Monthly Archives: January 2013

Outlook Could Be Losing Mail

Outlook Archive

Image Credit: Danny Sullivan

Did you know that not all versions of Microsoft Outlook were created equal, and that this inequality could be causing you to lose old emails?

Older versions of Outlook, particularly Outlook 97-2002, had a limit on the amount of data the Personal Storage Table (PST file) could hold. The PST is what controls how Outlook stores your information. In older versions of Outlook, the PST was built on ANSI, and could only hold up to 65,000 items per folder, with an overall PST size of 2 Gig.

In plain English, this means that older versions of Outlook would automatically over write old emails once the PST file became larger than 2 Gig, causing those emails to be permanently deleted.

Outlook 2003 fixed all this, by introducing what is known as Unicode PST, a file type that has no limit to the size of the PST or the number of items in each folder.

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However, Outlook 2003 and 2007 could still be impacted by ANSI PST, depending on how the software is setup. Additionally, newer versions of Outlook can get “stuck” in ANSI mode and overwrite emails despite being newer.

So how do you know if your Outlook is affected?

There are a few telltale signs. You may notice that your archived folders are now missing old emails. If your

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archives are too large, you may receive the message that your archive is at its maximum permissible size, yet you can’t delete old archived folders to reduce the size. Or you may get a message saying that you exceed the 2 Gig limit. These are just some of the common signs.

If this happens to you, know that you aren’t stuck. There are a few things that can be done to convert to the new Unicode PST file.

Update Outlook

If you’re running into this problem because you’re using an old version of Outlook it’s time to upgrade. Not only will you receive peace of mind knowing that your email is stored safely without the possibility of being overwritten, but you’ll also get your hands on some useful new tools and features. (The new versions of Office are loaded with great new tools that older versions never had before.)

Create a New PST

If you are running into this problem and you are using a newer version of Outlook, try creating a new data file, and then importing your items into the new file. Many users have reported this as a quick fix to their issue.

Take care when setting up your new PST file, to ensure you are selecting the proper format. Despite the change in file type, Microsoft will still let you create an old ANSI PST file, so pay attention when selecting which type of PST to setup.

Also, remember to backup any data prior to importing, just in

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case.

Use 3rd Party Software

There are companies that have created software to solve this very problem. The software automatically converts your PST to the proper format, and also ensures your data isn’t corrupted in the process.

Please note however that software like this isn’t free. There are also mixed reports as to which software works best, although most users report success with SysInfoTools, which costs $39. (TechQuility does not endorse this product, and is merely providing it as information based upon forum user success stories. Your mileage may vary. TechQuility is not responsible for any data loss that may occur with the use of 3rd party conversion products.)

If you are concerned about Outlook losing your email, give us a call today. We can look at your settings to ensure that your email is running correctly, optimally, and is backed up properly, so that you never lose another email again.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help ensure your email is safe from harm. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Computer Viruses: What You Can Do To Stay Protected

VirScan LogoIf you’ve ever had one, you know how frustrating virus can be. Not only do they take over your computer making it difficult to work, but they can do damage to files, send out spoof emails on your behalf, obtain critical personal information from your computer, and other scary stuff.

So how do you keep from getting viruses?

Keep Your Antivirus Software Updated

By running a trusted antivirus software for starters. Although it is simply not

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enough to just have the software loaded on your computer, you must also keep it updated.

Think of your antivirus software like a dictionary. When new words come out, do they automatically get added? No, instead a new edition is produced and distributed. (Okay, so this has changed a little a lot since the Internet, but you get the idea).

Similarly, when a new virus comes out, your virus software doesn’t necessarily know about them. Instead, it needs to be updated so that it knows that there is a new virus out there. Once it knows about the virus, it will know to look for it and will quarantine it if found so that it doesn’t impact your computer.

But, simply keeping your antivirus software up to date may not be enough. Sometimes you have to take extra steps to ensure you don’t get a virus.

Scan Files Individually Before Running Them

While it’s important to only download and run files from trusted sources, sometimes stuff happens and the person sharing doesn’t realize they have shared an infected file until it’s too late.

If you are unsure of a file, particularly if you downloaded that file from the web, an email attachment, or other source that could potentially be questionable, check the file before running it.

Sure, it may seem like an extra step, but typically viruses can’t get into your system until they are executed, such as by opening a file or installing software, so if you check your file before you even open it, you could be saving yourself a lot of work later. (*Note while executing is the typical way to “activate” most viruses there are many different types of viruses that operate differently from one another, so the actions taken to become infected may vary.)

Most of the time your files will probably be clean, but all it takes is one infected file to ruin everything. While you can use your existing virus scan software to scan individual files (most virus software has this option), sometimes you just don’t have the time to wait on software.

When this happens, there are other options, such as checking your files online, using an Internet virus scan built for scanning only files (as opposed to scanning your entire computer).

There are some great places online to scan files, but one site we like is VirSCAN.org. This free site allows you to upload as many files as you like, but there is a 20Mb limit per file. Simply upload the files you are concerned with, and scan them. VirSCAN will tell you whether or not they’re infected.

If the file is infected, DO NOT run it. Have your virus software quarantine and remove the virus. Or you can manually remove the virus if know how to view and delete system files, program files, and registry entries (potentially).

It’s important to keep in mind that while VirSCAN won’t replace your antivirus software, it is a good tool to use for spot checking files before you run them.

Using both an antivirus program and spot-scanning individual files, can be an effective strategy for ensuring your computer stays virus free.

Do you have a favorite antivirus software or website? Leave us a comment and tell us about it.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you keep your computers virus free. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

4 Reasons to Hire an IT Company Instead of Having Your IT In-House

Computers

Image Credit: axa.arias

When your company was new, you probably only had one or two employees, a few computers,

and little need for an office IT person. Maybe you even used the kid next door for your IT needs. (If you’re still doing this, don’t. Here’s why.)

As your company grew, you added employees, computers, a server or two, and maybe even some mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. And suddenly, you had a need for an IT professional, like yesterday.

So what did you do? Did you hire an employee to be your in-house IT, or did you choose to go with an IT company, such as techQuility, for services? Or are you still deciding which direction you should take?

If you need IT support, and you don’t know whether you should partner with a technology company or hire an employee, here are 4 reasons why using an IT company is beneficial for your business.

1. Do You Possess the Knowledge to Hire an In-House IT Employee?

If you intend to hire an employee to support your IT needs in-house, do you know enough about computers, technology, and the specifics of your system to thoroughly interview the person to ensure that they really know their stuff?

Let’s face it, most business owners are experts at many things, but typically IT isn’t one of those areas of expertise. So unless you’re an IT whiz, and just don’t have time to take care of the system on your own, it can be difficult to ensure that you are asking the right questions to prove that the interviewee knows their stuff. Which means you could end up with someone who looks good on paper, but who can’t fix things properly in reality.

2. An IT Company can be More Cost Effective than an Employee

If you hire an employee, you are responsible for their salary 365 days a year, along with benefits, insurance, taxes, and more. You pay for that employee regardless of if they are actually working on your system or not. And then there’s the expense of providing an office space, equipment, additional computers, tools, and more.

However, when you hire an IT company, the costs are greatly reduced. For example, if you were to partner with techQuility, we typically get your computers on a maintenance plan, which costs a small monthly fee, and then if there are problems and work needs to be performed, you are charged hourly*. (*Fees and costs vary depending on the size of your network and the plan selected.)

Couple this with the fact that aside from the monthly fee, you are only being charged when work is actually being performed, and not for all the downtime too when things are stable. Which means, typically the fee is almost always cheaper than the cost of an on staff IT professional.

3. Up-to-Date Training

Because the IT world is always changing, there are always new things to learn about and stay trained on. But how do you ensure your in-house IT staff keeps up to date with their training?

Unless you are actively sending them to training, or unless they are a self-directed learner, the reality is that many IT in-house IT professionals aren’t up-to-date on the latest technology. Sure, they may be great at what they know, but how can they accurately forecast changes and company needs without staying abreast of technology changes?

Conversely, an IT company stays up to date on training by default. That’s because IT companies deal with a broad range of problems, equipment, operating systems, and more, and as such are more equipped to handle unique and weird problems when they come up. What’s more, they tend to be on top of tech trends, allowing for better technology recommendations that keep your big picture in mind.

4. A Wide Range of Tech Tools

When you keep your IT in-house, who pays for the tech tools that make troubleshooting easier? You do, and you may not always have the budget to pay for the latest software or tool, when the last one seems to be working for your purposes.

However, when you partner with an IT company, it is their responsibility to ensure they have everything they need to effectively do their job. And, just like with training, IT companies tend to have a wide range of tech tools available, because of the wide range of jobs they perform for various companies. This means that your company gets the benefit of some really great tech tools, without incurring the cost of those tools.

And these are just a few reasons why you should consider hiring an IT company rather than an employee. If you’re on the fence about what your next move should be with your company and technology, give us a call. We are always willing to help.