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ECS Network Solutions

Windows 10- Hop on the Bandwagon?

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If you have not heard, then here is a spoiler for you:

Windows 10 is out! And the start menu is out!

There are a number of handy features in windows 10, but the real question is, should you update now or wait until later?

We will typically upgrade 1-2 of our PCs ahead of time to begin testing it in a business environment before recommending a roll out to our customers. That way we can see how it will work with the products that we use in business environments. So far it seems to be solid, but there are a few things to consider for businesses:

1. Backup and Restore options

One of the biggest annoyances with Windows 8 and 8.1 was the lack up backup options. We had to often find third party solutions to take care of customer backups. In Windows 10, the windows 7 backup has returned, which is a plus.

2. Return of the Start Menu

Windows 10 has returned the start menu that had windows 8, 8.1 users going crazy. Returning the start menu with a new interface has made it easier to use, and helps people find items easier than pushing windows button and being dragged away from the desktop.

3. 3CX is NOT yet supported for windows 10 yet. There have been a number of complaints about 3CX software not working properly. If you are a 3CX user, its best not to upgrade yet.

4. If you are a remote web workplace user, there have been notable issues with running RWW for SBS 2008 on windows 10, (1) being that you cannot select a pc to remote to using Microsoft Edge. There is no option for it currently. (2) What you can do is go to the start menu, search internet explorer, add your RWW site to compatibility settings, and make changes in your server using the changes suggested at this link:

https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/fb9b0354-0eaf-4cfe-a6db-aace25fce12a/windows-10-and-remote-web-workplace-rdp?forum=winRDc

That will enable you to use RWW in Windows 10.

Our recommendation?

For home users, you can upgrade for free up to a year so please take advantage of the opportunity.

For businesses, we’d recommend waiting a bit for Microsoft to resolve some of the issues at hand. There are also a number of business with third party applications now working to be ready for Windows 10 as well. In the long run, it will be one of the better OS releases, but it needs some time to make some needed changes that will help businesses make an easier transition.

 

3CX- Are you backing up your settings?

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We Texans know, especially since we got hit by so much rain in May, that weather and other disastrous situations can occur. We are a strong advocate of taking good backups of Servers, PBXs, and other equipment. If something happens, and we never know when, what are you going to do? Surely you don’t have the time to reconfigure things from scratch or re-make important documents. In the case of 3CX, there are different ways to properly back up the settings. It can be a bit confusing at first. The actual backup part is easy. You simply open up the backup and restore tool, select the settings you would like to back up, and click the backup database button. Easy-Peasy.

Now what if you want to run the backups on a schedule? The options for that are not in the backup console, so you’ll either need to use a script, or backup the entire VM as some businesses do. We have a script that we use for the majority of our customers. After configuring the script, all we have to do is set it up in the task scheduler, and our backups run on a schedule after that. Please contact us if you would like to hear more.

3CX and the Antivirus Game

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We had a situation once where we had a client inform us that 3CX would not work on their laptop. The error message kept popping up saying that it ‘could not connect to the Web API.’ What does this error mean?

In our experience, when we’ve seen that error, it means that something is blocking 3CX’s connection to the outside world, and therefore it cannot connect to the 3CX Server.

Here’s the question to ask yourself: What Antivirus Am I using and how deep does it scan my PC?

Any Antivirus that runs real time scans is going to cause 3CX to not work properly.

Here are the ones that we have noticed do not cause an issue with 3CX.

-Trend Micro (Be sure that the 3CX folders are in the exclusion list)

-Microsoft Security Essentials

-AVG

There are others as well, these are just the ones we know of so far.

The ones that we have seen cause issues with 3CX are:

-Kaspersky

-Norton (We’ve seen Norton cause other problems as well. We don’t recommend Norton in any environment.)

-McAfree Any others that do deep real time scanning.

You can also add 3CX to folder exclusion lists to see if it causes issues.   We are not saying that 3CX PCs or Servers should not have antivirus on them. Typically, servers or PCs used for 3CX or other services should not have people surfing the web or using it for actual work, so catching a virus is unlikely. If per company policy you do want some sort of protection, make sure that it does not do deep scans or excludes the 3CX folders. Not doing so will result in firewall or audio issues.

Autodiscover This!

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On a consistent basis, we get requests for Exchange Migrations and Server Migrations. Quite often, we’ve run into a brick wall (Yes, it hurts!) of emails still reverting back to their old settings. When you aren’t familiar with Autodiscover and how to work with it, it can cause you headaches that will last you a good while. Here’s what we do, that helps us get rid of the problems before they start.

BEFORE you being setting up new email profiles, do the following:

1. Navigate to your server –> DNS –> Forward lookup zone with ‘domain.local’ and delete the autodiscover record.

2. Follow the steps listed here: https://community.rackspace.com/products/f/28/t/4030

 

After you have completed those steps, set up a new profile on a different account to see if the problem persists. If not, begin to set up your new email profiles, and you should have no further problems.

 

3CX- Troubleshooting Audio Issues

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From time to time, we get calls complaining of One way Audio Issues. There are different ways of dealing with it and troubleshooting it, but we have a method that should help resolve the issue, that will save you time I think its a good deal! Why waste hours searching for the cause to the issue when you can figure it out with a few simple steps? Check the Basics. Often times issues can be caused by incorrect configuration.

Check the Public IPs listed under Settings –> Phone provisioning, Settings –> Network, and Voip Provider –> Provider –> Advanced. If those are correct, move to Step 2:

Try the Telnet Feature in Command Prompt. Note: You may need to enable telnet under programs and features. If Port 5060 is incorrectly configured, you’ll run into a wide variety of issues. Run the following command:

Telnet <Public IP> 5060

If it returns an error, than that’s your problem. Go back and check your router configuration and made sure there isn’t an antivirus issue (Kaspersky causes 3CX Issues) and check your firewall (if running separately from router.)

If 5060 opens correctly, check to make sure your ports are opened correctly. You can refer to 3CX documentation for the proper TCP/UDP configuration. Also wait until after business hours (per your client’s policies) and run the firewall checker. Also check your router to be sure that ‘SIP ALG’ is not enabled. That setting is also known to cause call quality issues.

3CX- Shared Parking

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Does your company use Shared Parking? Our requests for Shared Parking configured have been on the rise! What is it and how does it work, you ask? Let me explain!

If a receptionist receives a call and places it on hold, that ties up her phone line until she transfers the call to the desired party.

With Shared Parking, a receptionist can send a call to holding on a shared parking line, WITHOUT tying up her phone line and being able to prepare for the next call. The desired party can then pick up the parked call at their desk. Sounds great right?

All you have to do to configure it is go to your Management Console –> Extension –> Phone Provisioning Tab, and you can assign a phone button (This depends on the phone model in order to configure correctly!) to the button that you choose. You can do this for as many extensions as you like, and remember, you only have 9 shared parking spots. So if you place Shared Parking 0 on 6 phones, all those phones have access to shared parking 0. If a call is placed in spot 0, all users with access will see Spot 0 as busy on their phones. You can also park and pick up shared park calls using the presence screen (right click the call in progress!)

Just wait, it gets better!

A few more changes and your shared parking can also interact with your company presence! Note that this needs to be done for EACH Shared Parking Spot you would like configured for this feature.

You’ll need to create an extension for each Shared Parking Spot. Lets use ‘100’ for Shared Parking spot 0.

1. Create Extension 100

2. Navigate to the extension settings, and select general information. Under information for ‘My Mobile’ insert SPO. Next select the ‘Forwarding Rules’ Tab. At the bottom, select ‘Ring my extension and my mobile’ at the same time.

3. Save and Test

4. Repeat the above for each shared parking extension desired.

Assuming the above was done correctly, you should be able to use ext.100 to pick up and park calls. The presence screen will also show ext.100 being used when a call is parked there. This is also work with the softphone and android/iphone apps.

3CX and Cisco SPA- Tricks of the Trade

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We recently completed a 3CX order according to the following requests:

-Upgrade 3CX from v.10 to v.12.5

-Replace existing PC with XP installed (Sorry, Microsoft doesn’t support XP anymore)

-Upgrade Cisco SPA 504G phones to current firmware

-New plan for remote phones

-Get SPA phones to stop rebooting randomly

Per our routine, we got most of the work done ahead of time at the office (PC Configuration, upgrades, 3CX install, got backup ready, etc.)

At the site, all went smoothly until we started working with the SPA phone. We couldn’t get it to provision or register, which was frustrating. Checking the 3CX notes, there were several steps we had to take, as listed below. Always start by referencing the 3CX notes as listed here:

http://www.3cx.com/sip-phones/cisco-spa/

Here are the steps we follow to get the phones working:

1. Navigate to the extension that you want to provision the phone to and enter the MAC Address of the SPA phone and other provisioning information. Take note of the IP address and use the web gui for the phone to be sure the firmware is up to date.

(i.e. 192.168.1.115 navigate to Admin Login  Advanced  Profile Rule and be sure the path is correct. For Example: http://192.168.1.200:5000/provisioning/bm169k3iwt/$MA.xml)

2. Check to be sure that the firmware is up to date with 3CX phone system standards. As of 3/5/2015 it is version 7.5.5

3. If the firmware is not up to date, navigate to

https://software.cisco.com/download/release.html?mdfid=282724650&release=7.4.8&softwareid=282463651 Remember that you have to upgrade to 7.5.2b before upgrading to 7.5.5

4. After Download, you want to know the IP address of the phone you want to upgrade. Keep in mind that the ‘upgrade firmware feature’ for 3CX in the console will NOT work for Cisco spa 5 series phones.

5. Navigate to the firmware folder you downloaded and locate the ‘spa50x-30x-x-x-x.exe’ file (the last three x’s refer to the firmware version you’ve downloaded.) and run the program as administrator. Move through the wizard, and the firmware should upgrade.

6. If the above is all correct, the phone should register with 3CX. Please note that it may take a phone minutes, so don’t panic it appears to not register immediately after rebooting.

There is also a known issue with Cisco SPA504G phones rebooting randomly. We figured out a solution. Set them to Static IP addresses, NOT DHCP, and they won’t reboot at random.

 

3CX and the Cisco 7960, a Match Made in Heaven?

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When it comes to the Cisco Call Manager, the Cisco 7960 a flawless choice for that system. They’ll work well, function and do what they need to do. But if you decide to switch to 3CX, it couldn’t be that hard for them to work with 3CX since 3CX supports them right? The answer is both yes and no. As I discuss our experience with the 7960s for both local and remote phones, you’ll be able to make your own opinion about their functionality with 3CX. Ready for the crash course? Lets begin.

Please Note: This phone is difficult to reprovision for each change and it takes time. Make sure you’ve got the phones and templates configured the way you’d like before provisioning.

There are a number of steps to configure the 7960s with 3CX phone system. You can refer to the following article for most of them:

http://www.3cx.com/sip-phones/cisco-7940g-7960g/

There is, however, a step missing, which I will recommend doing after step 3 in the above article, which is a few things on the phone itself.

Turn on the phone. After it loads, do the following:

Menu –> Settings –> Network Configuration –> Erase Configuration. Hit 33 **# and it will switch to yes and save.

Menu –> Settings –> Network Configuration –> Alternate TFTP option 32 **# –> Option 8 –> IP of TFTP Server –>  192.168.x.x validate –> save.

If you are looking to configure paging for the phone, Cisco 7960s are not compatible with 3CX paging, so you need a workaround.

What we did is create a 2nd extension for each user (ex Bill at 101, create a paging extension for Bill at 201) and a template for EACH extension. Then we configured each template to configure both extensions (normal extension and paging extension.) Afterwards we created a ring group and placed all the paging extensions in the ring group. Its a bit of work, but you can configure paging to work that way for the 7960.

Remote Use:

It is possible to use the 7960 as a remote phone with 3CX, but once again, there are a number of steps. Plan time accordingly if you decide to take this route.

First, you need to download and configure the ‘Session Border Controller’ from the following link:

http://www.3cx.com/docs/3cx-tunnel-session-border-controller/

You can verify its working by using the windows softphone from the remote location. It should pass immediately to the console if configured correctly.

Next, configure the extension for the remote user in the 3CX management console. Under Extension –> Phone provisioning, change the provisioning method from ‘Local Lan’ to ‘Session Border Controller and place the IP of the Session Border Controller in the appropriate box.

You will next need to download the following a tftp server and install it on the same pc as the SBC. Next, download the cisco files from the original provisioning steps and place them in the ROOT FOLDER of the TFTP Server. You will also need the Cisco .cnf files and the cisco phonebook.xml files from your provisioning folder and also place them in the ROOT FOLDER of the TFTP Server.

Lastly, make sure that the TFTP Server points to the IP of the Session Border Controller. The phone should register with 3CX phone system as a remote phone if done correctly.

 

Whats our recommendation? Cisco phones can work with 3CX phone system, but don’t keep them around forever. They can work for a while, but to get the most out of 3CX, we recommend gradually switching them out over time. Yealink T Series phones are fantastic for work and remote us and can bring out the best in 3CX. We would not recommend using Cisco phones for remote work. Either use the softphone, cell phone app, or a supported remote deskphone from 3CX.

3CX- The Ultimate Reboot

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Hows your router? Do you upgrade the firmware or check on it from time to time? Unfortunately, when something is working we tend to leave it working, and not check to be sure its firmware is up to date.

We have a client who uses a Draytek Router (They are good routers, we use them often!) He always uses 3CX for his business (visit our 3CX page if you don’t use it, its fantastic!) Anyways, we got a call from them one day because they were having an odd issue. Whenever they rebooted one of their phones, the router would reboot as well. We found this to be rather peculiar. So we spent a good weekend investigating the issue until we finally figured it out: the firmware on the router was wwwaaaaayyyyyy out of date, to the point where it was causing the issue. We updated the firmware on the router, and the problem was solved.

Motto of the story? Don’t forget to give your router some tender loving care from time to time, and keep your firmware from up to date.

 

Announcing Partnership with 3CX for Phone Systems

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ECS Network Solutions is pleased to offer a new business solution, the 3CX Phone System.

The 3CX Phone System is a software-based IP PBX for Windows which replaces traditional PBX hardware phones. It is based on the SIP standard, supporting standard SIP software / hardware phones. It allows calls to be made via a Voice Over IP service provider or over regular phone lines. Easy to install and configure, it includes a web-based configuration interface, voice mail, auto attendant, call hunting and other features.

We feel that the cost savings over triditional phone service and the feature set of the 3CX Phone System to be an excellent fit for our customers. Features such as:

  • Saving on monthly call costs using SIP trunks, VoIP providers or Skype Connect!
  • Dramatically lower purchase cost than a traditional hardware PBX.
  • Free iPhone, iPad, Android, and PC phone software for virtual remote workforce telecommuting.
  • Click to Dial and full integration for Microsoft Outlook Scalable with unlimited extensions and phone lines.
  • No proprietary expansion modules needed! Unified Communications lets you receive voice mail via e-mail and see user presence.
  • No more expensive proprietary system phones. Use standard SIP phones

Enable A Telecommuting Virtual Work Force

  • With 3CX you will only need one phone number for your customers to able reach anyone in your business.
  • The free iPhone, iPad, Android, and PC phone software the PBX gives you flexibility.
  • You can be anywhere and your phone calls will follow you.
  • You are never out of reach. Your customers can always contact you.
  • You don’t have to give out your personal cell phone number

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE