How to set up a new computer in 25 minutes

As IT folks, we know that setting up new computers takes way too long—sometimes 3 hours or even more. And it’s often extremely boring and tedious, especially if you do it a lot and if many of your computers have the same configuration.

 you when you’re told you have to set up yet another computer

you when you’re told you have to set up yet another computer

Inevitably, it also seems like users will very often come back and say something isn’t working quite right on the new computer and you have to go back and fix it.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are solutions to affordably (read: $0) and easily (read: not SCCM or MDT) clone and image a sample computer to create what’s called a “golden image” and then deploy the golden image to other computers, even different models. (That said, it’s recommended to standardize your computer models. We’ll discuss why in a future post!)

One of these solutions is Veeam’s Agent for Windows product that is marketed as image-based backup software for servers and workstations, but which can essentially do imaging, even onto different system models (also known as “dissimilar hardware”). You can even include drivers for other target computers in the image. The product even includes the ability to create DVD or USB-based Recovery Media, which includes both Veeam and Microsoft tools to troubleshoot system startup issues and restore the image.

 Veeam agent for windows recovery media screen

Veeam agent for windows recovery media screen

Veeam Agent for Windows (VAW) supports backing up to and restoring an image from USB drive or SMB network folders. The most time-consuming part of “setting up” the computer will be waiting for the restore operation to complete and then making tweaks and tying up loose ends, such as changing software license keys or associated accounts for the new user’s particular computer and other specific configurations for that user’s computer.

You generally don’t even need to sysprep the image. The OEM Windows key is also embedded in the BIOS chip so you won’t have to enter a product key when you restore the image onto another computer.

One caveat: sometimes, there are a few unpredictable and usually minor glitches here and there—perhaps running a repair on a program or a reconfiguration of a program there. Also make sure to check Device Manager and fix any driver issues that you may see, which sometimes seem to pop up for no reason even if you properly loaded the drivers when restoring the image. Finally, ensure you run through a computer setup checklist before considering the setup a success and handing over the computer to the end user.

On average, we find this method of cloning computers takes the time of an average computer setup from about 2.5-3 hours to just 20-30 minutes!

Here’s a great YouTube video we found that shows you exactly how to use Veeam Agent for Windows to clone and restore an image onto a different computer! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjStIFYK3nA

Case Study: A company’s network goes down yet again. Their next decision gets them back in business—for good

door_automation_logo.png

Door Automation is a Long Island-based company that sells and services automatic and manual, swing, sliding, and revolving doors for commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings. They’ve done installations for customers like The Whitney Museum, the Apple Store, the Microsoft Store, Home Depot, several airports, and many more. Their roots date back to 1970.

The problem

Part of Door Automation’s network had gone down yet again. Josh Gatoff, President of Door Automation, was fed up. He’d had many IT consultants over his time running Door Automation and he was super frustrated because none of them were very good.

He says, “They were constantly doing temporary patches to get things to work, rather than actually fixing things. As soon as they fixed something, it worked for a couple days and then something else would happen. It was just like, continuous remote access, onsite access to fix things and just constant billing.” They all charged for every minute they worked.

Josh and his staff were incredibly frustrated at constantly having to call the IT consultant back to fix issues the company had claimed they had already fixed, and this incident was the final nail in the coffin. He wanted a company that would fix IT issues once and for all.

The decision that changed their business

In mid-2015, he asked his personal network for referrals to an IT firm that would fix issues permanently and give his company the attention they deserved. No one would put their name behind their IT consultant. All of them had the same complaints of continuous “Band-Aid” fixes that didn’t last.

Finally, he asked his brother-in-law, a successful beverage industry entrepreneur with whom we’d been working for several months. He wholeheartedly recommended us and Josh called us to discuss his IT needs.

We then put Door Automation on our managed services plan where we proactively monitor and maintain his IT systems. This was something Josh had never done before so it was a big mindset shift for him. But once he became comfortable with the idea, this single shift became a godsend. He says, “You're always out there looking to prevent something from happening [to our network].”

Permanent fixes

Josh is incredibly happy that he’s found an IT firm that doesn’t apply temporary, “Band-Aid,” fixes that either break other things or stop working after some time. He says, “There have been much less problems when you walk in in the morning that things don't work, where in the past every day we'd walk in and there was someone having a problem.”

He continues, “We're placing much less service calls today to get things working, where before there was always a problem and something needed to be done to get us back working. So some of the things are being done for us without us having to call you.”

Predictable costs

Josh had never been exposed to the flat-fee managed services model of IT before. He was initially reluctant because he thought the costs would be higher than simply calling an hourly-based IT consultant instead.

But Josh says, “I think it's very close to being parallel [to the hourly model he was used to]. … Instead of getting big bills and small bills all throughout the year, it's just a flat monthly fee. … It's part of your budget. You know what it's going to be every month and you know what you're supposed to get for it. … It's like making your car payment. … The main monthly invoice doesn't need to be reviewed. It can just get paid. ”

Less stress and downtime

With previous IT consultants, computers would get viruses or suddenly stop working and Josh’s staff would literally be in his office doorway screaming that they couldn’t work. Computers going down made an already demanding work environment far more stressful. Josh says, “[My staff are] not IT people. They should get there and their computer should work.”

With InstanTek’s managed services, Josh says, “[People] aren’t standing in front of my office causing stress, preventing me from working.”

Based on InstanTek’s reports that are generated from our 24x7x365 monitoring, we have kept Door Automation’s network uptime at over 99.9%, or reduced Door Automation’s downtime to less than .1%.

More peace of mind

With our proactive managed services, we’re constantly looking out for new ways to secure our clients’ networks and keep their IT systems running better.

Josh says, “you're constantly doing updates and watching out for issues that are going on that we can't see and doing little fixes without us knowing it.”

“[The biggest surprise] has been that there was a service to monitor us and to be checking and trying to fix things before we notice them and constantly be looking for bugs and not having to have my staff be involved in it, was the biggest surprise. Good surprise.”

Increased revenue

For Josh and his staff, time is money. “[When my computer doesn’t work], I can't do any work. I can't get my estimates out, that means I can’t get a new job, and I can't send bills out so I can't collect any money. … I have less of that now.”

The reduce downtime and increased productivity has directly impacted Door Automation’s bottom line, which was an unexpected “side” benefit of engaging with InstanTek.

Conclusion

Josh didn’t realize and was incredibly happy to learn that “there was a service to monitor us and to be checking and trying to fix things before we notice them and constantly be looking for bugs and not having to have my staff be involved in it, was the biggest surprise. Good surprise.”

Josh and his staff now have far more peace of mind, they have far fewer IT issues, office morale has gone up and people are no longer stressed out and panicking when their computers go down, and their IT costs have stabilized.


Want these same results for your business? Get in touch today and let’s chat!

10 Reasons IT Managers Should Outsource Daily IT Support

Is this part of your daily experience as an IT manager?

  • “I can’t print!” you hear as you get a tap on the shoulder from Alice in Accounting.

  • “HELP ME! My Gmail won’t load and I NEED to get this customer quote out NOW,” writes Bob in sales.

  • “My Excel is frozen!” yells John in marketing, who’s analyzing the latest Google Analytics numbers for that new marketing campaign execs are pinning their hopes on.

If you’re like many IT managers of fast-growing small businesses or startups, this may be a daily reality for you. Perhaps you’re interrupted so often, you don’t have time to plan and implement that new CRM system the execs have been bugging you about seemingly every day. They just don’t seem to understand your plate is more than full, but overflowing, which just adds to your stress and frustration.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. Managed service providers take care of your daily IT needs so you can focus on the more important and strategic initiatives. A good one will

Here are ten reasons to consider outsourcing your core IT support to a managed service provider, or MSP:

  1. Reduce stress. You probably didn't go into IT to put out constant fires and be stressed out all the time. Outsourcing your daily IT support, such as desktop, server, and network support, to an MSP allows you to stop putting out constant IT fires and reduces stress.

  2. Provide better and faster service to users. Choose an MSP with an SLA that guarantees a response time as low as 15 minutes. Imagine your users getting IT support that quickly—and imagine not having to be involved at all, even CC’d on emails back and forth between users and IT.

  3. Have a one-stop partner to lean on. A good MSP will be a single-stop partner and provide most or all of the IT support you’ll need on an ongoing basis. They may even be able to refer you to a trusted network of folks like Salesforce, SAP consultants, or website developers. You’ll never be alone contending with who to call for what.

  4. IT support for one flat monthly fee. When you outsource to a good MSP, you’ll get ongoing IT support for one fixed monthly fee, no matter how much you or your users need their help. No more of the stressful and uncomfortable back and forths with vendors arguing about IT bills. This also helps you—and the business—budget far more easily.

  5. No more operating blind. Not sure whether your computers are being updated or whether your backups are working every single night? It’s a lot to keep tabs on, between all of your responsibilities and unexpected fires that come up. MSPs take care of patching and updating of your systems, manage and monitor your network for security incidents and hardware or software issues.

  6. Get tools to help you manage your IT. Choose an MSP with a Client Dashboard and order new computers with a click of the mouse for deployment as soon as the next day in the case of unexpected computer failures or new hires. Add new employees by filling out a simple form that ensures they get the exact IT setup they need, with email, a computer, Slack account, Dropbox, and everything else your company uses—every time.

  7. Provide better insights to management. Do you feel like management is always looking for ways to reduce your IT budget, reduce headcount, or veto your recommendations? With a good MSP, you won’t have to worry about this. They’ll provide you insights via a Client Dashboard or emailed reports that show all the IT expenses you’ve had, the ongoing IT needs you have, and even help you budget for equipment replacement and new projects.

  8. Focus on the fun things that got you into IT in the first place. Putting out IT fires constantly probably isn’t why you went into the IT field. By hiring an MSP for your daily IT needs, you can instead focus on projects that are fun, help the company grow, and make you look like a hero to executives and the rest of the business.

  9. Reduce internal staffing needs. Many IT managers don’t enjoy managing people and dealing with office politics. They’d rather do the IT work that got them into IT in the first place. Hiring an MSP means you get a full team instantly that is your partner and doesn’t require adding to your headcount or payroll.

  10. Leverage another company’s infrastructure rather than rolling—and managing—your own. Sure, you could build out a data center to house a disaster recovery or hosting site, but who wants to deal with—or pay for— that? A good MSP will have their own backup and disaster recovery infrastructure and may even be able to help with hosting and implementation of virtualization and cloud build-outs.

These 10 reasons make a pretty compelling case to outsource your daily IT needs to an MSP. In a future article, we’ll give you some useful advice on how to choose an MSP if and when you consider evaluating that as an option.

Have any questions or want to provide feedback about this article? Shoot us a note at info@instantek.com and we’ll be glad to answer your questions or clarify anything.

Thanks for reading!

11 Surprising Ways Your Business Is Leaking Potential Customers Like a Boat with a Gaping Hole

Here’s some bad news: you might be leaking potential customers like a boat with a giant, gaping hole—sending potential customers flocking to your competitors because of what's often an afterthought: your business's phones and phone system.

In this blog post, I'll show you 11 critical mistakes businesses make when it comes to their phone systems that, quite literally (and backed up by studies), make customers hang up and instead call your competitors.

More importantly, I'll show you a fairly simple solution that can reclaim these lost customers in less than 30 days. 

Here are the 11 problems many businesses have with their phone systems that quite simply cause new customer leads to go cold:

  1. Excessive hold times.
    A survey conducted by Google in 2012 found that professionals and executives are only willing to wait on hold one minute or less on average. Over half said they wouldn’t wait at all. So, it’s essential to have a maximum of 60 second (ideally less than 30 second) hold times.
     
  2. Not having valuable on-hold messaging.
    Studies have shown that having relevant, helpful, and reassuring on-hold messages not only keeps callers on hold for up to 3 minutes longer, but one study found that 88% of callers preferred recorded messages including specials over other hold options, and 20% said they’ve made a purchase based on an on-hold promo.
  3. Not responding to voice mails quickly enough.
    According to a Harvard Business Review study, firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.

    How quickly are you getting voicemails? Are you receiving them in your email with an audio attachment so you can quickly listen to the message and return the call? If not, you’re potentially losing customers.

  4. Not giving sales and other critical employees direct phone numbers.
    Do your warm prospects have to navigate through a menu or an inquisitive receptionist to reach the sales person they’ve already talked to? That’s a big no-no. You want to make doing business with you as easy as possible. Even the smallest apparent hurdle can turn off a customer from calling you.

  5. Not having an automated attendant menu.
    When someone isn't there to answer your office's phone calls, do the calls ring endlessly to a phone that no one picks up or go straight to a voice mailbox that isn’t checked at least once per hour? If so, you could literally be losing customers as they turn to a more available competitor.

    It’s best to provide callers with an automated attendant, which is a menu with an announcement that gives the caller options, e.g. “Thank you for calling XYZ Inc. … For sales, press 1. For support, press 2,” etc. This gives the customers an easy decision—and an easy way to reach people who can help them.

  6. Not knowing where your calls are coming from.
    Imagine you call Acme Corp’s sales department and they answer, “Accounting Department, how may I help you?” How confused would you be, not to mention underwhelmed by their lack of professionalism?

    Well, if you don’t know exactly where your calls are coming from or what callers might be looking for, you’re sending that signal right now to potential customers. If a sales lead is calling, you’d probably handle that call differently than if it were a complaint or a technical support question, right?

    Modern, cloud-based PBXs let you have different queues or even dedicated phone numbers for various departments, so you know who’s calling and can send a clear image of professionalism to potential customers.
     

  7. Not knowing how your employees are spending their time.
    In any business, real estate and salaries are often the largest expenses by far. And you aren’t paying employees to sit around and talk on the phone.

    But what if your “rockstar” new programmer is actually talking to his or her spouse for 2 hours a day? Most businesses have little, if any, easy insight into their call records. 

  8. Too many phone numbers to reach you.
    If you’re putting two or more phone numbers into your email signature, forcing people to decide how best to reach you on the phone, you could be leaving business on the table.

    If you’d like to make it easier to interact and do business with you, consider the professional image you’d convey by giving people just one number to reach you.

  9. Poor customer service—and no way to track it.
    What if your customers love your product or service but are disappointed with your phone-based customer service? What if it’s making you lose long-time, previously loyal customers?

  10. Paying way too much for minor changes or maintenance.
    Whether it’s a new extension or desk phone you need installed for a new employee, or a simple update to your phone system that requires an expensive software license renewal and a $400 labor charge, you could be paying way too much for basic maintenance and management of your phone system.

  11. Spending way too much on phone service.
    What’s your phone bill every month? If you’re a business with less than 20 employees and you’re spending $200-$400 or more on your phone bill, you owe it to yourself to get a cost savings assessment of your phone bill.

What's the solution for all these problems?

A modern, cloud-based phone system (also called a PBX). Cloud-based PBXs solve all the problems above and require no equipment other than phones (and you may already have compatible phones). It can potentially cut your monthly phone bill up to 70% and it allows you to work from anywhere—customers and other folks won't even know you're not in the office!   

If you think your business phone system isn't up to snuff and doesn't offer the above features, or you simply want to learn more about cloud-based phone systems, you might consider requesting a free consultation and cost savings assessment to learn more.

Click here to request your free phone cost savings analysis now.

Your free cost savings analysis includes a conversation about your current phone system solution, your business challenges, and we’ll look at your current phone bill and let you know whether we can help reduce your monthly phone bill.