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Should you update to macOS Sierra?

Apple's latest update for the Macintosh operating system is out and ready to be installed on most any Mac built since late 2009.  Dubbed macOS Sierra or macOS version 10.12 this is maybe more subtle than most other years with the main new feature being the addition of Siri to the Mac.   

While Sierra doesn't bring that much new to the party we still suggest upgrading as it usually isn't long before older versions of the macOS become problematic with some software and slower to get security fixes.  While we found Sierra to slow down older machines just a bit we don't feel this should deter you from the upgrade.  

Sierra does want more RAM and we really feel it is best to have 8GB of RAM or more but we have seen great sucess on 4 GB machines so long as you don't intend to run too many things simultanesiously.  

With all updates and upgrades OWT is here to help.  If you are uncomfortable with the upgrade or just want to use our fat Internet connection bring your system to OWT and we can do the update for you economically. 

Should you update to iOS 10?

Apple's annual update for the iPhone and iPad is now avilailble and iOS 10 brings some very nice features even to older devices. You will now need an iPhone 5 or better and an iPad Air or newer to support the update.

Overall we are pleased enough with the update but for most older devices it is a bit slower. This is largely due to added features some of which you can turn off or cripple to improve speed but it isn't too bad.  Bascially the older your device the more likely it is to be slower.  

We have seen some update headaches and a few machines have needed to be restored via iTunes but many of these issues have been worked out with the iOS 10.1 update.  

With all updates and upgrades OWT is here to help.  If you are uncomfortable with the upgrade or just want to use our fat Internet connection bring your system to OWT and we can do the update for you economically. 

Should You Update to Windows 10?

Many of our customers ask us if we think they should upgrade to the latest version of various operating systems. Since so many have been released recently we thought we would share our thoughts with you.Windows 10First of all we like Windows 10. Windows 10 solves most of the problems we had with Windows 8 and doesn't post huge transition issues for Windows 7 users. Whether you should upgrade yet depends on a few variables:

  • If you are intolerant of obvious cosmetic and some less obvious but still troubling bugs you should wait. While mostly reliable there are some problems that have not all been sorted out yet. Windows 10 is being updated frequently and improving every week.
  • While we have found good application support if you have a mission critical application we suggest you check with the vendor to ensure Windows 10 compatibility. Most applications are but a few older applications may have some significant issues.
  • Check with the vendor of your computer. We have seen a few (most notably Sony VAIO) computers that do not have critical drivers supporting Windows 10 available yet. Laptops may be the most prone to these issues. These will come in time.
  • If you use an older printer or really any older device other than an external hard drive you might want to check with the vendor to ensure drivers are available for Windows 10.
  • If you use Windows 8 now you should have little trouble adapting to the new OS but it is a bit of a hybrid between Windows 7 and 8 in the way it works. This will be more daunting to Windows 7 users than Windows 8 users.

Overall we are pretty happy with Windows 10 and generally recommend it to all those using Windows 8 and most Windows 7 users. Windows 10 is a free upgrade for all licensed Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems. We wish Microsoft would extend this program to Windows Vista.

Remember that after you update you may need to upgrade your anti-virus solution! This type of software will certainly require and update. We do not feel you should rely on the built-in anti-virus/mailware capabilities of Windows 10 and suggest either Norton Internet Security or Secure Anywhere - both commercial solutions that work well under Windows 10.

With all updates and upgrades OWT is here to help.  If you are uncomfortable with the upgrade or just want to use our fat Internet connection bring your system to OWT and we can do the update for you economically. 

Should You Update to iOS 9?

Apple's annual update for the iPhone and iPad is now avilailble and the Apple Watch update should be out soon. IOS 9 brings some very nice features even to older devices. If your device was able to run IOS 8 then it can run IOS 9.

Overall we are pretty happy with IOS 9 on the iPad and recommend all users upgrade. So far we haven't seen any major issues with the iPhone update but it is a bit slower than we would like on older hardware. The update doesn't bring that many new features to the 4S, 5 or 5c and so we suggest you wait a bit as Apple typically optimizes their IOS releases over the first 2 months or so after a new release. Also one of our 4S models took over 4 hours to update! Other devices were under 30 minutes so don't give up on an install because you think it has hung. 

iPhone 4S users might notice their device is slower intitally but after some time things seem to pick up and the latest beta is a bit faster and finally as fast as with iOS 8.4.iPad Air and especially iPad Air 2 users and the newer iPad mini devices will enjoy the new features.

With all updates and upgrades OWT is here to help.  If you are uncomfortable with the upgrade or just want to use our fat Internet connection bring your system to OWT and we can do the update for you economically. 

Should You Update to Mac OS 10.11 (El Capitan)?

Released on September 30, 2015. We are running El Capitan on a few machines and overall are pretty happy with it. As with all Mac OS updates your computer will run slowly after the update but after a day our results were good.

Faster launch times and some improved performance but a few changes took some adaptation.

Apple Mail - rules seem to run before SmartMailbox assignments forcing a rework of many SmartMailboxes

Notes - this is dramatically improved! If you have an iOS device upgraded to IOS 9 and use Notes you will need to upgrade for compatibility.

Software compatibility seems pretty good. Even with the beta we had very few problems.Older Adobe software might be problematic and anything that tinkers with the system at all will likely need a significant update.

If your Mac was able to run Mac OS 10.10 "Yosemite" then it can also run 10.1.Overall we recommend this update.

With all updates and upgrades OWT is here to help.  If you are uncomfortable with the upgrade or just want to use our fat Internet connection bring your system to OWT and we can do the update for you economically. 

Wireless access in your home or office

Light BulbA great many of our customers have a wireless router in their home or office location that distributes their Internet connection to the various devices they own such as phones, tablets, computers and game consoles.  This is a great technology and immensely convenient but users should recognize this is also the most likely part of their connectivity to go wrong.  Below are some quick tips to keep in mind when running a wireless access point:

  • A great many devices use similar frequencies.  Bluetooth and Wi-Fi use similar frequencies and many devices in the home or office also use Wi-Fi and it is possible for these devices to interfere with one other.  If you are having problems, try to keep these devices a few feet apart if possible.  

  • Wi-Fi is very much a line-of-sight technology but it will penetrate most walls to some extent.  Accross an open room you should have a strong signal but devices that are far from the Wi-Fi router or have a lot of metal or plumbing between them may have issues.  If it is only distance then consider a Wi-Fi extender product.  We can help with that. If there are appliances between the devices then moving the router is your best bet.  Don't hide the router underneath a desk or behind a cabinet.  Try to have the router fairly high in the room and without any obstructions and certainly away from other electronics.  

  • If there is a microwave operating nearby that will generally always kill a local Wi-Fi transmission. 

  • Generally you should be able to have a computer, cell phone, tablet and even Bluetooth headset all in close proximity to one another without interference but if you are troubleshooting minimize these issues nonetheless.  

  • If the Wi-Fi router is on a separate floor and the access point is not obstructed in anyway and connectivity is still poor consider a Wi-Fi extender placed somewhere between the two devices.  

  • Motors, refrigerators and some other appliances can interfere with Wi-Fi connectivity sometimes.  Keep this in mind when deciding where to place your routers. 

  • Wired connections are always preferred to wireless when possible.  If you digital video device, game console, computer or other device can be connected to your router with an Ethernet cable that is always preferable to a wireless connection.  If you need affordable Ethernet cables at any length we can help with that. 

Ethernet and Wireless Routers and Extenders

Sending Email to Multiple Recipients

Dealing with bulk Emailing might be one of the most challenging things an ISP has to deal with.  So many users bite on phishing attacks or are improperly protected from malware that spammers get a hold of their accounts and use it to send out spam to thousands of unlucky recipients. Sadly, these issues doesn't just impact the poor user whose account was compromised.  This impacts all users that share that mail system as a lot of the larger organizations have become weary from all of the spam complaints and so when they see bulk emailing coming from a mail server they just blacklist it and no user can send even non-bulk Email to that organization.  This is to some extent the lazy approach to dealing with spam but one of the few automated methods that works well and so this practice is unlikely to stop. Here's what you need to know if you wish to send an Email to a large number of recipients:Mail

  • Send your Email in batches of less than 50 recipients.

  • Wait a few minutes between batches. 

  • Make sure all of the recipients know you and welcome Email from you.  Some providers (e.g. AOL, Charter, Microsoft) will react to a small number of spam complaints by blacklisting a mail server. 

If our outgoing mail servers detect a batch of Email exceeding 50 recipients or too many outgoing Emails are sent in a short period of time your batch may be quarantined until a technician can approve the batch.  We just look at the subject and recipient list to make a determination that the batch is not from a compromised account. 

Virus Woes

Exclamation Triangle RedDespite advances in anti-virus and anti-malware software virus and malware issues are as significant as ever.  What's changed the most is the severity that these infections can damage your system.  In the past even the most infected systems could be cleaned in no more than a few hours work but today we are seeing systems that are just too badly damaged to be properly cleaned.For this reason we are encouraging Windows users take certain steps to help minimize the impact of these infections:

  • First and foremost make sure you have a backup solution.  One that KEEPS you updated. There are a variety of solutions and will add some articles to this site to help with that soon.

  • Make sure you have a quality, updated anti-virus/anti-malware system that uses active scanning on your computer.  We have some recommendations but none of the free products will protect you completely.  We have a couple of solutions that we link in our recommendations section here. Understand that we are no longer recommending any of the free anti-virus solutions. If at all possible a commercial product will save you time and money in the long run!

Phishing Scams

We continue to get queries from customers about this. Please remember OWT sends out billing via Email to many of our customers but otherwise almost never Email our customers. We will NEVER EVER ask you for any of your account information via Email. EVER!!! Do not fall for these phishing scams!

Online scams to lure customers into providing account, personal or other sensitive information are on the rise. OWT takes several steps to help prevent this sort of thing but there is only so much we can do. Most phishing scams look very legitimate. Our MailScanner will alert you to any Email where a web link points to a different web address than the address it shows you in the Email. This bright red message might be annoying in harmless Emails where the marketer put a different link in just for tracking purposes but this feature has save many from clicking on harmful links that lead to malware installation.

We would like to remind our customers that OWT, and really almost everyone that runs a legitimate business, will NEVER ask you for sensitive information via Email. If they do require additional information they will ask you to login to your existing account and THEN request that information. Even very legitimate looking requests should be intensely scrutinized and we ask that everyone think long and hard before clicking on a web link from any Email that you are not sure about.