Back up every computer you own today and help put the hackers out of business.

Thousands of computers around the world continue to be attacked by WannaCry ransomware. Like most ransomware, this malicious program holds important files and precious business data hostage until a ransom is paid to the cyber criminals.  We all know that there are things that we can do to protect our computers, such as, apply security patches as soon as they are released, do not run as administrator any longer than necessary, and do not open unsolicited email attachments.  However, it is almost imposable to eliminate the risk of being infected.

Our organizations continually train and retrain employees. According to a report by security company Proofpoint, “today’s advanced attacks focus more on exploiting human flaws than system flaws.”  The need to protect your data is now more important than ever. However, if you are hit with ransomware or a virus, you will want to a good backup. Backups can protect your data against more than just ransomware: fire theft, flood or accidental deletion.

Are you backing up your files regularly and keeping a recent backup off-site?

The best practice for backup is the three-two-one rule. To back up your data, you should have:

• At least three (3) copies,
• In two (2) different formats,
• with one (1) of those copies off-site.

Find more information on the “3-2-1” backup rule at the American Society of Media Photographers, Inc.  

Carbonite is an excellent affordable business cloud storage solution. Carbonite is an automated backup solution that allows you to save unlimited office files, photos, and music. I also like some of the other free online backup services like Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive. When picking a cloud storage solution, you will want to make sure that the services provides versioning because ransomware can infect and encrypt drives in multiple locations. Also if you are backing up infected files that have been encrypted, those could get backed up replacing your good files. That’s why versioning is so important. Carbonite has a great solution and a white paper on versioning.

It is highly recommended that you do both a full onsite and offsite backup of your computer. An External Hard Drive external hard drive can be connected to your computer to easily backup your entire system image. The benefit of a system image is that it can instantly be used to restore your computer if your hard drive fails or your computer stops working. You will want to have a backup that is air gapped because a virus can also affect a backup. This will be a copy of your data that is not connected to your system to eliminate any chance of infection.

Back up every computer you own today and help put the hackers out of business.

For more information about how to prevent a ransomware attack. Visit

What to look for when choosing a business phone system

The easiest way to lose a customer is with a bad phone system. A user-friendly and easy to use phone system is vital to any business. However, there are several providers who claim to be the best. Unfortunately, most providers are just monopolies with overpriced service and no customer support.

The traditional landline from the major U.S. telephone companies have become outdated.  Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is a much better option with great sound quality and a multitude of business-friendly features. Leo Laport of the “Tech Guy” radio show on the Premiere Radio Networks says that “in the event of a disaster, landlines are good because the phone line is carrying its own power and you can still make a call if the power is out.” Tech Guy Labs However, this issue is mitigated because nearly everyone has a cellphone.

It has been my experience that you want to avoid getting your business phone service through any of the major telephone companies or internet service providers (ISP). The large telecommunications companies are typically regional monopolies. The first completion that these companies have received in decades has come from recent players like Verizon’s FIOS and Google’s fiber Internet. Your ISP will attempt to sell you phone service when you purchase a high-speed internet package. I recommend avoiding your ISP’s phone service if that provider is Time Warner, Comcast, or Cox.

We chose a VOIP phone system by RingCentral for our organization. (Link) There are several of these types of VOIP providers that can work great for your business. Here are the things that you will want to ask before choosing a provider:

• What does the service cost per user? Can I have shared lines for phones that are rarely used? Most of these business VOIP providers charge by the user, not by the telephone number.

• Does the plan allow you to terminate the agreement? Cox Business will attempt to make you pay the remaining contracted amount even if you move to a new location Cox does not service.

• What is the recommended internet speed you will need for your location? Do I need to adjust my network router settings? What are the minimum system requirements?

• Can I transfer my existing phone numbers? Do I “own” my number? Can I keep my toll-free or local number if I choose to cancel?

• How long does the service take to activate and go live with my entire office?

• What’s involved in setting up my phone system? Ask the sales representative to let you trial the product and demo the administrative features.

• What additional hardware do I need? Do I need special phones or a router to make this work? Amazon has good deals on VOIP phones. Link to Amazon.  We chose the Cisco SPA525G2 5-Line IP Phone because of the price and the ability to connect to our network over Wi-Fi.

• How many minutes are included with my account and can I make International calls?

• How do I retrieve my voice, fax, and text messages?

• How do I set up my greeting, voicemail greetings, extensions, etc.?

• Does the service have a mobile app and Desktop interface?

• Does the service have a conferencing feature and can you use it with people outside of the company?

• Does the service work with my other applications like Office 365, Salesforce®, Zendesk®, Oracle® and Sales Cloud?

USA RingCentral Office - Get All the Features You Need in One All-Inclusive Cloud Phone System

Uber vs. Lyft in Cleveland

The team here at NEO-Growth have used car services and taxis all over the world. We have found that car services / taxis often provide an overpriced and unsatisfactory service. Uber and Lyft have turned the for-hire transportation service market on its head. Uber and Lyft have gained traction in large part with lower fares, nice vehicles, easy to use smartphone apps and a much better customer service. The email confirmation of the ride and payment makes tracking business expenses a breeze.

The market dissatisfaction was true not only for riders but also for drivers. Rideshare companies often offer promotions to increase driver retention and satisfactions. However, like any service, there have been reported incidents of criminal activity by the drivers harming riders. (Reported Rideshare Incidents)  BR-5223_CHINAoctdrive15_MG_2360 Unlike Lyft, Uber’s process for onboarding drivers, does not involve meeting drivers nor inspecting their vehicles before allowing them to ferry passengers. It is important, whether you are taking a taxi, Uber or Lyft, you need to exercise caution. Once the rider is picked up, insurance from either Uber or Lyft takes effect to protect the rider in the event of a motor vehicle collision.

Uber and Lyft both claim that they are totally different than any other service out there. However, these claims are obviously ridiculous. A large percentage of drivers, work for both companies. Each service has basically four different services:
Uber VS. Lyft

The ability to quickly pay your fair, track your driver’s arrival time and record expenses for business travel, make both of these services highly recommended. We suggest that you sign up for both services as the availability of drivers at certain times and locations can very.

Sign up today and get free credits for your first rides:

(click HERE for free LYFT rides!)



(click HERE for free UBER rides!)



DIY Network Rack.

Do you have a wiry mess under your desk? We have a cornucopia of network routers, wireless routers, external hard drives, each with its own power converter box and power strips with long cables and cords running everywhere. Also, as a safety concern, these long wires and cords are an attractive target for the curious hands of small children.

There is a simple solution to this mess of wires: making your own home network rack. I made the pictured network rack for less than $20.00. This idea was taken from a corporate network rack. Those tend to be surprisingly neat and organized, even though they hold, as you can imagine, a much larger volume of wires and cables.

Supply list: 1. Wire shelf & 2. Zip ties

First, go to your local big box home improvement store and find the Wire Shelving Accessories in the Storage and Organization Section. I used the two-foot wire shelf pictured below.


rack - Copy Network Rack 1 - Copy


I liked the one on the right above because it can stand on its own or could be mounted on the wall. If you want to  spend less than $5.00,  you can always go with a simple but strong wire deck.   Also, pick up a pack of zip ties. I prefer black, if they have that color.

Second, untangle your mess of wires and devices. Lay these things out on the shelving in an arrangement that looks neat and organized. Zip tie all boxes, power strips to the wire shelving. Zip tie the power cords so that you can plug in the routers, hard drives, etc.

Third, connect everything back and test it to make sure it works, zip tie all the network cables and other loose cords and cables. If you want you can hang your network rack on the wall or under your desk using some simple hangers. But note that you will want to make sure there is good airflow so that the devices do not get too hot.

IMG_3897 DIY Home Network Rack



How to be Successful at your Internship

     An internship or summer jobs can be the easiest way to jumps start a career after you graduate. The contacts, references, and experience that you gain, can last a lifetime.  Employers are always looking for hardworking talent at every level. However, employees / interns are often engaged in a campaign of self-sabotage.  That is why the staff here at Northeast Ohio Growth put together a list of dos and don’ts for employees and interns. The dos are easy, 1). be enthusiastic, 2). have a strong work ethic, 3). take initiative, 4). pay attention, and 5).  be reliable.  The list of don’ts is much longer. 

Things not to do as an employee / intern:

  1. Don’t look, play, fiddle, text, chat or do anything with your phone. You should put your phone away when you get to work and not take it out unless you are on a break or lunch.
  2. Don’t be late. It is offensive when you are late with a fresh Starbucks.
  3. When your boss ask you to redo something because it is wrong, don’t act annoyed.
  4. Don’t steal, talk about stealing or about any criminal activity.
  5. Never use a emoticon in an e-mail. 🙁
  6. Don’t lose your office key.
  7. Don’t wear a hoodie at work. You are not Mark Zuckerberg.
  8. Don’t bite your nails or crack your knuckles in front of your coworkers.
  9. If your supervisor / boss is not eating at the meeting, you should not be having a three course meal in their office.
  10. Don’t walk into your supervisor’s office without a note pad.

Things your employer and coworkers do not want to hear about:

  1. Don’t talk about your issues with your family.
  2. Don’t talk your commute or how bad traffic was. Your failure to get up on time, is not your employer’s problem.
  3. Don’t talk about your issues with your significant other.
  4. Don’t talk about your medical history.
  5. Don’t talk about how you slept. Nobody cares.
  6. Don’t participate in workplace gossip.
  7. Don’t talk about how much time you spend on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  8. Don’t talk about how messy your car / room/ house is.
  9. Don’t talk about your odd/quirky/weird habits
  10. Don’t talk about how much you hate a task, job, the customers, or the boss.


Leave us a comment below if you have something you think we should add to our list.

Upgrade Your Laptop with a Solid-State Drive (How-To)

Do you want your laptop to run faster? 

If your laptop is getting slow, it is time to upgrade to a solid-state drive (SSD). You can test your current hard drive speed with one of the free testing applications in the Windows Store. We like PC Benchmark which is a versatile tool for measuring speed of main computer components such as system storage (HDD or SSD), CPU, Memory and GPU.  There are also several similar apps available in the Mac App Store.

Why get a SSD?

A SSD is much faster than a standard  hard disk drive (HDD) because there are no moving parts in a SSD.  A HDD uses “a mechanical arm with a read/write head to move around and read information from the right location on a storage platter.”

The advantages of upgrading to a SSD are:

  • Speed
  • Safer: no moving parts
  • Lighter
  • Improved Battery Life

Items you will need:

Software you will need:

  • Drive Cloning Software:

The steps necessary to upgrade your hard drive to a SSD are simple as detailed in the below tutorials:

How to Upgrade Your Laptop with a SSD Drive.

How to upgrade a SSD on a Mac.

Six Business Books to Read in 2016

We asked staff here at Northeast Ohio Growth to share the best business books they have read this year. Check out their selections:

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)

The new expanded edition of Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek includes:

– More than 50 practical tips and case studies from readers (including families) who have doubled income, overcome common sticking points, and reinvented themselves using the original book as a starting point.
– Real-world templates you can copy for eliminating e-mail, negotiating with bosses and clients, or getting a private chef for less than $8 a meal.
– How Lifestyle Design principles can be suited to unpredictable economic times.
– The latest tools and tricks, as well as high-tech shortcuts, for living like a diplomat or millionaire without being either.

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising

A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing and Advertising

A new generation of megabrands like Facebook, Dropbox, Airbnb, and Twitter haven’t spent a dime on traditional marketing. No press releases, no TV commercials, no billboards. Instead, they rely on a new strategy—growth hacking—to reach many more people despite modest marketing budgets. Growth hackers have thrown out the old playbook and replaced it with tools that are testable, trackable, and scalable. They believe that products and businesses should be modified repeatedly until they’re primed to generate explosive reactions.

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator

Holiday is part Machiavelli, part Ogilvy, and all results…this whiz kid is the secret weapon you’ve never heard of.” –Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek

“This is an astonishing book. Holiday has worked for several years as a self-proclaimed media manipulator, running campaigns for companies such as American Apparel. He is now intent on revealing the tricks that his kind use to influence us. Many of these stories are chilling.”
–Gillian Tett, Financial Times

The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization

This is a book about how employees of the future will work, how managers will lead, and what organizations of the future will look like.
The Future of Work will help you:
– Stay ahead of the competition
– Create better leaders
– Tap into the freelancer economy
– Attract and retain top talent
– Rethink management
– Structure effective teams
– Embrace flexible work environments
– Adapt to the changing workforce
– Build the organization of the future

The book features uncommon examples and easy to understand concepts which will challenge and inspire you to work differently.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t

Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness — why some companies make the leap and others don’t. The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice.




Windows 10 Preview and Upgrade Guide

The official launch date for Windows 10 is July 29 and it will be free for users running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. If you are not eligible for the free upgrade because you are running an earlier version of Windows, the Home and Pro versions will sell for $119, and $199, respectively.

How do I get my free upgrade?

Windows 10 upgrade reservedIf you are eligible for the free upgrade, you will be notified by the “Get Windows 10” icon in the bottom right hand corner of your taskbar. If you don’t see the icon, check to make sure that your current version of Windows is up to date and all of the recent updates and patches have been installed. To avoid the rush on July 29th, Microsoft is allowing you to schedule your installation now.

Windows 10 has a new look and feel.

To overcome the problems with Windows 8, Microsoft has made significant changes to this new operating system. The Start Menu is back and has been redesigned. The new Start Menu will have a list of your most used applications, most visited folders, and recently added software. Windows 10 will stay in desktop mode if it recognizes a mouse and keyboard and tablet mode when there is no keyboard and mouse.

Will Windows 10 run on my machine?

According to Microsoft, the “minimum requirements for Windows 10 are a 1GHz processor, at least 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of hard drive space.” Newer PC that are already running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 should work fine. However, some older software and peripherals may have problems after you install Windows 10. Also, if you are running an old version of software that is vital for your business, check with the software manufacture to confirm that the program will function properly on Windows 10. To ensure that your PC or tablet makes the transition, visit Microsoft’s Windows 10 Specifications site.

Always backup your system before any upgrade.

It is highly recommended to do full onsite and offsite backup of your computer before you make any changes to the operating system. An external hard drive can be connected to your computer to easily backup your entire system. You can buy a large External Hard Drive on for less than $100. There are several offsite online back-up services like Carbonite, Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive. These are cheap options to backup a large amount of data. Online backup services like these save your files to the Cloud and give you the peace of mind that if your home experiences a fire, is burglarized, or there is a hardware issue with your external hard drive, you have an exact copy of all your data at an off-site location.

Here are a few more  common questions about the upgrade process. Click on the links for Microsoft’s answers.