March 31st is World Backup Day!


In honor of World Backup Day, it’s a good time to double-check that all your important documents and files are saved and duplicated somewhere safe.
 
Backing up your computer, while occasionally time-consuming, is not too difficult (and certainly faster than trying to recover your stuff after a disaster!). However, many people only associate back-ups with computers… and you’re way more likely to send your cell phone through the washing machine than your laptop.
 
If you have valuable photos or other files on your phone or tablet, make sure those are backed up, too! Don’t worry – it’s usually not as much info as is on your computer, so this process can be as simple as “drag and drop.”
 

USB Drive – One simple way to make a physical backup is to copy all of your important files to a removable thumb drive. Place this somewhere safe, or use this to copy all of your files over to another device (like your computer).
 
Many smaller devices don’t have regular USB ports, but these days, it’s much easier to find a Micro USB flashdrive. Many, like these, can connect to either type of port. Make sure to go back every few weeks to add any new or updated files.
 
Cloud Storage – If you use a cloud storage service on your mobile device (and these days, one is usually included), you may already have some form of backup. If not, it’s easy to set up. Any files you add will then be stored online, ready to download back if you need them. Additionally, it makes it easy to access these files on any other devices you own.
 
Some free, common services include Google Drive and Dropbox. There are some storage limits on free accounts, but if you’d like to back up all your devices, premium accounts are also available.

 
Just a little effort now can save you a world of heartache if your devices are lost or stolen. To see some stats on how often these things happen, or to take the pledge to protect your stuff, visit www.worldbackupday.com.

Zach Crutcher - Socket's You-Make-The-Difference Winner for February


Zach Crutcher with SocketCongratulations to Zach Crutcher, Technical Support Agent, on winning this month’s You-Make-The-Difference award!
 
Originally from Moberly, Zach moved to Columbia two years ago after being accepted at Columbia College. Since it was only a few minutes away from his new school, Socket seemed like a good place to apply – and we’re glad he did!
 
"He's always willing to help, always has a plan, and is always taking the extra step to help customers," said a coworker who nominated him.
 
Zach has recently graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Management and Information Systems. In his free time, he enjoys PC gaming and hanging out with his friends.
 
“I’m excited and appreciative; it’s an honor to win this award,” said Zach.

Congratulations, Zach!

Eliminate the WiFi "Black Hole" in Your Home


Almost everyone has experienced the dreaded WiFi “black hole” in the house, the place where you just can’t get a good signal. There are a few reasons why this happens, but luckily we have some recommendations to help.
 
First: The Why

Your home’s wireless Internet likely works via a wireless router, which uses your Internet connection to send data over the air waves. The air brings friction and interference that a hard-wired connection eliminates. As a result, your speeds will naturally slow down some over a wireless connection. The signal also gets weaker as your device (computer, tablet or television) gets farther from the router. This is typically an issue with your equipment, not your service provider.
 
Next: What to Do

Luckily, a few simple things can help with your black hole woes.
 
First, check your equipment. Older devices and routers aren’t capable of the same speeds as newer ones. If you lease your router from your Internet provider and are having trouble, ask about a replacement. But remember, a new router won’t do much good if your devices are more than a few years old.  
 
Second, consider moving your router. Since proximity results in a better, stronger connection, see if you can put your router in the area where you spend most of your time online. If you have DSL service, try moving your equipment to a different jack. If you have fiber services, moving equipment will be trickier, but it might be worth looking into.
 
But, what if you want to watch streaming TV in an upstairs bedroom at the same time the kids are playing the iPad in the basement? There are several neat little gadgets you can get to help boost the WiFi signal around your home.
 
Repeaters

Repeaters take the wireless signal and boost it from your router, helping bring stronger WiFi coverage to more areas. You simply plug the device into a power outlet in the area where you struggle to get a signal. Then connect the repeater to the router with the press of a button.
 
Click here to find wireless repeaters available from Amazon.
 
Home Hot Spot

The home hot spot functions in a similar way. Like a repeater, it comes with a WiFi extender which plugs into a power outlet.  The home hot spot, however, comes with Ethernet ports. That means you can hard-wire a device (like a smart TV) using a wired connection, eliminating the additional “over the air” signal loss. This would be your best option if you knew you wanted to hard-wire a device into the hot spot.
 
Click here to find home hot spots available from Amazon.
 
While it’s always ideal to hard-wire your devices directly to a modem or router to get the best possible speeds, wireless Internet provides so much more convenience and portability. With a few simple changes, you might just eliminate that WiFi “black hole” and get better connectivity throughout your home.

There’s a New USB Cable – And Get Used To Seeing It


By now, the USB cable, in all its many variations, has become commonplace. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single electronic device in your house that doesn’t feature at least one port. However, finding the matching cable can be a pain – and if you find yourself fumbling through a nest of cords to find the one your smartphone plugs into, you’re not alone.
 
Last week, Apple created headlines when it announced that its new laptop would feature only one (yes, one) USB port, which would also double as the power input. However, Apple went a step further and bet all its chips on a new standard – the USB Type C.
 
Wait, “Type C?”
 
The USB Type A – that is, the connector you find most often on laptops and computers – has been a gold standard since its inception in the late 90s. The use of USB thumb-drives only served to make this more commonplace, as they’re handy, portable, and can generally be plugged into most any computer.
 
The USB Type B connector is a more square-looking plug, and is generally used for larger, power-consuming devices. You probably have one of these on your printer or scanner – it’s how the printer receives both information and power.
 
Next came the Mini and Micro connectors; you’ll know these as the plugs that match your smartphone or smaller electronic devices. As it turned out, smartphones started becoming so thin that USB ports simply couldn’t fit. While the Mini is still in use, the Micro is more popular, especially with newer products.

From left to right: the Micro, Mini, Type-B, Type-A female, and the classic Type-A male connector.

 
So – that brings us to the USB Type C. A few of the problems it hopes to solve:
 

  • Size: It’s thin, and only about a third of the size of the original Type-A connector.
  • Universal: Theoretically, once it takes off, you’ll be able to use it on any new device. Plus, both ends will be the same. No more searching for the “right” end of the cord.
  • Reversible: Speaking of the “right” end, it will also be able to plug in from either orientation. No more rotating the cord or trying to figure out if it’s upside down.
  • Power: Unlike the old connectors, Type C can either send or receive power – and in much higher wattages than the old cables. You could use the same cable to charge either your laptop or your phone.

So far, the two high-profile devices using this new connector are the Google Chromebook Pixel (released in 2013) and the upcoming Apple Macbook. Both companies are also selling USB Type-A to Type-C converters for a little over $15.
 
How long until the new standard takes off? Here’s hoping that it’s sooner than later – we’ve got a tangled mess of cords to sort through in the meantime.

Socket Sponsors the 2015 Polar Plunge!


While 60 degrees might be a little too warm to be called “Polar,” the water was definitely cold enough to shock the system, as our seven Plungers can attest to.
 
Socket’s team members joined nearly 375 other brave Plungers on Saturday to raise money for Special Olympics Missouri. In all, it’s estimated that this year’s Polar Plunge brought in over $74,000 for local Special Olympics athletes.
 
Sleet and ice made the original date for the event a little too Polar to be safe, but the Plunge was still packed at this year’s new location. Plus, the warmer weather on the shore allowed for more spectators to cheer everyone on!
 
Socket is proud to be a sponsor of the Columbia Polar Plunge. If you’d like to learn more about this annual event, visit www.somo.org.

Why Give?


Veterans from Socket present a check to Central Missouri Honor Flight. From left: Angie Shippen, Adam Schick, Vicki Winton, Steve Paulsell, Demian Cook and Aaron Hayes.
 
 

Did we get you with that title? After all, it’s a big question. Thankfully, we don’t intend to try and list all of the reasons for all of the different types of giving that gets done these days. Instead, we thought we’d tell you why we recently decided to donate money to a local charity instead of running a traditional business promotion.
 
First, “why we did it”. We’re a local company with local ties and local employees. We live here, provide services here, and likely know most of the men and women whose lives are bettered through the charities we support.
 
We chose the Central Missouri Honor Flight as our receipient. So far, they’ve hosted 31 flights and taken 1,952 local veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials dedicated to their honor. We honor both the organization’s mission as well as our US veterans themselves, so it’s a perfect fit. In fact, Socket has eight veterans on the payroll representing every branch of the military, and many, many
more have a father, mother, or grandparent who has served in the US military. Several of our relatives have even gone on an Honor Flight themselves. Our employees can tell you what it meant to them to get to see their father or grandfather be moved to tears by the experience.
 
We also decided to run a local charity promotion because we were betting it would mean more to local company leaders. Getting a price break might be nice, sure. But all companies do that from time to time. What about that kind of promotion would make Socket and its character stand out? So instead, we told business owners we’d give the Central Missouri Honor Flight organization $50 if they’d just request a quote from us in January.
 
Did it work? We think so.
 
First, we were able to give $500 to the Central Missouri Honor Flight. That's nearly enough for two veterans to go on a trip of a lifetime.
 
Second, of the business owners who took advantage of our offer, many responded personally to let us know they were touched and proud of our efforts.
 
Here’s a taste of what we heard:
 
“Just a note to thank you for the $50 donation to Central Missouri Honor Flight on our company’s behalf – great cause!” (by the way, this company also mentioned they would be going with our company at the end of their current contract!)
 
“I hope all is well with you. Thank you for the donation to Honor Flight as a result of the business services quote. Socket's a great addition to the community, and we appreciate your heart for positive change in society.”
 
Pretty cool, huh? 
 
So the next time someone at a conference table asks, “Why give?” remember that even simple giving can have complex, far-reaching benefits for your organization.
  
We gained community respect, earned new business and honored some local veterans, all in one move.
 

Socket Sponsors True/False Film Fest


Socket gave away two pairs of Gateway passes to lucky Facebook fans.

This weekend marked the 12th annual True/False Film Fest, a Columbia staple since its inception in 2003. It’s hard to believe how much it’s grown – from nearly 6,500 ticket sales in 2004 to a projected 45,000 this year!
 
Luckily, the weather held out for the March March parade and the True Life Run. It may not be Spring quite yet, but True/False is always a welcome herald of it.
 
Socket is proud to support Ragtag Cinema and True/False Film Fest. We hope everyone had a blast, and we’ll see you all next year!

Who is Socket

Founded in 1994, Socket is a Missouri-based telephone and Internet service provider with the largest service area in the state.

Socket is a privately held company that provides families and businesses a choice for local and long-distance phone and Internet service. We combine the highest quality customer service with in-depth technical knowledge.

Our network serves more than 20,000 residents and businesses in more than 400 Missouri cities, and our customers enjoy simple billing and quick, friendly service.
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