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October 2011 - Top 6 Tech Mistakes Small Businesses Make

October 2011

Top 6 Tech Mistakes Small Businesses Make
(and how you can avoid them!)

1. Having Inadequate Technical Support - Ghoulish Fixes
With as essential as computers, printers, smart phones, and networks are to running a business, many organizations fail to implement reliable technical support solutions. Some companies rely on an office staffer whose skill with online gaming has earned him/her the reputation as being a "computer guru" or they call on a family, friend, or local student who tinkers with computers on the side. At times, businesses turn to their hardware manufacturer or a retail store when serious issues occur; however, these help desks' primary fix is to "reinstall" your operating system-- erasing all data on the business owners' machine. To ensure your small business doesn't suffer such losses when you have sudden computer or network failures, you need to have trustworthy, highly trained experts as your PC technology partner. These professionals easily diagnose and fix issues while preserving your data and remember your IT setup-- making any future tech support calls more efficient.

2. Keeping Franken-Hardware and Software Alive
The most productive companies keep their PC's service life between 3 to 5 years. Why? They're not dead yet... But when businesses discover that the cost of repairing a 3 or 4 year old computer costs more than buying a new system, the TCO to replace old systems is less than limping along on old equipment. Companies also fail to standardize their hardware components and software applications whenever possible. This patchwork of non-standard devices and many versions of office applications make troubleshooting issues and maintaining software licenses more complicated, time consuming, and expensive. Worse, different versions of office software often causes incompatible file sharing, requiring staff to duplicate the same effort. You can prevent slow/obsolete hardware and software problems by:
1) Retiring equipment at proper lifecycles, between 3-4 years
2) Standardizing hardware (identical systems/components) for all users.
3) Standardizing software applications, renewing/upgrading to the same version on all users at the same time.
4) Working with your IT firm to negotiate cost savings while receiving personalized service.

3. Little or No Power Protection-- Lightning will Strike!
Desktops, servers, printers, network hardware, and all electrical components experience diminished performance and life span after only 1 power surge, brownout, or power outage. Most companies employ only a basic "powerstrip" to address the problem, but the powerstrip only protects against surges when the device has a "surge rating" listed. Most of these powerstrips are just additional electrical outlets. Even when the powerstrips are surge protected, the device does not save your equipment from brownouts and power outages that result in data loss and hard drive corruption. To protect your most valuable asset-- your digital data-- you should have all electronic devices (including your high-speed internet modem and it's data line) connected to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) also known as a backup battery. Quality backup batteries come with power management software that can determine when to safely shut down your equipment without causing data loss when power stays off for longer than a flicker. Using a UPS protects your hardware and data and keeps your office running during storms and other natural disasters. Ask your IT company to deploy the best UPS for your equipment and remember: Adequate fail over protection saves you thousands on preventable service/repair costs.

4. Untrained Staff - Unproductive Office Zombies
Most employees groan and roll their eyes when companies mandate "software training". Whether the staff resists learning the features due to boredom, lack of interest or preconceived difficulties the untrained users commit gross productivity inefficiencies: An estimated 80% of a software's time-saving capabilities remain unused by employees who don't know how to use the features. Staff that performs repetitive data entry that can be completed with an import tool wastes time and introduces the likelihood of errors entering the process. You can help your employees embrace learning office software by investing in self-paced manuals and computer-based training aids that can be completed off-hours or in their homes.

5. Security Failures - The Boogeyman Man Really Does Exist
Small businesses and organizations often fail to address security issues because they assume that since they're not high-profile, they're not a target. Hackers, however, have automated programs that continuously scour/exploit poorly secured servers, PCs, smart phones, and networks connected to the Internet. Such compromised systems are the source of personal information/data hackers use/sell for identity theft scams and robotic attacks on other systems. Once the press reports a company has been hacked, the business loses customer trust and subsequent sales. You can implement simple security processes to keep your data and reputation safe:
1) Require strong password security policies for all PCs, servers, smart phones, network devices, and software apps.
2) Apply security patches to every device's operating system, firmware, and installed software.
3) Utilize a properly configured business-class firewall to ensure no system is directly connected to the internet.
4) Secure all wireless networks, even ones for "guests".
5) Forbid personal Internet and email use on company PCs. Consider traffic monitoring software to block sites and receive user reports-- Who spent 3 hours on Facebook yesterday?
6) Prohibit file sharing programs.
7) Install auto-updating, real-time protection antivirus, antispyware, antirootkit software.
8) Perform regular security audits and correct deficiencies.

6. Unreliable Backup Strategies - The Scariest Prospect!
Even though most companies understand their data is their most important, irreplaceable asset, they often fail to backup their data properly. Some statistics:
1) 93% of companies filed for bankruptcy within one year of losing their data to disaster for 10 days or longer
2) 50% of those companies filing for bankruptcy actually filed immediately after the catastrophic data loss (Source: National Archives & Records Administration, Washington)
3) 30% of businesses that experience a major fire close within one year (Source: Home Office Computing Magazine)

Even companies who believe their backup solution is safe have suffered mission critical data loss. Tape backups, the old standard, only restore data successfully about 50% of the time (Gartner Group). Other unmonitored, automated backup services often fail without alerting the business owner to the defect-- some nationally advertised backup services are the worst offenders. You can avoid losing your data and livelihood by consulting with your local IT company who will setup, monitor, and regularly test your backups. And because you have a personal relationship with your local IT company, your backup solution is customized to your needs for the most cost effective solution to your company.

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IN THIS ISSUE

  • Inadequate Tech Support
  • Keeping Hardware & Software Alive
  • Little or No Power Protection
  • Untrained Staff
  • Security Failures
  • Unreliable Backup Strategies
  • New Newsletter Archives

 




 

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