New add-ons for Gmail!

Google is giving people an early Christmas present this year with the launch of several third-party add-ons for Gmail. This might not be the most exciting news from the technology giant, but as with the majority of its new feature launches, you can expect them to make life much easier.

Google’s focus is on productivity services that are already connected to email systems one way or another. This is why they have partnered with Asana, Dialpad, DocuSign (coming soon), Hire (by Google), Intuit QuickBooks, ProsperWorks, RingCentral, Smartsheet, Streak, Trello, and Wrike for their first set of native extensions.

What are some features can you expect?

While each add-on’s capabilities are slightly different, what they have in common is functionality that allows you to track various tasks right from the Gmail interface.

For instance, Gmail users will be able to view tasks and track their progress right from their inboxes when they receive emails from other Asana users. The Trello add-on allows you to turn emails into actionable tasks where you’ll be able to comment and move cards without having to switch to Trello itself. And the RingCentral add-on will let you make outbound calls and view and send SMS messages right from your inbox.

What’s more, these integrations work in the mobile Gmail app on Android, too. Google is currently working with Apple to bring these add-ons to iOS and they should be available soon.

How to install these add-ons

Just head over to G Suite Marketplace and download any extension you want. Then, those add-ons will be visible on the right sidepane of your Gmail interface. Unfortunately, they aren’t available in Inbox by Gmail (Google’s other email client) just yet.

However, Google has made it easy for developers to create customized add-ons for their company with guidelines you can find here.

With the introduction of Gmail add-ons, it’s exciting to see what other integrations are in store for businesses in 2018. But until then, if you have any questions about how you can use the web and cloud technology to your business’s advantage, just give us a call at 800-421-7151.

Understanding Virtualization Strategies

If the phrase “virtualization technology” either stresses you out or puts you to sleep, this article is for you. We’re going to explain once and for all how this emerging trend works and how small businesses can take advantage of it.

What is the core concept of virtualization?

By virtualizing any of the items below, you can trick software into recognizing hardware when none actually exists. The easiest way to explain this is with examples from the most common type of this technology: hardware virtualization.

  • If you had one high-powered computer processor, virtualization would allow you to split it up and run four separate operating systems (Windows, Apple OS, etc.), each seemingly running on a standalone, low-powered processor.
  • Conversely, virtualization could also be used to connect four high-powered processors to create what your operating system would recognize as one ultra-fast piece of hardware.

This technology can be applied in a number of ways to create opportunities for more efficient resource utilization and cost savings.

Desktop virtualization

Sometimes referred to as cloud desktops, this form of virtualization grants you access to a fully functioning computer that you access via a local network or the internet. Somewhere, a server has allocated a portion of its hardware resources for your virtual desktop. With a keyboard, monitor, mouse, and extremely low-end computer, you can connect to this virtual desktop and utilize all the processing power and storage the server has set aside for it.

Application virtualization

By installing a program on a server hard drive, your employee workstations can use their computing resources to run the program, but restrict data from being stored on their hard drives. The program and the documents it creates will never leave the server hard drive, making it much harder for hackers to compromise them.

With more advanced virtualization solutions, your server can also allocate the computing resources necessary to run the program, meaning your workstations are merely a window to your server.

Storage virtualization

Similar to hardware virtualization, this strategy makes it easy to organize how your data is stored. In addition to combining hard drives across several computers into a massive virtual drive, storage virtualization also stores data based on how important it is. Frequently used documents are saved to your fastest drives and can be automatically backed up to the cloud.

Network virtualization

If your office has more than 10 workstations, it makes sense to consider network virtualization, which allows you to separate vulnerable devices. For example, if you had one server that handles a lot of web traffic and another that stored sensitive documents, you might want to connect them to different networks to avoid a cross contamination. Network virtualization would allow you to do that without buying any new hardware!

Even with our simplified explanations, virtualization is still a complicated subject. Rather than try to figure it out in a few hundred words, give us a call at 800-421-7151 and we’ll show you in person!

Do More with Microsoft Office!

Have you been putting off learning about all the features in Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint? We don’t blame you. But mastering them can be extremely beneficial. That said, here are some free training videos that will help you get more out of Microsoft Office.

Office Basics is a series of free Office training videos from Microsoft which cover different features and functionality.

Intro to Office Basics

This training video will help you use templates to create professional documents, learn the ins and outs of SmartArt and Charts to express complex data and ideas, and collaborate in shared documents whether you’re working online, offline, or simultaneously with others.

What is Office 365?

Discover the features and upgrades within Office 365 that aren’t available anywhere else, and learn how cloud versions of applications like Word, Excel, and Outlook differ from their desktop counterparts.

Word Training

These training videos will show you how to create and edit documents as well as create and format tables in just a few clicks. They also cover document makeovers, how to organize documents, creating mailing lists, and how to translate text instantly.

Excel Training

Creating, organizing, and analyzing data from charts and tables can be quite complicated, which is why these training videos are perfect for anyone looking to design workbooks, add text and data, format and analyze charts, and create pivot tables and formulas. Other tips include how to slice data and locate them using VLOOKUP.

PowerPoint Training

There’s more to PowerPoint than adding text to slides. These training videos will show you how to create presentations, add and format text, design presentations, add audio, video, and animations, and format images. You’ll also learn about nifty features such as how to match slide colors using the Eyedropper and how to export slides to videos.

Outlook Training

Organize your Outlook inbox with ease and learn how to add and format text and images, manage contacts, calendars, meetings, and to-do lists, as well as other tips such as how to spice up your email signature, keep your inbox clean, and hold meetings using Skype and OneNote.

Microsoft’s new training videos might not be jaw-dropping, but they will surely help users do more with Office. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of Microsoft Office for small businesses, just give us a call at 800-421-7151 and we’ll be happy to help!

What you need to know about VPNs for Personal Use

With stories of large-scale data breaches and internet service providers tracking internet habits, online privacy is becoming a rare commodity. Incognito mode and private browsing features may be able to cover up your browsing history, but they don’t completely protect your online activities. You need a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

What is VPN?

Simply put, a VPN is a group of servers you connect to via the internet. Once you’ve established a connection, your computer acts as if it’s on the same local connection as the VPN, making it seem like you moved to a different location.

When you surf the web through a VPN, all the data transmitted and received is also encrypted, preventing anyone — from hackers to government agencies — from monitoring your online activities.

Why should you have one?

Of course, security and privacy are major reasons why you would want a VPN. For example, if you’re connected to a public WiFi network — like the ones you typically see in local cafes and airports — using a VPN encrypts the information you’re sending or accessing online. This means things like credit card details, login credentials, private conversations, or other sensitive documents can’t be intercepted by a third party.

VPNs are also useful for accessing geo-restricted websites. If you’re traveling abroad and certain US websites are blocked in that region, you can simply connect to a VPN located in the US to access the sites you need.

Which VPN should you choose?

Given the increasing demand for secure online privacy, VPNs are surging in popularity. The following considerations can help you find the right one.

1. Cost
While free VPNs are available, we strongly suggest you avoid them. These keep logs of your internet activity, and in some cases sell them to the highest bidder. Maintaining a VPN service is also expensive, which means the free ones will likely plaster ads on your browser to make a quick buck.

Paid VPNs like SurfEasy and StrongVPN often come with more robust features and configurations that keep you secure. What’s more, they don’t keep a record of the sites you visit and hound you with pop-ups that lead to dangerous websites.

2. Location
The physical location of VPN servers is important if you want to access region-blocked websites. So if you’re planning on accessing your VPN service while traveling, your VPN provider must at least have servers installed or accessible in the locations you will be in.

3. Capacity
Read through a VPN provider’s terms of service to determine how much data you’re allowed to use. If possible, find out how many servers a VPN provider has. If they have plenty of servers online, you can rest assured that they have the capacity to support your internet browsing.

4. Device compatibility
Another important factor to consider is whether the VPN can be used across multiple devices. Nowadays, employees work on laptops, tablets, and smartphones, so you’ll want a VPN that’s compatible with all these.

5. IP leaking
Finally, a great way to evaluate a VPN service is to sign up for their free trial service and visit https://ipleak.net/, which will allow you to check whether your real IP address is actually being leaked. If it manages to track your physical location, you need to opt for a more reliable VPN service.

The VPN services described in this article are for personal and private usage for home computers and personal laptops. These services may or may not integrate or work with corporate VPN’s that your firm or enterprise may currently be using.

VPNs are now a vital component of cybersecurity, and if you need help selecting the right VPN for your business or personal usage, consult with our security experts today by calling 800-421-7151 or emailing info@wamsinc.com. We also offer comprehensive cybersecurity services so no hacker or third party can get their hands on your data.

What’s New with the Chrome Cleanup Tool?

Even if you’re sure that the websites you visit are safe, harmful software can still slip through, especially when you download and install free programs and applications. As the world’s most popular browser, Chrome is especially prone to infection. Fortunately, Google has improved Chrome’s Cleanup tool for Windows by integrating the following security features.

Detect Hijacked Settings

Many users prefer to enhance their browsing experience by installing extensions or plug-ins, some of which could be malicious. When these extensions are installed, they could inject harmful ads into web pages or allow access to third-party servers without the user’s consent.

Google’s new hijacked settings detection function prevents this from happening. Once it detects an attempt by a third party to change your browser’s settings, it will automatically revert to Chrome’s default settings. And in case you suspect any unauthorized change in your browser, you can manually reset settings in Chrome.

Simplify Cleanup

You probably don’t remember downloading many of the files in your Downloads folder, but these are actually software and other attachments that were bundled with the software that you do use.

Chrome Cleanup’s newly simplified feature makes it easier for you to determine harmful files, easing the pain of sorting through and deleting tons of downloaded files. Whenever it detects a malicious software, users will get a pop-up message that offers them an easy way to remove the potential threat, get more details about it, or disregard it in case of false detection.

Maximize Removal of Nonessential Software

Aside from the simplified interface, Google also made some much-needed improvements in Chrome Cleanup’s performance, so it’s now capable of eliminating more junkware.

Tricking users into installing a program without their consent is one of the many characteristics of unwanted software that Google lists under its Unwanted Software Policy. To help fight against this and other browser security risks, the company has partnered with an IT security team to strengthen Chrome’s ability to detect and remove unwelcome add-ons.

It’s important to note that these upgrades don’t affect Chrome’s performance and speed because they work in the background. In addition, these changes are now available in Windows devices but will soon roll out to other platforms. In the meantime, if you want to find out more about browser and application security, contact our security specialists today at 800-421-7151!

Tips and Tricks to Prolong Laptop Battery Life

A laptop would just be a cold piece of aluminum with a flat battery if you don’t have a power socket at hand. It’s hard to get any work done when you’re peppered with pop-ups and warning messages when the battery power gets low. So here are some tips you can use to prolong the life of your precious laptop battery.

Some truths about your laptop battery

Batteries in many devices nowadays are lithium-based — either lithium-ion or lithium-polymer — so users must take note of the following guidelines for their proper maintenance:

  • They can’t be overcharged, even though you leave your battery plugged in for a long period of time. When the battery hits 100%, it’ll stop charging.
  • Leaving your battery completely drained will damage it.
  • Batteries have limited lifespans. So no matter what you do, yours will age from the very first time you charge it. This is because as time passes, the ions will no longer be able to flow efficiently from the anode to the cathode, thereby reducing its capacity.

What else can degrade your battery

Besides its being naturally prone to deterioration, your battery can degrade due to higher-than-normal voltages, which happens when you keep your battery fully charged at all times. Even though a modern laptop battery cannot be overcharged, doing so will add a stress factor that’ll harm your battery.

Both extremely high temperatures (above 70°F) and low temperatures (between 32-41°F) can also reduce battery capacity and damage its components. The same goes for storing a battery for long periods of time, which can lead to the state of extreme discharge. Another factor is physical damage. Remember that batteries are made up of sensitive materials, and physical collision can damage them.

How to prolong your battery life

Now that you know some facts about your laptop battery, it’s time to learn how to delay its demise:

  • Never leave your battery completely drained.
  • Don’t expose your battery to extremely high or low temperatures.
  • If possible, charge your battery at a lower voltage.
  • If you need to use your laptop for a long period of time while plugged into a power source, it’s better to remove the battery. This is because a plugged-in laptop generates more heat which will damage your battery.
  • When you need to store your battery for a few weeks, you should recharge your battery to 40% and remove it from your laptop for storage.

These are just a few tips on extending the life of your hardware. There are many more ways you can maximize your hardware efficiency and extend its longevity. Call our experts today to find out more at 800-421-7151!