Netcomm NB6 Router

The Netcomm NB6 Router is A&STech’s go to replacement and emergency router. We have plenty in our stock and emergency kits for those moments you need a reliable and fail safe ADSL2+ router.

Like all IT service providers, there are times when you get that call that internet is down for a whole site. Among other tools which we’ll eventually cover here on the blog, we carry Netcomm’s tried and tested NB6 ADSL2+ router.

It is a decently priced router, probably even considered in the medium range bracket, if not on price, then definitely on features and stability.
Like all Netcomm’s the firmware o this router is top notch and stable and many speeds and its features just work.

The Netcomm NB6 features ADSL1, ADSL2, ADSL2+ and ADSL 2+ Annex M DSL capabilities.
To keep the cost down of the router, no line filters are included with the device. Good to know when you are out on site for an emergency.

LAN connectivity includes 1 USB 3.0 port, 10mbps and 10/100mbps LAN ports. Unfortunately being in the low price range brackets it does not come with gigabit (1000mbps) LAN connectivity.
But seeing how this is used for mainly testing and emergency calls, it certainly does the job.

As a router the NB6 works well.  It can act as a DHCP relay and can even act as your DNS server.
It supports IPv4, NAT routing QoS (Quality of Service) prioritisation for VoIP and in the latest firmware update IPv6 support has been enabled.

The NB6 comes with a 12 month return to base warranty and this can be extended to 24 months with a registration on the Netcomm website.

The NB6 comes with Broadcom’s BCM6338 chip which is known for its stability even under a lot of heat and humidity.

The router is also highly regarded as one of the best cheap routers on the ever popular websites,

If you’re looking for a sure fire backup or even primary router to have I your kit, we at A&STech highly recommend the Netcomm NB6 router as we use it for all our testing and emergency calls.

3CX Phone System

3CX was founded in 2006 to provide all Windows based platforms with a open standard PBX (Private Branch Exchange) so customers can make calls straight from within Windows.

The 3CX Phone System software was initially offered as an open source free product in 2006.
Not long after, in 2007 the first major commercial version was released to the public and was intended to provide an easy solution of making VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls.

The latest stable version which was released in September is version 12.
3CX is based on the SIP standard (Session Initiation Protocol) and enables its users to make calls via either VoIP or PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) services.

The 3CX Phone system software is completely IP based and supports both the standard software (virtual) and hardware (physical) SIP phones.

The 3CX system is web based and can easily be configured for users on the network or pushed out and managed form the web interface.
We at A&STech have rolled out this software including hardware to many of our customers, both small and medium sized businesses.

Along with the web interface, the 3CX Phone System also comes with a very powerful management console which although when it was in its infancy had very little features, now packs all the bells and whistles for creating, managing and supporting the entire network infrastructure.

Being 3CX certified and a 3CX reseller, A&STech has vast experience with the system and many of our customers are very pleased with the ease and features the system gives them.

On the client side of things, the 3CX software gives users many customising and productive features.
They can message each other, set their status, divert calls, access all messages and functions both though the phone or 3CX client software, they can record personalised messages or greetings and a lot more. Plus on top of that all this is available to them from a remote location by installing the 3CX phone software on their smart phone.

We at A&STech highly recommend the 3CX Phone system, for cheap, crystal clear calls and ease of management.

Solid State Drive – SSD

Solid State Drive’s (or more commonly abbreviated to SSD), are one of the biggest technology advancements in recent times for speeding up the modern PC.
Their name is a little incorrect in describing what they actually are as they in actual fact don’t contain any mechanical disks or drives like the more commonly used and known storage devices such as Hard Disk Drives and Floppy Disks.

Solid State Drives use a technology similar to computer RAM called NAND-based flash memory, which retains the data onto the memory module without the need of constant power, unlike RAM.

Having no mechanical parts to spin, seek, search, read and write to, SSD’s have much faster seek times, lower latency and shorter access time than traditional mechanical drives.
This in turn allows SSD’s to have over ten (10x) times the read speed of traditional mechanical or electromagnetic drives.
Another benefit of no moving parts is that they run silently no matter what they are doing.
Personally besides the speed increase, this is one of my most adored features of SSD’s as I always seemed to have hard drives made of loose pebbles, rocks and crunchy biscuits in my old computers as a kid.

Their development in the recent past has really pushed hardware manufacturers to further develop the SATA I/O interface technology to take advantage of the SSD’s increased performance.
Most SSD’s require the SATA 3 interface standard to fully utilise the extra performance.

The only major drawbacks currently are the price and the available sizes.
Prices have really come down in the past 3 years and the sizes have gone up to 1TB, but they still lag behind the price per GB compared to traditional mechanical HDD’s.

The current best solution?
Buy a decent sized SSD, anything between 120GB to 256GB; install your preferred OS and all your programs on it. Then store all your files (videos, music, images, backups, documents etc.) on a traditional HDD, preferably in a RAID configuration.

Microsoft Office 365

In addition to Google Apps, we are now offering Microsoft Office 365 to our customers in Brisbane. Like Google Apps, it is a subscription-based Microsoft Office software.

Microsoft Office 365 is a great offering for businesses that operates in a Microsoft Exchange environment and wants to transition to this service. Customers will get the best experience across multiple devices and always up to date Microsoft Office including Spam and Malware filtering.

We think a lot of customers will like Microsoft Office 365 for their business as well as their homes.

Microsoft Windows XP : End of Support.

August 24th 2001 saw the release of Microsoft’s most popular operating system to date, Windows XP. If you’re still not sure what the letters XP stand for, even after all these years, Microsoft in a press release said its simply short for the word “eXPerience”.

Microsoft has set April 8th 2014 as the last day of support for all version of Windows XP.
We at A&STech are in the process of currently moving the last remaining customer PC’s which have yet to make the switch to the newer versions of Windows OS.

What happens after the 8th of April with your Windows based PC? Nothing initially.
You can use your Windows XP OS for as long as you like but you will be exposing and risking your PC every day that goes by as all security and stabilisation updates will cease.
Microsoft will also stop creating or updating KB articles for Windows XP.
All phone, email and other forms of support will also stop on that day.
All hardware and software support from manufacturers and vendors will also slowly cease and are not required to support Windows XP in their new hardware and software updates.

In other words it’s a sinking ship. If you want to inevitably go down with it, there’s that choice to stick with XP as long as you like and can keep it clean from harmful programs and have working drivers for all your hardware.

There are many benefits of moving to Windows 7 (Recommended by A&STech) or Windows 8.1 which include virtualisation optimisation with the cloud, support for the latest hardware and a vastly more secure Operating System.
The only real downside… You can’t perform an upgrade from Windows XP to the latest OS’s.
Only full, clean installs are possible with transferring of your data after the install.

Farewell to XP, it’s been an eXPerience.

High Performance with pfSense Caching Server

A caching server will greatly improve the internet performance of business networks where many users visit similar web pages.

With the release of pfSense version 2.1 comes a squid package with reporting and web filtering. We have been testing our own prototype build and there is a big internet performance increase.

We will be deploying our custom build pfSense Caching Server to our customers in Brisbane soon.