Category: IT Support

Microsoft Office Problems on Mac

Have you run into a problem with Microsoft Office on your Mac? When browsing around on the Internet for solutions, it’s somewhat comical to see what people say. Everyone always has an opinion, right? Reading around, looking for solutions, you’ll hear people post or say things like “oh, well Microsoft Office is just buggy on Mac.” Or, “oh, they didn’t do a good job coding Office on Mac.”

These aren’t solutions, and you should laugh at them a little bit too. If you are looking for solutions to problems, here’s a few ideas.

One of the first things you can look into on the Mac OS is called Parallels. Mind you, we’re not suggesting to jump right into virtualization right off the bat when you do have a problem on the Mac OS. By all means, troubleshoot the problem first.

Virtualization is something to look at when you need to run Windows applications on a Mac. Another situation that virtualization makes sense, is for those of us who have been using Windows for a long time and are having trouble making the adjustment to the Mac OS. It can be a little bit different using Mac when you’ve been using Windows for so long.

Parallels – Simple Windows Desktop Virtualization on Mac OS

One form of Windows virtualization on Mac is called Parallels. This is an easy way to use Windows inside of Mac OS. It does not require you to have a lot of knowledge on Mac or on Windows in order to get it to work – it’s mainly as simple as installing an application. So, as long as you can install an application, you can run Windows virtualization inside of a Mac OS.

Of course, there’s compatibility issues with all of these things too. Parallels (like any application) will run better on some Mac operating systems than others.

What if I don’t need to run Office – why would I need to run Parallels?

Say you need to run Internet Explorer. Ever notice how you can’d do that on Mac OS? And why might you need to run Internet Explorer, you may ask? Good question. Say you’re a developer, and you’re developing an application, or a website. You need to see how the website or application works, how it feels, how it looks on other browsers then what is provided solely in the Mac OS – which is usually Safari. Not everyone uses Safari – just like how not everyone uses Internet Explorer.

However, there’s no way to get Internet Explorer to work in Mac OS. So if this is a requirement for you, for development purposes or other, Parallels may be a good solution.

You could also look into VMware Horizon, which is another virtualization solution to run another operating system inside of Mac. We’ll talk more about that in a future post.

Troubleshooting Microsoft Office Issues

If you’re having problems with MIcrosoft Office, there are a few different things you can do to troubleshoot the problem. The first thing is to understand what the problem is. We list out a myriad of issues you may be experiencing. Try honing in on the problem you’re having and check out the solution methodology to see what may work for you.

Microsoft Office applications like Excel, Word Outlook or other crash often

If your problem is with a Microsoft office application, or all of them and they crash often, you can try running a repair on the Office suite. To initiate a repair in Windows 10, click on the Start button, then click on Control Panel (or just search for it). Once in Control Panel, click on Programs and Features. This will load up a list of applications installed to your PC.

Once you are looking at the application list on your PC, look for Microsoft Office. Depending what version you have installed, this could be Office 2010, 2013, 2016 or even Office 365. Right click on your version of office and click Change. This will present you with repair options below:

Microsoft Office Suite Repair Operations

This screen presents the different repair options available for Microsoft Office.

In terms of the two repair options, quick repair does take a much shorter amount of time than “online repair.” This window states that the online repair “takes a little longer,” but often it can take one hour to many hours. This depends on a number of variables, including processor speed, connectivity speed to the Internet, etc. It’s always best to first try a “quick repair,” and if that does not work out, try the online repair as a second option.

Repair options do not resolve licensing problems

If you are having a licensing problem, no amount of repair you do will fix that. Licensing issues are troubleshot in another manner. In order to understand licensing problems, you should first understand the difference between Retail Microsoft Office Keys and Office 365 Subscriptions.

Microsoft Retail Office Keys

Microsoft Office was always provided as a retail purchase. In the early days, you would buy a CD which came with a “cd key.” This was used to install the software and the key would authenticate against a Microsoft server online. Similar to Windows activation, the key would only work once. Once consumed, it couldn’t be used to activate MIcrosoft Office on another computer.

This later migrated to the use of “digital keys.” Essentially, you wouldn’t get a disc with the software anymore. You’d download the software from MIcrosoft, and then again use the key to authenticate the installation against Microsoft servers. The method of a “digital download” started to come about once people started having faster Internet connection speeds – and as you know, it’s now the year 2019 and no one even uses CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs anymore. It’s just not nessecary, since we can download and distribute information from the Internet so quickly.

Office 365 Subscription Model

Eventually, as more and more software applications have moved towards Software as a Service model, Microsoft also decided to get on-board and start offering Office 365 as a subscription. As Microsoft moves more into the subscription level model, retail keys become more difficult to track and more difficult to manage. If you purchase Open Licensing from MIcrosoft, e.g buying licensing for many computers at once, then you’ll be able to access the Microsoft Volume Licensing Center (MVLC). This is an easier way to manage licensing if you don’t go to the Office 365 model.

With all of that being said, there are many companies that don’t know how to properly acquire and facilitate Microsoft retail and Open Licensing. The day is coming where you won’t need an IT company to manage your Microsoft licensing anymore – you can do it yourself very easily, with Office 365. Whether Microsoft means to eliminate the middleman or not is a difficult thing to know for sure.

The conclusion to the argument of retail licensing vs. Office 365 licensing: Microsoft is moving fully and completely towards the subscription model. The only time where it may make sense to purchase Office 365 on a retail level is to license a very small number of computers, such as less than three – and you need them to talk to a third party email service (other than Microsoft), or your own Exchange server.

 

 

MalwareBytes is a good program for Malware scanning

As the title reads, MalwareBytes is a good program to use for scanning for malware and adware on your computer. Over time, malware and adware can be picked up while browsing the Internet. If you are browsing questionable websites at times, it’s more likely that the computer will pickup little pieces of spyware here and there. Usually, the spyware and malware one finds while browsing online is not malicious, but it’s also possible that eventually some malicious malware like a trojan can be picked up.

Browser & Toolbar Hijacks

Some of the most common hijacks out there are browser hijacks and toolbars. Browser hijacks were more popular in earlier days of the Internet, you don’t see them as much now because less and less people use IE. For whatever reason, IE was always (and probably still is) susceptible to browser and toolbar hijacks. With more users switching over to browsers like Firefox and Chrome, more computer users are finding that having multiple browsers enables them to have some fallback measures should one browser wind up full of shall we say, junk.

Toolbars that are annoying you can usually be removed by looking for the “add-ons” area of most browsers. Try disabling unneeded add-ons. MalwareBytes may also pickup foreign toolbars as “PUPs,” or “potentially unwanted programs.” Feel free to remove them when they do.

CCleaner

Programs like CCleaner are also useful. CCleaner will help to remove “dead” files that aren’t really in use anymore, but still taking up space on your hard drive. CCleaner effectively runs a disk cleanup. However, Windows Disk Cleanup kind of sucks compared to CCleaner. Windows Disk Cleanup looks at temp files and dump files (basically data that is a log of what happened when windows had a problem). Windows Disk Cleanup overlooks browser cache though, cookies, etc.

Deleting cookies is a good idea too when you think you may be having a problem with a particular website cookie. It’s a good troubleshooting step in this regard. However, for the most part you typically don’t want to remove cookies unless there’s a particular reason for it, such as one listed above.

Long story short, CCleaner just finds more stuff that you can remove and free up more space.

SSD hard drive provides huge performance boost

Have you put an SSD hard drive in your computer yet? Whether you’ve got a desktop or laptop, an SSD drive is really worth it. There was a time where SSD was expensive, and not worth the investment. However, now they are very affordable. Should you buy one? Yes, you should.

I’m a bit of a gamer, and I really have enjoyed the increase in speed. When I load up Windows 10, it’s blazing fast. I don’t think upgrading from 8 GB RAM to 16 GB RAM would even provide the kind of performance boost I’m seeing from adding an SSD. I purchased a Kingston A400 2.5″ 120GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive recently on sale. The drive was only $55. For another $10, I ordered a 2.5″ drive loading bay that would screw into my 3.5″ loading bay in my desktop PC. I thought the performance boost would not be that significant, but it’s massive.

One thing you’ll notice right away with SSD, is that since there is no moving parts, there’s no more whirring, twirling etc. sounds coming from your PC. The only thing you’ll hear now is the hum of your processor (assuming your fans are all in good shape and not full of junk. If not, spray some compressed air through the system).

From a gaming perspective, I noticed that my games now run in high or ultra-high graphics modes without me even having to adjust them. Before, I used to run games in medium. Why? Because that was what my computer thought it could handle – without an SSD and just a regular old SATA drive, it didn’t auto-detect that it could run games in high graphics settings modes. Now it can. You may say, well, you need a good video card for that. I recently upgraded my video card to a Geforce 1050 ti 4 GB card. Which most would say, isn’t bad. It’s kind of the starter Geforce when you get into the 10 series. And you always want to go for the 4 GB variant instead of the 2 GB variant.

I’ve listed my old Geforce 7770 card since it’s no longer being utilized in any of the PC’s I own or use – you can purchase it on Amazon.ca if you’re interested.

I strongly recommend you also upgrade to an SSD drive. The Kingston one I mentioned is currently on sale on New Egg for $55, which is a great deal.

But what about the storage capacity – 120 GB isn’t a lot?

You’re right, 120 GB isn’t a lot of space. The concept with SSD drives is, just install your OS to it, and install everything else to your secondary drive. Put a 500 GB or 1 TB standard SATA drive into the desktop as your second drive; this will become your D drive or E drive, etc. Then, put all your music onto that secondary. New games? Install them to the secondary.

If you use Steam like I do, you can also get something called Steam library which will allow you to install Steam games, as well as move existing installed Steam games to a secondary drive (instead of C drive). Otherwise, Steam tends to install everything to the primary system drive by default.

How Managed IT Partners help with more than just IT

It’s true – your Managed IT vendor, or partner can help with more than just IT needs at your business. So what are the other things that a Managed IT Partner can help with?

Competency & Skills – Having a managed IT partner means your organization has access to a much larger skillbase, and on short notice. A Managed IT partner can scale up resources, or scale them down quickly. As the old adage goes, “no one is good at everything, but everyone is good at something.” This certainly applies to the IT world as well. It’s not always possible to have one person that does everything – and having a team of skilled resources still needs leadership and management at the end of the day. Having the capability to utilize these additional resources when needed is a huge asset to the business.

Knowledge transfer & upgrade – Every environment is different. The IT environment you have within your business is unique and different than all others. In order to support this environment, proper documentation needs to be kept. Training needs to be done with each new rep as they are hired, so that they know how to support the environment.

Managed IT partners have processes for doing the same thing over and over. Keeping information about how your business functions and operates, documenting it properly and passing it from resource to resource is important in order to keep knowledge and supporting documentation up to date.

Patch schedules, schedules in general, organization – A Managed IT partner brings with them organization to the chaos. A little scheduling can certainly go a long way. Using practices learned from over the years, your managed IT partner can implement schedules for when the servers should be patched. While you may have resources that are scheduled to work the old 9-5 stick, a managed IT partner will have resources working at different times of the day and night.

Compliance – depending upon the area in which your business operates, there may be compliance needs. Does the company data require backup daily? Does compliance stipulate where the data needs to remain when at rest? Does your organization have a need to store data only in Canada? Being in tune with the compliance needs of the organization is important in today’s economy.

 

What does iByte do?

iByte primarily provides Business to Business services.

iByte.ca offers IT Services, to assist with the day to day operations and management of your company’s IT environment. This includes consultation, assessment (both onsite and offsite), remote support & helpdesk support, staff augmentation services, procurement services, disposal and more. iByte operates locally in the South Western Ontario (SWO) region.

Computer Repair – Hardware, Software, Operating System Issue/Blue Screen, Viruses, Re-Format, Re-Install Windows

If you are looking for some simple repair options, we can help. We are flexible and can work to your budget. Give us a call, and we’ll advise over the phone an estimate of what your repair costs will be. We charge time and material for repairs. You have two options, either we can come on-site to your business and fix the problem there, or take the machine off-site to repair it. Repairing the problem in real time at your location will incur a higher cost, as opposed to repairing the machine at the shop.

Note: We cannot work with ransomware. Valid software licenses required

Server Repair – Hardware, Software, Operating System Issue/Blue Screen, Viruses, Re-Format, Re-Install Windows

We can work with both new operating systems as well as Legacy Windows Operating Systems. Note: at this time, we do not have in house experience to work with Linux systems. For issues related to Linux or other Server Operating Systems, please use the contact us page to reach out for additional information.

Help Desk & Remote Support Services

Provide the base level support to your staff by providing a support line, ready to take their calls 9 AM – 5 PM, Mon – Fri. Business hours can be altered/established for the support line, to suit your business hours.

Per call basis or set number of calls per month can also be established, to provide a small amount of call time as opposed to unlimited (reduce cost, provide predictability of cost).

Fractional Resource Services / Part Time Engineer

If you are looking for a technician on site a once, twice, or a few times a month, or even once or twice a week, we can help. We’ll work with you to establish when you need someone, and provide introductions to your chosen resource before they start. It’ll be like hiring someone, except you don’t need to do it – you pay a fraction of the cost for someone who’s responsible, on-time, but only needed fractionally on a set schedule.

Networking Problems, Internet Slowdown

If you’re having issues with slow Internet, or the network is slow for whatever reason – slow transfers, problems accessing resources – we can help. Our engineers will visit your business, and start with speaking to your staff and management team to understand your concerns. Speaking with the people, and then taking a look at the technology, we can provide a full report and recommendations on how to move forward. iByte’s team of professionals can also help you to source new connectivity, if required. Options are available from different telco providers, and we will show you all of the different options in the area.

iByte is meant to be a “I can do it!” kind of website. We offer reviews, helpful resources and ideas for the IT professional. There are a ton of different solutions on the market today – for everything. You might be looking to setup a simple data backup solution. You want to (or need to) store data off-site – but is there a way to try different solutions before making an investment? How can you determine what works and what does not, without having to start investing money?

Offsite Assessment & Consultation, Remote Probe Assessment

Having a second set of eyes look over your environment cannot hurt. Working with a consulting firm can provide positive results, such as an idea of where slowdowns or bottlenecks lie within the networking environment. Being able to find the root cause of systemic or recurring issues can save your company thousands of dollars in downtime and man hours spent.

You may be having some problems within your environment, or it may be very old. For example, there is some really old networking equipment in the environment – we call this legacy. All the equipment is outdated, and throughout the day and there are a number of problems within the environment that occur. Some users report that a 3 o’clock everything gets so slow, they can’t even browse the Internet. Your Internet connection could be very slow also. One of the challenges in any business, especially if you don’t have any IT people, is knowing where the problem lies. The Internet might be really slow, so you call it the Internet service provider and you have the line upgraded. This cost the business ask more dollars per month, and it doesn’t solve the problem. This is just one example of an issue that many businesses can face, because they don’t have a good handle on their actual IT environment today.

So how do you map out your current environment, find the bottlenecks, and start looking for solutions to everyday problems? The first step is to draw a map. If you know what you have in the infrastructure, you can start mapping it out. If you don’t you can go into the server room and start writing down the make and model of the different equipment. The next step would then be to understand how all the equipment is configured and connected together.

This may sound daunting for someone who is not an IT professional. If you have some IT background you might be able to do this. However, being able to explain to someone else what’s currently in place, how it set up and how it’s configured might be challenging. Also, being able to understand where the bottlenecks are, what slowing down the network-this is something where you will need help.

There are many solutions on the market today called probes. A probe can be installed to your network, and will obtain a number of answers back about your current environment. A probe can quickly provide a report of all the network peripherals, computers, servers, databases, virtualization, and more about the environment. These probe scans can then be exported to report format.