to contain insider threats once detected. · Targets primary assets: Insider threats often target the primary assets of an organization including proprietary information, product information, business plans, company funds, IT systems and more. · Results in huge costs: The same study by the Ponemon Institute estimated that the average cost of insider threats has increased 31 percent to $11.45 million in the last two years. These costs include downtime losses, loss of business transactions, loss of business opportunities and more. Don’t Wait to Protect Your Business Although the consequences of insider threats may be disastrous, you don’t have to face this problem alone. If you are wondering how you can mitigate these threats and prevent losses, we’ve got you covered. Reach out to us today to understand the different ways by which you can build a resilient cybersecurity posture against insider threats. Data Sources: § Bitglass 2020 Insider Threat Report § https://www.zdnet.com/article/how-one-hacked-laptop-led-to-an-entire-network-being-compromised/ § https://www.theregister.com/2017/09/22/it_contractor_logic_bombed_army_payroll § https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/two-guilty-in-theft-of-trade-secrets-from-ge-072920 § https://www.bankinfosecurity.com/ex-cisco-engineer-pleads-guilty-in-insider-threat-case-a-14917 § https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/prc-state-owned-company-taiwan-company-and-three-individuals-charged-economic-espionage § https://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/30/tech/samsung-china-tech-theft/index.html § IBM Cost of Insider Threats: Global Report 2020

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