Red Key Solutions Takes Home the Clutch Award for New York’s Finest Managed IT Services

In the city that never sleeps, Red Key Solutions aim to make a difference and help companies ease their pain points. Since 2002, we’ve made a mark in the industry and made our names synonymous with IT here in New York.

Thanks to our team’s drive and our clients’ support, we’ve been recognized as a 2021 Clutch Leader! During the Clutch Awards, the platform's research shows that Red Key Solutions is New York City, New York’s leading managed IT services provider.

To give further context, Clutch is an established B2B review and rating platform from Washington DC. The site annually celebrates the best of the best from different industries such as IT, business services, and marketing.

Being recognized by the platform is a huge feat for any service provider, that’s why we are truly humbled by this win.

With that being said, the entire Red Key Solutions send their sincerest thanks to everyone who believed in us. We couldn’t be more proud of this achievement because of you.

Our clients, especially those who reviewed us, allow our team to gain praise from various institutions and award-giving bodies. We wholeheartedly dedicate this milestone to each and every one of them.

“Their ability to take in suggestions, constructive criticism, and comments we have and filter them through every aspect of the company. Every time we’ve provided feedback, we see a change within a week. Their constant growth as a company and willingness to implement feedback is a huge strength.”

— Office Manager, Healthcare Facility

“There might be 17 people working behind the scenes, but it feels like an intimate project. It gives us a level of comfort to know that they’re paying close attention to us. I’ve worked in healthcare for 20 years, mostly in hospitals, and tech support is usually someone you don’t see.”

— Director of Operations, Medical Practice

Evolve and innovate with Red Key Solutions! Schedule a free consultation and hear more about what we can do for you. If you’re busy, send us a message so we can connect!

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Red Key Solutions Ranked Among Most Elite 501 Managed Service Providers

Red Key Solutions has been named as one of the world’s premier managed service providers and one of the top MSPs in New York on the prestigious 2020 annual Channel Futures MSP 501 rankings.

For the 13th year, MSPs from around the globe completed an exhaustive survey and application this spring to self-report product offerings, annual total and recurring revenues, profits, revenue mix, growth opportunities and company and customer demographic information. Applicants are ranked on a unique methodology that weights revenue figures according to long-term health and viability; commitment to recurring revenue; and operational efficiency.

Channel Futures is pleased to name Red Key Solutions to the 2020 MSP 501.

In the 13 years since its inception, the MSP 501 has evolved from a competitive ranking list into a vibrant group of service providers, vendors, distributors, consultants, and industry analysts working together to define the growing managed service opportunity.

“These benchmarks are what local businesses should examine when choosing a managed service provider with the experience, skill set, business knowledge and defined strategy to help them succeed in this fast-changing digital landscape,” says Kris Blackmon, Senior Content Director, Channel Partners and Channel Futures. “In all of the managed service providers that New York has to offer, Red Key Solutions stands as a shining example of excellence.”

Ten MSP 501 special award winners will be recognized at the MSP 501 Awards Gala at Channel Partners Virtual: Digital Events for the Modern Channel on September 8 – 10. Nominations for these special awards, including Digital Innovator of the Year, Executive of the Year and the Newcomer Award, were included in the MSP 501 application, and all candidates were encouraged to submit for them.

The data collected by the annual MSP 501 program drives Channel Partners’s and Channel Futures’s market intelligence insights, creating robust data sets and data-based trend reports that support our editorial coverage, event programming, community and networking strategies and educational offerings. It serves as a lynchpin to dozens of programs and initiatives.

The complete 2020 MSP 501 list is available at Channel Futures.

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Coronavirus: 10 Ways to Stay Productive Using Technology

The Coronavirus is a major worry for all individuals and businesses. As the crisis evolves, these strategies will help keep you and your team productive through periods of potential remote work and business disruption. (For a modern Corona global cases tracker, click here.)

1. Communication & Collaboration Apps

  • Microsoft Teams

    With Teams you can collaborate using group chats, 1on1 chats, screen sharing, video/voice chat, file sharing and virtual white boards. Use this link to login. (Only available if you are on Office 365.)

  • Slack

    Slack is an excellent group chat and 1on1 chat app. We think Microsoft Teams is more powerful because you get video/voice chat and screen sharing, but Slack a very good option if you are not on Office 365. Use this link to login. 

  • Zoom

    Zoom is a super easy and inexpensive way to meet with multiple people from outside your company. You can collaborate with screen sharing, video/voice chat and draw on the screen. Check out zoom here. (You can technically do the same with Microsoft Teams but Zoom is easier to use.)

  • Dialpad

    Red Key switched our phone system to Dialpad 2 years ago and we never looked back. We got rid of all our desk phones (Except one. You CAN still have a deskphone with Dialpad) and can now use the phone system from the office, home or on the road using amazing noise canceling headsets and a desktop/iPhone app. This is the final step to truly make your business location independent. Learn more about Dialpad here. (Reach out to us if you want to discuss a phone system migration)

2. Email Access

  • Office 365 Webmail

    Access your Outlook Mail, Contacts or Calendars from outside the office in any browser using this link.

  • Office 365 Outlook Full Install

    Install full Office 2019 and Outlook at home by:
    - Logging into Webmail
    - Click the Menu icon in the top left
    - Click "Office 365"
    - Click Install Office
    - Run the installer and follow the instructions

3. File Access

  • SharePoint

    SharePoint was very complicated and clunky until 2018 when Microsoft began to power the file sharing using OneDrive and worked out most of the bugs. For companies that moved to SharePoint, you can access all your files by:
    - Logging into Office 365
    - Click the Menu icon in the top left
    - SharePoint
    - Find your site
    - Click Documents
    - Click Sync to install the folder into Windows or just access files online. (For iPhone or android devices download the OneDrive app and login)

  • Egnyte

    Egnyte is a powerful compliant cloud based file sync and share system. If Red Key migrated your file server into Egnyte, you can access all your files remotely by
    - Logging into Egnyte (You need to know your Egnyte Domain)
    - You can access all the Egnyte files online or if you want to install the Egnyte app for Windows:
    - Click the Apps & Integrations in the top right
    - Install Egnyte Connect to stream your files or Egnyte Desktop Sync to copy your files to your local computer (Not recommended because it will possibly blow up your hard drive due to space.)

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    The traditional way to access your server share drives is using a VPN. If your company is still on the traditional file servers you can access all your files using VPNs and mapped network drives.

4. Computer access

  • Windows Virtual Desktop (RDS)

    The best and newest way to run virtually is Windows Virtual Desktop which allows you to have a true Windows 10 desktop in the Microsoft Cloud which is accessible from any location and device in the world. If Red Key moved you to WVD please go here to install the WVD app or login via a web browser version here. 

  • Remote Desktop Server (RDS)

    If your company has an RDS server setup, you can login to a virtual server based desktop and access all your company apps and files.

  • Red Key Connect

    A free service we provide to all clients is the ability to access your office desktop by logging in here. (It is very fast but the only draw back is it does not handle multiple monitors as well as RDS or WVD)

5. Home Setups

  • Mirror Home Setups

    If you have a critical role in your organization, you should have a full computer setup at home that mirrors your work setup. The ideal work or home setup is
    - 3 x 27" monitors mounted on a monitor arm,
    - Wireless mechanical keyboard
    - Wireless mouse
    - Multi function printer/scanner
    - Full size desktop for maximum performance (but you can also get a docking station for your laptop and connect to the setup with one cord)

  • Multiple Monitors

    If you don't have the budget for a full mirror home setup, you should definitely still have at least two monitors at home to stay productive if you need to work from home.

6. Strategic Tasks Ideas

If your normal business operations are temporarily disrupted, there are plenty of things to do to keep your business moving forward and evolving.

  • Technology Strategy Meetings (TSM)

    Connect with Red Key's vCIO team to have your Technology Strategy Meeting over a GoToMeeting to review 140+ points of technology health and develop your 3 year road map for digital transformation.

  • App Integrations

    The future is integrating applications together to streamline your business process. Engage in Red Key professional services or work with your app consultants to map out and streamline your business operations.

  • Team Performance Reviews

    This may be a good time to do a yearly review for your team. You can use Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting or Zoom to meet remotely and there are now software packages that streamline and simplify the performance review process.

  • Update Your Process Documentation

    This may be a good time to sit back and update your internal process documentation. Red Key offers an app called MyGlue to all clients for free which has a full knowledge base and company password manager. Take the time to document all your key processes so you can start to think about how to streamline them. (Examples: New hire onboarding, staff termination offboarding, monthly financial reconciling, yearly tax preparation, new client onboarding, new project kickoff, project close wrapup, client offboarding)

  • Update Your Handbook

    This may also be a great time to review and update your handbook and convert it to an e-signature process. Please reach out to us to learn more about how to do that.

7. Organization Task Ideas

You can also do some long overdue organization work.

  • Contacts Cleanup

    Contacts can sprawl over time and get out of control. Clean contacts will make your work easier and make your sales and marketing efforts more effective.

  • Files Cleanup

    Take the time to reorganize your share drives and archive/purge old files. (Please coordinate the reorganization with your team and/or Red Key to make sure that you do not break anything.)

8. Sales & Marketing Progress

You can make some serious progress on sales & marketing tasks during times with less distractions.

  • Sell Sheets/Powerpoints

    The easiest tool to create sell sheets in is PowerPoint becuase you can easily manipulate words/pictures, align things correctly and export to PDF and keep the picture quality high. Email to get a copy of our Managed IT Overview PowerPoint for an inspiration.

  • Social Media Post

    Social media can be powerful for many businesses. Take the downtime to create your pages and upload pictures of your work. Then schedule a once a week recurring Outlook appointment to remind you to post if you are not the active social media type

  • Website Content

    Downtime also creates the perfect opportunity to tweak your website content or kick off a redesign. We have put a lot of work into our website in recent years. Take a look at our website for inspiration. (If you want a great firm to speak to about a redesign take a look at our partner Pronto Marketing)

9. Business Books That Supercharge Your Business & Team

Downtime can give you some quiet time to read some powerful business books that can help both business owners and team members. Here are some books that made an impact on our company:

10. Personal Task Ideas

If you have to spend periods of time in isolation or quarantine, here are activities to focus on while not working:

  • Reorganize closets, drawers, fridge, freezer and/or garage.
  • Arts and crafts activities for kids (Check out: Everyday Play Deck by Lisa Zaretsky)
  • Traditional board games
  • Roku and watch Hulu/Netflix/Disney Plus.
  • Cleanup filing cabinets and throw away old papers.
  • Home improvement enhancements. (Examples: Hang pictures, paint, mount mirrors, etc)

As with all recent crises, Americans are resilient. We survive and thrive. This too shall pass and the nations of the world will learn how to deal with this type of crisis better in the future. Stay focused and positive.

About Red Key Solutions

Red Key is a next generation Managed IT Provider serving companies in Westchester, New York City, Connecticut and New Jersey. We specialize in helping companies go through a digital transformation to remove IT headaches so you can focus on achieving your business goals.

If you would like help to setup any of the strategies above, Red Key is here for you. If you are a client please email or if you would like to become a client please schedule a consultation using this link. 

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The 5 factors of authentication, and what you should know about them

With social engineering scams specifically targeting login credentials, it’s no longer enough to protect your confidential data with passwords alone. All it takes is a successful phishing scam, and your whole network could end up being exposed to an attacker. That’s why you need an extra layer of security to verify users’ identities before they can access the system. This is especially important in the new era of workforce mobility, where employees routinely access business apps and data from different devices and locations.

Multifactor authentication (MFA) is the new standard in information security, though you’ll also hear it being referred to as two- or dual-factor authentication. Despite the technical-sounding nature of the term, chances are you’ve already used it hundreds of times. Perhaps the most common example is when you withdraw money from an ATM. The first authentication factor is the card in your hand, but since that can be stolen and misused, you also have to enter a PIN code, which is the second authentication factor.

#1. Something you know

By far the most common authentication factor is something you have memorized, such as a password or PIN code. Passwords have always been central to information security, but while they provide a basic line of defense, they’re not enough by themselves. The simpler our passwords are, the easier they are to guess by others, but the more secure our passwords get, the harder they are for us to remember. For example, it’s practically impossible to hack a long alphanumeric password by guessing all of the possible character combinations, but it can also be equally difficult to commit to memory.

#2. Something you have

This authentication factor refers to something that you physically carry around with you, such as the payment card in our previous example. Another common verification method is the one-time security token, such as those single-use passwords or codes you receive via SMS or on an authentication app when you log in to your online bank account or send money electronically. These often expire after thirty seconds or a minute, which means they’re far less susceptible to compromise by social engineering attacks.

#3. Something you are

You’ve probably already heard of biometric security, which is what this authentication factor refers to. This uses an individual’s inherent physical traits to verify their identity. A common method is a fingerprint scan, which you can use for unlocking most high-end phones and other mobile devices. Other methods include iris scans as well as face and voice recognition. But there is one severe drawback of biometrics: if someone steals the biometric data, there’s no way to replace it.

#4. Somewhere you are

This verification factor is used by default and is something that users aren’t usually aware of. For example, you might have noticed that when you try to access online services when you’re abroad, you’re asked if it’s really you who’s doing so.

The most common way of detecting your approximate location is by viewing your IP address, a unique identifier of the location of your device when it goes online. Other geolocation-based security checks include those which use the mobile networks themselves or GPS technology. Banks often use geolocation to detect potentially fraudulent purchases made in places you’ve never even been to.

#5. Something you do

By far the least common method for verifying a user’s identity involves AI software logging and recognizing oft-repeated actions and recognizable patterns of behavior. This actually serves more to flag actions that are uncharacteristic to the person doing them. For instance, if a dayshifter’s ID card is used to access the office at 3:00 a.m., then this is seen by the AI as suspicious and may warrant immediate suspension of the cardholder’s access rights.

Multifactor authentication is now a must for businesses seeking to reduce risk and achieve compliance in an increasingly connected world. Red Key Solutions can help you boost security and drive growth without leaving your organization open to attacks. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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5 Lesser-known Office 365 apps you should know about

Most businesses switching to Office 365 assume it’s just the next iteration of Microsoft’s popular line of desktop productivity products. It’s so much more than that, but many companies don’t use all the tools included in their license. Sometimes, it’s because they don’t need them, but more often it’s because they don’t even know they’re there or how they can be useful. Here are some of those lesser-known apps you might want to try out:

#1. OneNote

Granted, you’ve probably already heard of this popular note-taking app, but what you probably don’t know is how Microsoft recently reversed course to provide extended support and development for OneNote 2016, the desktop counterpart to the online app provided in Windows 10. This is an important development because the desktop version is vastly more sophisticated and feature-rich than its web-based version. It even adds a new dark mode for more comfortable operation in low-light environments.

#2. Sway

Putting together a presentation is one of those tasks that people often groan about, but it doesn’t have to take many hours using complex software. Sway is a simple web-based presentation builder designed to help you create interactive presentations in minutes through several built-in highly customizable templates. You can also pull content directly from the internet, your OneDrive folder, and storage locations. Best of all, it’s a free app and is much easier to use than PowerPoint when you just want to create a quick and simple presentation.

#3. Planner

When it comes to project management, there’s no shortage of tools out there claiming to make things easier. Unfortunately, it’s also an area where technology bloat becomes a real problem as teams find themselves using incongruous systems together to share information. Planner makes things simpler by offering a lightweight, web-based way to manage tasks and assign them to team members. It’s ideal for smaller organizations that don’t work on highly complex projects and don’t need expensive, highly specialized software.

#4. Flow

Tedious and repetitive routine tasks are the bane of employee productivity and morale. What’s more, they’re also vulnerable to human error. That’s why if something can be automated, then it generally ought to be automated. Flow lets administrators turn repetitive tasks into automated multistep workflows. For example, you can set Flow to capture contact information contained in email signatures and add it to your Dynamics CRM database.

There’s no coding involved in Flows either. You can choose from thousands of templates and customize these to your specific business processes with just a couple clicks of the mouse!

#5. PowerApps

There’s not an app for everything, despite what you might have heard to the contrary. Some businesses have very specific needs, which require them to build their own apps. That’s often expensive, since it typically requires highly specialized skills and extensive testing.

But with the PowerApps tool available to Business and Enterprise subscribers, you can build simple business apps quickly and easily, even if you don’t have an extensive background in software development. It works with Microsoft Flow and provides templates for things like budget tracking solutions, surveys, and more. You can then embed these custom tools into other Microsoft programs like SharePoint and Teams.

Office 365 is chock-full of robust applications, and incorporating them into your day-to-day can give you a serious boost. But as wonderful as these apps are, they merely scratch the surface of what Office 365 is capable of. If you want to learn more about Office 365’s hidden productivity features, just ask the experts at Red Key Solutions. We also provide support, strategy, security, and cloud services to help your business thrive.

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Why SMBs should use Office 365

Office 365 is a cloud-based productivity suite that delivers popular Microsoft Office applications (e.g., Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc.) — plus some apps you may not know — on a subscription basis. This allows small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to affordably leverage tried-and-tested office applications and enjoy the following benefits:

#1. Reduced IT costs

Office 365 lets SMBs cut down costs on many aspects. Right from the start, you can lessen your office technology’s total cost of ownership because you’re moving from owned hardware to a cloud subscription model.

Since the ownership of IT infrastructure is taken on by Office 365, you can shut down outdated file and email servers and not worry about replacing them. This also means not having to spend on their maintenance, management, and support. You also won’t need to hire IT staff just for patching servers and resolving hardware failures.

What’s more, you won’t need to manage on-premises storage since Office 365 gives each user ample storage through Exchange Online. You can even go a step further to save inbox space by taking advantage of Office 365’s OneDrive cloud storage to share attachments.

You can also save on unexpected expenses for new updates, upgrades, patches, or licenses since Microsoft constantly maintains and updates your Office 365 applications without additional charges.

#2. Anytime, anywhere work access

Since Office 365 runs in the cloud, your staff can easily access their work files and tools all day, using any internet-connected device. Files are automatically synced to reflect the most recent edits, so users are always accessing the latest version of their documents. This allows them to work anywhere — even outside the office or while in transit — which boosts their productivity and allows them to immediately address customers’ demands.

#3. Collaboration and teamwork

Given the cloud-based nature of Office 365, your employees can work together on documents without having to email each other back and forth. For example, all of them can access the same version of a PowerPoint file and work on that file simultaneously, in real time.

Aside from that, Office 365 is also packed with a lot of collaboration tools such as:

  • Skype for Business – Instant messaging software that allows text, voice, and video chats
  • Yammer Enterprise – Social network and communication platform
  • Microsoft Planner – Tool that enables a simple, visual way to organize teamwork
  • Microsoft Teams – Chat-centered workspace that organizes a team’s chat, video calls, voice calls, documents, and files

Because these apps work seamlessly together, your staff can collaborate efficiently. For example, the Skype in-app integration allows users to video chat and screen-share right inside documents so they can receive feedback without having to leave the file. Having all of these applications under one roof creates a more unified user experience that ultimately boosts productivity and teamwork.

#4. Guaranteed uptime

Leveraging Microsoft’s geo-redundancy, state-of-the-art hardware, redundant power supplies, and built-in disaster recovery systems, Office 365 offers a financially backed guarantee of 99.9% uptime. In short, SMBs can always rely on the availability and superb performance of Office 365, so they can provide first-rate service to their customers.

#5. Security and privacy

Office 365 utilizes enterprise-grade, multilayered security, so you’re ensured that sensitive information — be it your customer’s, business partner’s, or your own — is kept private and secure. Some of its built-in security features include:

Feature Benefit(s)
Email encryption
  • Ensures that the intended recipient is the only person who can read an email
Data loss prevention (DLP)
  • Checks and prevents sensitive information like social security numbers from leaving the organization via email
Mobile device management (MDM)
  • Monitors, manages, and secures employee’s mobile devices used for work
  • Allows you to lock devices or wipe their data if they’re lost/stolen
Advanced threat analytics (ATA)
  • Alerts you of any suspicious behavior on the network using analytics and machine learning (ML)
  • Scans emails as they come through the network, eliminating any malicious links and attachments before they reach the employee

Please note that not every feature is available across all Office 365 plans, so make sure you choose a plan that comes loaded with all the capabilities your business needs.

Time to subscribe to Office 365

Office 365 helps SMBs get a lot of power, flexibility, and functionality at a lower cost while still meeting their requirements for manageability, reliability, security, and privacy. So let Red Key Solutions help you smoothly transition to Office 365. We’ve helped over 100 businesses conquer their tech challenges, and we’re more than ready to also be your comprehensive technology guide. Partner with us today!

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VoIP features SMBs should use

Effective communication is crucial to business success, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems are enabling small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to improve how they connect with their customers.

VoIP is a phone service provided over the internet instead of a traditional landline. It offers a lot of useful features that make your calling experience much richer. Below is a list of basic and advanced VoIP features to consider.

Basic features

These are standard features that are usually included in the monthly service at no extra cost:

#1. Caller ID

This feature gives the caller’s key information, such as name and phone number, so you can decide whether to take, reject, block, or forward the call.

#2. Voicemail

When you cannot take a call, voicemail prompts the caller to leave a message that you can listen to later.

#3. Call forwarding

A call will never go unanswered again since this feature transfers a call to another phone, number, or service like voicemail. For example, if you will be out of the office, you can program the call to be automatically redirected to your mobile device from your desk phone.

#4. Call queuing

When a company is overwhelmed by incoming calls, this feature allows you to answer them in the order you receive them. It also lets you set up announcements while callers are on hold to inform them of the estimated waiting time or that some answers to their questions might be available online.

#5. Music on hold

Many callers tend to hang up after being put on hold for extended periods. To keep them entertained while waiting, VoIP systems offer a variety of music options.

#6. Three-way calling

VoIP systems allow you to talk to three people at once with this feature. It works by calling the first person, then placing them on hold while you call the second person. The first person then joins the conversation.

#7. Address book

This stores names and phone numbers of contacts on your phone, in the control panel, or within a company directory. Some VoIP systems even allow storage of email addresses via a Microsoft Outlook integration, but usually at an additional cost.

Advanced VoIP features

While some of the following features may already be included in a business VoIP package, some may come at an additional cost:

#1. Voicemail to email

This feature goes beyond the basic voicemail feature by emailing the digital recording directly to your inbox, instead of having to listen to conventionally taped recordings. Voice messages could even be converted into text then sent via email.

#2. Find me/follow me

Building on the call forwarding feature, find me/follow me lets you define the path of incoming calls. For example, you can have the call first ring your desk phone. If unanswered after a few seconds, the call is transferred to your mobile phone, then to another device if still unanswered. If the call completes the predefined path without being answered, it can then failover to your voicemail. Instead of following a personalized sequence, the call can also ring all of your devices at once so you can answer whichever device is nearest to you.

#3. Auto attendant

Acting like a virtual receptionist, an auto attendant answers calls and provides voice menu options to route calls to the right extension or department without the use of a live operator. It also offers music on hold that can be customized for extensions and groups.

#4. Real-time call reports and analytics

This feature allows you to gain insight into how many calls you receive at a given time, how long each customer is put on hold, how long each call lasts, and other valuable information that can help streamline your business and boost productivity.

#5. Audio and video conferencing

Great for remote teams, audio and video conferences give the impression of being in the same room, which is a great alternative to face-to-face meetings. It typically includes tools for screen sharing, screen drawing, and more, enabling easier collaboration.

#6. Call recording

One of the most sought-after business VoIP features, call recording allows business owners to record calls and listen to them later on. This is particularly relevant for training and quality assurance purposes, especially for companies that deal a lot with customer service.

#7. Database integration

For a smoother workflow, some VoIP systems enable integration with other business tools such as support ticket systems, customer relationship management (CRM) applications, chat, email, and many other tools.

The right set of VoIP features can empower your calls

With an abundant array of VoIP features to choose from, SMBs can provide their customers with the kind of calling experience that was once associated only with larger companies. This allows you to stay competitive even against companies with larger budgets.

Let Red Key Solutions customize a VoIP solution for your business’s specific needs. We’ll equip you with the right communication and IT tools so you can grow fearlessly and outpace your competition. Schedule a consultation with us today!

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