Technology is crucial to the operations of nearly every small business. However, small mistakes now can lead to big headaches in the future. Here are five common small business IT mistakes.
Everybody knows that backing up all of their files is important, but many businesses do not have proper backup procedures in place. There are two main types of backups, cloud-based and local.
Cloud backup solutions keep a copy of your files on a server owned by a third-party. Popular solutions include Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and Backblaze. I usually recommend OneDrive, as 1TB of storage is included in most Office 365 plans, which many businesses already have. OneDrive also allows users to easily edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files from a web browser, phone or tablet, without converting it to a different file format first.
In small businesses, local backups are usually stored on a portable hard drive. Creating a backup in Windows 10 is quite easy, simply click on the Start button and type “backup settings”. It is a good idea to disconnect the drive after the backup has completed, as it’s contents could also be wiped or encrypted during certain attacks, such as a ransomware attack.
Ideally both methods should be used, but one backup is better than no backup. Just make sure that the backups are performed regularly and that they are working as desired.
Keeping software up-to-date
Having the latest software is important for a number of reasons. If your software and/or operating system are not up-to-date, the security of your computer and data is at high risk. New data protection laws in Australia require businesses to notify their customers of any data breaches. Doing this could likely destroy your business.
Having the latest software also increases compatibility with newer formats and standards.
Many small businesses are using severely outdated email systems, which are often insecure and inefficient. Sensitive information is often transferred via email communication, which could have disastrous consequences if intercepted. Many businesses use the “POP” email standard, which is quite slow and does not synchronise between devices. This often results in staff deleting the same email multiple times, once on each device. IMAP and Exchange email systems sync with the cloud, meaning that if you delete an email off your computer, it will automatically delete from your phone.
Businesses should use either Google’s G Suite, or Office 365 Email Essentials (AKA Managed Exchange). I usually recommend the later, as it has the ability to sync emails, calendars and contacts with Outlook 2016, whereas G Suite can only sync emails with Outlook 2016.
Some businesses don’t use branded domains in their email addresses, instead opting for something like email@example.com. Companies should promote themselves with an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org, instead of promoting a free email service provider.
Investing in new hardware
As hardware ages, it becomes slower and less reliable. Many businesses try to avoid updating their hardware to save money, however, it will cost the company a lot more money and time if an unanticipated hardware failure disrupts the businesses operations.
Most small businesses use the Wi-Fi access point that was provided by their ISP. These access points are usually of poor quality, resulting in slow speeds, drop outs and poor range. Since most businesses cannot operate without Wi-Fi, it is a worthwhile investment to purchase an enterprise-grade aftermarket access point from a company like Ubiquiti. They aren’t as expensive as most people think, and usually make for a huge improvement.
If you have any questions about any of the above, feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly.