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Office 365 is changing: are you ready?

Office 365 is changing: are you ready?

Office 365 is changing: are you ready?

05 May, 2022

In August of 2021, Microsoft announced the New Commerce Experience and their first notable price increase in more than a decade.

The company is citing its extensive development of the platform, and associated applications, as the reason for the change – noting that customers now receive significantly more value from their subscriptions than they did 10 years ago.

For example, Microsoft has since added 24 apps to the Office suite (such as Teams, Power BI, Visio and OneDrive). They’ve also made more than 1400 new features available, and extended their use of advancing technology (including automation and AI) while taking huge steps to improve security.

Additionally, Microsoft will now include unlimited audio conferencing for Team meetings to support the remote work revolution we’ve seen in recent years.

What our clients need to know

A 15% price increase came into effect on March 1 for all licenses except Office 365 E5. We will make this new pricing available to all our existing clients, and new clients can request a copy.

Although the price hike is quite significant, the biggest change is actually the enforcement of annual agreements. Microsoft used to base monthly pricing on annual agreements but didn’t charge you more if you chose to pay monthly vs annually. Now, you’ll pay 20% more if you choose to have a month-by-month agreement versus an annual agreement.

It’s important to keep in mind that you cannot remove any licenses until your renewal period when you choose the annual agreement option. You can add new licenses at any time though.

While Microsoft originally offered a 72-hour grace period if you change your mind after signing an annual agreement, this has now changed to 7 days. This means you have 7 days to cancel an annual agreement once you sign, otherwise you will be locked in for the year and the total annual licence cost will be due.

Is your Microsoft subscription right for your business?

This pricing change reinforces how vital it is to ensure you are selecting the best Microsoft licence for your business and users.

If you’re concerned about over-spending on Microsoft licenses, or want to make sure you’re getting the most value out of your subscription, speak with an IT expert.

We are more than happy to evaluate your business needs against existing licenses, and determine whether or not you should consider a different licence type.

You can also engage us to manage the licence for you so you don’t have to worry about payments, upgrades, adding new users, and so on.

To speak with an IT expert from Empreus IT Support about Microsoft licences, call 6189 1322 or contact us.

5 IT trends to look out for in 2022

5 IT trends to look out for in 2022

5 IT trends to look out for in 2022

13 Jan, 2022

It’s exciting times when we look at how much technology has advanced in the past few years. For business owners, solving painful and time consuming problems is now much simpler thanks to technology – be it clever accounting software, automation tools, or even chatbots for on-demand customer service.

As we step into a new year, the opportunities are endless as we seek to become ever more efficient and use technology to make life (and work) easier.

Here are 5 key trends we’re sure to see this year, and what you can do to make the most of them in your business…

  1. Becoming more comfortable with cloud technology

While most businesses use cloud technology in some capacity, the hybrid approach of keeping some data in the cloud and some on-premise has been an overwhelmingly popular choice.

Be it due to cost or security reasons, a hybrid set up can work really well. However, it can also create challenges – such as making data more siloed, increasing duplication of files, and ultimately causing a clunky user experience.

In 2022, ask an expert in cloud technology to evaluate your hybrid set up. There may be simple changes you can make – such as assessing whether the cloud platforms you’re using are fit for purpose, making sure you’re getting the most out of them, and checking that all your systems are properly integrating with each other.

  1. Greater use of remote working tools

A modern workplace does not discriminate between staff who work in the office and those who work from home. Everyone has equal access to everything they need – including network connectivity, security, collaboration tools, data and files, and so on.

As this workplace culture becomes more embedded, we’re going to see businesses really seek to capitalise on the investments they’ve made in remote working tools over the past 2 years. This could include extending tools to increase capability, training staff on how to use them better, or simply encouraging all staff to use them more.

If your business is still struggling with a remote work set up, give us a call.

  1. Experimenting with automation

While some businesses are at the cutting edge of automation, others are yet to explore its benefits.

The best opportunities for automation are in the mundane, time consuming activities your staff wish they didn’t need to do. Technology (supported by artificial intelligence) can be trained to take on these tasks – which then frees up your people to focus on higher value work.

We’re also seeing a drive for businesses to be more sustainable, which is something automation can definitely help in achieving.

If you haven’t considered automation yet, make an inventory of all the possible processes which could be automated in your business. You may wish to engage an automation specialist who can help make the process easier.

  1. Leveraging technology to keep employees happy

The world is experiencing a huge staff shortage across almost every industry…so keeping staff happy and engaged will be a key goal for business owners this year.

Leveraging technology to make their lives easier is one way to demonstrate your commitment to supporting them in their role.

If you’re unsure what changes to make and how, consider asking employees for feedback on what they don’t enjoy at work and how they believe you could improve. Where this feedback involves technology, engage an IT professional to help you assess the costs, risks and benefits of making the change.

  1. Increasing respect for cybersecurity

While thinking about a potential cyberattack on your business is never fun, we urge you to make it a priority this year.

Cyber criminals are now utilising the latest advances in artificial intelligence, which means they are better equipped than ever to succeed at penetrating your network and stealing your data.

Ideally, get advice from cybersecurity experts who can work with you to:

  • identify security gaps
  • perform necessary upgrades
  • remotely monitor your systems in real time

To discuss cybersecurity with an IT professional from Empreus IT, or to have a chat about any IT needs for 2022, please get in touch.

Is your business equipped to succeed in the new normal?

Is your business equipped to succeed in the new normal?

Is your business equipped to succeed in the new normal?

14 Dec, 2021

Life has certainly changed over the past 2 years! In responding to a global pandemic, remote work has become a mainstay for businesses in almost every industry – made possible by accelerating digital transformation efforts which leverage technology to enable people to work “anytime and from anywhere”.

For a small business owner, digital transformation can mean many things. For a café, it may mean upgrading their website to provide online ordering and payments. For a dentistry practice, it could mean allowing self-service online bookings so patients can choose their appointment time without picking up the phone.

Small changes can make a big difference, and not all new technologies will be relevant to every business.

However, there is one core aspect of digital transformation that is common to all: connection.

There is no digital transformation without connection

Connection applies equally to technology and people.

For example, it’s likely that your business could not operate without an internet connection. It’s how your people connect to the business network and any cloud-based tools your business uses.

Without a trusted internet connection, any extra money your business spends on fancy applications and shiny new tech is likely to be wasted.

On the same token, a reliable internet and network connection provides the necessary foundation for people to connect with each other – be it your staff, customers, suppliers, and so on.

We constantly see small to medium businesses struggle with the service they receive from their internet service providers (ISPs), and the damage that can occur when their internet connection is lost – even just for a few hours.

This is why we recently introduced internet services available directly from Empreus IT, backed by reliable 4G fail-over if your normal service is disrupted.

Connection empowers communication and collaboration

In knowing that connectivity is protected, we can then help our customers achieve the seamless communication they aspire to so they can operate at their best in a modern world.

These are some of the communication add-ons we offer as part of our internet services:

  • VoIP phone systems – so you can make and receive calls from anywhere via the internet.
  • Softphones – so you can use your mobile like an office landline.
  • E-fax – to support small businesses such as GP practices where fax is still essential.
  • Collaboration and video conferencing tools – such as Office 365 and Microsoft Teams roll outs to enable teamwork no matter where people are working from.

In itself, these may be the only changes your business needs to succeed in this new digital normal.

If reliable internet connectivity is an issue for your business, or you simply want to explore the benefits of working with a provider who will consider your business transformation needs as a whole, please contact us.

Why it’s vital to choose a reputable company for your domain, hosting and website

Why it’s vital to choose a reputable company for your domain, hosting and website

Why it’s vital to choose a reputable company for your domain, hosting and website

04 Nov, 2021

Buying a new domain, having it hosted, and getting a new website developed is an exciting journey for any business owner.

Whether you’re embarking on a new venture or expanding an existing one, your website is the cornerstone of your business’s digital presence – offering a convenient way for customers to learn more about it, and ultimately purchase products or services.

Setting up a website isn’t all rainbows and sunshine though. In fact, many companies have shocking stories to tell of lost money, poor product quality, or sheer underhandedness when engaging with domain, hosting or web providers.

If you’re planning to establish a new domain or website, here are 3 things you’ll want to be wary of…

  1. Cheap services can mean cheap and dirty tricks

To a startup, paying pennies on the dollar to register a new domain may sound like a dream come true. After all, why pay $30 with one company if you can get it for $10 through another?

However, many people have unfortunately found that the old adage reigns supreme – “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

Stories of hosting providers stealing domains run rampant online, even from seemingly reputable brands.

The same applies to hosting, where cheap services can go hand in hand with issues such as frequent downtime, lack of notifications, problems with payments, and more. The operation may be little more than a backroom server, which is definitely not equipped to support lots of web traffic or empower your business to grow.

When it comes to your website, selecting the cheapest developer on the block is likely to leave your online visitors more than a little underwhelmed. The site may also be plagued with issues such as lengthy loading times or malfunctioning forms, which will turn potential customers away – costing you money in the long run.

  1. Lack of security is a risk to your business

Website security is crucial to protecting your online presence, and should be built into the foundation of your hosting, as well as your website’s structure.

While you can generally purchase security plug-ins for content management systems, you really need an experienced team to install and manage them if you’re serious about protecting your site.

This specialist expertise isn’t available from many domain, hosting or website providers – yet it may be the one thing that safeguards your website and eliminates the serious risks (such as reputational damage) that can stem from an online hack.

  1. Zero personalisation will always leave you wanting more

Any domain or hosting provider, or web developer, that keeps their customers at arms’ length cannot truly provide a personalised product. Yet, especially when it comes to your website, a personalised product is vital to creating a memorable online presence that captivates your customers.

You want a provider that not only offers an easy way to contact them if you have questions or concerns, but gets to know your business intimately so it can support you in the best possible way.

For example, we established Empreus Domains to fill a need that our IT customers shared with us. They were so happy with our IT support and managed IT services, that they asked for an even greater holistic solution to their IT needs.

Instead of delivering a single product, we offer entire solutions that address all of our clients’ IT requirements – from domains, hosting and website development, to internet services, networking support, backup and disaster recovery, printers, VoIP, and so much more.

To ask how we can develop a solution for your business, including establishing a new domain or developing a new website, please get in touch.  

Keep losing your passwords? Here’s how to keep them safe

lost passwords

Keep losing your passwords? Here’s how to keep them safe

Keep losing your passwords? Here’s how to keep them safe

10 Mar, 2021

As you stare at the login screen on your computer, your mind goes blank. What did I make the password? Several possibilities come to mind, but as you type in each one and get rejected the anxiety and frustration builds.

Eventually you get locked out, and find yourself wasting more precious time waiting for the system to let you in again, support to get in touch, or the password reset process to complete.

In this new digital age, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of passwords that exist for every single account you have online. Some people deal with this by making all their passwords the same, or rotating between a few memorable ones.

However, this significantly increases the risk of a privacy breach. A hacker who makes thousands of daily attempts to learn your password only has to get it right once – and then they have access to all of your private details online.

This problem is only exacerbated when you’re trying to run a business and are accountable for all the passwords your staff use to access your systems. It’s a task that can get incredibly complex, and represent a huge potential risk to the company.

Luckily technology not only gives us these challenges, but also serves up clever solutions to them as well.

How to prevent weak or lost passwords

Just like every business process, password management requires an effective system with effective tools.

Solutions such as Bitwarden have been purpose built to take the pain, hassle and risk out of managing passwords by helping you create, store, track and securely share automatically generated high strength passwords.

For businesses, Bitwarden makes it easy to:

  • store all passwords securely
  • ensure staff do not have weak passwords
  • share passwords with only the staff who need them
  • track security risks or breaches
  • see who is accessing sensitive data and when

Most importantly, Bitwarden uses end-to-end data encryption so you can rest assured that your passwords are always safe while they reside in the platform.

Smart solutions such as Bitwarden are a much more effective and safe answer to password management than leaving staff to remember all their individual passwords, or having them record passwords on paper or in an unsecured document.

Why we use Bitwarden

We know our clients suffer from password management issues, and their data protection is our biggest concern at Empreus IT.

This is why we offer Bitwarden as a Managed Service, so our clients are not only equipped with a great solution but don’t have to waste time trying to set it up themselves.

Our IT specialists can configure the company’s organisational structure within the Bitwarden platform so it’s ready to roll out to all staff and they’re able to use it properly.

Regardless of whether you’re a sole operator or managing a team of thousands, a password management solution is the answer to keeping your passwords – and your data – safe.

To learn more about Bitwarden and Managed Services, contact Empreus IT on (02) 6189 1322.

Business IT trends in a post COVID world

business IT trends

Business IT trends in a post COVID world

Business IT trends in a post COVID world

11 Dec, 2020

The world changed dramatically in 2020, with the COVID pandemic forcing rapid transformation across almost every industry.

As restrictions ease and we survey the damage, many business owners will start the inevitable shift from COVID response planning to COVID recovery planning.

In Canberra, we were fortunate to escape the worst of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. However, small to medium businesses – particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors – still took a big hit when restrictions were at their worst.

For those still playing catch up since then, the holiday period will hopefully offer some downtime to re-assess and develop new plans for a new year.

As we step into 2021, here are the top 3 business trends we believe we’ll see in the IT space…

Maximising ROI on IT investments

To stay alive, many businesses were forced to shift their operating models so they could continue delivering for customers. For some, this meant enabling remote access for all staff. For others, it meant pivoting their business to target new sources of revenue.

IT played a large part in this shift, and the urgent need to transform so quickly did put a lot of businesses under financial strain.

As recovery planning begins, we expect to see business owners looking for ways to maximise their investment in new IT infrastructure and systems to drive greater productivity and efficiency.

More reliance on remote work set ups

Since COVID, employee expectations have changed. Having proven that it is possible to work from home, many workers are demanding a more concrete and long term approach to flexible workplace arrangements that allow remote work on a permanent basis.

As we are still in the midst of a skills shortage in Canberra, attracting and retaining quality talent will require businesses to meet these new expectations if they wish to stay competitive.

With this in mind, we expect to see even more investment into and focus on enabling remote work through effective remote work solutions.

A stronger focus on security

When businesses shifted to remote work during COVID, the speed of the transformation left gaping security holes. A lack of remote work policy meant people were using business systems via public WiFi in cafes, and a lack of security provided malicious entities with a wealth of access points.

In addition, cyberattacks have become increasingly advanced this year as entities capitalise on new advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

With business owners starting to assess these security gaps, we expect to see a stronger commitment to IT security to prevent data theft and ensure compliance.

Partner with IT experts you can trust

At Empreus IT, we understand that IT is not your core business but is essential to keeping your business running.

This is why we offer a full suite of IT services – from on-demand IT support to installations, backup and disaster recovery, cloud, IT security, and so much more.

Don’t go it alone in 2021. Partner with trusted IT experts who will work closely with you to assess your IT needs and then take the stress of managing it off your hands.

To chat with us about our IT services, call Empreus IT Support on 6189 1322 or contact us.  

Is Cloud VoIP right for your business?

cloud voip

Is Cloud VoIP right for your business?

Is Cloud VoIP right for your business?

20 Nov, 2018

One of the most essential elements of any business are the lines of communication with customers. For someone to buy from you, they need to be able to reach you, ask you questions, and place an order with you.

If they can’t do that, they will surely find a competing business to buy from instead.

If you’re a micro business owner, you probably list your mobile as the main contact number. However as you grow, the need for a landline grows too. It allows you to keep your mobile number more private, and gives your business credibility while helping you appear more established.

To get a landline, you have three options:

  • Standard public telephone network
  • VoIP
  • Cloud VoIP

Option three is the latest addition to the telecoms industry, but is already receiving rave reviews from business owners keen to implement a reliable solution at a low cost.

What is Cloud VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. This means that rather than making a phone call though a standard phone line, you are making it over the internet.

VoIP systems are usually managed via a small box that sits in your office and is connected to your internet line. The box allows you to configure your settings, and manage incoming and outgoing calls.

Cloud VoIP, however, allows you to configure and manage your VoIP remotely, so you can access it anytime, anywhere.

Why Cloud VoIP?

It’s cheaper. When you’re building a business from the ground up, you know how important it is to offer a great service while keeping overheads low.

The biggest benefit of Cloud VoIP is that it is a lot cheaper than most other landline options. Cloud VoIP can cost as little as $25 per month, compared to the standard public telephone network (PSTN) which is usually more than $50 per month.

PSTN plans also cost you line rental plus the cost of each telephone call you make in the month. With Cloud VoIP, most plans offer all calls for free – so you only ever pay for the cost of the number and no more.

You can access it remotely. The benefits of Cloud VoIP are the same as the benefits of Cloud technology in general – it doesn’t require onsite hardware, costs less to get started, and allows you to make changes (such as add new numbers, set up a diversion, check incoming and outgoing calls, and so on) from wherever you are.

If you use an IT Support company to manage this for you, the absence of an onsite visit usually means this can get sorted faster and cheaper.

It scales and moves easily. In the case of a standard landline, you pay to rent the line. In the case of Cloud VoIP, you are paying to rent the number. So adding new numbers as you grow (or removing them if you downsize) is simple and painless.

It’s also very easy to scale geographically. I.e.: you don’t need to get a new landline installed if you open a new or second office – you simply setup your phones and can add new numbers whenever you need them.

You can also choose any area code you want – without having to be in that area.

Other benefits that are possible through certain Cloud VoIP providers include:

  • Call centre additions. Some Cloud VoIP providers offer real-person call taking services.
  • Better monitoring. You can quickly and easily view call logs, times, phone numbers, etc. You may even be able to request call to email transcription.
  • Many VoIP services allow users to answer calls directly from their computer, or have them quickly and cost-effectively routed to a mobile. Voicemails can be sent by email, or transcribed to text messages.
  • Some Cloud VoIP systems integrate easily with other software, so you can integrate with other communications platforms, such as video conferencing.

To get Cloud VoIP for your business, or to find out more, give Empreus IT a call on (02) 6189 1322.

5 simple steps to upgrading IT

IT upgrades

5 simple steps to upgrading IT

5 simple steps to upgrading IT

24 Jul, 2018

 

If you’ve headed into the new financial year with a good idea of how you’re going to budget for IT expansion or upgrades, you may be wondering how to go about implementing them.

We regularly help our clients upgrade their hardware and software, to ensure that it:

  • Meets their business needs
  • Continues to run smoothly
  • Stays up to date with the latest functionality

Most importantly, we want to ensure that the data is protected, and minimise the risk of hardware failure leading to loss of files, no access to software, and so on.

There are five simple steps to follow when planning to upgrade IT. And this proactive approach can save you a ton of money in the long run, as opposed to waiting until something breaks and then rushing (and paying whatever it takes) to get it fixed.

  1. Audit

There’s no way to know what needs to change, unless you know the state of what you have now.

We can help you do a full IT site audit to ascertain:

  • All of your hardware
  • All of your software
  • How you use them (IT systems) to achieve business goals

We never make recommendations to fix things that don’t need to be fixed – our goal is to ensure continuity and help you take a staged approach to upgrades that is both affordable and achievable.

  1. Options

As part of a staged approach to upgrades, together we can work out what needs to change as a matter of urgency.

This might include various parts (such as cabling), devices (laptops, desktops), your server, or your software.

If you want to get a finance equipment loan, we can point you in the right direction. It’s also important to remember that equipment under a certain amount is an instant tax deduction. You can chat to your accountant to find out how to make this work best for you.

Once we know what you need, we can present you with options depending on what you want to achieve now and across the next 5 years.

  1. Plan

When you’re running a busy business, and relying on IT to help you deliver for your customers, you can’t just switch everything off in the middle of the day.

Depending on what is being upgraded, we will work with you to understand how we can minimise interruptions to your business.

If the upgrade also represents change, we will need a plan on how to help train/manage this change with staff. Software upgrades in particular can cause a few teething problems as people get used to the “new way of doing things”, so we want this transition to be as fast and as smooth as possible.

  1. Upgrade

Following the plan we have created, we will perform the upgrades and walk you through everything that has been changed.

Every time we tick off an upgrade, it should be 4-5 years before you will need to revisit it again.

If you become aware of software upgrades that you would like (rather than need) to install in the interim, we can help you make the change.

  1. Manage

You’ll get the best return on investment with your new IT upgrades if you effectively manage them.

For hardware, this can mean a yearly clean to ensure dust does not accumulate and increase the risk of an electrical fire.

For software, this can mean performing updates, acting as a helpdesk for employees, backing up data, and securing it against cyberattacks so your information is not compromised.

Ask us about our managed IT services, which can help you take care of all of this.

Upgrading IT does not need to be a hassle, and with the right IT professional, you can rest assured that it is in their capable hands while you focus on doing what you do best.

Remember – a proactive approach to upgrades can save you a lot of time, money and stress in the long run – and give you the confidence that the systems you rely on so heavily to conduct your business will continue to support you!

To chat with us about a 5 step plan to upgrading your IT systems, please call (02) 6189 1322 or contact us now.

Why we partner with experts

ICT partnerships

Why we partner with experts

Why we partner with experts

25 Feb, 2018

At Empreus IT, we value the knowledge and experience of experts. We could, as is common in the IT world, hire a collection of generalists and claim to do everything well. Instead, we believe in partnering with specialist organisations that can deliver solutions to our clients at a level that far exceeds their expectations.

Currently, Empreus IT is partnered with:

  • Ricoh Commercial ACT
  • IPC Solutions

Both organisations offer invaluable expertise and specialist tools that allow us to offer a broader range of products and services to our clients, while ensuring that they receive the best advice and equipment to achieve their business objectives.

Ricoh Commercial ACT

Ricoh Commercial ACT is a renowned printer company that supplies a complete range of printers, projectors, interactive whiteboards, digital cameras, digital sign in pads, and unified communication systems (i.e.: for video conferencing).

Our partnership with Ricoh Commercial ACT allows us to purchase their products on behalf of our clients, and receive exclusive support from a company that specialises in manufacturing high quality commercial hardware that supports business operations.

IPC Solutions

IPC Solutions provides VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone and teleconferencing solutions. Their server or cloud-based VoIP systems enable our clients to use the internet as a medium for telephone calls, which can be very cost effective and makes it easy to scale the number of incoming lines as the business grows.

Our partnership allows Empreus IT to implement quality VoIP systems in our clients’ workplaces that are effective, reliable and utilise the latest VoIP tech advances.

Our expertise

By focussing on what we do best, Empreus IT is able to provide a high level of service across:

Our expertise centres on the set-up and management of IT in the workplace. We do not proclaim to create our own technical devices or software. But we have immense respect for those who do, and appreciate our clients’ needs to utilise those devices and software within their workplace.

By partnering with Ricoh and IPC Solutions, we are able to extend those product offerings to our clients, while drawing on our knowledge and deep understanding of how they should be installed and managed, to create a holistic solution for all Empreus IT customers.

For more information about Ricoh or IPC Solutions products, or to discuss your IT needs, please call Empreus IT Support on (02) 6189 1322 or contact us now.

How to choose the best laptop or computer

which laptop is the best?

How to choose the best laptop or computer

How to choose the best laptop or computer

18 Jan, 2018

When you’re looking for a new laptop or computer, wading through all of the options can be painstaking. And when you do eventually find one you like, how do you know whether it will perform as well as you need it to?

Here is Empreus IT Support’s guide for choosing the best laptop or computer to suit your needs:

Brand

If you’ve just begun searching for a new laptop or computer, chances are your first thought is “Which brand is the best?”

In reality, the brand you choose is less important than the hardware it has in it. Of course, there are brands that have developed a solid reputation for exceptional quality over time, such as Apple and Asus. Then you have a number of dependable brands that tend to sit in the mid-level price range, such as:

  • Dell
  • Lenovo
  • HP

Finally, brands such as Acer have focussed on targeting a wider range of the market with lower cost machines. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the quality is going to be less. It all depends on the hardware you find inside it.

You could be trawling through brand reviews for hours, but it’s likely you’ll end up even more confused than when you began. Some people will say they’ve had terrible issues with Lenovo, others will say they wouldn’t buy any other brand. Some will say Acer is cheap, others will say their machine is still going strong after 8 years. Some will say Asus is overpriced, others will say it’s the top of the range.

So rather than searching based on brand, search based on capability. Then when you find a particular brand, model and make of laptop or computer you like, you can search for online reviews before purchasing. But starting a search based on brand alone is almost guaranteed to waste your time.

Screen Size

The generic screen size for a laptop is 15.6 inches. Finding a bigger screen size is rare, but there are a few brands that make 17 inches and larger. You can also find a variety of laptops with smaller screen sizes ranging from 10-15 inches.

The size you choose depends entirely on your personal preference.

If it stays at home most of the time, then any size should be fine (keep in mind that smaller screens can get tricky if you have vision problems). Alternatively, if you use it for school or work you may wish to opt for a smaller screen size which often means a smaller and lighter machine.

The same is true for 2 in 1 laptops that can be folded flat (like a tablet), or ones that swivel (for presentations, and so on). Think about what you’re going to be using it for, and choose the option that best suits your needs.

CPU (Central Processing Unit)

Now we’re getting to what really matters when choosing a new computer or laptop!

If you don’t know much about hardware, it can be tricky working out why some machines are $500, and look exactly the same as other machines worth $4000.

When we talk about CPU, we’re talking about the unit that sits inside your machine and processes every command. There are two major brands of CPU: Intel and AMD. Both follow a “ranking system” when it comes to their power:

Intel Celeron, Pentium or Atom / AMD E2 or Sempron: These processors are generally designed to do one task at a time. I.e.: if you’re browsing the net, you’re just browsing the net. If you’re using Word or Excel, you’re just using Word or Excel. When you begin opening up more applications (or multiple web pages at a time), they begin to slow down and may freeze.

If you only use your laptop for browsing the internet or typing something up, one of these processors will suit you fine.

i3 / AMD Ryzen 3 or Athlon 4: These processors are designed to handle 1-2 applications at a time, so you can multi-task (such as researching and writing). However, once you begin opening 5 or 6 applications, they will slow down and may freeze.

i3 processors are generally great for university students, or as a second machine for business people on the go.

i5 or AMD Ryzen 5: i5 processors are great for multi-tasking and can handle 3 or more standard applications at a time, without slowing down or freezing up.

i7 or AMD Ryzen 7: Top of the range for standard laptops and computers (they do make an i9 though this is mainly for high end gaming and servers).

An i7 / Ryzen 7 processor will handle multiple applications at the same time and is ideal for online gaming, streaming and just about anything else you want to do on your computer.

Hard drive

Your hard drive is where all of your information is stored.

There are two main types of hard drives: HDD (hard disk drive) and SSD (solid state drive). HDDs have a spindle that spins and reads the data. With SSD, there are no moving components – it’s a circuit board with data storage chips attached.

Generally, SSD will always perform better. This is because it does not have to “boot up” and use energy to get the hard drive spinning. It’s also less likely to break if you drop or damage your laptop.

Very cheap laptops often have “eMMC” storage. Keep in mind that these can be very, very slow.

Hard drive storage

Another figure you’ll come across is the amount of storage on the hard drive, i.e.: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and even 1TB.

Hard drive storage refers to the amount of “space” you have to store files and software on your computer.

If you are just using your laptop for web browsing, some images, and a few documents then 128GB is plenty. If you plan to store a heap of photos, movies or documents then you’ll need to look for 256GB or more.

You can always opt for a machine with lower storage, and then purchase a separate hard drive too if you prefer.

RAM (Random Access Memory)

RAM relates to a machine’s “short term memory”. When you turn your computer on, it loads the operating system and other applications, as well as the ones you open, into RAM.

If the RAM or “short term memory” fills up, the processor needs to go back to “long term memory” (your hard disk), which can slow your computer’s speed.

RAM doesn’t run out, but the less it needs to draw on the hard disk to refresh, the faster your machine will run. The minimum RAM you’ll find on current laptops and computers is 2GB, though most will have 4GB.

Ideally, if you’re after faster speed, look for a machine with 8GB of RAM. It will run smoother and free up system resources to allow for better performance. You can get more than 8GB of RAM, but it’s often not needed for a general-use computer.

Remember: at the end of the day, the best computer or laptop is the one that suits your needs.

If you are an occasional user who just likes to browse the internet, scroll through Facebook, or type a document, then an inexpensive machine with the following should suit you fine:

  • Intel Celeron processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • HDD with 500GB of storage space

If you are a student or you’re using it for work, opt for:

  • i3 or i5 / Ryzen 3 or 5
  • SSD, 256GB storage
  • 8GB RAM

And if you’re on your computer all the time, using multiple applications or playing games, you’ll need to spend a little bit more for an:

  • i7 or Ryzen 7
  • SSD, 256GB
  • 2 TB HDD
  • Graphics card GTX 1050 or Radeon RX460/560
  • At least 8GB RAM

Also, note that CPU and graphics cards on laptops are built with slower speeds and power compared to a desktop version of the same model.

For IT support, IT installations, software and security and more, please call Empreus IT Support on (02) 6189 1322 or contact us now.