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Best VPN services for 2015 | BVA INC. emPowering Your IT –

Want to protect your identity and privacy online? You’ll need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, which allows a secure connection to the Internet. VPNs let you change your IP address, prevent eavesdropping, and avoid being targeted by online advertisers.

When selecting a service, consider reputation, performance, type of encryption used, ease of use, transparency, support, and extra features. For instance, you want a clear privacy policy and access to troubleshooting support.

PC Mag rates several VPN options, and gives top honors to Private Internet Access and NordVPN. Also recommended are TorGuard and Hotspot Shield Elite, among others.

Microsoft office 365 video goes viral

There’s a new way to share media in Microsoft Office. iPhone owners can take advantage of the Office 365 video app. Microsoft has also released video capabilities to all Office 365 customers worldwide.

You can upload, search for, and play videos as you would on the Web. The app gives you “the power to communicate more easily across your organization,” according to senior project manager Mark Kashman.

Portal pages work on all Web browsers. The pages adjust to optimize features like player size and column width for better quality video. And the HTML5 player lets you watch videos on any device.

Windows 10 office apps for phones | BVA INC. emPowering Your IT –

Microsoft Office will soon be easier to use from anywhere. The company previews its universal Office apps for Windows 10 phones this month.

The apps adapt for many display sizes and work especially well with touch screens. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote come pre-installed free on Windows 10-based phones. On other phones, they’re available for download.

For convenience, commands and controls have moved to the bottom of the screen. This change “makes all the difference,” says Jared Spataro, manager for the Office marketing team.

More improvements are on their way. The Windows desktop apps for Office 2016 provide a new search tool, new data visualization for Excel, and Data Loss Prevention features, among other innovations.

Plans for Huawei to offer public cloud service | BVA INC. emPowering Your IT –

The cloud is expanding in China. Huawei Technologies plans to launch a unique China public cloud service this July. Huawei is working to make its service stand out amid players like Microsoft, Amazon, and Chinese company Alibaba Group. They’re expanding with customer needs – Huawei already offers hardware and software products to clients for the cloud.

A global company, Huawei is keeping the cloud service local to China for now. Acting CEO Eric Xu says the company wants to develop public cloud services in international markets.

The new service doesn’t expect major competition from China’s three telecom operators, says Xu. If Huawei’s cloud launch succeeds, Xu hopes partnerships will result.

Cisco router feature | BVA INC. emPowering Your IT –

A default Cisco router feature compromises data security. The feature, called embedded packet capture (EPC), lets system administrators capture packets in order to troubleshoot.

Although EPC requires privileged access, its default settings poses risk. The Brazilian researchers who caught the vulnerability collected massive amounts of data, including user credentials and pre-shared keys, available for exploitation.

Cisco’s aware of the problem. They advise users to put appropriate user access controls in place to avoid abuse.

Cloud computing | BVA INC. emPowering Your IT –

You’ve heard about the Cloud, but what are the details? Cloud or web-based computing involves storing and accessing data over the Internet, not via your hard drive.

Business cloud computing may mean creating custom cloud applications (Platform-as-a-Service) or large companies like Amazon or Google “renting out” space (Infrastructure-as-a-Service).

For individual consumers, many major Internet players offer cloud services. Google Drive and other Google apps let you share data online. Microsoft’s office-only product suite Office 365 works in the cloud, and Amazon Cloud Drive stores media for anytime access.

Cloud computing comes with risks – control by telecom companies, intellectual property issues, and crash potential. Many businesses and individuals, however, are still taking the leap.

Windows 10: Microsoft’s biggest software upgrade | BVA INC. emPowering Your IT –

If you’re a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 user, expect a free 2GB+ upgrade this summer. Here’s how the process will look.

Courtesy of Microsoft, the upgrade comes in an XML file with clues about the program GWX (Get Windows 10). Users can opt into the update that enables delivery. Files download in the background, requiring minimal intervention. Windows 10 won’t be installed without consent, and it carries no hidden costs.

Windows Insiders will get a Preview build becoming the Current Branch – the public release channel for the program. An Anticipation campaign will likely roll out in June or July, before the launch in late July or August.

Microsoft will stagger updates to reduce the load. Insider Fast and Insider Slow rings will receive early updates. The Current Branch for Business ring allows businesses to delay upgrades to minimize risk.

Project Fi – Wireless Service | BVA INC. emPowering Your IT –

Google’s new wireless service, Project Fi, is a new frontier in wireless networking. For now, it’s invite-only restricted to Nexus 6, the first smartphone to support Google’s networks.

Project Fi will connect through one million free, open Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as cellular service from T-Mobile and Sprint. Customers pay $20 a month for basics, including talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering, and international coverage. Every GB costs $10.

The service protects security through data encryption. Phone numbers live in the cloud, offering convenience. If you lose your phone, you can easily retrieve contacts through other devices. And you can transfer your existing number to Project Fi.

Request an invite from Google if you’re interested. The Nexus 6, if you’d like to invest in one, is $649 for 32GB.

Top 6 Cloud Services Small Businesses Should Be Using | BVA INC. emPowering Your IT –

You’re moving to the Cloud. What services will best help your small business? We’ve listed six that stand out.

  1. Dropbox for Business. Sync work across all your devices, manage accounts, and monitor activity using storage software.
  2. Google Drive. Edit documents in the browser, access revision history, host a video conference and install third-party apps.
  3. Carbonite Business. Back up your files automatically with 250 GB of space. Restore files easily, and get more space any time.
  4. Mindomo. Use maps to brainstorm effectively with project management software.
  5. Master e-mail marketing, sales forecasts and more using this leading CRM-focused service.
  6. OfficeTime. Ideal for small business owners, OfficeTime records billable hours and creates invoices.

With storage, project management, backup and productivity taken care of, you’ll be free to grow and run your small business with confidence.

Is your business ready for the cloud? | BVA INC. emPowering Your IT –

Are you ready to move to Cloud computing? Take care of these factors first.

Pick a vendor. Compare prices and services offered. You should be comfortable with the user interface and ready to commit long-term. Make sure your vendor has been tested by an auditing firm to ensure compliance.

Consider bandwidth. Storing data includes bandwidth challenges. You should have solid network performance.

Ensure data security. Cloud storage services can back up data to prevent loss. Implement a system to handle cloud identity.

Verify format. Make sure you can export files in Word, Excel or any other program you use frequently.

If you approach Cloud computing with research and a strategy, you’re more likely to make a successful transition.