Thursday, November 13, 2014

how to use computers for dummies


Computers store critical data that could devastate a business should it be lost. Below is a list of the things I see out there all the time that could spell disaster for any small or medium sized business. If any of it sounds familiar, it might be worth looking at your overall Information Technology strategy.

Not watching the fort (or not having it watched)

It happens - more often than you might think. Someone dutifully replaces the backup tape everyday only to find out (sometimes too late) that the backup never ran or that it failed. In the same vein, knowing about other problems that may be going on behind the scenes can help prevent data loss and downtime.

It is vital to keep an eye on logs or automate the system so that failures generate a service call for your service provider. The more you know about what's going on with your systems, the better chance you have of avoiding costly problems.

Failing to test restore

Without a doubt, a properly working backup can save your bacon in the event of hardware failure (hard drives always fail, it's only a question of when), virus infection, fire, and so on.

With that said, your backup logs may indicate that everything is hunky dory until you actually try to restore data. Only then do you find out that the data is unreadable or otherwise useless to you.

Not having a computer tech you can trust

There is a big difference in what computer techs can do for you. The typical CompTIA A+ Certified service technician can easily fix your home computer and will be an invaluable asset to you for other home computing needs.

In your business however, you want to have someone who understands networks, domains, business applications, web technologies, and all the pieces that fit together to make a business hum in the technological sense. They should also understand your business. This point shouldn't be taken lightly and shouldn't be based on hourly rates. A solid, and certified, business technician will save you money and downtime - without exception.

Not trusting your computer tech

Once you have the right computer tech, trust his or her advice. Your tech will have the experience and the know how to competently recommend the right strategy to solve a given problem. It may be more expensive than another solution or it may be less expensive. Either way, trust your tech to help you make the right decision.

Buying the wrong equipment

Trust me on this - there is rarely a place in a business for Windows Vista or XP Home versions. If there is only one computer and there will never be more, maybe. Otherwise there is no place and you'll regret the purchase eventually.

The same goes for many other hardware and software products that might be just fine in the home but don't belong in an office. Often it makes business sense and money sense to think about what you actually need before walking into the local business supply store and buying an off the shelf computer or network equipment. Trust your tech to help with this.

Using obsolete equipment

Computers and everything else on the network have finite lifetimes. While it makes sense to squeeze every day of lifetime out of a piece of equipment, there comes a time when it slows to a crawl and wastes precious time or support is no longer available for it and it becomes a security risk or downtime waiting to happen.

Ignoring free and low cost alternatives

So often a business will see a need for custom software and rush off and hire a firm to build that software from the ground up. The price tag for such ventures is often tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. As you might hear Kevin O'Leary say on CBC's Dragon's Den, "STOP THE MADNESS!"

So often there are open source or off the shelf software that will do much of what a small business needs and if it's open source, it can be modified to do the rest. Unlike the real world, in the computer world there is indeed such thing as a free lunch, and often it will be the best lunch on the menu!
Glen Bowes is a Microsoft Small Business Specialist, MCSE, and an A+ and Network+ Certified service technician. Glen is the owner of Bowes IT Solutions and he can be reached at (905) 378-1215 at http://www.bowesit.com

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