In today’s fast paced economy, decisions need to be made faster than ever before.  It’s easy to jump into an agreement without proper due diligence – with potentially dire consequences.


The ‘Black Art’ of Cloud Computing is not immune from this challenge. I recently saw an article published in Computer Weekly and written by Mark Weston, Principal at UK law firm Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP, which I thought was worth posting up as a useful guide.  As with most areas of business, all that glitters is not gold and having read the article, I have to say I agree with Mark. It’s important to ensure you know what you are entering into before you sign any agreement.  There are a simple set of questions you can ask that will help you avoid some of the potential pitfalls.  You can read the article and the checklist Mark recommends by Clicking here.


Needless to say, if you would like to talk to First Class about taking the first steps into a Cloud environment such Microsoft Office 365 or Microsoft Azure, we’d be pleased to share our responses to the checklist. Feel free to call us on 01543 414152. We’d love to talk to you.

Cyber Attack Crime
Cyber Attack Crime

Machine learning is not a new-fangled security technology, but it is poised to be a crucial element in battling known and unknown ransomware threats and exploit kit attacks, among others. Machine learning is deployed through a layered system with human- and computer-provided inputs running through mathematical algorithms.

This model is then pitted against network traffic, allowing a machine to make quick and accurate decisions about whether the network content—files and behaviours—are malicious or not.

Enterprises must also ready themselves with proven protection against the anti-evasion techniques that threat actors will introduce in 2017. This challenge calls for a combination (versus a silver-bullet type approach) of different security technologies that should be available across the network to form a connected threat defence.

Technologies like:
• Advanced anti-malware (beyond blacklisting)
• Antispam and antiphishing at the Web and messaging gateways
• Web reputation
• Breach detection systems
• Application control (whitelisting)
• Content filtering
• Vulnerability shielding
• Mobile app reputation
• Host- and network-based intrusion prevention
• Host-based firewall protection

A majority of today’s threats can be detected by the aforementioned techniques working together, but in order to catch zero-day and “unknown” threats, enterprises must use behaviour and integrity monitoring as well as sandboxing.

IoT affords both risks and conveniences. Smart device users should learn to secure their routers before allowing any smart device to access the Internet through them. They should then include security as a consideration when buying a new smart device.

Does it provide for authentication or allow password changes? Can it be updated? Can it encrypt network communications? Does it have open ports? Does its vendor provide firmware updates?

Enterprises that collect data from EU citizens should expect a bump in administrative expenses as they grapple with major process changes and hire DPOs to comply with the GDPR. A thorough review of a company’s data protection strategy will also help in passing audits.
These new challenges require a new take on endpoint security, a cross-generational security approach combining proven threat-detection techniques for known and unknown threats with advanced protection techniques such as application control, exploit prevention and behavioural analysis, sandbox detection, and high-fidelity machine learning.

Training employees against social engineering attacks and about the latest threats like BEC will complete the security culture needed to fortify an enterprise’s defences for 2017 and beyond.

If you interested in knowing more about making your network as secure as possible then please get in touch with us. We have a number of great products that can help to either protect your network or quickly recover your data in the event of an attack


It’s often said that there is nothing more frustrating than a loss of email communication when running a business.

Not only does it disrupt productivity, cause expensive downtime and damage customer relationships, but it usually requires the business owner (probably yourself) to choose between becoming an overnight I.T. expert to troubleshoot the issue or pay for outside help to restore email functionality.

This is especially true if your business uses in-house email servers. These power-hungry machines demand continual maintenance and expensive upgrades to manage backups, increase storage and combat cyber threats.

So, when it comes to choosing a reliable option for email services, many businesses, from new start-ups to larger established organisations are choosing the headache free option of professional business email hosting.

Why Choose Business Email Hosting Services

As a business email user, your maximum involvement with emails should really be limited to writing, sending and receiving them – not troubleshooting downtime.

That’s why a business email hosting service is an ideal option for the majority of businesses. Because all that is required is an internet connection, and the complexities of emails and exchange servers are all taking care of; including maintenance, security and upgrades.

You see, email hosting services utilise cloud storage, this means that business emails and data can be stored in highly secure locations and accessed only by the business and its email users.

Managed completely by professional email hosting providers, cloud-based business email hosting services offer a liberating number of solutions for businesses, such as:

  • A reduction in total costs and I.T. resources
  • Fully managed email infrastructure
  • Strong security and regularly updated virus protection
  • No requirements for maintenance or upgrading
  • Guaranteed uptime
  • Simple to use features
  • Regular backups to protect against data loss
  • A reduction of energy costs for a greener, cleaner business
  • Options to scale-up and grow with your business

However, it’s important to choose a business email provider that suits your business needs and offers an email hosting service that you can rely on.

That’s why, as managed IT and cloud specialists, we have identified what we feel is an ideal option for the majority of businesses looking for affordable, reliable and hassle-free business email hosting services.

Your Recommended Business Email Provider

For a complete package that is designed to suit the needs of a professional business, you’ll find Microsoft Office 365 business hosted email to be an ideal option.

Starting from as little as £2.50 per user, per month – Office 365 hosted email provides you with everything you should expect for a reliable and hassle-free business email infrastructure including:

  • Anywhere access to emails, calendars and contacts on desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets
  • Anti-malware and anti-spam protected mailboxes
  • Data loss prevention to prevent sensitive data being sent by mistake
  • 24-hour monitoring and security to safeguard your data
  • 9% guaranteed email uptime
  • Complete backups for emails in case of accidental deletion
  • On premise access to emails, contacts, calendar through Outlook
  • 50 GB of email storage per user and unlimited storage options
  • Affordable pricing compared to many other business email providers

In addition to these valuable features, First Class Technologies will make the transition over to Office 365 email hosting so streamlined that staff and employees won’t even notice the difference; you can even have the same user interface that you used with your previous in-house server.

With Microsoft Office so established in the business world, migrating over to Office 365 email hosting services is a great choice for businesses already familiar with the Microsoft user experience and who want to take advantage of their powerful, web-based collaboration tools.

And let’s face it, Microsoft won’t be packing-up shop anytime soon, so you also have the extra reassurance of a business email hosting provider that will be delivering expert services well in to the future of your business.

Making Office 365 Email Hosting Work for Your Business

As far as hosted email services go, Office 365 is an ideal email hosting service that meets the needs of many businesses with its added value package, affordable cost and robust security.

So why struggle with complex in-house server maintenance, expensive email hosting providers and limited email storage? With email infrastructure and high security a critical part of all successful businesses, it’s important to get it right.

You can find out today if Office 365 emailing hosting services is right for your business and your budget – all you need to do is call our team who are waiting to provide you with expert advice on getting emails working for your business.

First Class Technologies: 01543 414 152


Whether you’re setting up a new business, or looking to update outdated office software – you’ll no doubt be considering the option to use Microsoft Office 365.

With its already familiar applications of Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint, Microsoft 365 is a popular choice for businesses like yours in helping to boost productivity and access the very best, and latest word processing, spreadsheet, email and presentation software to suit your business needs.

But what makes Microsoft Office 365 different, and is it right for your business needs? To find out the answers, we first need to consider the basics; exactly what is Microsoft 365 and what are the benefits of purchasing Microsoft 365?

What is Microsoft 365? 

Microsoft Office 365 is a subscription service that allows users to work in office applications anywhere, at any time and on any device, including smartphones and tablets.

Office 365 users can now install a number of great office applications, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access on to their computers and devices. Microsoft 365 cloud based services then allows users to store a massive 1TB of data online (per user), with freedom to create, edit and share documents with anyone and in real time.

In addition to the valuable anytime access (online or offline) for office applications, Microsoft 365 users will be provided with the very latest versions of software available, built-in security as well as email hosting services and synchronised calendar access.

There are a number of Microsoft 365 plans for personal use, students and businesses; but today we’re going to focus on how Office 365 Business can help increase productivity for you.

Is Office 365 Business Right for My Needs? 

When deciding on the best office applications for your business, it’s important to consider the costs involved as well as usability and reliability.

Thankfully Office 365 Business packages are designed to meet these requirements, with surprisingly affordable monthly costs for a variety of packages to boost productivity and help deliver ROI.

Each Office 365 Business package comes with the following features as a minimum:

  • Online versions of the latest Microsoft Office applications, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint so that you can work wherever you are, on whichever device you prefer.
  • 1 TB of data storage per user for a generous amount of space to save and securely save your projects using Microsoft office cloud.
  • Guaranteed 99.9% uptime and financially backed service level agreement to provide you with complete peace of mind that you can access vital details when you need them
  • Easy management of user credentials and permissions for increased security
  • World class security and encryption to keep your data safe and secure.

In addition to these, Office 365 Business premium packages are provided at affordable prices to include:

  • Fully installed Office applications up to 5 PC’s/Macs, 5 tablets and 5 smartphones so that your team can be completely in sync wherever they are working
  • Business class email that reflects your company name, all with 50GB of storage per user; perfect for company start-ups
  • Unlimited online meetings, instant messaging, corporate social network and work management tools for streamlined collaboration and communication
  • SharePoint access, used for sharing, storing and backing up vital company data

As you can see, Office 365 Business provides a compelling package of benefits for businesses.

Rather than the usual practice of making a one-time purchase of Microsoft Office for use on a single PC or Mac, Office 365 Business can be fully installed on a number of computers and devices, and always with the latest versions.

The Benefits of Office 365 Business Packages

Of course, it all sounds very appealing, but how does Office 365 help improve your business, and what makes it different from purchasing the one-off, non-subscription software?

Well, Office 365 Business packages save on additional costs and hassle that are associated with updating IT software and managing data storage, for example:

  • You can save on that expensive initial outlay purchasing individual software licenses for every individual (and then the time involved installing them to each computer)
  • Compatibility problems will no longer be a worry when you always have access to the latest versions and easy sharing options
  • Additional server equipment for storage won’t be necessary when using Microsoft 365 cloud services to store data, nor will reaching the limit of storage suddenly cause your whole system to slow down as the case with older / full servers.
  • With costs starting as low as £2.50 per month, new business start-up costs can be kept as low as possible
  • Out-of-date software will be a thing of the past with FREE updates to latest versions
  • High uptime of 99.9% along with anytime access will minimise delay and time wasting, which in itself will increase productivity and help boost that bottom line
  • You can be sure of safe and secure data storage away from prying eyes when using Microsoft Office 365 Cloud

How Secure is Microsoft Office 365 Cloud?

Concerned about the risks of storing data on the internet with office 365 cloud?

So was Microsoft. That’s why they’ve spent massive amounts of time and money making sure their office 365 cloud services have the best online security available.

To make sure that Microsoft 365 cloud services are completely secure, all data used, whether it’s at rest or being transmitted is completely encrypted. Microsoft even guarantee that none of your content will ever be accessed by them, or used for advertising so that there is no chance of data being released inadvertently.

Office 365 cloud also ensures data is not just secure, but safe from loss with unbelievably regular back-up processes so that it can be restored quickly in the event of accidental deletion – also handy if you forget to renew your subscription as Microsoft allow a timeframe to recover your data.

On the user end of Microsoft office cloud services, you are able to completely manage your privacy settings so that you can control who is able to see certain information, and who cannot; perfect for keeping those HR documents confidential.

How do I find reliable Office 365 Microsoft Partners?

While the idea of using Microsoft Office 365 Business package sounds great in principle; we understand that migrating all your email and information over to this new cloud-based system can be a daunting prospect (especially if your business is large or has already been trading for quite a while).

However, here at First Class Technologies, we can make the process completely hassle free and reliable. As Microsoft Partners (for Silver Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions) we are trained and experienced in getting you started and supporting you in getting the best from Office 365 Business packages.

With the latest migration technology available, we ensure the process of transferring your systems over to Office 365 is streamlined and avoids loss of data or downtime, so that you can focus on running your business without frustrating waiting times.

Because we are Microsoft Partners, we have been authorised to provide the best training and support to help you get your money’s worth from Office 365 products. So applications that may be new to you, such as SharePoint, OneDrive for Business or Skype for Business will become a fundamental part of your everyday office use and help increase efficiency.

Any problems or concerns with email or Office 365 Business packages? With our support as Microsoft Partners, you can get straight through to our technicians and access immediate advice on email or phone, saving you time and hassle going direct to Microsoft’s busy helpline.

So now you can access the benefits and cost savings of Microsoft Office 365 Business packages and Office 365 cloud services without fear of losing data, risking downtime or spending hours reading how-to help guides.

For an effortless transition from your current office system to Microsoft Office 365 Business package, contact First Class Technologies on 01543 414152, or email us your request today.


Datto Family

Could your business survive after a critical loss of data?

Accidental deletions, fire, hardware failures, disasters, ransomware viruses and malicious activity are genuine threats facing every business, every day.

Datto backup systems protect against all these factors with the ultimate business continuity system.

Designed for rapid data recovery, Datto not only protects your business data but eliminates costly downtime, safeguards your professional reputation and ensures your business can operate again quickly and efficiently.

What is Datto Backup System?

Datto systems provide the ultimate business continuity solution for the backup, protection and recovery of your business data.

With Datto backup solutions, your most vital and valuable business data is kept safe and secure with both onsite and offsite hybrid-cloud solutions. This allows for data to be restored quickly in the event of data loss or disaster; providing an easy, hassle-free solution and complete peace of mind.

How Do Datto Systems Protect Your Business Data?

Datto systems are much more than the traditional data backup process you may be using now. Using innovative solutions, Datto utilises a hybrid-cloud backup to create an encrypted copy of your data files for storage at a secure location on-site as well as being replicated off-site in the cloud.

This means that should your files be deleted for any reason, you can guarantee a rapid recovery, even if your Datto device is damaged or destroyed thanks to secure off-site storage.

With Datto backup solutions, a new device can be shipped to your location overnight with restored data so you can avoid the internet transfer times that can take weeks, even months to restore.

Why Do You Need Datto Backup and Disaster Recovery? 

Datto data backup is a business continuity system designed to ensure the survival of your business in the event of data loss.

This means that even if your server hardware fails, your onsite storage is destroyed or your online data is threatened through ransomware, there is always a way to get your business operating again quickly and efficiently.

With downtime now estimated at an average of £5,306 per hour for small companies to £133,266 per hour for larger companies, Datto backup system will not only save you loss of earnings and associated costs, but complete reassurance that your data, operating system, preferences and settings are protected and easily restored.

 Will it Suit Your Business?

There are a number of Datto systems available to suit your needs, from smaller operating enterprises to large businesses.

For small businesses without dedicated IT staff, maintaining current data backup with off-site storage is often overlooked due to time or even budget restrictions. With Datto’s built-from the ground up systems, small businesses can benefit from a range of devices that are specifically designed for small businesses and based on demand. Now with field upgrades available, Datto backup grows alongside the business to always provide the best protection at the right budget.

For large businesses with an extensive need for data storage, Datto provides high performance data backup solutions offering multi-site disaster recovery. With the latest technology, Datto backup systems for large businesses enables whole infrastructures to be recovered quickly and effortlessly.

 How to Purchase and Install a Datto Continuity System

As a Premier Plus Datto partner, First Class Technologies supply, install and maintain Datto business continuity systems within the U.K.

We understand that protecting your business data is always urgent, so for a quick response and identification of the best Datto solution for your business complete the contact form or call today on: 01543 414152.


1. DO NOT OPEN any attachments you are not expecting to receive (especially filenames ending with ‘.exe’).

2. DO N OT DOWNLOAD anything suspicious without checking with your IT department.

3. DO NOT CLICK on links in emails or give away personal details unless you know the sender. Your bank will never ask for details via email.

4. UPDATE YOUR ANTIVIRUS which will help identify and stop emails containing viruses.

5. IF YOU SUSPECT AN ISSUE, unplug every cable from your computer (or switch off your laptop) and contact your IT support immediately.

6. USE YOUR COMMON SENSE with all of the above!


Archive in Outlook 2016 for Windows

Applies To: Outlook 2016
Outlook 2016 includes a quick archive feature on the Home tab of the ribbon. Office 365 for business customers also have access to an Online Archive.

Archive messages with a single action

You can use the Archive button in the Delete group on the Home tab to move one or more messages to an archive folder without deleting them. There are several benefits to using Archive.

  • Archived items remain easy to find from the search box or by navigating to your Archive folder
  • Items are still available on your phone or other devices via the Archive folder

Moving messages to your Archive folder won’t reduce your mailbox size. Messages are still stored in your mailbox, but they’re in another folder.

  1. Choose one or more messages in your folder to archive.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Delete group, choose Archive.One Click ArchivingNOTES:
    • If you haven’t previously set up an archive folder, you’ll get this prompt:Set up One-Click Archive
    • If you’ve used Archive on another Outlook client like, you won’t see the prompt and items will be moved to your existing Archive folder.
  3. Choose one of the following:
    • Create archive folder
    • Choose existing folder

    NOTE: Your message(s) will be moved to the Archive folder you’ve specified. If you archive a message by mistake, go to the Archive folder and move the message back to your Inbox.

How does this relate to Online Archive?

Online Archive is a feature for Office 365 enterprise customers who have uncommonly large mailboxes. These customers can use an Online Archive to avoid deleting old mail. A user’s Online Archive acts somewhat like a second account in Outlook with its own folder structure. As a result, it isn’t included in searches performed from the Inbox.

If an Online Archive is enabled, administrators and users can set up their mailbox to automatically move old messages to the Online Archive using Archive Policies.

Recommendations for using Archive and Online Archive

We recommend using the new Archive feature to keep your Inbox clean of messages you’ve already answered or acted on. You can also delete messages or move them to specific folders if that’s more your style.

For users with large mailboxes in an Office 365 Enterprise organization, we recommend administrators set an Archive Policy that moves items to an Online Archive after one year, or less if users are reaching their mailbox quota faster. This ensures users don’t have to delete old mail to make room for new mail. Mail older than the specified time can be moved from both the Inbox folder and the local Archive folder.


From Skykicks website…

The Cloud is an exciting market, but today it just got even more exciting on the news that Microsoft is acquiring LinkedIn.  (Overview deck from Microsoft here)

Even though the news is still breaking,  I’ve gotten a number of questions already, so I wanted to share some initial thoughts on how I think this acquisition could benefit partners.

Accelerating Your Office 365 Business

I think the biggest benefit for IT solution providers and partners will be to help accelerate the sales of Office 365.

We’ve been thinking a lot recently about the huge opportunity for partners to move and manage their customers to the cloud with our State of the Office 365 SMB cloud study. In it, we shared that according to our research, 92% of US SMBs with under 250 employees are yet to adopt Office 365.

This news reinforces what we’re seeing. Office 365 is the leading cloud productivity app, but Microsoft is constantly innovating, investing, and opening up even more ways to help partners drive Office 365 adoption. This acquisition is another ($26B) proof point.

Initially, I expect partners to see inbound interest from customers who have been sitting on the fence waiting to buy, or are curious as to what this means for them longer-term. Either way, these are incredible opportunities to start to build a relationship with customers that are considering the move to Office 365 and get your take on how this benefits them.

Second, this will significantly bolster the Office 365 value prop, making sales faster and easier. Who wouldn’t want to tell a customer the reason you should buy Office 365 is because it’s the leading product activity in the world with LinkedIn directly integrated.   Imagine your customer’s LinkedIn network coming alive within Outlook, giving them more information, more power and easier ways to engage with theircustomers. Plus, this acquisition brings in a number of new feature assets, such as e-learning with, also expanding the range of prospects exposed to Office 365. “Business has always been a social activity – this acquisition confirms it”.

Finally, from a brand perspective, this is another huge example of how Microsoft is investing to make their cloud the best cloud on the planet.

In the channel, partners have been grappling with the transformations necessary to succeed in the cloud, and two key areas of challenge are building smart sales and marketing plans, as well as creating the right go-to-market strategy that creates maximum differentiation. Partners who are currently focusing on evolving their sales and marketing strategies for the cloud will want to ensure that they become great at infusing a host of new LinkedIn related opportunities into their plans. There’s an excellent presentation on some ways Microsoft is thinking about it here.

Making Office 365 More Useful For Customers

Not only do partners win with this deal, but their customers will too.  Microsoft has shared plans to find a range of ways to integrate the LinkedIn graph and Microsoft’s own B2B user graph within Office 365. There will be a ton written in the next few days, but here’s a few product ideas I’ve always wished they’d have with Office; hopefully we’ll get some of these soon.

  • Unified Business Identity – I think deeper integration of a person’s LinkedIn network, as well as other key professional history, skills, articles, education and more directly into Outlook contact store, would be awesome. Imagine if you could right-click an email address in Outlook and see the connections you have in common, and other business essential information. This would take my business communication to a whole new level.
  • Groups – Merging and morphing of Office 365 new group feature. Having external groups with LinkedIn groups would be very useful and relevant.
  • Collaboration – Easier ways to real-time Skype, email, share and collaborate within your professional network could be super helpful. Liking and commenting is great, but imagine true collaboration where you can get the right information to the right people with just a couple clicks.
  • More visibility and management of the News Feed – Making the News Feed more accessible, searchable, and consumable would be appreciated. I don’t live in LinkedIn all day, so integrating it into the Outlook and SharePoint experiences I work with and making it more usable would be a big win.
  • Integration of the LinkedIn Mail system – If you’re like me you probably don’t like managing multiple inboxes outside of Outlook. It’s a total pain to remember to go out there and then have to manage them in a basic web interface.  Imagine having your LinkedIn network mails integrated directly into a common Outlook interface with its rich functionality such as threads, reply all, attachments, Skype meeting integration and more. This has been a pet peeve of mine for a while – can’t wait.

Of course all of this is from LinkedIn to O365, but perhaps more importantly is the network effect of bringing 1.2B office users into the network. Making the data richer, more meaningful and more useful will not only enhance Office but also the LinkedIn network itself


Two thirds of large British businesses have experienced a cyber-attack or breach in the last 12 months, research has revealed. Findings from the Cyber Security Breaches Survey, undertaken by Ipsos Mori for the Government, show a quarter of large firms experiencing a cyber breach did so at least once a month.

Results from the survey have been released alongside the Government’s Cyber Governance Health Check, which was launched following the TalkTalk cyber-attack in October last year.

In light of the findings, businesses are now being urged to better protect themselves. Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The UK is a world-leading digital economy and this Government has made cyber security a top priority.

“Too many firms are losing money, data and consumer confidence with the vast number of cyber attacks. It’s absolutely crucial businesses are secure and can protect data. As a minimum, companies should take action by adopting the Cyber Essentials scheme which will help them protect themselves.”

Findings show that in some cases the cost of cyber breaches and attacks on businesses reached millions, and that almost half of the top FTSE 350 businesses regarded this as the biggest threat. It was also revealed that seven out of 10 attacks on all firms involved viruses, spyware or malware, and could have been prevented, while only a fifth of businesses have a clear view of the dangers of sharing information with third parties.

Over the next five years the Government has pledged to invest £1.9 billion to tackle and prevent the crime, as well as a new National Cyber Security Centre which will offer security support. A new national cyber security strategy will also be published later this year, setting out proposals to improve virtual safety across the Government, businesses and consumers.

Firms are also being encouraged to take action using the 10 Steps to Cyber Security which recommends measures such as malware protection, network security and monitoring.

If you want to talk about cyber-security and business continuity get in touch with us. We can help!