AVG Cloudcare – the best choice for business

avg-cloud-care-business-antivirusAVG CloudCare is the latest system to manage computer security across an entire organisation making management, updating and monitoring a simple task for any business.

Having individual security programs installed on all of your networked machines is a real pain to manage. Each machine must be regularly updated and scan results reviewed to ensure your business is remaining safe whilst on the internet. AVG cloudcare does away with the need to manage individual machines by providing a management interface which allows an administrator (or if you prefer we can manage this for you) to perform actions across all of the machines at once. From this central interface you have the option to:

  • update AVG on all machines
  • set scheduled scans (maybe at a time when the machines are not in use)
  • manage firewall rules for each machine or for the organisation as a whole
  • review any alerts or warnings from any machine
  • schedule reports for management to review
  • block access to specific websites either per PC or across all machines

In addition to this there is a free remote support package built in, allowing an administrator to remotely log into any machine to perform maintenance or to help with a problem the user has.

Another feature business owners find very attractive is the monthly pay as you go billing which means you only pay for the machines that are using the program and there is no minimum subscription which could leave you unprotected if the subscription expires. In addition to all of these great features AVG CloudCare is very well priced starting at only £2 per machine per month, making it much cheaper than most of it’s competitors.

As an approved AVG Reseller why not contact us to discuss your needs and get a quote tailored to your needs

Free Software

Free vs paid applications, how to choose software

Free SoftwareIn many aspects of computing, when searching for a program, you are offered both free and paid versions of what sound like similar products and choosing between them can be difficult. There are a few key points to understand in this area which may help you make your decision but unfortunately there is no clear answer for all cases.

Paid or Premium Software

Software which you have to pay for upfront should be highly developed and effective. By following this business pattern the software house who produced it can keep a team of skilled software engineers on their payroll and the software on which they are working should get better and better as time goes on. They will be able to afford more extensive testing and evaluation procedures and this should result in benefits to their users, obviously some teams are better than others but if they have steady reliable source of income they have the means to make continuous improvements.

Paid software will normally have more features than their free counterparts but, depending on the user, this can be a blessing or a curse. Advanced options and features are only worthwhile if you have the need for them and you understand how to use them. In some cases poor configuration of good software can render it almost useless, I am talking mainly about security software here but the analogy works for a lot of different software.

Does expensive mean better? There are people who think that if they have paid a lot for their software it will do everything for them and they will not have to know anything about it, I would say this is rarely the case. Cost is no substitute for understanding. If you are paying for a program you know is highly regarded and you are planning on using the features it offers then there is probably no free alternative that can give you the same set of features and confidence. Another benefit of paying for software is you know you will not be harassed into handing over money in other ways as a lot of the free software on offer is given away as a way of enticing (or occasionally duping) the user into paying in other ways like giving over information, signing up with partner companies or upgrading to a better version of that package. When looking at this from a business point of view the time wasted by employees having to cancel nag screens and having their workflow stifled by the limitations of some of the free software makes it a false economy and paying upfront would in the end be cheaper.

Free or Open Source Software

While you may think these terms are interchangeable they are very much not. Free software is something where the cost is not upfront but remember companies who do not make money cannot exist for long! So called free software has to make money for its developers in one way or another and if you can see the means by which is goes about this then you can weigh up the pro’s and con’s to decide if it is for you. Some of the methods free software uses to cover its costs are:

  • Trial Versions – these can either be feature limited or time limited but rarely are the limitations made as clear as the promotional material you may encounter about the same software. This approach ranges from an honest and open trial run to see if the system fits your needs, giving you time to fully evaluate it before making a choice with your wallet to suddenly being hit by a warning that you have limited time left before the software you have invested hours into configuring and learning will just cease to work. Where a software is feature limited you really need to know what features you will and will not receive before installing it, there are a number of “system cleaners” out there claiming to be free and they are to a point; You can download for free, install for free, scan for free, see your errors for free but if you want to fix any of those errors you have to pay first. If, on the other hand you know you are getting all the basic functionality you need and you have the option of upgrading later to get more and probably better features then it could make a fine choice
  • Browser hijacking, search hijacking, data collection- some less reputable software can act a little more than a front for the real revenue maker of its parent company. Many small, seemingly fun apps are conceived from the question of: “how can we get our software (possibly tracking or data collection software) onto as many machines as possible” and they may decide the answer is to release something simple like a animated mouse cursor or a app to add more emoticons to chat programs. If you notice you computer behaving in a different way, being slower, searching with different search engines, popping odd messages up onto your desktop, then think about what you have done on that machine recently, a simple innocent sounding application may be up to no good behind the scenes.

The programs and developer types I have mentioned so far are all commercial in nature and being able to see how a company makes its money should help to reassure you they are not up to anything underhanded. If you cant see how a company is making money from you walk away, because ultimately if you are not worth anything to them financially they would not be dealing with you. Open source if a different ethos on the whole.

The term “open source” means that the source code (the lines of code which make up a computer program) is open and available for all to see and in most cases modify if they have the knowledge and inclination. As with everything in life this has advantages and disadvantages. Many open source developers come from background of working with the Linux operating system, while Linux is not free in all it’s forms it still remains the only major full operating system capable of giving the best that Microsoft can produce, a run for its money. Linux was born in the 60’s and has always maintained the ethos that knowledge should be free in all its forms and many free software projects are based on this same idea.

Some open source projects

These are all popular open source projects

Research shows that many of the people who give up their time to work on creating free software for the public are also employed during the day to do much the same thing. Why would someone give

away at night what they get paid for by day? Many reasons, including personal enjoyment of the project they are working on, the experience of working with different technically proficient individuals and belief in the idea that knowledge should be free and accessible to all. Some benefits of the open source ethos, directly because of how the software is made, are:

  • quick to respond – as the technical landscape changes over time software and hardware have to keep pace. If a small commercial company have put out a piece of software that you find invaluable but did not sell well for them, then when a new operating system or new virus comes along which requires the program be updated they would not be able to put the time in to do so. If, however, the program is developed by people who are passionate about it then they will put the time in.
  • more secure – while this is not a blanket promise about all open source software it holds true in most cases. If a company wanted to put a backdoor into their program or have it perform tasks behind the scenes that the user is unaware of then they just have to tell the programmers to do so. As open source software makes its source code available for all to see there can be no hiding what it does.
  • more useful features – as open source projects are made by motivated, technical people they are free to include whatever features they want to see in a program, rather than putting out a basic program and then selling add ons and upgrades to it

Of course every silver lining has its cloud and there are some downsides too to bear in mind;

  • less user friendly – often open source software is made by technical people, for technical people and so you may find the learning curve steep with some software
  • compatibility – as open source projects cannot use code or formats which are not also open source there are occasional issues with working alongside other software
  • long term support – projects based on people giving up their time to support them are capable of pulling the plug at any time without warning, while this is rare if you have built a system around a piece of software that suddenly has no more support it could prove troublesome.
  • donations – while this is not a downside most of the time some of these projects rely solely on user donations to keep them functioning (server costs etc) so you may get nagged at to contribute, but then if a piece of free software is useful to you why not send the developer a couple of pounds for a coffee!

In conclusion know that open source, “free” and paid applications have their price in the end, be it in pounds and pence, your valuable personal data or extra time needed to master something. As long as you are well informed and plan ahead you should not encounter any problems but if you need advice on this or any other issue you can always contact ASC Computer Services for help


SSD Hard disk upgrade - Sutton Coldfield

SSD – Upgrade your Hard drive – Computer upgrades in Sutton Coldfield

SSD Hard disk computer upgrades in Sutton ColdfieldIf you want to make your computer run faster and more efficiently, one upgrade option you should not over look is the latest technology within data storage – Solid Sate Hard Drives (SSD) It is one of the most popular computer upgrades in Sutton Coldfield that we are asked about.

Traditional hard disk drives have worked on what is essential gramophone technology since modern computers fist appeared. Disks which contain your information spin round at high speeds while being read by a sensor attached to an arm which travels over the surface of the disk looking for the information required. This obviously uses power to spin the disks and move the arm and this is one of the noises you may be able to hear coming from your computer.

The latest development in the area of physical storage is SSD which use the same basic technology as modern USB flash drives to store information. Some of the advantages of upgrading to an SSD are:

  • faster data read and write speeds
  • lower power consumption
  • less heat production
  • better durability
  • better shock resistance
  • faster boot up and shut down times

Changing your traditional hard drive for a modern SSD can totally transform your user experience in ways you might expect and ways you might not. If your SSD equipped computer can start up in less than 10 seconds, from power on to useable desktop with a browser open, then you can practically abandon functions like sleep mode. Sleep mode puts your computer into a low power state to enable you to get back to your work quickly when returning to the computer, if your computer can start from scratch in the same time as a traditional computer takes to wake from sleep then you can disable sleep mode entirely which will save power and money in the long term.

Installing an SSD in your laptop can improve battery life, prevent it getting so hot, and protect your data should the laptop be dropped – these are all advantages of using a method of data storage which uses no moving parts at all.

Have a look at the following video showing the benefits of SSD’s.

How hard is it to upgrade to an SSD?

While entirely possible for a normal user to install a SSD there are many features and pitfalls which can prevent you achieving the full potential of the upgrade. We offer a full installation and migration service which will take your current installation and data and recreate the same environment on your new SSD utilizing the full power of the upgrade

Are there any disadvantages to SSD’s

Currently SSD hard drive prices (per gigabyte) are considerably higher than traditional hard disks, the total capacities are also lower (average 120 / 256GB SSD’s vs 1000+GB for traditional drives) so depending on your usage and requirements you may need to have more than one drive installed but we can advise you on the best setup for your situation.

We offer a range of performance upgrades for your computer and advice and install on any performance computer upgrades in Sutton Coldfield

Kaspersky Internet Secuirty Image

Three of the best Anti Virus packages for your PC

Kaspersky Internet Secuirty ImageThe huge choice of security packages to keep your PC safe whilst browsing can seem daunting at first.

Here is a quick round up of some of the best paid anti virus and PC security software.



Kaspersky are one of the biggest names in PC security for the home and office. They are a market leader and offer a huge range of products suitable for protecting your PCs at home, work, or even your mobile. They are tried and tested and always perform very well in comparisons with their competitors. With their latest Internet Security suite costing only £39.99, and their basic anti virus costing £29.99 we would suggest that the extra cost is well worth the raft of extra features available to users of the full Internet security suite, best of all Kaspersky offer free trials of their software so you can try before you buy.

Try Kaspersky FREE Today! Click Here.


Avira have won a number of awards this year for their security software which regularly scores a perfect detection rate, simple to use, zero “false positives”, and most importantly of all for some users, low performance overheads. This means that even older computers with less processing power can run the latest Internet Security suite from avaira without any slowdown affecting their normal computer use.

Avira Security Suite

AVG Technologies

AVG have long been the leader in basic free antivirus but in the last few years they have extended their line to offer a more complete Internet Security solution which is very well priced and comes with a huge array of features which make it particularly easy to use. One of the features some find the most useful is the AVG desktop widget which shows a small, unobtrusive widget in the corner of your desktop reassuring you all is well or advising you if any action is required.

Avg is also remarkably discreet, not bothering you with annoying messages and scanning your machine only when it senses you are not actively working on it. This means an end to your computer coming to a grinding halt whenever a virus scan is scheduled. Combine the awards, vast number of features and ease of use with the current discount being offered and this would be a good choice for any machine.

AVG Internet Security 2012 – 20% off!

Dropbox – the best free online storage software

In these days of people regularly using or owning more than 1 computer keeping the files you need close at hand is more important than ever. Introducing Dropbox, easily the best file syncing software available for free.

Dropbox is a simple and elegant solution to keeping your essential files to hand. The programme is installed on as many computers as you wish to use and you create yourself an account. Once you have done this the dropbox folder will show on your machine in My Documents (windows computers) and can be used in the same way as any other folder on your machine.

The beauty of this is that any file which are placed inside your Dropbox will be synced to your online Dropbox account this has 3 main functions:

  1. Backup – the online storage offered by Dropbox is fully encrypted and is not viewable by anyone but yourself or people you have decided to share the files with so it can be used as free online storage to protect your important files
  2. Sharing – your Dropbox folder is automatically synced to as many machines as you have installed the programme on. If you have a work computer and a home computer and need to move files between the two, simply add a file to your Dropbox folder at work and by the time you get home the file will be waiting for you on your home PC ready to work on. You can also elect to share a portion of your Dropbox folder with other Dropbox users, so when you put your holiday pictures in your Dropbox folder they can automatically appear on your relatives computer.
  3. Viewable Anywhere – if you require access to your Dropbox files when you are out and about you can log into your account on any computer connected to the internet and view and download your files. You can also install the Dropbox app for many mobile devices including Andriod, Iphone, Ipad and Blackberry so you can have access to your files anywhere.

Dropbox is available for free with 2GB of online storage (up to 100GB available via subscription) and you can earn extra free storage (up to a max of 8GB) by inviting your friends to use Dropbox too. Dropbox is available for free download for Windows, Mac and Linux via the download button below.

Click to download