Summary: IT consultants can make or break your business.

One of the first things that you need to consider when hiring an IT consultant is what their employment status will be. Lay out the fundamentals of what you’re hiring him for. This is crucial when it comes to any legal issues that may arise.

It’s also important for companies to correctly determine whether the IT consultant is an employee or an independent contractor and follow through with the appropriate Social Security and Medicare contributions.

Relationship

If you’re going the route of using an IT staffing service as opposed to the independent contractor, they can help determine who’s right for your company. Be sure that you consider three different categories such as: behavioral, financial, and type of relationship. These all tie in together when it comes down to how your consultant will work in your company.

Protect Yourself In the Case of an Issue

It’s also key to protect your intellectual property. If a consultant holds your social media account hostage because of contractual issues, you’re probably going to have some difficulties when it comes to getting back what you need to run your business smoothly. This is why it’s so important that your company receives the IT consultant’s services address IP up front. Never forget to do this.

Prioritize the Interview Process

It consultants are often tied to core businesses. Be sure that you conduct a thorough interview like you would a regular employee. You want to be sure that the consultant can do what he claims he can along with other factors that play a role in determining whether he’s a good fit or not.

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Bad news for Microsoft, the non-profit consumer advocacy group Consumer Reports has pulled its recommendations for Microsoft’s Surface line of products. The withdrawal of its recommendation centers around what the group cites as the worst failure rate in the industry.

Consumer Reports conducts its surveys, and in a recent poll of 90,000 laptop and tablet owners, found that at least 25% of owners had issues with their devices before the end of the second year of ownership. According to the publication, the failure rate is the worst in the industry when taking the mainstream manufacturers into account.

As you would expect, Microsoft vehemently disagrees with the assessment:

“Every generation of Surface surpasses its predecessors in performance and in reliability,” a Microsoft statement claims. “Surface return and support rates are in line if not lower than industry average for devices in the same class. We are committed to ensuring the premium Surface experience for all of our customers across the entire family of devices.”

Since the launch of the Surface line of products, Microsoft enjoyed an outsized amount of positive coverage. The coverage compared the innovation compared to traditional PC makers and Apple. Several industry leaders dispute that characterization, citing innovation by PC makers for years that did not get the same level of attention.

The Consumer Reports statement reads: “Due to its comparatively higher breakage rate, Microsoft laptops cannot be recommended by Consumer Reports at this time.” The organization believes that the reliability issues made Microsoft “a statistical outlier compared to other brands.”


There are many issues that could affect an organization’s IT infrastructure. None are worse than network connectivity issues. Almost every other problem will have a very clear cause. Internet connectivity is usually a problem that should be escalated to an ISP. Mail flow, server issues are mostly self-contained problems. Network connectivity issues are often caused by causes very difficult to identify. Here are some of the more common causes and remedies:

Broadcast storm

The typical computer network produced a lot of broadcast traffic. This is amplified when someone inadvertently connects one network outlet directly to another. This is not uncommon and has brought down several large networks. The only way to rule it out is to do a visual inspection of every network outlet on the premises.

Faulty device

There are a lot of network devices connected to a computer network. In recent times that list has grown from mostly computers to include IP phones, IP cameras, Printers, multi-function devices, etc. When one of these devices malfunctions, there can be network connectivity issues. The fastest way to isolate the device is to run the network will all extra devices powered down. Then power them on systematically and monitor.

DHCP

Every computer network should have only one DHCP server. A DHCP server hands out IP addresses to devices on the network. The problems start when there is more than one DHCP handing out addresses. This means that some devices get the right IP, with the others losing network access and access to services. There are applications which monitor a network and alert when a rogue DHCP server is detected.


Systems administrators spend a lot of their time attending to periodic tasks. These tasks range from preventative maintenance to simple report generation. None of this is a problem until there is a critical issue that needs attention. The time spent on resolving any issues is the time that cannot be spent attending to these periodic tasks. The simplest and most efficient way is to automate as much of the regular tasks as possible. Here are two options for automating system administration tasks:

PowerShell

In a mostly Windows environment, PowerShell is a powerful scripting language that will allow most common tasks. There are modules that add support for Active Directory, Windows Server Backup, DHCP, DNS, and almost every service provided by Microsoft. The version of PowerShell varies depending on the version of Windows, although upgrades are available for older systems.

Python

Python is a popular programming language among systems administrators. There are courses specific to systems and network automation, which will teach you what you need specifically for those environments. Many systems have built-in API’s (application programming interfaces). You can use these API’s to extract data from the system without any human intervention. This way you can combine data from several systems to produce reports or dashboards.

These are the two most common languages used when it comes to automating systems tasks. It is even possible to combine both. When set on a schedule, it is as simple as setting and forgetting, freeing up time for other more important tasks.


gigatech-2-novConnecting an unprotected computer to the internet these days is dangerous. Even visiting the wrong website once can mean a compromised computer. Here is a step by step guide to protecting a computer from the dangers of the internet:

Antivirus

The first step is to make sure to install a virus scanner, or in the case of Windows 10, use Windows Defender. It is the most capable free virus scanner available and in future will use AI to detect threats as they happen.

Firewall

The next step is to secure the computer with a firewall. Again, every OS now comes with a built-in firewall. Just ensure that everything except the ports and applications you use is open. There are detailed guides for setting up a personal firewall.

Browsers

Google Chrome is currently the most secure browser. In addition, there are add-ons that will prevent popups and other links from opening in the background. There are also other plugins that block trackers and ad networks.

Updates

This is one of the most annoying for users but is also the most important. Keeping the computer up to date will ensure that malware that relies on older vulnerabilities will be negated. Update both the operating system and all the applications.

Networks

In the case of laptops and phones, only connect to known wireless networks. Especially when it comes to coffee shops and hotels. Make sure you are connecting to the right network as there are rogue networks meant to intercept your data as it goes through