26 Oct 2017

What Type of Email Account Do I Need?

Emails are an integral part of our lives these days. Not that long ago we had an email address and felt pretty good about ourselves. We’d log into our work computers and see what the digital world would throw at us. The address was probably something like “sam_jones@myworkplace.com”. Perhaps something from a colleague in a different department requiring your time or perhaps a manager seeking an answer to a business related question. Before long though, you were getting emails from vendors and customers and the world seemed pretty great. This was all very normal.

At home, we may have had an email address provided to us by our service provider which became who we were. “Hello sam437@bigpond.com”. Cool email address!! (Not). For those that were a little more tech savvy, a Hotmail address was the way to go. No more service provider address for me. I shall now be known as “sam_da_man_13@hotmail.com”. Yep. He da man!! And thus the information revolution enters a new chapter. Multiple email addresses and soon after that, multiple devices to view those email addresses on. Let’s take a look at how this all works.

Simple Personal Email Addresses

Having a personal email address is a great idea. Once you have it, it will probably be with you for life. For that reason, it is best NOT to have a personal email address associated with a service provider. It may seem unlikely but that service provider may disappear or more commonly, you may change service providers. You then need to let everyone know that you have a new address. This can be quite disruptive. This is where Hotmail, Gmail, Live, iCloud and numerous others can come into play. Your emails are available via multiple clients, such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Live Mail, Gmail and many others but most importantly, your mail stays in the cloud so that you can access it from multiple devices, anywhere. Perfect. Well, almost perfect. More often than not, you can’t have the name you want because you become a part of a much larger mail system which allows only one of each email address in their vast systems. So if like Sam, you’re happy with sam_da_man_13@hotmail.com, you’re good to go. Also, these services are free!!

If you need multiple addresses or aliases, you are now going to have some limitations. Let’s quickly discuss aliases.

Aliases

An email alias is like having another email address without having to manage another mailbox. It is like a nickname. It still references the same mailbox but with another name. Public Cloud based mail services don’t give you the option of having aliases because, as stated above, you are a part of a much larger email system and the names need to be unique. There are caveats for this in some instances. Gmail for example, allow variations of your email address using . (dots) and + (plus) symbols. Aliases allow you to manage your incoming emails by giving you the ability to filter or group your emails by alias. I’ll explain how in more detail later.

 

Advanced Personal Email Addresses

There may come a time when you need to do more with your personal email address. You may want to create aliases. You may want to better advertise who you are and use your personal email address in blogs or on websites, literature, social media and the like. A new area of technology awaits you. You’re taking control of your email. It’s time for a domain based email address. I won’t be going into types of domains or email address hosting just now but I will be outlining the benefits of this type of email address.

A domain based email address allows you to create multiple email addresses and or aliases that are specific to you or the role you are defining. Sam will never own sam@gmail.com. But, when Sam owns his own domain, let’s call it mydomain.com for simplicity, he can have sam@mydomain.com. He can then have an alias of sam_da_man@mydomain.com (because he’s da man!) and also samuel@mydomain.com for when he is in trouble with his mum. All of these emails will arrive into his sam@mydomain.com mailbox. He can then use rules or filters to seperate them out if needs be.

There is a cost associated with this type of email system. Domains vary in price depending on the type of domain you purchase but $17.50 per year would be around the average price. Your hosting method will cost you also depending on a number of factors but you’d be looking at somewhere between $5.00 to $10.00 per month depending on space and features.

This type of email account also provides you with a launch pad to many other web based services including your own website or blogging site. It’s no fluke that this structure starts to look more like a business email system than a personal one because, it is the structure which businesses should follow to compete in today’s world.

 

Business Email Addresses

I won’t be discussing Enterprise email systems here.

The business email system is designed for use by people working in or running a business. Whether it be a one man tradie or a small business, the concept should remain the same. The purpose of the email address is to allow your customers, vendors and colleagues to easily contact you. Let us start with the sole trader and a very common scenario. I’ll use a fictitious name but we’ve all seen work trucks with a business name, a mobile phone number and an email address. It often looks like, Sam’s Plumbing Service, 0455 555 555 and the email address is samsplumbing@gmail.com . Sam was lucky in this instance to get samsplumbing@gmail.com so, good for him. All of this technically works. It works to a degree. People know that Sam is a plumber and they know how to contact him. They don’t necessarily know exactly the type of plumbing work Sam does but I guess they could ask. Sam has a sidekick with him in the truck named Bill. Bill does some of the quotes for Sam. Sam’s lovely wife, Tara, does his accounts. Bill’s email address is bill_p_231@hotmail.com and tara uses tsmith345@bigpond.com . It all works. It doesn’t necessarily sell the business that well but the lines of communication are there internally. Getting a quote from Bill from Sam’s Plumbing with the email address bill_p_231@hotmail doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about the business nor does getting an invoice from tsmith345@bigpond.com . This could be remedied so easily with a few little and inexpensive steps.

Firstly the domain. samsplumbing.com.au . ✔

Secondly the hosting platform for where the emails will live. ✔

Define the email addresses and aliases :

sam@samsplumbing.com.au . ✔

bill@samsplumbing.com.au . ✔

accounts@samsplumbing.com.au . ✔

The email infrastructure is now in place and it’s time to update the business cards and the truck but before we do that, we now have another piece of marketing available to us. The website. That isn’t the topic here but the flow on from this is that www.samsplumbing.com.au is now available to advertise the business also.

 

Do you need to change the way your personal emails are set up?

Does your business sound like Sam’s?

Contact us today and we’ll set you up with all you need.




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14 Aug 2017

A Guide to Isolating PC Problems

We’ve all been there. Your computer is just not working the way it is supposed to. Files are not opening. The internet or network is slow. Applications are crashing. Why me!! Why today!! Before you throw the computer out the window or frantically ring your IT Support people, ask yourself the following:

 

Is this the first time the problem has happened?

Does the problem happen regularly?

Does the problem happen with only one application?

Does the problem happen at a particular time of day?

Can I duplicate or demonstrate the problem?

Have I rebooted and does the problem remain?

Do other people have the same problem?

Has anything changed recently that might be causing the problem?

Are there any error messages?

 

Once you’ve gone through all of these questions without a satisfactory solution, raise it with your IT Support people.

 

When raising the issue with IT, be specific. Suggesting that the PC doesn’t work or is slow, does not provide enough information for your IT guru to help you. Use the answers to the above questions to phrase your problem. This will give your support person the best chance to solve your issue quickly.

Make a note of things that do not seem normal, even something that may not appear to be related. The more information you can provide, the quicker you’ll be back up and running.

 

A quick note about applications crashing and killing tasks.

When your computer is running, the RAM (memory, not to be confused with disk space) is loaded with information. This memory is broken into areas called address spaces. This is where your operating system lives and your applications run, among a host of other important processes. The total of these address spaces is the total amount of RAM you have, including free space which is yet to be used. If you haven’t rebooted your computer for a long period of time, these address spaces become fragmented and your computer’s performance will suffer. Rebooting might address an issue where the computer is running slowly. If an application crashes or you kill a task (Force Quit in OS X or Task Manager in Windows), you risk corrupting your computer’s memory. If a corruption occurs, other applications may crash or your computer could lock up, blue screen (Windows) or randomly reboot. Once you’ve experienced a program crashing or you’ve had to kill a task, you should keep in the back of your mind that, at some point, you should reboot your computer. This will clear your computer’s RAM and load everything fresh, ready for you to start with a clean slate and hopefully, avoid problems which may arise.

 

Happy computing!!

 

 

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30 Dec 2016

Your Digital Real Estate

If you live in Sydney and hear the words “real estate” you are likely to get heart palpitations and need to sit down. Buying into real estate can be daunting for some and near impossible for others. Your little piece of planet Earth might as well be on Mars because that is how difficult it could be. However, you can still stake your claim in the digital real estate world. I’m not talking about a virtual reality house either. I’m talking about securing your place within the digital landscape. In the world of business, if you don’t have your domain secured, your emails sorted and your website done, then you are being left behind. This is essentially the starting point for being a landlord in the technology of the cloud.

It’s About the Domain

Before you can have a presence in the digital world, you will need a domain. Your domain is your address. It is how people see you and find you. A domain name is a registered entity that represents your business, your organisation, your club or you, as an individual, to name but a few. Let’s stick primarily to business. In Australia, most businesses get a .com.au address. The name of the domain must be in some way associated to your business name and you’ll need an ABN to get one. You can opt for a .com address which isn’t as strict in obtaining but you may find it is taken by an overseas company with the same name. If you are an organisation you might look at a .org.au name or if you provide an internet based service or similar, you may look at a .net.au. There are quite a few others but we’ll leave those for another day. You might also secure multiple domain names for strategic purposes. Your business may be known by several names or nicknames or you may want to prevent a competitor from taking the address if it is available. The expense is minuscule in the scheme of things when it comes to running a solid business.

I Have My Domain!! Now What?

Once your domain is registered, the sky is the limit. Sky .. Cloud .. See what I did there! Your domain name is the first step in getting your emails set up and your hosting space secured. With these in place you are now addressable to the digital world anywhere, any time. You can now own email addresses like albert@thebestplumber.com.au or reception@cloningsheep.com.au. These email addresses are distinctive, efficient and represent your business so much better than albert3421@gmail.com or sheepreception@hotmail.com. There now becomes very clear lines to join the world of social media, blogging and business networking all revolving around your business name and your domain.

You now have your very own piece of Digital Real Estate. Sow the seeds of technology and watch it grow!!

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30 Dec 2016

What is the Cloud?

The “Cloud” is a technical term that a lot of people use but can’t clearly define. In reality, once you strip away the technical jargon, it’s essentially your data and/or processing power running from somewhere other than your local device, whether that be your phone, laptop or even TV. Looking at the picture above you can begin to see how the evolution of the cloud has impacted services from email and security to finance and social media.

One example that I find a lot of people can relate to is taking a picture on your phone. When you take a picture, it is stored on your phone’s internal memory. However, when you upload that picture to Facebook you’re uploading it to the cloud. Another example that I normally talk about is Netflix; when you’re watching movies or TV shows from Netflix, you are streaming them directly from the cloud.

How can working in the cloud benefit my business?

Moving some or all of your workforce and business software into the cloud provides some short and long term benefits. Short term, you can expect to see an increase in performance and overall usability as you are no longer bound by your office email server or slow website. You can also expect to see more efficient workflows evolve out of what you’ve always done and a drop in capital expenditure. Long term you can expect to see a lower overall cost in a 1:1 comparison but don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending more on technology after moving, just remember to check if this increase is in line with your revenue and profit increases as well.

Now the above statements are true if a few assumptions are found correct. The first is that you’re infrastructure can support or be upgraded to support working from the cloud, specifically your internet connection. Your connection needs to be fast enough to handle your software or services in the cloud. Second, you and your work force are willing to go through a learning curve as some of your workflows and day to day processes might change. Third, I’m assuming you’ve found the right solution whether that be through working with a partner or doing the research yourself.

Final note

Whether your an existing business with decades behind you or a start up looking to scale, the cloud is something that you can’t simply ignore. If you haven’t already started moving to the cloud, I’d highly recommend investing some time and looking into it; you’d be surprised what it can do for you and your business.

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21 Dec 2016

The Importance of Social Media in Small Business

Every small business in Australia needs to be using social media. Period. If you think it’s a passing fad or that the social media bubble will eventually burst, your business will join the thousands of others with dwindling profit margins and fewer clients/prospects. In the good old days you worked with your Yellow Pages sales rep to get the best page and best graphics, those days are fortunately gone and you can now move into the social media space with little to no investment (other than time).

Here are just a few reasons why social media is so important for your small business

It will help you connect with your clients and prospects

The social media marketing channel isn’t the same as traditional, one way marketing. With the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn you can have a conversation with your clients and the people that are interested in your product/business. This might scare some people but being open, honest and conversational is what the current consumer is after. They’ll view you as someone they trust, and people buy from people they trust.

Your customers are already using it

Your customers are people. Whether you’re business-to-business or business-to-customer, the people that buy from you are exactly that, they’re people. And what are people doing more than ever? They are using social media to connect, communicate and disseminate information. They are talking about your business, whether that be in a negative or positive way regardless if you like it or not, so you might as well be involved in the conversation.

It will give you a competitive edge

As I said in my first line, every small business needs to be using social media but the simple truth is that not everyone is and if they are, they aren’t doing it very well. Getting your small business out there in industries that are yet to be involved makes you instantly more visible.

Social media isn’t just for the Fortune 500 (as a matter of fact the majority of those companies are falling behind because they are still spending eighty billion dollars a year on 30 second television commercials that people either fast forward or simply grab their phones and flick through, you guessed it… social media.

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21 Dec 2016

It’s just email, or is it?

Emails have been around for decades now. We expect them, we rely on them, we love them and we hate them. And SPAM!!! That’s another topic for another day, but in this world of ‘staying in touch’, we have multiple devices which can store our precious emails. We tend to have more than one email account these days and it can be as simple as a work one and a personal one or it can be as complex as multiple work ones and multiple personal ones with multiple providers on multiple platforms. The question is, how do we manage all of these streams of information?

Where Are My Emails?

Firstly we need to consider the type of emails we can have. In brief, we have cloud or server based emails and we have emails downloaded to our devices.

Cloud or server based emails reside on a server somewhere, whether hosted by a provider or at a workplace. They remain there and you either view them or get a copy of them on your device. Exchange, IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), Webmail, Gmail and Hotmail are examples of this.

Downloaded emails are generally POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3). Although an old method of getting emails it is still very popular.

The Pros and Cons

Both types of email have their pros and cons but cloud based email systems allow you to be better organised. When used on multiple devices, such as your PC, laptop or smart phone, you can view both the sent and received emails on all devices at any time. When you want to use folders or rules, any changes or settings you apply from one device, will function on all of your devices. If you move or delete an email on one device, it is immediately reflected on all devices.

POP3 emails are downloaded from a provider onto your device. You can get them on multiple devices only if the accounts are set up to leave a copy on the server either indefinitely or for a period of time as defined by default or by the user. The main issue with this across multiple devices is that sent items aren’t shared and items read or deleted on one device are not read or deleted on another.

What Does This Mean For Me?

Cloud Horizon are well versed with all types of email systems and we’ll recommend an email architecture that will best suit your personal and/or business needs. If you have any questions around your email or aren’t happy with your current provider contact us and we’ll be happy to help!

Happy Emailing!!!

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21 Dec 2016

A New Website and New Initiatives

As 2016 comes to a close, Cloud Horizon have a few exciting things to announce!

We’ve been working feverishly in the background to get our new website up and running and as you can see it looks a bit different than the original. We built this website with the aim of being easy to use and easy to read; as with anything we do, feedback is welcome and if you see something you love and would like something similar incorporated into your own website just let us know.

In addition to the website, we’ve also expanded key business partnerships with the likes of Sophos, cPanel and Atlasssian. We’ve done this to provide our current clients and potential new ones with even better service and options, allowing us to be a true one stop shop for any and all technology needs.

Finally, we have some exciting news and are happy to announce the merger of Technobyte into Cloud Horizon Pty Ltd. This merger is very exciting for us as it means that we can work with a wider range of customers and grow without losing the relationships that we’ve developed over the years. Some benefits of this merger will include additional staff and contact points for existing clients, faster service and overall system performance as we’ve been able to pool resources to build the best platform possible. The official merger date is January 1st 2017 but existing clients may have already noticed that invoices have changed; if you have any questions around these changes please don’t hesitate to contact us.

With that, Cloud Horizon would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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