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Frequently asked IT questions… and of course the answers.

There are many questions that frequently come up regarding IT and we pride ourselves in having a supportive team to provide the answers to your questions. However we also thought it may be helpful to provide some of the most frequent questions along with the corresponding answers here on the FAQ section of our website.

What are the different types of Microsoft licencing and how do I choose the right one?

Volume licences without software assurance = perpetual licence, but stays on the version that you purchased.  Registered online and may be transferred between machines, used at home and permitted on remote desktop.

Volume licence with Software Assurance, sometimes payments spread over three years = updates up until the three year SA contract expires, remains perpetual from then onwards (i.e. you are licenced to continue using it)

Microsoft 365 – a subscription licences to both online and on-premise software that you do not own, but always updated.  Low cost per month.

Microsoft 365 Volume – a subscription licence that is provided by the dealer, but paid annually in advance.  Can be cheaper than subs. Enterprise licences are permitted on remote desktop – i.e. E3 and Office Pro Plus.

Microsoft 365 CSP – More flexible than the 365 direct to Microsoft model in which the dealer bills the client.  Very similar pricing applies, but in the case where different companies within a group need billing separately for users within 1 tenant, this works well.  Can be charged at less than retail subject to volume.

Yellow box – “OEM” – cheapest office licence (e.g. Home & Business) , hard to manage in corporate environment, licenced per PC.  Few rights other than to use on that PC.  Not permitted on remote desktop.

What are the different types of Microsoft 365 Subscription available?
What is a SAN?

A SAN is a shared storage device with high speed, lots of redundancy, large capacity.  Think of it as a very large and fast hard drive that won’t easily fail, connected to all your servers.
It works really well when combined with virtualisation so that the servers also then have redundancy and high availability.

SANs have really dropped in price recently.

What is virtualisation?

Virtualisation is where the operating system (say Windows 2008 server) becomes abstract from the hardware on which it sits. This means if the hardware fails, or you buy new hardware, it can be easily copied around. It also means that you can run more than one operating system (guest), on a server (physical host)

Virtualisation comes in a number of flavours – for example – VMware and HyperV

How do I get access to my work from home or when on the road?

This is typically via a VPN (Virtual Private Network).  This comes in various flavours, from a dialup connection to a secure web based login called SSL. It can also now be via Cloud technologies like OneDrive, Dropbox, SharePoint to name a few.

What is terminal services? (RDS, remote desktop are current terms)

Terminal services is a technology known as Thin Client.  This means that only the screen and keyboard information is transmitted over the line. For those working from home, remotely, from mobile devices etc – this represents a faster way to connect. Other Thin Client technologies are Citrix and Remote Desktop. Thin client may also be used as a way of controlling a large number of users, all connected to the central server, thus being able to control and update all applications and services centrally.

It’s really a bit like main frames and dumb terminals from the 1970’s and 80’s.

What is the retention period in relation to backup?

This is the period that data will be held for before it rotates and gets overwritten. Certain industry sectors, such as financial and legal should be very wary of this and ensure that they comply with regulations. Other services may be required to ensure all emails are retained for 3, 7 or 10 years for instance, irrespective of employee turnover.

How does your helpdesk assess and grade calls? (P1,P2,P3, incident/service request)

Our helpdesk works on SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) which vary per client, but operate within a framework called ITIL.  A contract might state – response within 1 hour for an incident affecting multiple users due to a server problem, 4 hours for a standard incident which involves a workstation and 1 person, 24 hours for a non-urgent incident or a service request. These responses are usually within a table of response times where certain servers/services are tagged as P1, P2, P3 etc

What is the difference between an “incident” and a “service request”?

An incident is something that was working that is now not working.
A service request is for something new – i.e. new application or new user
(We accept that some service requests may be urgent, but we hope that our clients can plan most service requests)

How do I check my backup is working?

This will vary from program to program, but ideally this should be done by browsing to the media it backs up to and/or doing test restores on a regular planned basis to ensure the files can be restored back to a test location.

Whose responsibility is it to ensure my backups are valid?

Ultimately it is the owner of the data that is responsible, the business owner.  Weald offers testing, training, monitoring and procedure building around backup – and will help with your overall Disaster Recovery Policy.

Any loss of data is the responsibility of the business owner and therefore any contract offered by Weald has limited liability.  The business owner must be satisfied that the procedures put in place and the understanding gained by its staff is sufficient to protect the data and therefore the business.

What is Cloud and should I embrace it or be afraid?

Cloud is a fluffy term for a complex subject.  Use of hosted applications, hosted servers, hosted backup solutions & hosted infrastructure can definitely benefit your business, but beware of the small providers offering solutions that are not robust and may present more danger than your current on-site solution.

How can you help me decide the best way to deal with my IT?

We don’t have sales people – so the way we help is to send someone who is a professional IT engineer with IT management experience.  They will place themselves in your position and tell you what they might do given the challenges facing your business.  We do not leave the office with targets and products in mind.

Our greatest challenge is actually to behave like sales people and tell you about all the good things we can do as, to us, all we really want to do is analyse problems and find solutions.

How do I know my IT, and therefore my business is safe with you?

We are financially stable, established for 25 years, ultimately owned and run by personalities that are risk averse.  We file complete accounts and encourage you to check us out.
80% or more of our business is and has been gained via referral, we still have our first engineer, and our second client.  (our first client retired!).

We are one of the most technically competent, and possibly the most technically directed companies in the South East.

What is VoIP?

Strictly speaking it is a protocol – Voice over IP (i.e. voice transmitted digitally over a computer network using TCP/IP protocol).  The common use of the term is to mean a phone system that either calls over the internet or mixes analogue calls and calling over the internet.

Do you recommend VoIP?

We use it ourselves, exclusively, but then we have a 100mb Leased Line from BT which has a good guaranteed uptime with SLA’s.  We also have a second line supplied by another provider, using different cables, from a different direction, which means we are quite safe.  Coupled with the fact that we get 3G, we are techies, and we can always go home or to macdonalds and use our phones on WiFi.

Do you supply, install and support VoIP?

Yes, we do.  We use FreePBX (sometimes called Asterisk).  We have either on-premise or hosted solutions depending on the requirement. The advantage of asterisk based systems is that they are open source, so lots of facilities are available for very little charge, plus there is no “cost per handset” per month.

One More Question?

We’ve tried to cover the most common questions we find ourselves answering but if you have a question that isn’t listed here then of course we are happy to assist. Let us know how you need assistance via the ‘Get In Touch’ link  below and one of our team will respond.

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note: a ticket will be logged and you will receive email confirmation of ticket open and ticket close.

The nature of the problem The number of users it affects (we grade calls based on this) Can we see and replicate the error easily, and how do we do this.