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Best Practices: Backing up your Mitel Phone System

One of the most vital precautions required to ensure data integrity is to generate backups of your information.

Relying on an automated process and forgetting about it is tempting, but if a system crashes and you try to restore from a non-existent file that was supposed to be there, you will wish you had taken the time to verify those backup procedures.

A dangerous mistake is backing data up in only one location.  Over the years I've had many a work laptop crash that contained system backup information, and so have developed the habit of backing up my backups to a shared network drive, which is then backed up to the cloud.  In other words, backup your files in as many places possible to ensure that you are able to get a hold of them when you need them; from my experience, some files become corrupt or damaged and require hours (or even days) of programming to fix.  Just back back back it up!

As a rule, every time you make a change to any system, including your phone system, you need to get a current backup.  That backup file needs to be copied offsite, either to a network storage device of some sort, or to the cloud. This simple precaution can save hours of downtime, headaches, and hundreds to thousands of dollars in labor and lost business associated with re-building a system.

So how does one backup a phone system? I'm glad you asked! The following is a brief description of how to backup the Mitel MiVoice Office, Mitel 5000, Mitel MiVoice Business, Mitel Communications Directory (MCD) and the Mitel 3300 systems.

Directions to backup the MiVoice Office and 5000

  1. 1. Launch the System Administrator & Diagnostics Tool.

  2. 2. Click the telephone button, or select the drop down and choose Launch DB Programming.

  3. 3. From the Operations Menu (located at the top of the screen), select Backup Operations and then Save Backup.

  4. 4. You will want to select Save Database to a PC, choose your save to location, assign a file name (example 0115.m5k) and click the start button.
    5. Once your file is saved to your PC (remember the discussion we had above about multiple backups) copy that file off to a remote location (the cloud, NAS, etc.).

  5. 6. You're done!


Directions to backup MiVoice Business, MCD and Mitel 3300

  1. 1. Open Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox and browse to the address of your phone system.

  2. 2. Log into the Embedded System Management (ESM) interface, and select System Administration Tool.
    3. Select the drop down menu on the left side and choose Maintenance and Diagnostics, then Backup/Restore, then choose Backup.
    For this save you can choose whether or not to backup your call history and voicemail messages, I recommend not backing these up (as they add time to the process), and by the time a restore is required, the data will most likely be irrelevant.
  1. 4. A ".tar" file will be auto generated.
    5. After the backup is complete the file can be saved to a specific directory.

Again, once your file is saved to your PC (remember the discussion we had above about multiple backups) copy that file off to a remote location (the cloud, NAS, etc.).

Click here for more information about our data recovery services.

That's it, nothing to it! This is just some simple maintenance that could save you time and money in the long run.  If you need assistance with either of the processes listed above, feel free to reach out to our and we will be happy to assist.

Read more about creating a continuity plan for your business.

Benjamin Bruce, Technical Services Manager, South Carolina Region

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Meet the TSAChoice Team: Jennifer Silvers, Contract Administrator

Jennifer has been with TSAChoice since January 2010 and has worked in both our Greenville and Asheville offices.

Jennifer is the contract administrator for TSAChoice.  Her position consist of maintaining all of the technology service and support contracts including Complete IT (CIT) contracts, Comprehensive Service Agreements (CSA) for Mitel phone systems, Technology Assurance Program (TAP) contracts and Block Amount Agreements.  She also sets up new customers and contact information, makes the dreaded collection calls and doesn't even mind cleaning out the ice maker in the refrigerator when it freezes over.

Jennifer is a very organized person, expecting nothing less than perfection with whichever jobs she is charged. If a task is in Jennifer's capable hands, her co-workers know they can let it go and move on to their next assignment. 

Jennifer grew up in the Williamson area of South Carolina, graduating from Palmetto High and moving on to get her degree in Radio and TV Broadcasting from Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton, SC.  She moved straight into the radio business working nights for WSSL in Greenville, with her personality tagline, "Let Jennifer put you to bed."

Orange seems to be her preferred color of choice, with some purple mixed in and a tiger strip here and there.  Her work area definitely defines where her allegiance lies: it's complete with a Clemson keyboard, a Clemson gnome, orange sticky notes and even an orange paper corrector.  If you want to get on her bad side, just let a derogative comment slip about the Clemson Tigers football team.

In her time off, she cares for her mother, spends time with daughters and grandchildren and lives with a couple of finicky cats.  She has been known to break out in song at the closest Karaoke bar, she enjoys grabbing a bite at the Whistle Stop at the American Cafe in Travelers Rest and she can't resist a good biscuit with gravy from Biscuit Head in West Asheville.

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Best Practices: Involve a BICSI RCDD When Implementing a Cabling Project

A Registered Communication Distribution Designer (RCDD) is a person that plans and implements backbone infrastructure to support wireless, telecommunications, data, audio visual networks and life safety systems.

To understand the importance of having an RCDD involved in infrastructure projects, you must first understand what the Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI) organization is about. BICSI is a professional association that supports the Information Transport System (ITS) industry.  BICSI works with companies like TSAChoice to certify installers and designers specializing in complex cabling projects.

RCDD is a designation that is awarded to individuals that have a minimum of 2-4 years experience working with infrastructure solutions and 2) has proven their knowledge by completing an extensive exam based around topics such as:

  • • Principles of transmission
  • • Backbone and horizontal distribution  systems
  • • Firestop systems
  • • Bonding and grounding
  • • Field testing of structured cable and optical fiber
  • • Outside plant cable
  • • Data and wireless networks
  • • Data centers
  • • Audio visual systems

Due  to the constantly evolving tech industry, this designation is renewed every 3 years with 45 hours of continuing education and attendance at a minimum of one BICSI conference.

An RCDD is an integral part of the designer phase of a project, working from the beginning with architects, engineers and general contractors to provide a proper design and a plan that can be functional, flexible and scalable.

Working with any type of cable or optical fiber, there are codes and standards that BICSI has outlined that should be followed to avoid future issues and complications.  If the standards are not met and appropriate testing not followed, the cable infrastructure could experience electrical interference, inadequate data transmission performance, there could be life safety issues, issues with meeting code and even aesthetic challenges. These problems could lead to additional costs including lost time on projects, trouble shooting, and unplanned maintenance costs. 

The RCDD credential is meant to provide companies like TSAChoice a professional designation of excellence, a status recognized and mandated by many private and state organizations, a mark of design knowledge and an indication of experience, training and knowledge known throughout the information and communication technology industry.

TSAChoice has consistently kept one or more RCDDs on staff, as well as multiple BICSI certified installers and technicians to ensure the organizations we work with are receiving the best options for cabling projects to provide long lasting performance.

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Meet the TSAChoice Team: Shawn Anders, Project Manager Structured Cabling

Shawn started with TSAChoice in 1997 as a technician with our voice team.

Over the years he worked his way to engineering structured cable and fiber solutions for our low voltage department. His job consists of estimating, helping with design decisions, site evaluations, value engineering, scheduling and so much more.

Shawn has a talent working with companies that have fast paced, time critical and challenging environments.  The dynamic atmosphere of Mission Health keeps Shawn very busy managing many of their backbone cabling infrastructure projects.

Mr. Anders grew up in the Buncombe County area and graduated from North Buncombe High School.  if you have ever met Shawn Anders, then you know he is a very quiet and reserved man, the kind of person that only speaks when he has something important to say.

Fun Fact: The Biltmore Estate was literally his playground.  A great deal of his youth, from ages 7 to 17 he spent living near Antler Hill Village on the Biltmore Estate, where his father worked for the security department.

In his spare time, Shawn likes to spend time with his family.  He has just celebrated his 12th anniversary with his wife Angie, with whom he has four beautiful children.  He also enjoys camping, fishing and working with Christian Ministries.

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TSAChoice Renovates Offices to Create a Network Operations Center (NOC)

We have renovated our offices to create a new NOC in the Asheville office.

This operations center will be the new hub to manage, monitor and respond even more quickly to our managed network service customers.

The NOC will initially consist of four workstations for three full time IT engineers and one voice engineer to monitor and maintain our Complete IT (CIT) customers.  Two 60" monitors will provide instant views of managed networks, dispatch boards and current locations of TSAChoice engineers.

This operations center was created primarily with our CIT customers in mind, these customers are high touch, need additional resources and quick response times from our team.   This group will also assist in dispatching and monitoring service ticket queues for our non-CIT customers, therefore increasing the efficiency of our entire service department.

As we continue to refine and grow our CIT offerings, these customers should expect to see continued improvements in our ability to provide them with outstanding technical support.

The operations center will go live on Monday, May 18th.  If you would like to schedule a visit to our office to see what support and resources we can offer please call 828-254-4464 or complete this form.

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Meet the TSAChoice Team: Bob Romano, Electronics Technician

TSAChoice celebrates 20 years with electronics technician Bob Romano, who is one of the original employees with Choice Computer Center.
Meet the TSAChoice Team:  Bob Romano, Electronics Technician

Coin operated football game

Mr. Fix It is our nickname for Bob around the office; not only does he take care of our customers needs, but when anything goes wrong internally, or even with his co-workers, he is the first person to call. He has repaired everything from our laptops to TV's to broken glass on our smart phones.

As an in-house bench tech, he works on everything from basic monitors and printers to large video walls and plotters. He is one of only a few people in Asheville that has the expertise to repair this specific type of equipment. When working in the field, he works primarily with our audio visual division on door access and video surveillance projects.

Bob is the kind of guy who welcomes a challenge.  The most unusual item he has repaired in his career was a laser drill used to burn holes through diamonds, although recently he completed repairs on a coin operated football video game and an art project, a video "sky" for Degrees of Paradise, that was created out of the old tube style televisions. He also custom designed an apparatus that TSAChoice uses to complete wireless surveys for larger applications or for buildings with high ceilings such as manufacturing facilities.

Bob has a beautiful wife of 35 years, a daughter Katie and son John (both in their 20's).  In his spare time, he enjoys renovating his 150 year old house, and taking trips in his Corvette along the beautiful North Carolina countryside.

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Best Practices: Green Up Your Office Technology

Reduce the amount of energy used and the waste generated in your day-to-day operations – with green technology practices and equipment procurement.

Twenty-five years ago, few businesses had a CTO, an in-house IT department, or even a server room next to the break room (or, as we’ve seen, a server stack IN the break room.) Now technology is a major player in every office environment, and it’s unheard of to have a break room that doesn’t have a recycling bin it.

Initially, technology was imperative for increasing the speed and efficiency of business transactions. Thanks to a continuing new stream of products and initiatives from the tech sector, technology also has a growing role to play in lowering your company’s carbon footprint.  By making informed choices, your business can enjoy the benefits of going green well beyond your waste-recycling program.

Two Shining Examples

“We are so proud that the finished product is not only the most eco-friendly GM dealership in Western North Carolina but also the most customer-friendly. We could not be more pleased that Sunshine Chevrolet is the first in America to be recognized as a GM Green Dealer!” states Don Elliott, President and Owner of Sunshine Chevrolet.

In March, TSAChoice customer Sunshine Chevrolet (Arden, NC) was recognized as the first recipient of General Motors’ Green Dealer Recognition program for its proven track record in areas such as energy reduction, renewable energy use, water conservation efforts, recycling and community outreach. Energy efficient LED lighting with state-of-the-art programmable capabilities, advanced building techniques, and high efficiency cooling and heating are just a few of the specific ways Sunshine implemented environmental features on its site.

You can view a short video that shows how Sunshine Chevrolet worked with TSAChoice to use smart technology throughout its facility here.

TSAChoice customer Kanuga Conferences, Inc. was also recently recognized for seeking ways to reduce its carbon footprint. The Energy Solutions Center awarded Kanuga Conferences and PSNC Energy with its Partnership Award for Innovative Energy Solutions for working together on a large-scale conversion from propane to natural gas in 2014, resulting in more energy efficient heating and hot water supply for Kanuaga’s lodging, program buildings, kitchens and staff housing.

Talk (Clean) To Me

TSAChoice is able to help its customers in Asheville and Greenville reduce energy use and costs simply by choosing the right phone system. Mitel, for which TSAChoice is an Exclusive Partner, is a world leader both in product recyclability and e-waste decommissioning.

Recyclability is included in the design of all Mitel products: MiVoice IP Phones are at least 66 percent recyclable by weight and Mitel has a comprehensive recycling program that diverts up to 65 percent of Mitel’s waste from day-to-day operations. In the US, Mitel has partnered with Global Investment Recovery Inc. (GIR), a signatory to the Electronics Recycler’s Pledge of True Stewardship.

Other Mitel recycling activities include:

• All telephony equipment designated as e-waste is decommissioned at local area facilities.
• Equipment decommissioning and destruction practices are respectful to the environment.
• Scrap metal and precious metal components are recovered and recycled for reuse.

Continuing the Green Revolution via Office Technology

For its own facilities and operations, TSAChoice either recycles or safely disposes of electronic waste and utilizes the services of Resolution Recycling. TSAChoice staff utilize online forms, use smart devices for scheduling and service calls, and recycle day-to-day items all to reduce energy consumption and office waste. TSAChoice is also in the process of converting to e-billing so look for more information about that switch soon.

As we continue to drive these improvements, we love to hear stories about our partners doing the same. Share your green best practices with us.

If you have questions about how your business or organization can “green-up” through your technology practices, please send an inquiry and a TSAChoice tech engineer will be in touch.

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Best Practices: Reducing Security Breaches by Increasing Human Awareness

Dell shares that a whopping 70% of security breaches are attributed to the human element, via a study completed by Ponemon Institute.

There are many layers involved in protecting yourself and your company from viruses/malware and ransomware.  Normally we think of these layers in the form of firewalls and antivirus software. For small to medium businesses we think of this protection in a four pronged approach.

However, there is a fifth element that should be taken into consideration.

One of the most effective ways to protect your PC or network is human awareness and making sure that privacy and security settings inherent to different applications are setup appropriately. There are so many simple things we can do (with little effort!) to provide these additional layers of protection.

EMAIL

One of the biggest points of weakness we tend to have as humans is curiosity.

When you receive an unexpected email with an attachment or link, a little further investigation doesn't hurt prior to clicking on the surprise that awaits.

  1. If you know the person from which the email was received, shoot them back a quick email or make a phone call to ask if they have sent something before proceeding with what could be the click of death for your digital information.
  1. Check the link using the Trend Safety Center. (TIP: good shortcut to add to your web browser)
  1. Use your search engine to see if you can find any information on the email address, subject used, topic or the document link name.
  1. If you are concerned that it isn't safe and it doesn't look important, just delete it and move on.

Passwords

Passwords are a huge part of protecting information and should not be taken lightly.  This is the easiest security that you will ever put into place and the most frequently used.

The key is to not make your passwords something obvious, something personal, or something directly related to anything around you.  Here are a few rules to keep in mind when setting them up:

Do's

  1. Combinations of upper, lower caps, letters and symbols is a must.
  1. The longer the better.
  1. Reset your passwords on a scheduled basis.
  1. Use different passwords for each account.
  1. Password protect important documents.

Make sure password recovery method questions are not easily answered. For example, your mothers maiden name is probably pretty easy to find, while the name of your first pet, may not be as readily available.  Adding an extra unexpected word to the response is also an easy method to strengthen this process.

To keep track of these passwords use a tool such as Last Pass to not only track passwords, but to help in generating them.

Password No-No's
Birthdays, initials, family members, cars, your address, your social security number, your pets name, your best friends name, boyfriends name, address, year of birth, your name, your husbands name nothing related personally to you.

Applications

We use so many applications today that have additional security settings that allow protection of our information beyond the initial password protection.  The secret, they only work if they are adjusted in privacy and security settings of these apps.

For example, many applications such as Facebook and Dropbox allow setup of a notification email or text if your account is being logged into from an unknown device.

Two step verification is a process by which when logging into your account, a code is generated and in most cases sent to your mobile phone or device and is then required to be entered prior to a successful login.  Examples of applications using this process currently include Google, Facebook, Last Pass, Dropbox, LinkedIn and others.   For a list of other applications using this feature you can access the Two Factor Authorization website.

Encryption

Setup encryption on your mobile devices; this function basically turns all of your information into unreadable data, unless the correct authorization is used to access the device.  Encryption can be easily setup on both Android and iOS devices.

Encryption can effect performance for Android devices and cannot be reversed.  Read complete information for encrypting your Android device prior to starting the process.

Read information for encrypting your iOS device.

This is a case where offense is definitely your best defense.  We place software and firewalls on our systems to protect ourselves and our companies, sometimes forgetting that without common sense it is all for naught.  Take a few minutes review and share this information with friends, family, coworkers and employees to make sure we are all doing our best to protect our data.

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Microsoft Server Migration Planning: Assessing Software

Procrastinating about making a server migration plan can be easily done based on the daunting task at hand.

There are four primary steps to planning your server migration. Steps 1 and 2 are where you determine what is necessary, what can be removed from your plate, and provides a platform for planning a schedule.

If you don't already have a list of all your software types within your server, then this is where you will start.  Use this spreadsheet to get started.

First, list all Microsoft Server roles, Microsoft applications, third party applications and any custom applications associated with the Server.

Once you have a complete list of the software on the Server, for each type, determine criticality, complexity and risk associated.  Criticality will determine what is necessary to migrate, while the complexity and risk factors will assist in determining schedules for migrating software.

Criticality will also assist in step 3, determining the location for the software, whether it is a physical server, virtual server or if the software in question will be moved to the cloud.

Criticality

Based on Microsoft recommendations, criticality is determined based on the following:

  1. Mission Critical-
  1. requires more resources,
  1. is required for compliance,
  1. planning is critical,
  1. or planning needs to start immediately
  1. Important-
  1. provides a competitive advantage,
  1. could doing something different provide more value
  1. Marginal-
  1. consider usage,
  1. what is the business value,
  1. retire or move to a different solution
  1. Retire-
  1. serves no benefit

Complexity

Complexity, just as it sounds, entails the challenges you may face when making this software conversion.  These complexities include the ability to move due to time challenges, the time required, and other integrations that may be affected.  For example, a software program that is being used by only a handful of people and a few hours a day will be easier to move than software that is accessed 24/7 and pulls information from other software sources.

Risk

Risk, or the chance of losing data, can be a concern, especially if you don't have proper backups or a disaster recovery plan in place.

Complexity and Risk will both be rated on a low/medium/high scale or possibly a 1-10 scale if you wish to be more granular.

Once the risk is assessed, this program provides an at-a-glance table to assist with what can be retired, items that will be simple to transfer to another platform, and others that will require more diligence.

For assistance completing an operating system (OS) migration.

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Clean Your Computer Day

We all know that the software on our PCs need attention every so often, but don't necessarily realize how important is to keep those internal components clean in order for computers to run at optimum levels.
Clean Your Computer Day

Cleaning Your Computer

If you were to take the cover off your PC, chances are you would find dust collected so thick you could just lift some of it out.  If you have never looked at the inside of your PC, you would be surprised at what all it picks up.  Fans running on the inside keep your computer components cool as well as, collect anything in the air.  Pet hair, smoke, ashes, particle dust, food, if it is in the air around your PC and is small enough, you will probably find it in there. Disgusting? Yes, pretty much.

Frequency of Cleaning

Clean Your Computer Day was created as a reminder of this important task, it comes once a year, so if you are in a nice clean office environment this once a year cleaning is fine. However, if you are in an area that tends to have more things floating in the air, then you might want to think about going through and at least blowing out the dust in your PC every 3 to 6 months.

Warning Signs Your Computer May Be Giving You

When internal components such as fans, circuit boards, heat sinks, and power components become covered with layers of dust this can create small problems that act as warning signs.

For Instance:
Fans may become loud or quit altogether
Computers may become slower
PCs may crash at random times

Choosing to Ignore the Warning Signs

If these warnings are ignored and dust bunnies are left to themselves to create havoc in their playground of fans, drives and boards, additional costs may be expected.

  • Equipment will more than likely have to be retired more quickly (this could be components or a complete replacement.)
  • Electrical costs may be expected to rise due to internal components working harder.
  • PCs may operate at less efficient speeds.
  • Large collections of dust and the heat associated with internal components could be a fire hazard.


Cleaning Your PC

Cleaning out a PC can be a tedious task and needs to be completed carefully because while cleaning you don't want to damage any of the external or internal components. 

Here is a quick and easy way to clean your PC:

  1. 1. Grab a screwdriver, a can of compressed air and a microfiber rag.
  1. 2. Locate an area to clean PC, you will be creating a whirlwind of dust.
  1. 3. Turn off computer
  2. .
  1. 4. Unplug power, components (ie mouse, monitor, printer), if you are on a network remove that cable from PC.
  1. 5. Move just the PC to the selected work area.
  1. 6. Using the screwdriver remove the cover, if you are working with a laptop, this can be a little more difficult.
  1. 7. Attach the skinny straw that came with the compressed air onto the nozzle.
  • **Warning: If you have never used a can of air before, read the instructions prior to using. Be aware that the can will get cold as you are using it and may spit tiny drops of liquid. This is normal. **
  1. 8. Holding the can 2 to 4 inches away from components, blow the dust off the internal components, do not spray the fans or into a DVD/BlueRay or CD-ROM, as you could damage them.
  1. 9. Blow the dust off the back grill of the PC.
  1. 10.Use a damp cloth or a microfiber cloth to wipe down the fans.
  1. 11. Replace cover and re-connect devices.

Here is a more thorough approach to cleaning your PC and components.

If you aren't exactly into DIY, click here in order to place a maintenance cleaning or other type of appointment for your PC with one of our Bench Engineers.



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Tech Talk
Best Practices: Backing up your Mitel Phone System Best Practices: Backing up your Mitel Phone System One of the most vital precautions required to ensure data integrity is to generate backups of your information. Read more… 2015-07-24
Meet the TSAChoice Team: Jennifer Silvers, Contract Administrator Meet the TSAChoice Team: Jennifer Silvers, Contract Administrator Jennifer has been with TSAChoice since January 2010 and has worked in both our Greenville and Asheville offices. Read more… 2015-07-09
Best Practices: Involve a BICSI RCDD When Implementing a Cabling Project Best Practices: Involve a BICSI RCDD When Implementing a Cabling Project A Registered Communication Distribution Designer (RCDD) is a person that plans and implements backbone infrastructure to support wireless, telecommunications, data, audio visual networks and life safety systems. Read more… 2015-06-29
Meet the TSAChoice Team: Shawn Anders, Project Manager Structured Cabling Meet the TSAChoice Team: Shawn Anders, Project Manager Structured Cabling Shawn started with TSAChoice in 1997 as a technician with our voice team. Read more… 2015-06-03
TSAChoice Renovates Offices to Create a Network Operations Center (NOC) TSAChoice Renovates Offices to Create a Network Operations Center (NOC) We have renovated our offices to create a new NOC in the Asheville office. Read more… 2015-05-13
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