Ever wondered how to properly log off the cloud? What about using the APC knowledge base and Abacus Client Portal? Watch our half hour Free Training Friday for Abacus Private Cloud tips and tricks!


About Free Training Friday: Since the beginning of 2017, we have been holding these free, 30-minute training hosted by our industry-leading experts and innovators who will teach you about AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney, the Abacus Private Cloud, and now, Results CRM and OfficeTools Software. If you would like to request a topic, please email webinars@abacusnext.com.

Video Transcription

Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's Free Training Friday. My name is Kalei White, I'm a Marketing Coordinator here at Abacus Next. And today we have Sean Ford, he's our APC Support Supervisor and we'll be going over all the things you should know when getting started with Abacus Private Cloud; tips and tricks, etc.

Today's session is being recorded, so don't worry about taking notes or anything like that, we will email it to you later on in the day. This will approximately run for 30 minutes. We'll be taking your questions during the last 10 minutes of the webinar, so feel free to submit your questions in the questions portion of GoTo webinar control panel. Without further ado, I'll let Sean take it away. Hey Sean.

Thanks Kalei. Hello everyone, hope you're having a good day so far. Today's presentation is largely for starting at the beginning. So if you're new to the private cloud, this is perfect for you. If you're not new to the private cloud, there's probably at least one thing you'll get out of it that will help you a lot.

Let's look at the plan. Today I'm going to be talking about the APC knowledge base. Then we're going to look at a very high level view of some private cloud basics. We're going to look at the relatively new Abacus Client portal. And then, one specific task that is very important and often misunderstood. And then we'll get to your questions.

The APC Knowledge Base

So, the Abacus Private Cloud knowledge base. This is a good website to bookmark. Most people, I know for me, if I'm doing something and I hit a bump or a snag, I would much rather be able just look at something that gets me through that snag so I can just keep going, as opposed to waiting on the phone, or waiting for a response to an email for who knows how long. And this is what this all about. This is all the stuff that comes up commonly. We've already got the questions and the answers up online for you.

This is what it looks like. This is your Abacus Private Cloud knowledge base. They are separated by category for the most part. You can of course, do a search in here. I recommend using the little arrow for advanced search, and using one of these two fields. Your search results are much better that way. So again, kb.abacusprivatecloud.com. I highly recommend bookmarking that and that being your first step when you have a question or you hit a bump, start there. Because, you're most likely to be able to just keep moving along.

Alright. Now for the super high level view. I put this together for folks who are looking at joining the cloud. For folks who have just joined the cloud. But it can be for everyone and we're basically going to use KB article number 895. So, on that same website, here we are. Abacus Private Cloud basics.

And this, like it says, 30 thousand foot view. This will cover the basics of what exactly is this thing? Everyone talks about clouds. And what can I expect from it? What exactly can I do with it? What about scanning? What about printing? What about this or that? What about this specific program? And then, how do I get to it? Where can I get to it? What can I use? And then how do I get out of my cloud? And again, we'll be covering that because it's a very ... it's one of those things where, well, that seems pretty obvious and easy, but it's often done in a way you don't want it to be done.

This is a good one to bookmark. It's article number 895. Spend some time. As you can see, it does link to other articles. We talk about performance and what that means, if it's going slow, things you can look at. We cover your C drive, that's where all the system files are stored. And then, this article goes into software. Different third party applications we know about. And hardware. Printing, scanning, specific types of printers, so if you're wondering if the printer you have will work, that's a good place to start.

The Abacus Client Portal

Next thing, like I mentioned, we recently rolled out the Abacus Account portal, or Client portal. You'll hear both, it's basically the same thing. When you need help with your cloud, when you need support, this is the place to go. This is where you can just sign in to your portal and you create a case. It is faster than email. If you've got an issue that is urgent, time sensitive, you're trying to get billing out, and you're stuck or, if it's some sort of technical issue, when we need to troubleshoot technical issues we basically need to see what's happening. So, in those cases, if it's urgent or if it's technical, give us a call. That's the best way to do it.

Otherwise, for everything else, go to the portal to create the case, emails take longer. And so, we're going to take a look at that. This is what it looks like when you log in. This is the portal dashboard. You've got quick links here, including to our knowledge base. There's also one for the AbacusLaw Program and the Amicus Attorney Program.

And then, up at the top, you can click support, and this is where you'll create your ticket. And down here, you will see your previous tickets. You can see all of them, whether they're resolved or not. You can filter by open or closed, or just see all. And this will be ... you won't even need to contact us. If you create a case and you want to know what the status is, you can just go to your portal and look, because we will put notes in there as we update it.

Exiting the Cloud the Right Way

Now we're going to talk about that specific thing, the exiting of your cloud. And this is Knowledge Base article number 889. Most people, like it says, think that clicking the "X" in the corner of their cloud session is exiting or logging off their cloud. It's not.

It's basically the same as turning off your monitor, but your tower is still running. Why you don't want to do that is because things are still running. They're using resources, they may get stuck. So you basically just want to sign out whenever you're done. And this will walk you through how to do that. You'll start with the start button in the lower left. It's just like your local computer. You click your name in the upper right.

And if you ... some people put different skins, so if that's what you've done, you won't see what I'm showing here, so you'll need to exit and get rid of that skin, but then you can go back, click your name and sign out. And everything will be saved. Now, if you're at your office and you want to go home and finish working, you can just click the "X" and then when you get home, and log into your cloud from there, everything will be exactly the way you left it. But if you're done for the night, then you want to exit and sign out to conserve resources, let updates run, and that type of thing. And then this we'll also go into. We're not going to go through this now, but this same article will walk you through how to create an exit button. You can put it on your cloud desktop, you just double-click that and it signs out of your cloud the right way for you. You don't even have to worry about it. And there's even a short little video here on how to do that.

I've actually had someone call in who experienced problems because they never properly logged off the cloud

We all have probably heard the joke, "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" Well, it's real. So, that is a good step. If something is frozen, Word is frozen, and you can't get to the task manager to kill it yourself, oftentimes what will happen is, people will get a new printer. And they'll set it up locally, go to their cloud, but, now they can't print. Well because, you have to exit all the way out of your cloud and then back in for your cloud to pick up that new printer.


Can you explain more the quote on that page in the knowledge base that said, "There's no such thing as the cloud, it's just someone else's computer"?

Yes. So, we say cloud, and of course, then we think something up in the sky or up in the ether that uses some sort of techno-magic. It's basically multiple servers. Large, fast, powerful computers in a very secure, high-tech data center. And we actually at Abacus have several of them around the country, and even at least one in Canada and one in Europe. So, that's ... we've got the redundancy and so, it's fail over. So, if something ... one server goes down, or one cluster goes down, everything rolls over to the next one and you can get right back up and running 10-30 seconds later. So, that's what that means. The cloud ... for everyone. Amazon's cloud, Google, it's just basically large, high-tech, server farms.

Will my Lacerte Tax Software work inside of the cloud?

That is a good question. We'll go here I think. Is this the one? Yes. So, this is the one ... the software and hardware compatibility. This mostly focuses on the third-party applications and hardware, like different printers and scanners, that we have found to be problematic. Though, some things that we have found to be very successful are here. I say that because if you don't find the program you're looking for here, like Lacerte, chances are it works just fine. Let us know if you have specific questions. We actually have a team, our sales engineering team devoted to that. We get questions will this work? Will that work? We send it to them, they do the research and then let us know. And when they do, I update this. So, we cover printing, we cover scanning, we have KB articles specifically about that, so I linked to those, and Lacerte does work. We do have that. Clients are using that, so that does work.

We will be switching from Microsoft Word to Office 365 when we go live with the private cloud. Will we be able to cut and paste documents between the two programs?

Absolutely. Depending on what you're using now, what licensing you're using for Word, because Office 365 comes with Word. If it's the same licensing, you'll have a lot of the same ... you'll be able to migrate your data. But either way, you can easily copy and paste even between your local desktop and your cloud. So whatever you have now, and things you get in the future, you'll be able to transfer to the cloud if you want to.

Will programs that are running on the cloud be able to access files stored on a local server? For example File Center?

The files will need to be in the cloud as well. You can do things between your local PC and your cloud. You can even make a local drive, like if you want to make your local C drive visible on your cloud, you can do that. But if it's a program needing to access the files, we put all of those things in what's called the "X" drive. So everything is right there all on the cloud.

For the knowledge base, kb.abacusprivatecloud.com, I typically use Chrome. Is that okay? Or does it work better with another browser?

It should work the same with all browsers. It may look a little different, but it should work exactly the same. All modern browsers.

Can you speak a little bit about how the multi-factor authentication works?

Yes. So, we're heading towards that. Basically, how it has been so far, is everyone accesses their cloud, let's say through a certain tunnel in the firewall and now what we're doing, is everyone's going to have to go through the same tunnel. This increases security.

And on the end user side, all that's really going to mean, when you first set up your connection to the cloud, you'll have to enter information into one additional field in the connection settings. And then, you'll be getting what's called Duo. So, that will be set up, so that every time you access your cloud, you'll get either a text or a phone call, whichever you choose, to authenticate that it's really you trying to do that. You just tap the button approve and then you get in. So, it adds another second or two to connecting, but it adds a whole lot more security.

How do I set up different permissions for different users within my firm?

Permissions for the cloud itself? Yes. What we do is, every cloud is set up with some standard, default access to the different folders and files on your cloud. And then, if you want something custom, all you have to do is let the folks know who are bringing you into the cloud. And then, that all gets configured.

And what we use now, is group policy. It's a lot of information and detail up front to get it set up, but what that allows is, from now on, changes are quick and easy, because historically, we would be making the changes on an individual basis and it would take an hour or so, and then we would ... we actually would charge professional service hours.

This way, we do charge to set it up initially, but then, from now on we don't have to charge. It's very quick and easy to go in and customize once that's done.

What hardware is needed to utilize APC? For example, will any internet capable PC work? Do video cards matter?

Technically, any modern device will work. Everything has minimal requirements. I don't recommend going with the minimum. Because, we're talking about me sitting here with my computer, or my phone, or my laptop, or my tablet, going out to the internet through who knows how many hoops, and however my internet provider has it set up to get to where my server is located, and then that information then coming back. It's fast, but you don't wanna make it harder on yourself than you need to. So, if you have a modern device that's good enough to do basic things that you would do normally, you'll be just fine.

Basically, don't take that year 2000 desktop computer out of your garage and expect APC to be working. In fact, we don't even support like Windows XP. So, that's one of those things. If it's a Windows 8 or Windows 10 device, a modern Mac or tablet, you'll be fine.

As long as I have the connections on my client, can I run as many screens as I want?

Hmm. Well, you can only have one connection to your cloud, but if you local system has multiple monitors you can use all the monitors. if I wanted to connect from here then, I could only have one live connection to my cloud. So, I couldn't open multiple remote connections to my cloud on one device. If that's what you're asking. I would need multiple devices. On the other hand, if my local environment uses multiple monitors, I can use all those monitors for that one connection if I want to.

Alright well, we're so happy that you all came to join us. We see a lot of new faces. A lot of you have just gotten started with your APC, so thank you so much for coming. We will host these APC Free Training Fridays about once a month. So, look out in your email for the one next month, and don't forget we will be sending you the recording of today's session. Thank you everybody so much. Have a wonderful Friday, and a beautiful weekend.

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