Computer related habits from a small business owner – be prepared, avoid despair

Regardless of the fear of losing a spreadsheet or research project that has been prepared for a customer, what prompted me to write this article is the realization that it only requires constant follow-up to stay on top of the computer threats that might ruin my business. I have also accepted the fact that keeping my computer virus and spam free is crucial to ensuring that my computer will not harm others.

If you don't have a technical person or liaison office to support you and the users of the computers that are part of your business, then it's time to establish a routine that prepares you for potential losses or lapses.

If you are convinced that protecting your computer is important, but you haven't done anything about it, I urge you to hire or barter a technically qualified person for your teaching, or set up a technical support program.

I don't offer these services, but I can help you assess your needs and the type of provider that suits you. Also see the phone book under "Computer and repair services" for service providers in your area. If the worst is the worst, there is an address for "computer data recovery" services.

Also, I hate to tell you, but I don't expect much sympathy these days from people about losing all emails, files and photos. Almost everyone has "been there and done that" tale I say. It might even be worse than yours.

If you don't already do so, my advice as an employer is to do the following on a weekly or monthly basis, at least. Please note that I keep the terminology too broad in order to reach a wide range of users. Whether you're using a Mac or PC here, what should you do:

– Monitor software updates that depend on it. The periodic release of downloadable updates for drivers and software applications is a recommended layer of protection. Enable the automatic notification feature to be prompted when downloads are available.

– Run the virus scan regularly. Say it again and stick to a weekly schedule. Always review the results before continuing. Do not ignore the known hazard warning.

– Backup regularly. The price of recordable blank media is no longer prohibitive. If you have a lot of data, get a “zip drive” device that stores data on cartridges containing more than one CD or CD. The initial setup can be complicated, and it's not a shame to ask for help from a friend or contractor technically.

– In a somewhat logical manner, file emails for future reference. Set up folders with the names of the people you work with or through active projects. Set a routine to empty your inbox on a regular basis.

– Set file management settings so that the automatic archiving and auto-deletion functions work as desired. Otherwise, you might not know where all your emails go after starting a feature. Outlook rules feature allows you to customize more.

Another good habit is to keep squares and media for software applications together and accessed from a computer. Resist the temptation to pull out those big boxes. Try to keep OS applications at least within reach.

As long as you use the app, do not dispose of the box or media necessary to install it. Over time, you (or the person working on your computer) will need this. Product registration, discounts, promotions, product support require key numbers and / or media entry.

In fact, all these somewhat daunting tasks take away from my time providing billing or promoting my business. But the thing is, when routines are complete and backups are stored, I'm less worried about a computer hack or a possible system failure. This kind of peace of mind is worth the investment.

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