Do You Have a System That Tells You When Your Technology Expires?

How can a company stay ahead of aging technology? This can be a challenge with a network consisting of components purchased over the course of several years. With 2016 just around the corner, now is the perfect time to address this and have your company Refresh Your Technologypoised to maximize the value it gets from it technology.

Document IT Assets

Networks tend to grow in increments over the years, depending on need, and many companies simply don’t know what they have.  First conduct an inventory and document the network – hardware and software. This process may also uncover any unlicensed software in use.

Assign End-of-Life Dates

Sometimes, the network “discovery” tool can also find out when each device was put into service and from there, it’s relatively simple to determine which assets are at their “end of life”.  Servers tend to have a longer life than PCs – 6 or 7 years in some cases. Operating systems and productivity suites usually have well-publicized schedules for the end of their support.  PCs are considered “old” when they get past 4 years – at that point, repairs to them might cost more than the machine is worth.

Make an IT Budget

With a current and accurate list of network assets and their expected lifespans, it’s possible to build orderly company-wide technology refreshes into the company’s IT budget. This will provide several important benefits:

  • - Cash flow is predictable
  • - Down time is reduced
  •  -Network technology is always up-to-date

Many companies don’t have the expertise to do these three steps or the time. This is where a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help, and the cost of the service is more than offset by the benefits listed above. Clare Computer Solutions has years of experience helping companies keep their technology up-to-date and running smoothly. Contact us today for a no-cost 1 hour assessment.

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NetCentral Live Demonstrations Available


NetCentral offers a window into your network. See how we manage organizations’ IT Networks and maintain 99% of our service level requirements for our clients.

Contact us to schedule your NetCentral live demonstration here or for more information. CCS has been a Managed Service Provider (MSP) since 2004.

We established our Service Level Agreement (SLA) for our clients and regularly monitor the success and accuracy and efficiency of all of our projects.

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How to Do a Technology Assessment (and Why)

Businesses are almost always in a state of change. If things go well, that means growth, and when a company grows, the technology has to change to meet the changing needs. These changes are often incremental, and are barely noticed. But over the course of a year, or multiple years, the IT infrastructure ends being very different and it’s not uncommon to lose track of what technology assets are installed.Technology Assessment

You can’t manage an infrastructure unless you know what you have. For this reason, it is a good practice to conduct a technology assessment at least once a year. There are two major steps: Discovery and Assessment.


This step is basically an inventory of all the installed technology in a business. In modern IT infrastructures, this may include virtual assets and they may be on-premise or in the cloud, or both. You’ll need more than a sharp pair of eyes and clipboard to get this information.

Fortunately, there are tools that can “discover” the interconnected elements of a network, from the machine level (virtual or physical) down to installed software and even peripherals like mice and keyboards.


This is where the inventory information gathered during Discovery is used to benefit the company. This information can be used for:

  • - Planning for technology refreshes
  • - Strategic planning for future growth
  • - Quicker problem resolution
  • - Making support more efficient

Sometimes, finding the time or personnel to do a technology is an issue. Also, sometimes it’s best to have an IT consultant perform the assessment to bring fresh eyes to inventory and evaluate an IT infrastructure your workers see every day.

Clare Computer Solutions has the tools, the skills and the experience to conduct a thorough technology assessment and provide valuable strategic advice to ensure your company is able to fully realize the power of your company’s information technology. Contact us to get started!

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Checklist for Evaluating Your Current MSP or to Evaluate a Prospective MSP

As 2016 approaches, now is the time to take a look at some of your company’s relationships and verify that they will continue to provide the value you will need to reach your strategic goals. With regards to the support for your company’s IT infrastructure, netcentral_logo_webhere are some things to examine, to see if your current Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a good fit.

Does the MSP consistently meet response time promises?

Most services providers will have some sort of response time goal. Does your MSP have a stated goal for response time?  If so, do they meet it?  Can they provide metrics to prove it?

Does the MSP help with strategic planning?

Aside from fixing problems with your network, does your MSP offer strategic planning assistance?  Do they help you with your yearly IT budget?  Are they alerting you as to what technologies need to be replaced or updated, before they fail?

Does the MSP help with managing multiple technology vendors?

Will your MSP act as a technical liaison when dealing with issues with other IT vendors, even if they didn’t sell you those products or services?

Does the MSP provide regular reports on my IT health?

Your IT infrastructure is a dynamic environment, and you should be notified as to its overall “health” on a monthly basis, and have periodic meetings with your MSP regarding the trends that emerge from the monthly reports.  Is this information being provided?

Does the MSP provide transparency into what they’re doing for me?

Even though your MSP is managing your network for you, do you have access to the tools they use to perform those services?  Do you have access (for appropriate personnel) to the administrative credentials to your network assets?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it may be a sign that you’re not getting adequate value out of the relationship with your current MSP.  If you don’t have an MSP, these same questions can be used to evaluate your prospective MSP – the answers to all of the questions above should be “yes”!

Clare Computer Solutions’ clients using the NetCentral managed services program answer “Yes” to all the above. Doesn’t your company deserve this level of service? Contact us today to get started.

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IT Budget Vital for Manufacturing Firms

Manufacturing is an industry where intricate timing is very important. It’s not good business for raw materials or finished goods to linger long, so the goal is “just-in-time”. Ideally, raw materials arrive just in time to be applied the manufacturing process and the finished products are ready just in time to ship.

Pulling off this feat is not easy – it requires good planning and quick access to timely andManufacturing accurate data. Information technology is a valuable tool for both of these, so it make sense to ensure your manufacturing firm’s IT infrastructure is up-to-date and reliable.

Manufacturing is a business where the concept of preventative maintenance has been a practice for generations. The costs of an interruption anywhere in the manufacturing process is well understood. The same should apply to the information technology.

Now is the perfect time of year to create your IT budget. First of all, you may be able to take advantage of the Section 179 tax deduction for capital equipment purchased and put into use by the end of the year. See for more information.

Secondly, taking the time now to consider what your IT infrastructure will need in 2016 will aid in keeping your manufacturing line running smoothly all year.  The budget should include normal maintenance and management costs, as well as planned upgrades and cycling out of end-of-life technologies. With a well-designed IT budget, you’ll knew what expenses are coming up and you’ll know when you can perform needed maintenance on equipment and technologies.

For a lot of manufacturing firms, this type of strategic IT planning is not in their skill set. This is the responsibility of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or a Chief Information Officer (CIO) – to create a technology roadmap to match your practice’s goals.  Clare Computer Solutions provides strategic IT planning and consulting, acting as a “Virtual CIO” to help practices just like yours achieve their goals. We can help you, too – contact us today to get your IT budget started!

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3 Ways Managed IT Services Saves Time and Money for Businesses

It’s an old adage: “Time is money”. But it’s still true. In this fast-paced business world, time is even more precious and therefore more expensive. Spending time dealing with IT issues is time that should have been spent on revenue-generating activities with customers or delivering services. This is why Managed IT Services is so important. Look at these Managed IT Servicesareas where a Managed Services Provider (MSP) can save your company time and money:

IT Network Maintenance, Monitoring and Management

This is the obvious one. It’s a proven fact that a well-managed IT infrastructure will have greater reliability and performance. Downtime is extremely expensive (most estimates run in the tens of thousands of dollars per hour), so investing in good upkeep and management of the IT Network pays dividends time and time again.

IT Vendor Management

This is less obvious, but since technology and technology-related services often come from a variety of vendors, having an MSP act as a technical liaison to these vendors can save a tremendous amount of time. Since all these disparate technical tools have to work together, where there’s an issue, solving it usually means dealing with multiple vendors. Often, the vendors’ Tier 1 support will default to unproductive finger-pointing. An MSP will leverage knowledge of the interacting technologies and get help faster.

IT Budget Support

Given the importance of technology for businesses, it makes sense to include it in your strategic planning, including your company’s budget. Even when the network is running at optimal levels, your business should be prepared for technology refreshes and plan for projects to upgrade technology to ensure the business is poised to meet the anticipated IT needs into the future. A budget will help keep unexpected expenditures to an absolute minimum. Strategic input from your MSP is like having a CIO on staff!

The business world has moved beyond just reacting to IT challenges – to keep up, a company has to stay ahead of IT problems and prevent them to keep the business on track.  Clare Computer Solutions has been providing managed IT services for decades – contact us and start saving time and money.

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The Top 3 Benefits of Image-Based Backups

By now, most companies will say they back up their data. This capability has even trickledImage-Based Backups into the home consumer market. But businesses need to factor recovery time into their backup strategy. Data alone won’t enable a quick recovery from a disaster, but image-based backups will. Here are the 3 top benefits:

1: Quick recovery of entire systems or individual files

Speed to recovery is the most important consideration – downtime costs run in the tens of thousands of dollars per hour. With image-based backup, you can quickly and easily restore individual files, or workstations, or servers to the exact state they were in before the disaster occurred.

2: Recovery to dissimilar hardware – even bare metal

If a server is down permanently, the chances of quickly getting an exact copy replacement are pretty slim. With image-based backup, the server can be restored to any new server or you can even repurpose an existing machine to replace the server, all in a fraction of the time it would take to find a replacement server with exact same specs as the one that failed.

3: Remote Recovery and Administration

Image-based backups provide considerable flexibility with regards to administration. Often, backups and recovery operations can be managed for multiple locations from a single central location. In addition to disaster recovery, saved images can also be used to rapidly deploy new workstations or servers, anywhere, anytime.

This type of technology is now affordable for business of all sizes. Clare Computer Solutions can help you set up regular, automated image-based backups to a local device and into the cloud. Contact us today to get started.

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How IT Budgeting Can Make a Huge Difference for Your Company

If your company struggles to get orders out on time, keep track of product, and maintain positive customer experiences, often aging IT systems are to blame. But it’s hard to know where to begin to get things in order and the anticipated expense may keep you in a pattern of “bandaid” fixes and crisis management.

Clare Computer Solutions (CCS) offers budgeting and strategy sessions for NetCentral clients, and with the help of assessment tools and skilled technical consultants, we can quickly locate the trouble spots and help set priorities that would remedy the most critical pain-points first.

During the strategy session, CCS explains the findings and how these various problems were contributing to the poor performance. CCS will identify the greatest pain-points, how they were affecting the business, and what the priorities need to be to bring about the most immediate relief. Additionally, CCS will show how taking these steps would establish systems that our clients could build upon for their future objectives.

After identifying the priorities, CCS outlines a budget proposal spreading the expenses for the various mini-projects over the course of the coming year (or longer, in some cases). It makes it easy to see how step-by-step, our clients can remedy their most immediate problems and build a system that they could rely on and grow with.

These same benefits could apply to your company — and it all starts with a free IT budget session briefing. This is the perfect time of you to be thinking about your company’s goals and plans for next year. Make sure your technology will support those goals! Get your company the IT infrastructure it needs. Contact us to get started.

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Section 179 Deduction Can Help Your Business Purchase Hardware/Software Before the End of 2015

There are government incentives for the purchase of capital equipment such as hardware and software before the end of 2015. Please visit the Section 179 Website and consult with your tax specialist prior to purchase.

The Section 179 Deduction has been announced for 2015 and the current deduction limit is $25,000 (This could change – there are efforts underway to increase this amount). This means businesses can deduct the full cost of qualifying equipment from their 2015 taxes, up to $25,000. The equipment must be purchased and put into use by midnight, 12/31/2015.

Clare Computer Solutions can assist you with a recommended implementation plan for upgrading your equipment, infrastructure and software applications. We are here to help you and help you save money.

Contact us or call (800) 339-0690 ext 148 for a FREE 2015 IT budget consultation about what your specific company may require and then refer to the Section 179 website for more information about available incentives for your business:

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Healthcare Providers: The Time to Plan Your IT Budget is Now

Autumn has begun, so this is the time to create the budget for the coming year. Does your budget include addressing your practice’s IT needs?

IT costs can be controlled and predictable when steps are taken to properly maintain the IT infrastructure and cycle out aging IT assets in an orderly manner.

Here’s how to address this in 3 manageable steps:


Take stock of what your IT infrastructure is right now. In a small medical practice, this might be done visually, but generally, it’s much better to utilize a software tool to “discover” what you have, and output that information in a diagram and an accompanying asset list.


Often, the assessment will reveal some things that have to be addressed immediately, and if that’s the case, take steps to repair what’s truly not working.  It can ensure your office’s operations are stable and properly running as you address the next step, which is more strategic.


Forget technology for a minute. What are the goals for your practice over next 1, 3 or 5 years?  How do you envision the future? Then compare that vision against your current IT infrastructure and decide how that environment would have to change to accommodate Budget time!your practice and its operations if those goals are met.  Also, is your current technology helping you meet HIPAA requirements? How can you ensure your technology will be appropriate for your future needs?

For a lot of Healthcare Providers, this type of strategic IT planning is not in their skill set. This is the responsibility of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or a Chief Information Officer (CIO) – to create a technology roadmap to match your practice’s goals.  Clare Computer Solutions provides strategic IT planning and consulting, acting as a “Virtual CIO” to help practices just like yours achieve their goals. We can help you, too – contact us today to get your IT budget started!

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