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Monday, April 4, 2011

Top 10 Computer Tips for Small Business Owners

By Seth Reid

The author is a Milwaukee-area IT professional and entrepreneur. Visit his business, Smart Computing, on the Web at:

1 - Computer Security, Access and Passwords (oh my!)

Change passwords to computers with vital or confidential information often. The wrong person on the right computer can cost you a lot more than a service call. If you keep a master list of passwords, keep it locked up in a safe or safety deposit box. You don’t want to leave the keys to the kingdom just laying around.

2 - Scheduled Maintenance

Have someone check the server and computer systems monthly. And have someone physically clean out the computers quarterly. Ignored problems like a crashing hard drive or and overheated CPU can snowball into expensive repairs and replacement.

3 - Backup Your Data

This is an especially important one. Backup your data at least once per week and always keep one copy of the backup off-site. If you aren’t doing this, just imagine how chaotic and expensive it could get trying to re-enter the last two, three, or even six months of work back into a new computer.

4 - Protect Your Computers

We are talking computer virus protection and surge protectors. AVG and Avast both make some great products with free versions and trial pay versions. Most mainstream anti-virus software makers will work just fine.Top 10 Computer Tips for Small Business Owners

Get a good fleet of surge protectors for your computers and get a battery backup for your main server. I have personally watched many business managers’ and business owners’ jaws drop when a random bolt of lightning not only shuts down their business, but causes the replacement of multiple computers and potentially thousands of dollars for data recovery.

5 - Don’t Mix Business and Pleasure

Keep your business computers separate from personal computers. If you and/or your loved ones use the work laptop for checking out facebook and reading those funny emails that have FWD: in front of them, then I can tell you exactly why you keep getting viruses. Any computer that either stores or can access sensitive information should really be used for work only or at most a minimal amount of social use.

6 - Get a Geek on Staff

Hire someone with some basic computer skills. A professional IT service technician can show your tech-able employee how to perform routine maintenance saving you money.

7 - Internet Use Policy

Have a clearly defined internet policy so that employees understand what is and is not allowed. This also makes it easy to deal with violators of the policy and legal matters relating.

8 - Test Things Out Once in Awhile

Test your computer systems periodically to ensure they are able to perform the tasks you depend on them for. A good example is sending yourself a test email from your website to make sure the contact form is working.

9 - Future-Proof is a Myth, but Future-Flexible is Smart

Purchase with the future in mind. Many business owners will buy the least expensive computers they can find. This will cost you much more in the end when the PC fails to handle even the most basic tasks.

Consult a knowledgeable IT professional before making your computer purchases. Doing this will cause you to have fewer computer service expenses down the road.

10 - You Can’t Beat Good Help

Don’t just pick a random “computer specialist” from the phone-book. Call two or three computer repair services and ask a few questions. If they seem helpful and knowledgeable, then you can have some confidence in hiring them and trusting them with your company’s data and privacy.

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