Internet bandwidth requirements for remote workers

Working from home is here to stay, and more businesses will continue to implement either a fully remote work policy or adopt a hybrid work model strategy. Some employees, however, may find it difficult to be as productive at home as they are at the office, especially if they don’t have sufficient internet bandwidth. But how much internet bandwidth is necessary to be able to work smoothly?

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth refers to the maximum data transfer rate possible in a network or internet connection. It indicates the amount of data that can be sent over a connection in a given amount of time, and is usually expressed in bits per second (bps).

Imagine two computers with the same internet speed at 100 megabits per second (Mbps): the first computer only has a 50 Mbps bandwidth, while the second one has 100 Mbps. If they were to download the same packet with 500 megabits (Mb), the first computer would be able to do it in 10 seconds, while the second one could do it in just 5.

This is because the first computer’s bandwidth is capped at 50 Mbps — even with a high-speed internet service, the limit of transfer would still be low. Therefore, the higher the bandwidth, the more data can be sent over a connection, contributing to faster uploads and downloads and a better internet experience overall.

How much bandwidth do you need for remote working?

To answer this question, you need to factor in the type of work that you do and the apps that you use. If your job mostly consists of sending emails, editing and writing on Google Docs, and communicating on Slack, then you can do your job with ease even with a low bandwidth. On the other hand, if your day-to-day tasks consist of frequently attending meetings through video calls, then you’d need a plan with higher bandwidth.

Once you have a clear picture of how much data you send and receive on an average workday, you can start looking for plans that can support your needs. And while you don’t need to conduct virtual meetings in 4K quality, you also won’t want your clients and colleagues to appear pixelated during a meeting. Neither would you want a session that gets choppy or cut off mid-conversation.

Here are the minimum requirements for the most common video chat apps used by remote workers today:

For 1:1 video calling:

    • 600 Kbps (up/down) for high-quality video
    • 1.2 Mbps (up/down) for 720p HD video
    • Receiving 1080p HD video requires at least 1.8 Mbps (downspeed)
    • Sending 1080p HD video requires at least 1.8 Mbps (upspeed)

For group video calling:

    • 800 Kbps/1.0 Mbps (up/down) for high-quality video
    • For 720p HD video: 1.5 Mbps (up/down)
    • Receiving 1080p HD video requires at least 2.5 Mbps (downspeed)
    • Sending 1080p HD video requires at least 3.0 Mbps (upspeed)

HD video quality:

    • Outbound signals must always meet a 3.2 Mbps minimum bandwidth requirement.
    • Minimum inbound signals: 2.6 Mbps with two participants; 3.2 Mbps with five participants; and 4.0 Mbps with 10 participants

Standard definition (SD) video quality:

    • Outbound signals must always meet a 1 Mbps minimum bandwidth requirement.
    • Minimum inbound signals: 1 Mbps with two participants; 1.5 Mbps with five participants; and 2 Mbps with 10 participants

Video calling:

    • HD: 1.2 Mbps (up/down)
    • SD: 400 Kbps (up/down)
    • The more participants, the higher the bandwidth requirement for downloads: 512 Kbps for three participants; 2 Mbps for five participants; and 4 Mbps for seven people. Upload requirements remain constant at 128 Kbps.

Teams requires the same upload and download internet bandwidth for the following scenarios:

    • At least 30 Kbps for peer-to-peer audio calling
    • At least 1.2 Mbps for peer-to-peer HD-quality video calling at 720p
    • At least 1.5 Mbps for peer-to-peer HD-quality video calling at 1080p
    • At least 500 Kbps/1 Mbps for group video calling

If you’re worried about your internet bandwidth, you can opt for audio calls instead of video calls. This considerably helps lower the information you need to upload and download.

For more tips and solutions on how you can work from home without a hitch, call us. We’d be happy to help.

This post was originally published on this site

5 Savvy Gmail features you should try

Today, over 1.8 billion people use Gmail, choosing it over other email services for its ease of use and productivity-boosting capabilities. They’ll be surprised to learn that they can still take their Gmail experience up a notch by putting the following features to use.

Undo Send

In the fast-paced world of business, mistakes happen. And because everybody deserves a second chance at writing that email, Gmail has provided a way to recall sent emails — as long as you do it immediately after hitting Send.

To rescind your email, simply click on Undo or View Message > Undo beside the “Message Sent” prompt at the bottom left of your screen.

Gmail templates

Gmail templates, formerly known as canned responses, are pre-written email formats that you can use as is or as the starting point of a fresh email. These are great for regular messages that follow a specific template. Instead of writing the same lines of text over and over again, you can simply choose any of the customizable templates with a few clicks.

Make sure the feature is enabled by clicking on the gear icon at the top-right corner of the screen and then See all settings. Go to the Advanced tab, and select Enable in the Templates section before clicking the Save Changes button at the bottom.

Once this feature is enabled, you can access your Gmail templates by composing a new email and clicking Templates > Insert Template.

Send large attachments with Google Drive

Need to send a high-resolution RAW image to a client but Gmail’s attachment size restrictions won’t let you? You can simply upload your files to Google Drive and click on Share to get a sharing link you can send to your client or your boss.

Alternatively, you can click on the Google Drive icon at the bottom of your email composition window and choose the files you wish to send.

Turn on Priority Inbox

The Priority Inbox feature organizes your messages by importance using machine learning. You’ll be able to divide your inbox into five categories, where the messages will be displayed in the following order:

  1. Important and unread messages
  2. Starred messages
  3. [Customizable category]
  4. [Customizable category]
  5. Everything else

Enable advanced settings

Configuring Gmail’s Advanced Settings is an excellent way to increase email efficiency. Some of these features include Multiple Inboxes, Preview Pane, and custom keyboard shortcuts. Access them by going to Settings > See all settings > Advanced.

Spending the right amount of time with emails while managing other crucial business areas is a balancing act many business owners find difficult. If you have questions or need further assistance regarding Gmail or IT in general, feel free to contact us.

This post was originally published on this site

What is single sign-on and what are its benefits?

Secure logins are a necessity in business, but managing so many user credentials can get tedious. The good news is that you can simplify your organization’s login processes without compromising security by deploying single sign-on.

What is single sign-on (SSO)?

Single sign-on allows you to use one username and one password to provide secure access to multiple websites. If you’ve ever clicked “Continue with Google” on a non-Google website, you’ve already enjoyed the benefits of SSO. It’s faster, simpler, and more secure. With SSO, small businesses can accomplish the same level of efficiency between their employees and cloud platforms.

Instead of requiring in-office and remote workers to track separate accounts for Office 365, Slack, Trello, and other cloud apps your company uses, you can give them a single set of credentials and manage what they have access to remotely. All employees have to do is come enter their designated username and password, and they’re all set for the day.

Why is SSO more secure?

There are a number of ways to set up a small-business SSO solution, but most of them focus on removing login information from your servers. Usually, you’ll provide your employees’ logins to an SSO provider (sometimes referred to as an Identity-as-a-Service provider) and each employee will receive a single login paired with a secondary authentication — like a biometric scan like iOS’s FaceID, or a one-time PIN (OTP) code sent to a personal device.

Every time one of your employees visits a cloud platform, such as Office 365 or Google Workspace, the SSO provider will verify the user’s identity and the connection’s security. If anything goes wrong, your IT provider will be notified.

Should your network or any of the devices connected to it gets compromised, hackers would find nothing but logins to your SSO accounts, which are meaningless without fingerprints or mobile devices.

How to get started with SSO

The first step is making sure you have a healthy and responsive IT support system. You need a team that’s constantly available to review suspicious alerts and troubleshoot employee issues. If you don’t currently have that capacity, contact us today and we’ll help you out!

This post was originally published on this site

Improve your customer reach with a well-designed website

Most modern businesses build and maintain their own website to reach more customers. It’s good to have an online presence, but know that your competitors are also doing their best to optimize their websites for better brand awareness and profitability. Don’t fall behind — follow these web design trends to increase web traffic and boost your bottom line.

Mobile-friendly layouts

Many websites today are designed to have a mobile version. With around 47.07% of all internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it’s safe to assume that you are losing a big percentage of your viewership by not having a mobile-friendly website.

Implementing a thumb-friendly mobile web design is also critical, as most people who browse websites on mobile do so with one hand while on the go or doing another task or activity. Putting important navigation features within reach of a mobile user’s thumb on the screen will greatly improve your website’s user experience.

Website load time

One of the most important web design features these days are high-speed website load times. Site visitors seem to be more impatient than ever, and they would most likely close websites that take three or more seconds to load. According to a study conducted by Pinterest, efforts to speed up web page load times reduced perceived wait times by 40%, resulting in a 15% increase in search engine traffic and sign-ups.

One technique for cutting down load times for content-rich sites is to lazy load the page instead of fully loading it before it can be viewed. Lazy loading is when a browser is configured to only load the portion of the page that is currently viewable on the screen. The parts of the page that are currently off-screen won’t be loaded so that they don’t consume too much processing power. This works great for websites that are configured to have infinite scroll, like Pinterest.

Micro-interactions

Micro-interactions are small animations that provide subtle feedback after they complete an action. These are usually found on navigation and tool buttons to further emphasize the purpose of each button. For example, if your cut button is a pair of scissors, you can make it do a couple of snip motions during mouseover. Or if your delete button is a rubbish bin, you can make its lid pop open during mouseover.

These actions will make your website more lively and easy to navigate for site visitors. It’s also a great way to keep them on your site for longer periods of time.

Micro-animations

Although similar to micro-interactions, micro-animations are more for aesthetic purposes. You can use them to make your site more visually appealing, as well as to subtly direct visitors toward certain parts of your site that you would like to gain more attention. For example, if you run a coffee business, your website’s micro-animations can be a pot of coffee brewing for page loads, or a big puff of steam from an espresso machine for page transitions.

Dark mode

Many users appreciate dark mode because it helps them conserve device power and lessens the strain on their eyes when they browse the internet before bedtime. Websites that offer this option may entice visitors to stick around to read articles and learn more about the product offerings, simply because the site is comfortable to use.

If you need help staying on top of website design trends or adapting to an ever-changing digital landscape in general, give us a call.

This post was originally published on this site

Improve your customer reach with a well-designed website

Most modern businesses build and maintain their own website to reach more customers. It’s good to have an online presence, but know that your competitors are also doing their best to optimize their websites for better brand awareness and profitability. Don’t fall behind — follow these web design trends to increase web traffic and boost your bottom line.

Mobile-friendly layouts

Many websites today are designed to have a mobile version. With around 47.07% of all internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it’s safe to assume that you are losing a big percentage of your viewership by not having a mobile-friendly website.

Implementing a thumb-friendly mobile web design is also critical, as most people who browse websites on mobile do so with one hand while on the go or doing another task or activity. Putting important navigation features within reach of a mobile user’s thumb on the screen will greatly improve your website’s user experience.

Website load time

One of the most important web design features these days are high-speed website load times. Site visitors seem to be more impatient than ever, and they would most likely close websites that take three or more seconds to load. According to a study conducted by Pinterest, efforts to speed up web page load times reduced perceived wait times by 40%, resulting in a 15% increase in search engine traffic and sign-ups.

One technique for cutting down load times for content-rich sites is to lazy load the page instead of fully loading it before it can be viewed. Lazy loading is when a browser is configured to only load the portion of the page that is currently viewable on the screen. The parts of the page that are currently off-screen won’t be loaded so that they don’t consume too much processing power. This works great for websites that are configured to have infinite scroll, like Pinterest.

Micro-interactions

Micro-interactions are small animations that provide subtle feedback after they complete an action. These are usually found on navigation and tool buttons to further emphasize the purpose of each button. For example, if your cut button is a pair of scissors, you can make it do a couple of snip motions during mouseover. Or if your delete button is a rubbish bin, you can make its lid pop open during mouseover.

These actions will make your website more lively and easy to navigate for site visitors. It’s also a great way to keep them on your site for longer periods of time.

Micro-animations

Although similar to micro-interactions, micro-animations are more for aesthetic purposes. You can use them to make your site more visually appealing, as well as to subtly direct visitors toward certain parts of your site that you would like to gain more attention. For example, if you run a coffee business, your website’s micro-animations can be a pot of coffee brewing for page loads, or a big puff of steam from an espresso machine for page transitions.

Dark mode

Many users appreciate dark mode because it helps them conserve device power and lessens the strain on their eyes when they browse the internet before bedtime. Websites that offer this option may entice visitors to stick around to read articles and learn more about the product offerings, simply because the site is comfortable to use.

If you need help staying on top of website design trends or adapting to an ever-changing digital landscape in general, give us a call.

This post was originally published on this site

How do sites with HTTPS make web browsing secure?

If you shop online like many people, you need to make sure that the site’s payment page has HTTPS in its URL. Otherwise, entering your personal and financial information on this page can expose you to risks such as identity theft. Read on to find out why HTTPS makes for a safer online browsing experience.

HTTPS encryption

The “S” in HTTPS stands for “secured.” It was introduced in 1995, so older websites that have been left on their own without regular maintenance usually don’t have it. But even to this day, unsecure websites exist, and fraudsters can easily take advantage of them.

When you visit a site with an HTTP connection, everything you type or click on that website is sent without encryption. This means that anyone who intercepts the data transferred between the website and your computer can view them as is. Cybercriminals know this, and they can exploit this fact to gain access to your Social Security number, credit card information, and other personal data. This puts you at risk of identity theft and other fraudulent activities.

HTTPS certificates

When you visit a website, your computer uses an online directory to translate its alphanumeric name into a numerical address. It then saves that information on your computer so that it doesn’t have to check the online directory every time you visit the same website.

In case your computer gets compromised, it could be manipulated into directing a perfectly safe web address like www.google.com to a malicious website. Most of the time, users are sent to sites that look exactly like the legitimate site but are actually fake copies designed to trick them into divulging their credentials.

To prevent such incidents from happening, the online directories mentioned earlier issue an ecosystem of certificates that turn HTTP into HTTPS, making it impossible for anyone to be redirected to a fraudulent website.

How does this affect our daily browsing habits?

We often visit a multitude of websites in a short period of time without checking each one for padlocks and certificates. Unfortunately, we can’t ignore the importance of HTTPS, so here are a few things to consider the next time you browse the internet:

  • If your browser marks a website as “unsafe,” think twice about clicking “Proceed anyway.” Click the prompt only if you are absolutely certain no confidential data will be transmitted.
  • Add web browser extensions such as HTTPS Everywhere that create encrypted connections to unencrypted websites. These extensions encrypt your communication with websites and are compatible with Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers.
  • Always be vigilant. Some sites may have HTTPS, but it doesn’t mean they’re safe. For example, goog1e.com (with the “l” replaced with a one) could have a certificate, but the misspelling clearly indicates that it’s an untrustworthy site. Cybercriminals use similar spellings of authentic websites to fool people into thinking that they’re on a secure site. This is called typosquatting or URL hijacking.
  • And perhaps, just follow the easiest step of all: avoid sites that don’t use the HTTPS prefix.

If you want to learn more about safer browsing habits and endpoint security, give our office a call.

This post was originally published on this site

How do sites with HTTPS make web browsing secure?

If you shop online like many people, you need to make sure that the site’s payment page has HTTPS in its URL. Otherwise, entering your personal and financial information on this page can expose you to risks such as identity theft. Read on to find out why HTTPS makes for a safer online browsing experience.

HTTPS encryption

The “S” in HTTPS stands for “secured.” It was introduced in 1995, so older websites that have been left on their own without regular maintenance usually don’t have it. But even to this day, unsecure websites exist, and fraudsters can easily take advantage of them.

When you visit a site with an HTTP connection, everything you type or click on that website is sent without encryption. This means that anyone who intercepts the data transferred between the website and your computer can view them as is. Cybercriminals know this, and they can exploit this fact to gain access to your Social Security number, credit card information, and other personal data. This puts you at risk of identity theft and other fraudulent activities.

HTTPS certificates

When you visit a website, your computer uses an online directory to translate its alphanumeric name into a numerical address. It then saves that information on your computer so that it doesn’t have to check the online directory every time you visit the same website.

In case your computer gets compromised, it could be manipulated into directing a perfectly safe web address like www.google.com to a malicious website. Most of the time, users are sent to sites that look exactly like the legitimate site but are actually fake copies designed to trick them into divulging their credentials.

To prevent such incidents from happening, the online directories mentioned earlier issue an ecosystem of certificates that turn HTTP into HTTPS, making it impossible for anyone to be redirected to a fraudulent website.

How does this affect our daily browsing habits?

We often visit a multitude of websites in a short period of time without checking each one for padlocks and certificates. Unfortunately, we can’t ignore the importance of HTTPS, so here are a few things to consider the next time you browse the internet:

  • If your browser marks a website as “unsafe,” think twice about clicking “Proceed anyway.” Click the prompt only if you are absolutely certain no confidential data will be transmitted.
  • Add web browser extensions such as HTTPS Everywhere that create encrypted connections to unencrypted websites. These extensions encrypt your communication with websites and are compatible with Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers.
  • Always be vigilant. Some sites may have HTTPS, but it doesn’t mean they’re safe. For example, goog1e.com (with the “l” replaced with a one) could have a certificate, but the misspelling clearly indicates that it’s an untrustworthy site. Cybercriminals use similar spellings of authentic websites to fool people into thinking that they’re on a secure site. This is called typosquatting or URL hijacking.
  • And perhaps, just follow the easiest step of all: avoid sites that don’t use the HTTPS prefix.

If you want to learn more about safer browsing habits and endpoint security, give our office a call.

This post was originally published on this site

Tips to avoid common browser security dangers

Being tricked into visiting malicious websites and getting your computer infected with malware is not the only way your business data can get compromised. By browsing the net without using security measures, your computers and data could get into trouble. FYI: your web browser knows a lot about the sites you visit, including the credentials you use to access financial and business accounts. Secure your browsers and your data by following these steps.

Install ad blocking software

Online ads may seem harmless, but they can contain scripts and widgets that send your data to a third party. A decent ad blocking program will stop banner, rollover, and pop-up ads, and prevent you from inadvertently visiting a site that may contain malware.

Many blockers also come with additional features such as the ability to disable cookies and scripts used by third parties on sites, the option to block specific items, and options to “clean up” Facebook and hide YouTube comments.

Prevent browser tracking

If you don’t like the idea of a third party (reputable or otherwise) tracking your browsing habits, enable private browsing using built-in tools in your internet browser such as Chrome’s Incognito mode or Safari’s Private Browsing windows. This offers protection against tracking by blocking third-party cookies as well as malware. Some browser extensions also boast secure Wi-Fi and bandwidth optimization, and can guard against tracking and data collection from social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Set up a virtual private network (VPN)

Unfortunately, browser tracking and adware are not the only internet nasties that you need to be concerned about. Hackers can intercept sensitive data between two parties, allowing them to steal and exploit valuable information such as bank details, login credentials, and other personal information. Installing a VPN can help solve this problem. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, effectively shutting out anyone who may be trying to see what you’re browsing.

Install antivirus and anti-malware software

Finally, it goes without saying that having antivirus and anti-malware software installed on your PC, tablet, and smartphone is crucial if you want to ensure your online safety. These software programs are your first defense against malicious parties intent on stealing your data.

Is browsing at your workplace secure? Would you like a more comprehensive security system for your business? We can tell you all about it and help protect your business from online threats. Get in touch with us today.

This post was originally published on this site

Tips to avoid common browser security dangers

Being tricked into visiting malicious websites and getting your computer infected with malware is not the only way your business data can get compromised. By browsing the net without using security measures, your computers and data could get into trouble. FYI: your web browser knows a lot about the sites you visit, including the credentials you use to access financial and business accounts. Secure your browsers and your data by following these steps.

Install ad blocking software

Online ads may seem harmless, but they can contain scripts and widgets that send your data to a third party. A decent ad blocking program will stop banner, rollover, and pop-up ads, and prevent you from inadvertently visiting a site that may contain malware.

Many blockers also come with additional features such as the ability to disable cookies and scripts used by third parties on sites, the option to block specific items, and options to “clean up” Facebook and hide YouTube comments.

Prevent browser tracking

If you don’t like the idea of a third party (reputable or otherwise) tracking your browsing habits, enable private browsing using built-in tools in your internet browser such as Chrome’s Incognito mode or Safari’s Private Browsing windows. This offers protection against tracking by blocking third-party cookies as well as malware. Some browser extensions also boast secure Wi-Fi and bandwidth optimization, and can guard against tracking and data collection from social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Set up a virtual private network (VPN)

Unfortunately, browser tracking and adware are not the only internet nasties that you need to be concerned about. Hackers can intercept sensitive data between two parties, allowing them to steal and exploit valuable information such as bank details, login credentials, and other personal information. Installing a VPN can help solve this problem. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, effectively shutting out anyone who may be trying to see what you’re browsing.

Install antivirus and anti-malware software

Finally, it goes without saying that having antivirus and anti-malware software installed on your PC, tablet, and smartphone is crucial if you want to ensure your online safety. These software programs are your first defense against malicious parties intent on stealing your data.

Is browsing at your workplace secure? Would you like a more comprehensive security system for your business? We can tell you all about it and help protect your business from online threats. Get in touch with us today.

This post was originally published on this site

Cloud-based ERP and its benefits

Using the cloud is so common these days that most small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) have at least one cloud service supporting their operations. An increasingly popular cloud-based service is enterprise resource planning (ERP). But what is it? And what are the advantages of using a cloud-based ERP solution? Here’s a quick and informative overview.

Define: Cloud-based ERP

ERP is management software, usually offered as a bundle of applications, that aims to help businesses automate the collection, storage, management, and interpretation of data from disparate sources like accounting, inventory, marketing, service delivery, etc. With ERP, business owners and managers can get an integrated real-time view of business processes, resources, and commitments.

Cloud-based ERP solutions are simply a suite of ERP apps delivered to users over the internet, usually accessed via a browser. The software usually does not need to be installed on computers and is offered on a per-user, per-month, flat-rate fee.

Companies using a cloud-based integrated ERP solution have experienced the following five benefits:

1. Decreased operating costs

An in-house ERP solution requires purchasing software and hardware to support it. Once you’ve built the solution’s infrastructure, you need to hire staff to install and maintain it. All of these will drive up the overall IT budget, something most SMBs cannot immediately afford.

But with a cloud-based ERP system, you normally only have to pay a flat-rate monthly fee, so the total cost of implementation will likely be far lower. Many providers can also manage the solution for you (i.e., they’ll take care of maintenance, upgrades, etc.). This will even out your operating costs, and if implemented correctly, will result in an overall decrease in expenses.

2. Increased ERP performance over in-house solutions

In-house ERP solutions require correctly configured hosting and proper maintenance to function at their most efficient. Your IT staff will be responsible for both, but if these are done poorly, then performance suffers.

With cloud-based solutions, the provider takes care of hosting the solution. You know that system maintenance is being done by experts, so you’re assured that your ERP software will be at peak performance.

3. Enhanced access to information

Companies that don’t have any ERP system will likely struggle to find the information they need, when they need it. ERP programs can help consolidate the relevant information in a more effective manner than, say, spreadsheets.

And since cloud-based ERP solutions are accessible via the internet, you now have access to the information you need from anywhere with an internet connection.

4. Continued support

Providers of cloud-based ERP solutions offer 24/7 support and can fix problems faster than if you leave them to your employees. They also make sure to keep their solutions updated. Hackers have been known to attack businesses that use outdated versions of popular ERP programs.

5. Increased security

ERP systems process critical business information, so you will want to keep your data secure from outside sources and unauthorized users within your organization.

In this regard, cloud-based ERP solutions have enhanced security measures that protect your data in storage and when it moves from your systems to the host servers.

And for internal data security, users will need an assigned account to access your ERP system. This gives you control over who is given an account or not. Furthermore, you can also limit who can access your system via central admin panels. All of these features make cloud-based ERP solutions more secure than in-house ones.

If you want to learn more about cloud-based ERP solutions, contact us. We’ll be glad to assist you.

This post was originally published on this site