Category: IT Support

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.


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 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. 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.

What is an IT Consulting Firm and when should one be engaged?

If you are looking for IT consulting, you could be looking for a variety of different things. You could just be looking for help with computers, systems, databases or applications within your business. Or, you could be looking for a company that can help you to find work in the fast-paced and growing IT industry. Or, you could be looking for a Managed Services company.

Let’s break down all the different forms of IT consulting and how different businesses listed here can help.

1. You own a business and you need help with your IT environment

This is a common need. As businesses grow, they tend to grow ad-hoc. There isn’t always a strategy as it relates to IT from the beginning. Businesses start small, adding staff and computers here and there. Eventually, a new printer gets purchased and configured, a new server might be needed to run an application. As things get added over time and just as needed, this is called “ad-hoc.”

Once the business gets to a certain point, executives and decision makers need to start looking at having a plan in place for the future. Adding things ad-hoc gets to be costly and can cost the business money in terms of downtime and lost productivity.

If you are having issues in the business like slow connectivity, viruses, inability to support staff from an IT perspective, and your staff is constantly complaining about how they can’t get work done – it may be time to engage a consultant. Look for one that offers a “health check” or assessment of your infrastructure. You can usually have it done for free. The assessment will provide a report back of your current infrastructure, and recommendations to improve the current network.

Providing improvements to the environment may require new hardware, such as new networking gear, new servers and/or new computers for staff. Look for a partner that provides un-biased recommendations. For example, if you just bought new computers and you’re being told to buy new ones again, look for a second opinion. Also, look for “root cause analysis.” This means if you are provided recommendations – why. What is the reason you are being told to replace equipment. If there is sound reasoning behind the recommendation, that’s a good sign.

2. You want someone else to manage your IT (Managed Services)

Having an external company manage the resources of your IT environment, can free up your people to do other things. One of the challenges in any business, is that the IT people become more like firefighters, and they are not able to focus on important business initiatives. For instance, staff can become accustomed to walking up with their computer problems, instead of following a set process like opening a support ticket. Corporate governance is not something that is always easily enforced, and you don’t want to pay soft your executives by not providing the level of support that they need. Sometimes, working with an outside company can solve this problem by assigning different support criticality to different issues/different personnel. For example, you might have it set up with your managed IT company that if a critical server goes down, they must have a back online within a four-hour period. Because the support and management has been outsourced, you can hold your IT partner to this agreement. However it’s difficult to have in-house resources follow the same strategy. Often times, in-house resources will just troubleshoot what they know about, with no criticality or prioritization assigned within the environment.

Another reason you may look at having your IT outsourced, is to save money. It costs anywhere from 50 to 100,000 dollars to hire a full-time IT resource. This is just for the cost of one resource. A managed IT company can provide a set or group of personnel to be constantly working within your environment, for a fraction of the cost. Most work will be done remotely, which works fine most of the time. If you feel that you need an on-site person, the IT partner will often provide an on-site resource once or twice a week as part of the managed services offered.
Network Architecture & Design

Architecture or re-architecture of a network environment requires expertise, experience, and skill. Building a new network design is much like an engineer building a bridge. All of the underlying fabric, if you will, needs to be looked at during the consultation process. A network engineer cannot enter a business and put together a new design and plan without proper planning. Proper planning means looking at all of the following variables during the consultation process:

  • The number of users within the environment,
  • the number of computers within the environment,
  • the speed at which the network communicates both internally and externally,
  • the load, both in terms of communication in and out, and the compute required within the server environment,
  • the application stack running within the environment, both from a client and server perspective,
  • the business impact, or future goals of the organization, as it pertains to the current environment,
  • the long term plan, the objectives that need to be reached throughout the course of the plan,
  • the current problems, headaches, challenges or other issues that are faced on a day-to-day basis.

This is really just some of the things that a network architect needs to look at within the environment. A legacy environment refers to an infrastructure which is utilizing very old equipment. It doesn’t even need to be very old equipment, but anything that is older than 3 to 5 years is probably deemed legacy at this point. In technology, things change so fast and it’s important to stay up on the most recent developments. For instance, many businesses today still run a network environment which communicates at 1 MB or 10 MB per second. In today’s technology, computers and networking are able to now communicate at speeds up to a gigabyte per second, with fibre runs enabling speeds of up to 10 GB per second.

It’s important to know when you need to upgrade within the environment. It’s also important to know what needs to be upgraded and why. Finding a network bottleneck is not always an easy task, and understanding how to resolve it once identified can be an even greater one. The challenge in this is knowing what works from previous experience. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel or try something completely new, as there is significant investment involved in replacing outdated technology, as well as configuring new technology to run its place.

How to troubleshoot and document IT issues & challenges

Consultation & Assessment

When having a problem within the IT environment, it can be difficult to pinpoint the issue. There are many problems you can face within the environment. Being able to find the problem sometimes mean checking multiple avenues: is it a storage problem? Network problem? Being able to figure out what kind of problem you are facing, can actually sometimes be difficult. Knowing where the problem is originating from, or what the root issue is, is the first step in the assessment process:

  • Identify the problem. Is it a systemic issue happening across the entire environment, or it’s only isolated to one computer, one system or one particular area within the environment? Try to determine first: what is the issue? Start looking at the particulars:
  • Is there a certain time of the day when the issue occurs?
  • Is it a problem that repeats every day? If not every day, which days does it happen?
  • How long has the problem been happening for?
  • Was there a change within the environment that caused the problem to start happening?Once the problem is identified, start troubleshooting:
  • Is this a known issue?
  • Have you tried searching/Googling for the problem online?
  • Have you checked online forums for the issue?
  • Log the troubleshooting steps you take in a ticketing system so you can check the steps you did later
  • Document the steps with screenshots and other notes for advanced step by step
  • Are you able to resolve the problem through troubleshooting?Helpful tips:
  • Test, test and document – make sure you’re making changes to a test environment, not to production
  • Only roll out changes to in-production systems during off hours, and after extensive testing
  • Extensive testing should provide the confidence needed to make the necessary changes to the production environment – again, only once long testing periods are completed with documented results
  • Observe the results and report
  • Is the issue completely resolved?
  • What is the impact to the business? Does resolving the problem help alleviate other problems? How so? Document the outcome
  • Now that the issue is resolved, is there next steps or recurring steps that must be completed?
  • If so, what is the optimal, or automated method in which to ensure continual resolution?
  • Is there preventative measures that must be taken?