In April News:

 
On The Calendar & What's New With UsIf you're new to our newsletter and you'd like to subscribe, let us know.
  • As warmer weather approaches we'll be sprinkling some fun trivia for you throughout our social media pages.  If you're a tech trivia buff, be sure you're following us!  Answer our stumpers on Facebook - we've got lots of fun prizes ready to go for first responses!
Subscribing to our blog and following us on social media is a great way to stay aware of events that pop up, best security practices, new alerts and other information for business owners and IT Managers. Quick links to our social media pages are accessible right from our website and in every monthly newsletter email you receive from us!  
Don't Let A Disaster Be Your First Backup Test!If you're not a Fulcrum Group client who utilizes our SPOT Protect Backup & Disaster Recovery solution, here's what you're missing: 1.  We will test your backup quarterly. 2.  We test our solution not only for your peace of mind, but so you have the confidence of seeing your data restored BEFORE there's a reason to need it. Sometimes time consuming, always essential, you're only assured the solution you are counting on works when you try it.  If you have any questions about the parameters of your specific solution, please feel free to give your Account Manager a shout at 817.337.0300.  
 
The Time Is Now To Try Windows Server 2012We're all familiar with the adage, "don't fix it if it ain't broke."  For most of its life, this applied especially well to Windows Server 2003 - a good and faithful IT friend. Just five years ago, over 90% of IT departments were using Windows Server 2003. Over the next couple of years, the platform plodded toward retirement as mainstream support ended and Windows Server 2012 was released and perfected. As Server 2003 prepares to officially enter the retirement home in July, IT professionals realize running the unsupported product is a significant security risk. Many IT pros have it on their list to check into Windows Server 2012, and in this article, we've gathered a few points for you to consider as you investigate Windows Server 2012 in your own environment.
  1. Download a trial. First, take a deep breath and realize retiring Windows Server 2003 is for its own good, and yours. Microsoft makes it quite easy to give Windows Server 2012 a try. (You can do so right here.) This is a great way for you to make a decision at your own pace. The Windows Server 2012 installation is much like Windows Server 2008 R2 and requires minimal interaction.
  2. Try the virtualization! If you’ve never tried Hyper-V, you really should at least give it a look in Windows Server 2012. We introduced you to Hyper-V and System Center 2012 in our March newsletter.  From a role that you enable in Server Manager, you can quickly add virtual machines to help you in the trial steps. If you are deploying Windows Server 2012 as a virtual machine, you’ll notice on Hyper-V that you don’t need to add the guest enlightenment kit (Integration Services) to the guest as they are built in to Windows. This was the case with Windows Server 2008, and it’s also important to note that the Linux kernel starting from 2.6.32 will have Integration Services built in. That sounds a bit odd, but the Hyper-V support for Linux as a guest VM is becoming very robust.
  3. Address your storage requirements now. Windows Server 2012 brings a number of storage features. One of our favorites is Windows Server 2012 deduplication. The built-in deduplication of Windows Server 2012 allows you to have volumes reduce their storage spaces by addressing the volume in terms of like chunks that can be of great benefit to many data profiles. Another favorite storage feature with Windows Server 2012 is the VHDX virtual disk format. It is supported to provision a virtual machine up to 64 TB per disk. Reading between the lines, you can take deduplicated volumes as VHDXs with you. Talk about portability!
  4. Remote desktop services is all grown up. The fact is application and session virtualization is a great way to meet requirements for environments of any size. Between RemoteApp (which virtualizes applications as RDP sessions) and Remote Desktop Services for unlimited sessions with Standard and Datacenter editions, you can address remote session management requirements very easily — even without investing in VDI infrastructure or complex authentication models.
  5. It's probably time to upgrade Active Directory. A good question for you to consider - If Active Directory works well on Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008 functional levels, how long will it be until I need one more feature that I’ll have to hurry up and upgrade Active Directory for a (likely) small feature? The safe bet today is to upgrade the functional level of Active Directory now in a safe and controlled manner when the pressure is off.
One powerful operating system, one big decision Keeping up with technology and focusing on getting net-new deployments onto modern operating systems like Windows Server 2012 is our business. But, we realize that the spoiler may come into play: application support. This is a fair point, but core infrastructure services like file servers, authentication frameworks such as Active Directory and remote access systems are prime candidates for deployment on a new operating system. Please don't wait any longer.  Contact us today if you'd like assistance.  
SPOTlight On: Pete LopezThe Fulcrum Group - Dallas Fort Worth IT ExpertsA couple of fun facts you might not know about our newest Help Desk Engineer, Pete:
  • Pete's fav and least-fav parts of the daily grind here at Fulcrum Group - respectively - are greeting and being greeted by the other shining happy faces every morning...and yet having to trudge up the stairs to do so!
  • Beyond the usual interests of young tech-savvy dudes, where eating and sleeping always seem to top the list, Pete also enjoys caring for his bonsai, playing soccer, skateboarding, and, of course, hanging with friends and family.
Welcome, Pete!  
 
Tech TipTech Tips from The Fulcrum Group, Dallas Fort Worth IT Managed Services Providers: 3  Important Things To Know About MalwareThis month, we've got some good info for you on malware. 1.  What's in a name? An abbreviated form of the terms of “malicious software," malware is software designed with the sole purpose of invading a computer system without the user’s knowledge or consent. While people often refer to any malicious software as a virus, malware is far more complex. In fact, viruses, worms, Trojans, and spyware are all members of the malware family. 2.  Who (or what) causes malware most? Malware infections have a number of root causes. However, most of them can be traced back to good ol’ user error. Some of the most common of those causes:
  • Infected websites. Ever click on a friendly-looking banner and then suddenly your desktop is bombarded with ads popping up faster than you can click away?  Frustrating and shady.  Some websites unknowingly harbor malware from unscrupulous third-party ad partners. Others are straight rogue and designed to infect all visitors.
  • Email attachments. Once you open a malicious attachment, you can trigger a payload that not only compromises your system, but forwards itself to everyone on your contact list. Support for a variety of file formats and features that automatically download attachments make email a haven for virus authors.
  • Outdated software. Old, outdated software leaves users and networks vulnerable to security threats. In recent times, malware writers have put emphasis on targeting outdated operating systems and applications in hopes of exploiting holes left uncovered. When industry compliance is a consideration, the cost of outdated software can be tremendously steep.
  • File sharing. Despite being incredibly convenient, unrestricted file sharing is associated with major security issues. The peer-to-peer concept it leverages is built on granting unchained access to all systems in the network, which makes it fairly easy for havoc to spread. Indulging in file sharing can lead to fraud, identify theft, and a host of other problems that make a sluggish network the least of your worries.
3.  Tips to avoid malware:
  • Lock your systems down with software that not only protects against viruses, but other malicious programs as well. New malware is introduced all the time so keep it fresh with regular updates.
  • Never open email attachments from people you don’t know, and be cautious of those from people you do. Unfortunately, it is quite commonplace to receive spam sent in the name of people you may know.
  • Surf the web with caution and be careful about what you click and download on your system.
  • Keep your software updated with the latest security features and fixes. Vendors update their software for a reason, so don’t get caught running something malware makers have already rendered vulnerable.
Malware is one of the biggest threats to individual PC users and companies alike. But unlike user error, which is heavily tied to the human nature we just can’t shake, this is something you can prevent.  
 
Did You Know...FREE Backup AuditThe Fulcrum Group Dallas Fort Worth IT ExpertsIn the case of a physical disaster, security breach or other crisis situation, we want you to feel confident that your information is protected and easily recoverable. We speak from experience! Read more about our Offsite Backup solutions and contact us today for your FREE Backup Audit.