CCS FAQ – Our Most Popular Questions

q_aHere’s a quick rundown of the questions we hear most often from our customers.

 

Understanding your ROI

Q. Help me understand the return on my investment when I hire Central Coast for my tech resource.

 

A. There a couple ways to think about this from both a big-picture and detailed point of view.

 

First, our hourly rate is likely to less than your billable rate for your clients. For example, if you are a graphic designer charging $125+ an hour for your services, by purchasing a Maintenance Plan or Service Plan hours, you will be paying us less than what it costs you do your own tech support. Additionally, before you think about hiring a person on staff to do tech support, consider the total cost to carry that headcount. Using Central Coast would be a third to half of that cost for a 10-15 person agency, for example. Our Service Plans are affordable and help you meet the needs of your budget.

 

Second, we are experts and this is what we do. Out team of technicians has a collective experience that far outweighs even the most avid “office tech.” We can likely fix things faster, maintain things at a higher level, and ensure your business won’t have to deal with as many emergencies that disrupt business. That said we work alongside you, as there are a number of things that can be done on your end to maintain the basics while we stay accountable for the more intricate areas.

 

Finally, if you are in business to make money (and we hope that you are), then your tools are your life line to your customers. They help you communicate. They help you create deliverables. They help you collaborate. There’s no excuse for NOT having them function the way you need them to so that you can do great work. When you do great work, we are happy.

 

Don’t Block Out the Sunshine!

Q. We’re thinking of moving our company to live in the Cloud. What do you think?

 

A. We have a separate post dedicated to this issue. Click here. In a nutshell, Central Coast is NOT a fan of Cloud Computing! There are other options that cost less money in the long run, are far more secure, have easy access through VPN from offsite…but most importantly, keep your data and your clients’ data under your control. Cloud providers do a bang-up job of marketing the perceived pros, but rarely mention the cons. So do your research before you leap to the cloud, because if you change your mind, getting your data back out can be a painstaking process and be highly disruptive to your business.

 

Cost Efficient and Convenient

Q. What’s the difference between buying my equipment from the Apple Store, and buying from Central Coast?

 

A. We offer hardware as a service to our customers, and give the best pricing possible.

 

Before you purchase anything, we look at what you need from a functionality standpoint, along with the other equipment you already own and the other components that need to connect with your new equipment. We ask about things that the Apple Store or an online retailer wouldn’t know – such as how the equipment will be used, the software it will run, the other components it needs to connect with, to how fast your Internet connection will run, even personal preferences. Purchasing technology hardware is rarely a standalone decision.

 

Once your equipment arrives, we deliver it to your location, set it up for you, and make sure it’s functioning the way you need it to. And if something goes wrong, we’ll help make sure it gets fixed so you aren’t left hanging out there alone to figure it out.

 

AppleCare is a wonderful investment and something we always recommend. It costs a small fraction of what you already investing in the hardware. Machines do have problems from time to time in their first few years. AppleCare is three-year smart insurance plan. We can take care of getting this for you too.

 

What’s Included?

Q. When I purchase a new Mac, does your service include moving my photos and music?

 

A. Yes! We’ll move them all over, along with your other data, settings, bookmarks, etc. It will be 100 percent seamless for you.

 

Accounting Software

Q. Do you know of a good alternative to Quicken for Mac?

 

A. Yes – try Moneydance. It imports Quicken file and is only $49. We hear great things from our clients about this software.

 

Internal Storage

Q. How much internal storage should I have on my Mac?

 

A. Upgrading the internal storage device of your existing Mac to a 512GB or 1TB Flash Drive is a huge performance benefit that will greatly enhance the long-term viability of the machine. You should balance the cost against having a faster computer, which also extends of the value of its usefulness later on too.

 

Worth the Space?

Q. We don’t want equipment “clogging up” our office space. Is Apple Time Capsule an option?

 

A. Yes, however, be aware that an internal drive is not serviceable in the Time Capsule, so a drive issue (and these do occur) means the unit is not longer working – period. Even if it happens under warranty, your data will be lost with a new unit replacement. Time Capsules are great for backing up your office machines, but they are not a server, and shouldn’t be used as one.

 

My Font Library Needs a Tune Up

Q. What happens when we hire Central Coast to do a “font review” on our Mac?

 

A. New OS and Creative Suite versions are less tolerant of older TrueType and Postscript fonts. When we clean up your library, we’ll convert your “must have” older fonts to the modern OpenType versions, and help you learn font management.

 

Backup Systems

Q. What’s the difference between Crash Plan and Time Machine? Do we need both?

 

A. Time Machine is a local backup of your entire computer, and a fast way to recover your data in an emergency. Crash Plan is set up to automatically update everything with no inconvenience to the user, but takes some time download back to a new machine, and cannot be used to directly recover from a startup drive failure like Time Machine can. Depending on how and who is using the machine – we’ll talk with you about a backup plan that will work best for you. The most important thing is that you know you need one.

 

 

Mac vs. Windows

What’s the Better Choice? Apple Macintosh or Windows?

Apple has been making BOTH hardware and operating systems for over 30 years. They are engineered to to work together. Period. There hundreds of different PCs on the market running Microsoft Windows OS. Some work well together. Others do not. This is why we are Macintosh Business Partner experts and love this technology platform for businesses looking to build a stable, known environment.

 

Prices are Relative to What You Get

It can be deceiving to look at the price of a Mac vs. PC. Products at first glance are rarely comparable with one another, particularly for low-end PCs which use inferior materials. Make sure you are taking into account all functionality and stability before comparing costs.

 

Security is a Top Concern Now and Always

Harry McCracken once said, “A Mac owner who runs no security software is still vastly less likely to be the victim of a successful attack than a Windows user who is protected up to his eyeballs.” Hackers have typically attacked the larger market of Windows-based OS, giving Macs a less attractive target to hack.

 

Regardless of what you are running, be aware of any and all issues when you store data in the Cloud. Read this article. Our recommendation is to manage your own data onsite with secure servers and managed firewalls. You don’t need Internet access to get to your information onsite, you KNOW who is managing it (you!) and it’s much, much harder to steal. Cloud servers have become the latest attraction for hackers – why not go after a whole bunch of information from a group of random companies all at once?

 

Macs are Intuitive and Require Less Maintenance

Apple has built a platform that caters to graphics, imagery and design-related tools. OS X is a straight-forward approach to managing tools, application and files. We see it over and over. Windows users converting to Mac generally have an easy time getting used to how things work. Mac users converting to Windows often find themselves trying to figure out a much less intuitive platform. Mac versions of software, on average, focus more on user interface as well.

 

shutterstock_167677004_LRCustomer Satisfaction – Numbers Talk

Apple has topped the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) annual rankings for customer satisfaction in the category of personal computers for the tenth straight year in a row in 2013! ACSI founder and Chairman said, “Companies that can innovate while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction are the ones that will win.” Read more about ACSI study here.

 

We’re sold. How about you?

 

 

Central Coast is Your Resource for Windows to Mac Conversion

Get in touch: Service@centralcoastweb.com

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with “Sippy-straw” Internet Speeds

facetoface5-309x206Time is Money – Buy the Fastest Internet You Can Afford

One of the most-asked questions we get at Central Coast is, “Why is my Internet slower at work than at home?” The answer in a nutshell boils down to a couple key things.

 

First, there are a lot of consumers out there using the Internet. Infrastructure has been built to cater to the magnitude of home users around the world. There are more individual consumers than businesses, and other than the CIO, high level executives don’t often fully understand the wealth of productivity lost each day through slow connections. So the home user is the squeaky wheel. When they can’t stream their Netflix movie, or search quickly for the optimal recipe for Orange Chicken, or need click through at lightning speed to purchase the latest series of Transformer toy, they complain loudly. Meanwhile, corporate office buildings and skyscrapers are still working to catch up with how their tenants’ workflow has shifted – everything is online – and engineers are still scrambling to build networks to support the flow of data and information both in and out of offices.

 

Second, company managers don’t often understand and manage the things that are hogging their bandwidth. Here’s an example. Executive Assistant Marge is unintentionally using a bunch of bandwidth that Graphic Designer Ellen needs, because Marge is streaming her favorite online music station to her desktop. Marge also has the Internet open to multiple pages with ads continually popping up, even though she’s off at a meeting for the next hour and a half and her computer is not set to sleep while she’s away from her desk (which is another security issue entirely, mind you.) Meanwhile, Designer Ellen is watching the spinning ball swirl while trying to download some stock photos for her project. She’s not only frustrated because she’s on a deadline, but feels her tools are effecting her performance – everything is so slow and unproductive. It doesn’t pay to complain or ask for help because nobody listens and everyone’s in the same boat anyway. Meanwhile, she has ample time to ponder that while she waits for her slow downloads to finish.

 

 

Control What You Can – Here Are Some Great Solutions

  1. Central Coast will test and troubleshoot your hardware. We’ll check to make sure you are using the fastest DNS for your connection. Also, we’ll fix or replace your router or modem. It may not even be your Internet connection that is slowing you down! (To test your speed against what you are paying for, Speedtest.net is a great resource.) If your office is older with a lot of steel walls, we will check the placement of your wi-fi to reposition or boost it for optimal speed. Finally, we will hardwire key components – so you aren’t using valuable bandwidth for your computer to talk to an internal server or printer, for example.
  2. We’ll do a mini-audit to see how your office is using your bandwidth. Asking Marge (above) to stop streaming music and to close her browser when she’s not at her desk, can help. Also, other workflow adjustments can be helpful. If you work in an office with limited bandwidth that you cannot increase or control, your employees should have a basic understanding of the tasks that use heavy versus light bandwidth, and optimize that to be efficient for everyone on the team whenever possible.
  3. Central Coast is on a first-name basis with many local Internet providers. They respond quickly when we call them to find out if you are getting the fastest connection for the money – because they know we can influence our clients with future purchases for their services. We may recommend you change providers if you can get faster, cheaper service elsewhere.

 

cloudLessen Your Pain By Staying Out of the Cloud

Finally, if you lose your Internet connection, even for a few hours, it’s downright painful and you quickly find out how long it takes in real time for minutes and hours to go by when there’s nothing else happening around you. There’s no email, no customer service service, no purchasing, no shipping, no billing, and possibly no company website (if you host onsite). Further complicating things, if you’ve made the unwise and unfortunate decision to put your entire business into the hands of a Cloud provider, you have a dead piece of metal to stare at (also known as your hardware), because in addition to the list above, you have no software or applications. Check out this article for more information about Cloud security.

 

Central Coast Solutions is Ready to Help Your Organization Optimize Productivity.

Whether you are running a business from home and need the reliability, support and static IP address of a Business Internet plan – or are dealing in with complicated network structures of large office buildings – we can help get to the bottom of why your Internet is not working as fast as you need it to.

 

Time is money. Our hourly rate is often less than what you bill your clients.

 

Getting You Back to Doing Great Work for Your Clients at Top Speed is Our Goal.

Contact us at service@centralcoastweb.com to get started.

 

 

 

Update: It might be time to upgrade your Mac

13MBA_PF_Open_Mavericks_SCREENWhen is the Right Time?

With “Mavericks” finally getting more stable, Apple has released its new OS X “Yosemite” – the tenth version of the operating system named OS Ten (it looks like Apple is done with cat names. They only had one horse name, and have now moved on to parks). It is the only OS that will run on new Macs.

 

Now that Yosemite is released, it will not run the current 10.8 (“Lion”) or 10.9 (“Mavericks”) – and that can be a big issue.

 

Should you upgrade to Mavericks if you are still on Lion? It depends. OS X 10.8.5 is finally stable, and everything works on it, so now would be a good time to do the upgrade. Adobe, Microsoft, Extensis and others have gotten all the issues worked out and things are working pretty well, but Mavericks OS is a complete re-write and likely will affect software, networking, printing or some other mission-critical thing you need to do. That being said, you need to have a Mac that will eventually run 10.9, so being at 10.8.5 is a great start. There are a number of complicated items involved in the update so contact us and we’ll make sure its done correctly.

 

Hardware Update

The current line of Macs are all very fast, stable and feature-packed. If you have an older Mac, we recommend getting one now. Right now. The MacBook Pros and iMacs were recently updated and are the fastest designer Macs out there. The 15″ Retina MacBook Pro and a 27″ Thunderbolt display are an excellent choice for those who need to take their work on the go.

 

If you have a lot of apps running at the same time (press command-tab and look at the list). Its convenient, but each of them requires some RAM and hard drive space while its running. OS X takes about 1GB itself, and Photoshop grabs up to 70 percent of the RAM in your Mac when its running, so you can see how quickly it gets used. We recommend no less than 8GB of RAM, and if the Mac will take it, go to 16GB or 32GB. Many Macs even just a couple years old can’t expand to that level, and that reason alone is a good one to upgrade your hardware.

 

The latest Macs all have the option of either Fusion or SSD hard drives – both of which and far faster than traditional hard drives. Fusion drives combine a fast RAM area with a spinning hard drive, and store the OS and most used apps in that area for quick access. Solid State Disks or Flash Storage are up to 5 times faster than spinning drives. That speed comes at a higher cost however, and SSDs are still far smaller in capacity than spinning drives, so many designers are opting for the 1TB or 3TB Fusion Drives.

 

We’ll need to custom order new Macs with the features you need as many of them are not easily upgradable after purchase – so adding the faster processor, hard drive and RAM options need to be done day one. Also, the order time on new Macs has been 8-10 days so plan accordingly.

 

Software Update

In order to run Adobe CC, you will need to be on OS X 10.8.5. Coming from 10.6.8 is $19.99 for the OS, but you’ll also need to update your Microsoft Office to 2011, and Suitcase to Fusion 5. Note that older versions of apps may not run under 10.8, so if you have any questions on these apps – ask.

 

Many people have older font libraries that will need updating to be used properly by the latest OS X and applications. We know a lot about fonts and can assist with that process or take care of it for you. It’s astounding the number of people who do not know how to use font management tools. We can help!

 

We’ve offered this before, but feel free to send us your System Profile and we’ll determine the best course of action for your existing Mac – upgrade or replacement. Go to the Apple Menu>About this Mac and then System Report. Click File>Save and save the report to your desktop and email to service@centralcoastweb.com.

 

Enjoy, and Let Us Know If We Can Help With Anything – It’s What We Do.

 

-Ed Klemz, Owner, Central Coast Solutions

By | June 15th, 2014|Apple Hardware, Featured, Help, Products, Upgrades|0 Comments

MacBook Air is an excellent value!

MacBook Air is an excellent value if you are thinking about buying an iPad for the low price. Consider this: For only a few hundred dollars more, you get an entire computer, keyboard, trackpad…far more power!

 

Models now starting at only $899. Contact sales@centralcoastweb.com and we’ll customize your machine to meet all your needs.

 

 

 

By | April 30th, 2014|Apple Hardware, Featured, Products, Workflow|0 Comments

Update: It might be time to upgrade your Mac

October 2013

We’ve been getting a lot of end-of-year budget planning questions and it brings up an important piece of news that will affect many of you. Apple will soon be releasing its new OS X 10.9 “Mavericks” (I guess they’re done with cat names and have moved on to horses) and when they do, it will be the only OS that will run on new Macs. What that means is if you buy a Mac with 10.9 it will likely not run the current 10.8 – and that’s going to be a big issue.

OS X 10.8.5 is finally stable, and everything works on it, so now would be a good time to do the upgrade. Adobe, Microsoft, Extensis and others have gotten all the issues worked out and things are working pretty well, but this new OS is a complete re-write and likely will affect software, networking, printing or some other mission-critical thing you need – so there is no need for you to be an early adopter. That being said, you need to have a Mac that will eventually run 10.9, so being at 10.8.5 is a great start. There are a number of complicated items involved in the update so for sure contact us and we’ll make sure its done correctly.

HARDWARE:
The current line of Macs are all very fast, stable and feature-packed. If you have an older Mac, we recommend getting one now. Right now. The MacBook Pros and iMacs were recently updated and are the fastest designer Macs out there. I’ve gone with the new 15″ Retina MacBook Pro and a 27″ Thunderbolt display for my setup and its an excellent choice for those who need to take their work on the go. Contact me for more details, but as an incentive we’re giving $100 off any new Mac system with AppleCare, to all of our clients.

If you are like me, you have a lot of apps running at the same time (press command-tab and look at the list). Its convenient, but each of them requires some RAM and hard drive space while its running. OS X takes about 1GB itself, and Photoshop grabs up to 70% of the RAM in your Mac when its running, so you can see how quickly it gets used. We recommend no less than 8GB of RAM, and if the Mac will take it, go to 16GB or 32GB. Many Macs even just a couple years old can’t expand to that level, and that reason alone is a good one to upgrade your hardware.

The latest Macs all have the option of either Fusion or SSD hard drives – both of which and far faster than traditional hard drives. Fusion drives combine a fast RAM area with a spinning hard drive, and store the OS and most used apps in that area for quick access. Solid State Disks or Flash Storage are up to 5 times faster than spinning drives. That speed comes at a higher cost however, and SSDs are still far smaller in capacity than spinning drives, so many designers are opting for the 1TB or 3TB Fusion Drives.

We’ll need to custom order new Macs with the features you need as many of them are not easily upgradable after purchase – so adding the faster processor, hard drive and RAM options need to be done day one. Also, the order time on new Macs has been 8-10 days so plan accordingly.

SOFTWARE:
In order to run Adobe CC, you will need to be on OS X 10.8.5. Coming from 10.6.8 is $19.99 for the OS, but you’ll also need to update your Microsoft Office to 2011, and Suitcase to Fusion 5. Note that older versions of apps may not run under 10.8, so if you have any questions on these apps – ask.

Many people have older font libraries that will need updating to be used properly by the latest OS X and applications. We know a lot about fonts and can assist with that process or do it for you.

I’ve offered this before, but feel free to send me your System Profile and I’ll determine the best course of action for your existing Mac – upgrade or replacement. Go to the Apple Menu>About this Mac and then System Report. Click File>Save and save the report to your desktop and email to me.

Enjoy, and let me know if we can help with anything – its what we do.

-Ed

By | October 7th, 2013|Apple Hardware, Help, Upgrades|0 Comments