tech tips

Windows 10 End of Life Is Approaching – Are Your Ready for Windows 11?

The Microsoft Windows operating system is a ubiquitous part of everyday life. Whether at work or at home, most people interact with some form of Microsoft’s operating system and software tools. In fact, Statista found that as of February 2024, 72% of desktop operating systems (OS) worldwide run Windows. Of those, most should be familiar with the Windows 10 operating system. 

When it launched in July 2015, Windows 10 brought with it a redesigned Start Menu, the Microsoft Edge Browser, biometric security for the first time in the form of Windows Hello, window snapping, and many other helpful features.  

But like they say, all good things must come to an end. Windows 10 will officially enter end of support on October 14th, 2025. What does this mean for you and how can you prepare? Let’s dive into the top 3 questions surrounding Windows 10 end of life so you can be prepared for the transition to Windows 11.  

 

What Does End of Support for Windows 10 Mean?

While Windows 10 machines will still function after the end of support date, they will no longer receive any security updates. This means they are vulnerable to compromise and should no longer be used in business or home environments. Any newly discovered vulnerabilities in the operating system will remain unpatched. Over time, attacks on these known open spots tend to become more common.  

Additionally, third party software vendors often stop releasing updates specifically for out-of-support operating systems. As a result, the programs may stop running so you may become quickly unable to run applications as intended.  

If you have systems that are running Windows 10, there are a few options to move to Windows 11 and be protected. 

 

What Do I Need to Run Windows 11?

For your computer to run Windows 11, there are some minimum system specifications required that are stricter than previous Windows OS versions.  

Minimum System Specifications for Windows 11:  

  • Dual Core Processor 1Ghz or faster with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0  
  • Intel CPU – Must be 8th Generation or newer 
  • AMD – 2nd Generation Ryzen or newer 
  • 4GB RAM 
  • 64GB Storage 
  • DirectX 12 Graphics 

Microsoft has made an in-place upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 available at no cost through the Windows update channel. Your IT provider can also centrally deploy the Windows 11 upgrade. For compatible systems and computers that are less than 3-4 years old, this will be the most straightforward way to move into an updated operating system. 

 

What If My System Does Not Meet the Minimum Specifications for Windows 11?

If your computer does not meet the minimum Windows 11 specifications, a new PC will be necessary to remain secure and protected. Use the upgrade timeline strategically to evaluate what solution makes the most sense for the next few years.  

If you have an older desktop, an upgrade to a laptop with Windows 11 and a docking station would be a significant improvement in portability, especially with the rise in hybrid work. Newer laptops can also come with nifty features such as touchscreens, thinner construction, faster performance, and significantly longer battery life. 

Windows 11 features performance improvements, as well as an interface that should be visually familiar to most Windows 10 users. Updates to the task bar, Microsoft Store experience, Teams native integration, and other changes mean that this operating system should have a long life ahead of it in business and personal use.   

If you have not created a Windows 11 adoption plan, we encourage you to reach out to Kite Technology Group for help planning and executing this change for your business! 

Ryan Emerick

Ryan Emerick

Director of Client Experience
Kite Technology Group

Modern Intel CPU Power Settings: What’s Best?

Are you experiencing performance issues on your laptop? If so, this may be due to the newer Intel CPUs (12th Gen and newer) and how they behave regarding the different CPU Power Plans in Windows. We have noticed that some users may experience performance issues on their computers if they have these CPUs.  

In this blog post, we’ll dive into how to search your Power Plans and resolve this issue. But first, let’s start with some basics: what are CPUs and what’s their role?

 

CPUs: Central Processing Units  

Your computer’s central processing unit (CPU) is one of the most important pieces of your computer. The CPU is the computer’s control center or brain. It is responsible for executing the instructions that your programs and applications require to run properly. Several companies create CPUs—Intel being one of them. 

 

The CPU is a small chip attached to your computer’s motherboard—a circuit board that directly or indirectly connects all peripheral hardware together. This connection allows the pieces of hardware to both gather power from the power supply unit and communicate with each other. With these physical connections, the CPU controls not only the computer’s hardware, but also its software. 

 

And CPUs are not limited to computers. They also have homes in your smartphones, tablets, smart home devices, smart watches, video game consoles, and even cars.  

 

Ok, with a foundation for what the CPU’s role is, let’s return to your computer’s Power Plans. There are two areas where Power-related settings are adjusted: Control Panel and Windows Settings. 

 

Finding Windows Power Plans in the Control Panel

Click the Windows icon in your taskbar (usually at the very bottom left or towards the bottom center). Use the search function and type “Control Panel”. When the program appears in the results, click the title.  

Finding the Control Panel in Windows

 

When the Control Panel opens, you can find the Power Options one of two ways. You can click on “System and Security” and then click “Power Options”:  

Finding Power Options in the Control Panel's System and Security menu

 

Alternatively, from the main Control Panel, use the Search bar at the top right to find “Power”. Click on the result, “Power Options”. Many computers are deployed with the High Performance profile enabled.  

Power Options on Windows laptops

Finding the Power Options in Windows Settings

In Windows 11, there is a dropdown for power options. This can be found by going to the Windows icon in the taskbar, and clicking the Settings button, then selecting System on the left, the Power & Battery from the right.  

Windows 11 Power Options for Battery and Performance

In Windows 10, there is a slider in the tray for those power options. This can be found in the same way as it can be on Windows 11, or if you have a laptop, simply click the Battery icon in the bottom right corner of your screen, and it will appear. 

Windows 10 Power Options for Battery and Performance

However, when the High Performance plan is used, the slider does not appear. In my picture of the Windows 11 settings, you can see where the “Power Mode” area is disabled because of the High Performance plan.  

 

CPU Cores, Priorities, and Their Impact on Performance

Intel CPUs 12th generation and newer use a unique hardware structure where they use two types of CPU cores: P (performance) cores and E (efficiency) cores. Performance cores are multithreaded and clock higher frequencies, while efficiency cores are single-thread and operate at noticeably lower frequencies.  

Take, for example, the Intel i5 13600k: 

Intel i5 13600K CPU Specifications screenshot

The thought process on this is that it helps to improve performance by assigning all important tasks to the P cores, while leaving background processes and other small tasks to the E cores. This simultaneously boosts performance for what counts, while not having an insane power draw. 

However, this architecture heavily relies on Windows’ task scheduler to properly assign the correct tasks to the correct cores. If the wrong tasks are given to the wrong cores, the opposite effect happens, and performance completely tanks. 

For the 12th Gen and newer Intel Core CPUs, the High Performance plan is not assigning tasks to Intel’s P & E cores correctly. This is negatively impacting performance.  

 

What’s the Solution to Performance Issues Stemming from Power Options?

So, what’s the solution?

Step 1: Disable the High Performance power plan. This can be done by going to Control Panel > Power Options as previously mentioned.  

Step 2: Switch to the Balanced plan in the Control Panel. 

Step 3: Adjust Windows’ Power mode based on which Windows Operation System your laptop uses: 

  • For Windows 11 users, go to the Settings window previously mentioned, click in the highlighted dropdown and select “Best Performance”. “Balanced” or “Best battery” can also be used for extended battery life when away from a charger. 
  • For Windows 10 users, go to the Settings window previously mentioned or click the battery icon in the bottom right corner of your screen, and adjust the slider to the right for Best Performance. Like Windows 11, you can adjust it farther left for increased battery life.  

In our experience, following these steps almost immediately resolved performance issues on these CPUs. Not only that, it can also clear up some occasional issues with the integrated graphics.   

Want to further optimize your computer? Check out our Digital Hygiene Series blog, Tips for Optimizing Your Computer’s Performance

If you’re a KiteTech client and are experiencing computer performance issues, feel free to give our technicians a call or send in a ticket. Our experienced team is happy to help! 

Joseph Louque

Joseph Louque

Tier 2 Support
Kite Technology Group

Digital Hygiene Series: Must-Have Practices for Stronger Online Security

So far in our Digital Hygiene Series, we have focused on keeping your systems neat and orderly. However, the most important component of digital hygiene includes practices for stronger online security. A security vulnerability can quickly wipe out all the benefits of good digital hygiene. In this last article of our series, you will learn five vital practices that you can leverage to better secure your systems and accounts and protect your data and identity. 

1. Enable MFA on All Accounts 

If you only take away one thing from this entire article, make it this: MFA is the single most important security feature you need. MFA (multi-factor authentication) is a second layer of authentication you set up on your accounts so that after you supply your username and password, you supply another form of authentication. This can be a code sent to you in a text message or a push notification to your mobile device. This way, if a hacker does get their hands on your password, they are still unable to log into your account because they don’t have this second layer of authentication. Many services, like banks and insurance companies, require MFA when you establish your account. As someone who cares about your security, you should not only set up MFA on those accounts where it is required, but you should also seek out MFA on new accounts you create even when they don’t require it. 

2. Use Strong Passwords 

Simple passwords are easier to crack, so if you use passwords that are short and contain all lowercase letters, you run a high risk of having your accounts compromised. Complex passwords generally contain a combination of lowercase, uppercase, numbers, and symbols, and adhere to a minimum number of characters. Different sources give different recommendations for minimum password length. I recommend at least 16 characters, but the longer the better. You should also avoid using words or phrases that are easy to guess, such as your initials, the current year, or your birthday. 

3. Use Unique Passwords 

In addition to making sure all your passwords are complex enough, you should also never repeat the same password on more than one account. The simple reason is that if your password is compromised once, the attacker now has access to all your accounts that use that password. Ideally, your passwords would not even be similar, like adding an exclamation point, or using the same word or phrase but using all lowercase in one password and all uppercase in another. Minor differences are still easy for an attacker to guess. 

4. Use a Password Manager 

Using passwords that are both complex enough and entirely unique from one another is a huge challenge. A password manager program, such as LastPass or RoboForm, can help tremendously. These programs allow you to store your passwords for all your different accounts so that you don’t necessarily have to remember them. Then, the password manager can input your passwords and log in to your accounts when you need them. Additionally, some password managers offer other features, like health checks that scan all your passwords and alert you on things like repeated passwords or passwords that have not been changed for a long time. Keep in mind: you MUST ensure your password manager is protected by a highly complex password as well as multi-factor authentication. 

5. Monitor the Dark Web 

The dark web is a part of the Internet that is not indexed by search engines and can generally only be accessed by special programs or browsers. The dark web is most infamous for the criminal activity that takes place there. One form of criminal activity is the resale of compromised data, which means that if your data (including passwords) somehow get breached, they may be available to bad actors on the dark web. There are services you can use to run scans on the dark web to find out if your email address or username is associated with any data breaches. Then, you should immediately change your password or take whatever measure is appropriate to secure your data. Some services can run scans for you automatically and alert you when a threat is found. If you are part of an organization, your administrator or IT provider should be running these dark web scans for you. 

Conclusion

Incorporating these practices will go a long way in strengthening your digital hygiene. They will serve as an important first line of defense against new and changing digital threats like malicious emails, social engineering, phishing, and more. Most data breaches are caused by human error, so it’s important to have good security practices in place and remain vigilant in order to protect ourselves as much as possible.

Could your organization benefit from a thorough review of your security practices? If so, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to schedule an initial conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 

 Digital Hygiene Series:
Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Digital Hygiene Series: Tidying Up Your Mobile Devices

Digital hygiene doesn’t just apply to your computer. It’s also important for your mobile devices. In this fourth article of our Digital Hygiene series, we share 5 strategies for tidying up your laptops, cell phones, and tablets. Applying these strategies will go a long way in helping you get the most from your mobile devices and help you be more efficient on the go.

1. Delete Unused Apps 

Just as it is best to keep unused applications off your computer, it follows that you should do the same with your mobile device. It is common to install apps to solve a short-term problem, and if left unchecked, apps like this can be forgotten, taking up storage and maybe even processing power on your phone. As soon as you know you will no longer need a particular app, uninstall it and remove all associated data if you will never need it again. You can also regularly audit your installed apps and remove any that you don’t need. Most mobile devices have an automated process you can enable to identify and even uninstall applications you no longer use. 

2. Organize Home Screen 

Your home screen should be set up deliberately to give you quick access to all your most frequent functions, and should be organized in a simplistic layout so it is easy to navigate. You can arrange apps into categories and use app folders to contain related apps. Ideally, you want to create enough different categories so that your apps are distributed across them, but not so many categories that you end up with categories containing only one or two apps. This is subjective, but generally you know when your app folders are serving you well and when they aren’t. Another great tool for an organized home screen is widgets. A widget is a bite-sized components of your apps you can put directly on your home screen. Examples include a preview of your calendar or today’s forecast from your favorite weather app. If you have found a home screen organization that works well for you, do your best to always keep it that way by putting apps into the proper folders, placing your most common functions close to the home screen, and making good use of widgets. 

3. Storage Consumption 

Eliminating unused apps is a good start at managing your storage, but that is just a small piece among more important kinds of data, such as multimedia and old messages. In the storage settings of your mobile device, you can view your used storage and a breakdown of what kinds of data comprises that used storage. You should be aware of how much data your device can store and how much you are currently using so you don’t run into issues from your device filling up. Photos, videos, and music commonly take up the most space, so it is important to learn about the streaming options you have available in your photos and music apps. When set up properly, these features manage the amount of storage you are using on your local device by moving most of your data to the cloud. You should audit your storage often to make sure you stay ahead of issues before they happen. 

4. Enable Cloud Backup 

Offloading your multimedia as I just discussed is one form of backup, but it is also important that you are running system backups so you don’t lose other kinds of data like contacts, text messages, stored files, and apps. You can set up your backup preferences in your device’s settings to ensure they are happening frequently and reliably. These backups should be running to a cloud service so that if you lose, damage, or otherwise replace your device, you can pick up right where you left off on the new device. Keep in mind, like the data itself, backups take up storage. While it is not a common issue, it is important to avoid running out of capacity in your cloud service to store system backups. 

5. Be Intentional About Contact/Calendar Sync 

Ever since we have been able to set up multiple different email accounts on our mobile devices, the ability to sync contacts and calendars has been a huge benefit but can also be a huge risk if it is not done properly. I have seen many people with a mess on their hands from a contact list that has taken years or decades to amass and has suddenly become inundated with extraneous or duplicate records, or else has been completely overwritten or cleared. With the proper backups in place, these issues are typically reversible, but not without a painful crash course in the ins and outs of calendar and contact sync. You can choose to keep separate contacts and calendars in your separate accounts, and you can certainly combine them and work off only one list. Whichever method you choose, be sure that the proper default account is selected (in your device’s settings) so that new records you create will go to the right place. The confusion here typically happens when concepts like separate accounts and default account are not well understood, so educate yourself on where your contacts and calendars live, and don’t be afraid to consult an expert if you need help. 

Conclusion

As more and more work is done remotely, following these strategies will enable your mobile devices to perform better and help you stay more organized. Keep in mind that if you or your employees are using your personal mobile devices to conduct work, there are crucial security practices that need to be implemented to keep your business and personal data secure. To learn more about this and our Managed IT and Security Services, please get in touch with us to schedule a conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 

 Digital Hygiene Series:
Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Digital Hygiene Series: Email Decluttering Tips for Greater Productivity

Email is an invaluable tool for both personal and professional communication. Still, an excessive volume of emails can accumulate in your inbox, making it difficult to manage. In the most recent article in our Digital Hygiene Series, you can learn 5 strategies for managing your email inbox like a pro. As much as we all use email today, it is well worth taking some measures to declutter your email inbox which will help you stay on top of things and have a more productive day. Here are five principles of email management to improve your digital hygiene.

Manage Inbox to Zero

It sounds like a dream, but it can be a reality, and quite a refreshing one when you can maintain it. The key here is to have a system where you immediately act upon emails as soon as you get them so you can quickly get them out of your inbox, either by moving them to subfolders or deleting them. Many emails just require a quick response, so once you respond you can get them out of your inbox. Other emails are more involved and require some action. For these, it is best to transfer the details to some other to-do system, like tasks in Outlook, Microsoft Planner, or your organization’s line-of-business application.

Unsubscribe From Unwanted Lists

Some sources report that as much as 85% of all emails are spam. Most of these emails are not harmful to your security, they are advertisements that just end up being highly annoying at best, and completely clutter your inbox at worst. Most of us just delete these emails, which certainly beats leaving them in your inbox. But the best thing to do with these is to unsubscribe from the mailing lists you don’t want. Legitimate businesses like retail and restaurants send marketing materials periodically, and they all have email preferences you can configure to send you only what you want, or send you nothing at all. Somewhere in all the marketing emails you receive, usually at the bottom, there is an “Unsubscribe” button you can use to adjust your preferences. You should do this immediately for lists you don’t want. Many of these services sign you up automatically for their mailing lists when you do things like set up an account and make a purchase, so be alert for “Opt Out” checkboxes to make sure you don’t end up on these lists in the first place.

Use Mailbox Rules

Mailbox rules can be used to automate repetitive tasks that you would otherwise do manually. One of the most common applications of mailbox rules is to automatically deliver messages from a particular sender or on a particular topic to one of your mailbox folders. It is important to make sure you don’t miss important messages, but implementing something like this can help reduce the noise in your inbox, save you the time of doing steps manually, and remove human error from your methods of organization. There are many triggers you can set up in your rules for things like categories, keywords, and attachments, and there are a wide range of actions they can perform on emails such as flagging, forwarding, and deleting. Experiment with mailbox rules to learn all they can do, and when you work on emails, always be on the lookout for new opportunities to use mailbox rules to your benefit.

Enable Email Archiving

In the second article of this series we discussed how an archiving method for your document and file storage can help separate your working data from long-term storage. The same concept applies with your email. If you have a process to archive emails once they reach a certain age or are no longer needed, the size of your working mailbox remains small, which means it is easier to search and you have less risk of hitting storage limits. You can archive emails with a manual process, but it is best to use an automated process based on age or some other criteria. If you are part of an organization, your administrator(s) should apply email archiving processes to everyone in the organization that are compliant with your company’s data compliance policies.

Master the Search Function

Even with the best of habits in organizing your mailbox, you should know how to effectively use the search function. The search function is most used for emails, but you can also search for other items like Calendar Items and Contacts. The most common search is a keyword search that just looks for the occurrence of a word or phrase, but there is also syntax you can use to find specific criteria, like email from a particular sender or in a particular thread. If you use Outlook, there are lots of resources online like to help you learn how to use the more advanced features of Search. (How to Use Outlook.com Search Operators (lifewire.com))

Conclusion

These are just a few of many strategies that you leverage to keep your email inbox organized. Taking the time to learn how to better manage your email inbox will go a long way in preventing it from becoming congested and overwhelming. When your email inbox is well organized, finding the messages you need can be done in a flash and with little effort. In addition to this, deleting, moving, or archiving the messages that you no longer need will help you be more productive and have time to get more done.

If you are not currently working with Kite Technology and would like to learn more about our  IT and Consulting Services, please get in touch with us to schedule a conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 

 

Digital Hygiene Series:

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Digital Hygiene Series: Strategies for Organizing Your Digital Files

If you have any experience working with a horribly messy file cabinet room, you know how important it is to practice good hygiene when storing documents and other files. In this second article of our Digital Hygiene series, we’ll review five strategies for effective document and file storage to help you keep your digital file room clean. Taking the time to organize your digital documents and folders will go a long way in helping you be more efficient by making it much easier to find the files you need.

1. Use Cloud Storage

Using cloud storage puts your data in a place that is highly accessible to you and protected by a layer of backup. The most common services are Google, Dropbox, and KiteTech’s favorite, Microsoft’s OneDrive and Sharepoint. The important thing is not which service you are using, but that you are using one of the services, and using it properly. It is best to ensure that every single file you work with is saved on cloud storage, and that you are either using file sync or accessing the files directly in the web browser to work with them. This ensures that all your files are protected, and you avoid issues with file sync conflicts and duplicates.

2. Archive Unused Files

Data sets grow out of control if they are never cleaned out, so it is good practice to clean out unused files from your storage as soon as they become obsolete, or you don’t plan to work with them anymore. Doing this well requires regular auditing because it is easy to forget and ignore, and before you know it your useful data is buried among countless items you never even use. But archiving your data does not need to mean completely getting rid of it, it just means moving it out of the way of your useful data. Think about your data in two different buckets, your working data set which contains all the data you currently use, and your archive which is just long-term storage for files you no longer use. Keep in mind it is important to keep your archive just as well-organized as your working data set.

3. Archive Large Files

Without proper management, data storage can grow very large very quickly. To combat this, audit your files regularly for particularly large files that you don’t need. You can either use the Size fields available in your Windows Explorer or Finder window, or else use a tool like TreeSize to help you find the files and folders taking up the most space. Reducing the size of your working data set will help you reduce your download times, avoid hitting storage limits based on the service you use, or avoid paying more for storage space you don’t need.

4. Use Folder/File Naming Conventions

You want your files to be easy for you to browse. I advise using naming conventions to keep your files and folders standardized. When you are looking at a set of data that has consistency in its naming, you tend to have an easier time finding what you are looking for. Some examples of naming conventions you could use are sequential patterns (maybe you use a consistent year-month-title format), use of special characters (like hyphens or underscores for formatting), and consistent capitalization (maybe you capitalize all the letters in acronyms or abbreviations, or you use camel case for phrases like “MyFileName”). If I were employing these naming conventions when storing this article, it would be named “2022-July-DigitalHygiene.docx”. Of course, it is important to use the same naming conventions across all your files to ensure the best searchability.

5. Serialize File Names

Another way to use your file and folder names to make your data easy to navigate is to use serialization. This is when you use letters and numbers to add prefixes or suffixes to your file names so that they sort in a particular order alphabetically. This method is commonly used when many of the same kind of files are saved together and need to have distinct names. Some examples include adding a number to the end of a file name (“JulyArticle01”, “JulyArticle02”, “JulyArticle03”, etc.) or adding the date (“20220701_Article”, “20220714_Article”, “20220716_Article”, etc.). Use file name serialization in as many places as necessary in your data to make your data as easy to navigate as possible.

Conclusion

By following these five strategies, you’ll be more successful at keeping all your documents organized and easily accessible. To learn more about virtual organization and best practices, stay tuned for our next article in our digital hygiene series: Decluttering Your Inbox for Greater Productivity.

If you are not currently working with us and would like to learn more about Kite Technology’s IT and Consulting Services, please get in touch with us to schedule a conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 
 

Digital Hygiene Series:

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Digital Hygiene Series: Tips for Optimizing Your Computer’s Performance

We all love working on a brand-new computer because it is fast and responsive. However, over time, our new computers seem to slow down until they eventually become difficult and frustrating to use effectively. In this first article of our Digital Hygiene Series, we’ll share steps that you can take to slow down your computer’s degradation which will in turn improve its performance and your user experience.

1. Remove Unused Applications

Over time we install applications on our computers we need for one reason or another, and then we often forget we installed them. After a while, we end up with many applications we never use. It is easy to forget about these because we no longer see them. However, they are still taking up computer storage and potentially processing power, so removing unused applications is vital. It’s essential to take the time to audit your applications list regularly to make sure you have only the apps you need and use. Immediately uninstall applications when you no longer need them to keep your applications list as short as possible and reduce the amount of computer storage used.

2. Disable Startup Programs

Some programs installed on your computer have components that automatically run when you start your computer and continue to run the entire time, and you may not even realize it. Even though a program is installed because you still use it occasionally, you may have no reason to have those components run at startup. So, it is worth considering which of your startup programs you can disable to reduce your computer’s load at startup. To access your startup programs, open Task Manager and go to the Startup tab. Here, you can see which programs are enabled at startup and choose which ones to disable by right-clicking them and clicking “Disable”. You should become familiar with all the items in your Startup tab, so research any that you don’t recognize immediately to decide whether it needs to stay enabled at startup.

3. Reboot Frequently

This one is pretty simple: Generally speaking, the longer your computer goes without rebooting, the slower it becomes over time. If you have ever worked on a computer that hasn’t rebooted in weeks or even months, you can probably observe a considerable improvement from a single reboot. It is certainly best to reboot your computer once a day. I typically recommend rebooting when you finish the day so you can start work the next day on a fresh boot. Rebooting your computer at the end of the workday instead of the beginning allows you to promptly begin work each day without waiting for a reboot. You’ll also be less tempted to skip the reboot because of feeling rushed to get started working right away.

4. Keep Up with System Updates

System updates are released monthly at the very least and often more frequently, especially patches for security vulnerabilities. It is best to install updates as soon as possible after they become available and have been reasonably tested to ensure they don’t cause instabilities. Both Windows and macOS offer the ability to automatically check for and install updates, which is better than having to remember to go in and check manually every so often. The worst thing you can do is ignore the need for system updates because your computer will likely slow down, could lose functionality, and you may risk exposing yourself to serious security vulnerabilities. It is also essential to ensure you are not only updating your operating system but also your BIOS and firmware. If you are part of an organization, your administrator should have a process for regularly deploying system updates across all computers.

5. Keep Up with Third-Party Updates

Third-party updates refer to any updates for applications and drivers you have installed on your computer. Some programs may require that you check for updates manually, but most programs have an automatic update process just like your system updates. Often you will see programs show a notification in the system tray alerting you that an update is ready to be installed. Like system updates, you should install third-party updates quickly once they have been reasonably tested. If you are part of an organization, third-party updates should be handled by a process run by your administrator.

Conclusion

If you are experiencing slow computer performance, implementing these practices more consistently will help it run more efficiently and help you enjoy an overall better experience.
 
One word of caution is to make sure to double check that there isn’t malware or a virus causing lags or poor performance. If you are already implementing these strategies consistently but still experiencing lags or slow speeds, you should look into what else might be causing these issues. If you’re working with Kite Technology, contact our IT Help Desk to get some help! 
 
If you are not currently working with us and would like to learn more about Kite Technology’s IT and Consulting Services, please get in touch with us to schedule a conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 
 

Digital Hygiene Series:

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Enhance Your Workflows with Microsoft PowerToys

Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. There are so many tools available that could improve your workflows, so we’ve gathered some of our favorites here from the app Microsoft PowerToys. Microsoft PowerToys is a set of utilities that you can use to tune and customize your Windows experience for greater productivity. It’s one app with many tools. Some are still under development, so note you may see some bugs. 

Installing Microsoft PowerToys

  1. Open the Microsoft store from the Start menu and search “PowerToys”
  2. Select to “Install”. Once complete, a welcome window will open with information about the app. Close the welcome window.
    Note: you may need an administrator password to complete the installation.
  3. To open PowerToys, locate the icon in the taskbar tray. Right-click the icon and select “Settings”. 
  4. The resulting window has all the tools and the settings to adjust each one.
    Note: By default, PowerToys enables every tool. This can cause some unexpected behavior, so we recommend disabling all of them and then re-enabling the tools you choose to use. 

Tool 1: Always on Top

The Always on Top tool allows you to select a window to keep above all other windows. This is great for keeping a calculator or sticky note window on top of other windows. 

 

  1. Enable the tool
  2. The tool is bound to an Activation Shortcut. This key-combination will enable the selected window to be on top. To adjust the shortcut, click on the edit icon and type the preferred key-combination into the keyboard. Select “Save” when done. 
  3. When a window is selected to be on top, a border will outline the window. Change the color and width of the border to preference. 
  4. The tool is now enabled. To activate it, click the window to be on top and push the activation shortcut keys.

Tool 2: Fancy Zones

The Fancy Zones tool creates windows layouts to make multi-tasking easy. Use default templates or create custom layouts. Different layouts can be applied to different monitors for maximum customization. 

  1. Enable the tool
  2. Launch the layout editor
  3. The resulting window displays the available monitors at the top and available templates to apply to the monitors below. To apply a layout to a monitor, select the monitor (highlighted in blue) and then select the layout template. Close the layout editor to apply the change.
  4. To create a custom layout, click the “Create new layout” button. Name the custom template and select either Grid or Canvas. Click “Create”.
  5. The custom editor allows you to create, reposition, and resize windows as needed. When done adjusting, select “Save & Apply”.
  6. Once a layout is applied to a monitor, the layout is enabled. Drag a window while holding the Shift key to see the available zones and place a window in a zone. It will snap the window to the size and position of the zone. 

Tool 3: Power Rename

The Power Rename tool is a file explorer extension for bulk renaming files. 

  1. Enable the tool
  2. Open File Explorer. Select all the files to bulk rename (use shift + click or ctrl + click). Right-click the selection and click “PowerRename” from the resulting menu. 
  3. The resulting menu gives us options for identifying the original files names to be changed and changes that can be made to create the new file names. The right column is a preview of all the transformed file names. 

Transformation options include:

    • Search and replace: search for a text string or regular expression and replace with a different text string or regular expression. Can be applied to filename or file extensions.
    • Choose to apply the change to file names, folder names, and/or subfolders.
    • Choose the text formatting of the new filenames.
    • Apply enumeration to the new filenames
    • Use regular expressions within search and replace. Click on the ? symbol next to replace to see regular expression options.
  •  

4. To apply the file name transformations, select “Apply”

 

Conclusion

PowerToys has many tools not covered in this article, but they are available for you to explore and incorporate into your workflow. If you are a KiteTech client and would like some help using PowerToys, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Help Desk for assistance.

If you’re not currently working with Kite Technology and would like to learn more about our Managed IT and Consulting Services for businesses, please contact us to schedule a conversation. We’d love the opportunity to learn more about your organization and see how we can help! 

Beth Mabe

Beth Mabe

Help Desk Technician
Kite Technology Group

Simplify Scheduling with FindTime in Outlook

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FindTime is a Microsoft Outlook add-in that’s very effective! Many of us struggle to manage our schedules and can spend a lot of time emailing back and forth to set a meeting time with colleagues or clients. 

FindTime streamlines this process by aggregating the availability of your contacts, helping narrow down meeting time options quickly. It is available for Outlook on Mac, PC, and the web application. Here’s how to use it!

Step 1: Install FindTime

  1. Go to MS Outlook homepage.
  2. Click on “Get Add-ins” on the top right of the homepage.
  3. Search for “FindTime” and click “Add.”
  4. Once installed, you’ll see it on the top right of your screen near the “Get Add-ins” button.

Step 2: Use FindTime to Create a Meeting Time Options Poll

  1. Start by opening a new email or replying to a client or colleague who wants to set up a meeting. 
  2. Add required attendees to your email in the “To” field. Additionally, you can add any optional attendees in the “CC” field. 
  3. Once you have your attendees selected, click on the “FindTime” button. 
  4. The FindTime panel will open on the right hand of the screen, where you can see the availability of anyone whose calendar you have “view” access for.
  5. This panel will show the availability status of the contacts you added into your email. You will then be able to see the mutual free times that are available. These options go into a poll that is sent to the client(s), so they can select their preferred option. 

Step 3: Customize Your Options

  1. In the FindTime panel, you can set options such as location, duration or meeting, and the times you’re available. You can also select an option to set up a Teams meeting.
  2. When you have adjusted all your settings, click “next.” This will add the poll to your email so that the client can see all the available options to set up a meeting. 

Step 4: Next Steps (From the Client)

  1. From the client’s perspective, they receive an email with a link with the poll to schedule a meeting. It looks something like this:
  2. The client can select their preferred meeting time, and then FindTime will go ahead and book a time that works for everyone else. 
  3. Once that’s done, FindTime sends an email confirming the meeting details and adds it to the calendar of all the parties involved. 

And that’s it! It’s as simple as gathering the availability from colleagues and sending a poll to your client. There are many benefits to FindTime:

  • Clients can choose a time that works best for them without being limited to just a few options. 
  • Streamlines communications so there are less emails back and forth. 
  • Selects options that work for all the parties identified as needing to be part of the meeting. 
  • Integrates with your calendar and MS Teams functions. 

FindTime is an underrated feature of Microsoft Outlook. Try it today to see just how helpful it is! And if you’d like to learn more technology tips and tricks or watch some of our other video tutorials, check out Kite Technology Group’s YouTube channel. Or, visit Kite Technology Group’s website to find out more about our Managed IT Services. 

Matt Saxton

Matt Saxton

Client Experience Manager
Kite Technology Group

What to Expect with the Windows 11 Release

Windows 11 was officially announced on June 24th, confirming rumors from several different sources over the past few months and was released as of October 5th. The new operating system is available as a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs, or on new hardware that ships with Windows 11 pre-loaded. Like many Windows upgrades in the past, it will be rolled out in phases. New eligible devices will get the upgrade first, and then Windows 11 will become available for more in-market devices.

What can you expect from this upcoming change? How will the upgrade impact your workflow? Can you use new features to assist you or should you be prepared to learn your operating system all over again? Kite Technology wants to help keep you informed on what you can expect from the Windows 11 update.

What is new with Windows 11?

1. Location of Start Menu and Start Button

The first thing you should notice with your brand new Windows 11 install is that your Start Menu and Start Button are no longer located on the bottom left-hand side of your screen, instead they are centered on your Taskbar. The new Start Menu attempts to clean up your program list and make it a lot easier to find the things you need. If you are signed into OneDrive on your computer, you can see what files were recently accessed, even if they weren’t accessed from your PC!

2. Layout Changes

Another small cosmetic change is that the edges of your programs are rounded instead of sharp, making your experience a little easier on your eyes. This will be useful when multiple programs are open at once. To make this easier Microsoft is introducing new Snap Layouts and Snap Groups. These features will allow you to multitask how you want, having several pages of snapped together windows and easy access to resizing buttons.

3. Desktops Feature

The new Desktops feature will allow you to have individually set-up home menus and screens for your pc, allowing you to easily switch between multiple sets of programs. Functionally, you could have a different group for every project you may be working on.

4. Microsoft Teams Accessibility

If you or your office uses Microsoft Teams, some features like chat are now instantly accessible from the Taskbar. Meaning that you can access conversations, mute and unmute, and even present to your groups with a single click!

5. New Widget and Gestures

Microsoft is also adding a new Widget and Gestures system to Windows 11. This will allow you to quickly drag a widget panel over your screen when you want to check the weather or look up how your favorite stock is doing at a glance. Microsoft is also planning 3rd party support for their widget menu, meaning you’ll have a whole host of useful widgets to choose from during your workday.

Native touch Gestures mean that for those of us with touchscreens or 2-in-1’s, it is now easy to move things around on screen and access what we need. Wake on Touch is another feature coming to your PC to help it behave a bit more like a tablet or phone, waking your computer up only after you touch the screen.

6. Support for Android Apps

The last large change we’ll be covering is that Windows 11 supports Android apps. You’ll be able to download them straight from the Microsoft store. This means you can download your favorite time-tracking or productivity app and use it natively from your desktop just like any other program.

Windows 11 is shaping up to be a feature packed update that will give you loads of new options to use your PC how you want. But Microsoft is also making sure to optimize your OS and make it faster than ever while still remaining recognizable. And while we don’t know a whole lot about it yet, Microsoft is also bumping up security for Windows 11, working hard to make sure your sensitive data is always secure.

So, how do you upgrade to Windows 11?

Now that you know a little more about what to expect with Windows 11, you’re probably wondering how to go about upgrading. Fortunately, Microsoft has made Windows 11 a free upgrade for all existing Windows 10 users.

To upgrade to Windows 11, simply open up your Update & Security tab on your system page. From there:

  • Click Windows Update
  • Next click Check for Updates
  • Once available click Download and Install
  • Give the program some time and your PC will restart with Windows 11

For any work devices managed by your internal or outsourced IT provider, you’ll want to stay in line with their policy and process for rolling out updates to your business. Before upgrading your work device, you should reach out to your IT provider and learn what their plan is for upgrading to Windows 11. For example, here at KiteTech, our default stance is to block the Windows 11 upgrade, preventing our managed users’ computers from upgrading automatically. As Windows 11 continues to gain steam in the market, KiteTech will work with our clients to develop a rollout strategy that’s appropriate for their organization.

Would you like to learn more about technology solutions that can benefit your business? Kite Technology is here to help. We are passionate about helping the organizations we work with leverage technology to improve their performance and profitability. Contact us today, to learn how our Managed IT and Technical Consulting Services can benefit your organization. 

Selecting the Right Warranty for your Computer Hardware

It's more important than ever to select the right warranty for your computer or laptop

With the Worldwide Intel Chip shortage creating a limited supply of most consumer equipment, including desktop computers and laptops, making sure your devices last a long time is more critical than ever. You already know that it’s essential to purchase good equipment from reputable sellers. However, something that I find clients don’t always consider is making sure to protect their devices by selecting the right warranty for their computer hardware. In May of this year, Reuters reported that the chip shortage might last for several years, so new devices may become even more scarce than they are today.  

So, with manufacturer warranties being more crucial than ever, it’s essential to choose wisely. There are usually several types of warranties to choose from when making a purchase. Here at Kite Technology, we always recommend full coverage of workstations, laptops, and other office devices. Purchasing full coverage not only extends the life of an expensive device but also allows for the replacement of a device if it is beyond basic repair or accidentally damaged. 

In this article, I’ll review a few different warranty types so that you can be sure to select the right one when you purchase your next device.

Depot Warranty/Basic Hardware Service

Can you afford to have your device out of your possession for a few weeks? This is the question you must ask yourself when considering a Depot Warranty or Basic Hardware Service. Although it’s the least expensive warranty option, this option usually requires you to return the device for repairs if the manufacturer’s technical staff cannot repair the device virtually. In some cases, Kite Technology has experienced wait times of 4 to 6 weeks for the return of devices. If you can afford to go without your device for a few weeks, this may work for you. However, in this scenario, we highly recommend that you have a backup device that you can use while your other device is being repaired.  

Pro or Premier Support

The second level of warranties includes those that will, after a call to the technical desk, send a technician to your home or office to repair the device. One to five-year warranties are available for most machines but check with your manufacturer to be sure. Also, ensure that you understand what the exclusions are for these options

Pro or Premier Plus Warranty

The Pro or Premier Plus Warranties are what I recommend the most because they cover just about everything. As I mentioned previously, every manufacturer has different coverage, so you should always visit their official website to find out what is covered. However, this service is usually the best bet to protect your device AND get the on-site resources if needed, so you don’t have to go without what I’m sure is your most valuable business tool. Also, keep in mind that, sometimes, these warranties include Accident Protection and other much-needed coverage.  

Additional Computer Warranty Considerations

Below are some additional warranties that you’ll want to consider when selecting a warranty for your computer or laptop. Some manufacturers include these services in their top warranty offering, but others sell them as add-on services.

Warranty Extensions

If you are close to the warranty end-of-life on an existing device, a warranty extension (if allowed by the manufacturer) will continue to protect your device. When purchasing a warranty extension, I recommend that you purchase the full value of your device. It also keeps the responsibility on the manufacturer to maintain an inventory of parts and labor to service a device beyond the initial standard warranty.  

Hard Drive Protection

You’ll also want to consider Hard Drive Protection for your data. When repairing a device, some manufacturers will erase the entire drive in order to start with a clean Operating System; thus, you may lose your data. Hard Drive protection will save your data when it’s in the manufacturer’s hands. However, I highly recommend that you still back up your data even with the hard drive protection before sending your device for repair. 

Extended Battery Protection

The most vulnerable component in your laptop is your battery, and most manufacturers only warranty the battery on laptops for up to one year. Consider extending that to 3 years and read up on how to maintain your laptop battery so you can extend its life. 

Accident Protection

This one speaks for itself, and personally, I would never buy a laptop without it. You’ll want to keep in mind that each manufacturer (and third-party companies) have their exclusions to consider, so make sure you read the fine print.  

Hopefully, this article has helped clarify the differences between the various warranty options and help you select the right warranty for your computer or laptop. I’ll leave you with this final point – the warranty you select should not be based on price but on the service you want to receive, and the risk associated with not having the proper coverage. If you have additional questions about business class warranties or would like to learn more about the IT Services Kite Technology provides, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d be happy to schedule a conversation and offer some insight into any technical challenges you are facing or projects you’d like to complete. 

Tom Brooks

Tom Brooks is the VP of Business Development at Kite Technology Group.  KiteTech provides Managed IT Services and Consulting to professional organizations and independent insurance agencies across the country.  KiteTech is proud to have earned the CompTIA Security Trustmark+, certifying that we meet or exceed security best practices. 

adam atwell

Adam Atwell

Cloud solutions architect

Adam is passionate about consulting with organizations across the country to help them develop and execute a cloud adoption strategy that meets their business needs and future objectives. Adam oversees and manages our company strategy for Microsoft 365 adoption and is responsible for future growth and development inside Microsoft 365 and other cloud technologies.