Over the many years iHelp IT has been around, we’ve gone through many products and services. Over time we’ve developed a best-in-breed suite of solutions (hardware, software, and services) which we recommend for small businesses. Our guiding principle is to deliver the best outcome for our clients. Each solution must:
- Be reliable
- Have a clearly defined role
- Offer excellent support
- Not be overly complex
- Have longevity
Some IT providers will be a one-stop-shop, typically offering only that which is available from one supplier. This does not align with our guiding principle, as no one supplier offers the best products or services.
In this post I’ll go through the solutions we recommend for our clients, and why we’ve selected them.
Any business must effectively communicate with the outside world. Your web site is often the first thing a potential client sees of your business. If your web site impresses and informs then there is usually a follow up via email or phone call. All these have to work without fail to deliver clients to you.
Over the years Microsoft Exchange has proven itself again and again. It’s reliable, universally used, integrates well with other services, and configuring mail client apps is straightforward.
The integration of mail, contacts, calendars, notes, and reminders conveniently brings all this related information under one location. We use Microsoft to host, and never host on-premise. The 50 GB quota offered by Microsoft is plentiful for the vast majority of people.
Unlike cPanel hosting, where your site is one of hundreds or thousands on a server, AWS hosting enables us to host web sites on it’s own dedicated server, so sites on AWS are not impacted by other sites’ use of resources or attacks on them.
Additionally, the AWS infrastructure is extremely stable, with a 99.99% uptime guarantee. Access to your AWS-hosted site is via security key, which is well beyond the simple password offered by standard web hosting services.
For over 100 years, the telephone has been the #1 way for clients to connect with businesses. There’s nothing like connecting with a human voice on the phone, and there’s no greater failure than an unanswered phone.
3CX is the recognised leader in PBX telephony with a wide range of business critical features. Our cloud hosted solution has 99.99% uptime, and calls to business are answerable anywhere in the world, so you never miss a call.
Desktops and Laptops
Many services are moving inexorably to the cloud, so it may seem logical to conclude that whether you’re on a Mac or Windows PC is not as relevant as it once was. This isn’t the case. There are significant differences between the two platforms, and an analysis shows why we usually recommend macOS over Windows.
Apple’s walled garden approach brings everything in-house. Hardware, software, purchases, repairs, and distribution are all handled directly by Apple. Apple’s focus on quality over price results in robust and enduring devices, but at higher prices.
So while Macs having a lower market share, they are much more stable and user-friendly, have few virus or malware threats, and are cleaner and easier to support.
Microsoft largely leaves hardware manufacturer to third parties. Having multiple parties involved in sales, distribution, and repairs means wide availability, but also necessarily results in tech support complexities.
These multiple purchasing options resulting in wide adoption of Windows. That adoption means that most apps are available for Windows, but it also means that so are every virus and malware threat.
- Stable environment
- Long lifespan
- Greater resale value
- Sturdier hardware
- Few security threats
- More price option
- Niche apps available
- Less stable environment
- Short lifespan for low-end products
- Lower resale value
- Inconsistent hardware quality
- Many security threats
- Higher up-front cost
- Some niche apps unavailable
While there is an occasional scenario for them, we abandoned on-premise servers some years back, and with more people working remotely – with distributed business becoming the norm – there’s no turning back.
Dropbox established itself early in this space with consumers, and reinvented itself with business. The consistent product improvement and clarity of vision of the Dropbox product continues to delight. The comparison of Dropbox and the mix of Microsoft apps and services shows how far ahead Dropbox is for small – medium business.
Dropbox for Business
- 1 app – Dropbox
- Authenticate via Active Directory
- Familiar, no training
- Relatively simple to setup, migrate, and manage
- Documents in one place
- Open architecture with 3rd party connectivity
- Direct edit Office, Google, many other file types
- Integrates with Slack, full Zoom integration
Better syncing saves HD space & network use
- Smart: download and remove files as needed
- Selective: only sync a selection of files
- LAN: sync with local computers
- Streaming: open files while downloading
- Delta: open large files quicker
- Remote wipe
- Remove all company data from a device in the event it’s lost or stolen, or staff are unexpectedly terminated, in seconds.
Microsoft sharing suite
- 3 apps – OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams
- Authenticate via Active Directory
- Unfamiliar, needs training
- Difficult to setup and manage, costs more to support
- Documents in multiple places
- Closed architecture
- Direct edit only Office files
- No slack integration, some Zoom Teams integration
Fewer syncing options
- Smart: partly; removal only on Windows 10
- Selective: partly, OneDrive only
- LAN: No
- Streaming: No
- Delta: yes (called Differential sync)
- No remote wipe (click here) but:
- OneDrive can remote sign out a user, in 30 mins
- SharePoint can stop sync, but can’t remote wipe
- SharePoint has a work online only option, but this needs a constant internet connection which may be slow