Six Easy Steps to Make Technology Work For You

It’s almost a full-time job to keep up with all the new tech innovations released every day. Cloud computing, 8th Generation processors, servers, network security, viruses, ransomware, routers, firewalls…so many topics, so little time.

There is enough information out there to keep anyone busy for years trying to learn it all (trust us, we know!).  That’s why it is easier to defer much of the tech issues to the professionals.

Even though many tech issues can be complex, there are some very basic things businesses can do right now to improve overall efficiency, secure their network, and remove some of the frustration and headaches tech problems create.

1.) Train Your Employees

We feel this is an often-overlooked topic.  Technology is advancing at an exponential rate and you can’t just assume that everyone is keeping up with the latest tech news.

The majority of problems occur when an employee mistakenly clicks something they shouldn’t in an email, or experiences a lack in productivity because they are unsure how to best complete a task.  Many people will often feel dumb or ostracized if they ask a question about the computer, so they’ll avoid asking anyone for fear of judgement.

If you’re a business owner you need to take the time to properly train employees and give them the confidence they need to efficiently use all the technology and programs you use at your business.  It might seem like a waste of time to show someone how to use features in Outlook, but that one day you spend showing them could save you weeks down the road.

Don’t assume everyone understands.  Many people have surface level knowledge and could benefit a great deal from a little in-depth training. If you don’t have a way to train employees you can invest in a Managed Service Provider who can provide remote tech support and always be there to answer any questions that may arise.

2.) Update Your Equipment

The last thing a business owner wants to hear is that they need to spend money on a tech problem.  But the fact of the matter is, your business requires computers, printers, Wi-Fi, and A LOT of other devices to operate on all cylinders.

It’s not just that some of the computers have old hardware. Many businesses still use Windows XP and Vista which are not supported by Microsoft anymore. This means your business is wide open to a variety of security threats that could leave you and your customers data available for anyone with a little technical know-how.

On the topic of old hardware – how long do you spend waiting for your computer each day? What about your employees – how long do they hang out in the morning before their computer starts up or “decides” to work?

The amount of downtime spent waiting on antiquated machines adds up to an astonishing number after a year of use. Assume you spend 10 minutes a day waiting on slow machines. That adds up to roughly 2,600 minutes a year, or 43.33 hours.  So, an entire work week out of the year you spend waiting on a computer, or you pay an employee to sit there and wait for an entire week!

Not only do you waste time waiting, but faster, updated equipment will allow you to do everything much quicker.  Increasing profitability through productivity.

3.) Secure Your Networks

This one should be a no-brainer.  After the rash of recent malware attacks there needs to be more attention given to this issue than ever before.  Do not think that just because you have a small or medium sized business that you’re hidden from these types of attacks.  In fact – according to Malwarebytes – 81% of businesses have experienced a cyber-attack.  Hackers don’t care how small your business is.  All they see is data and they want it.  They’ll amass as much data as they can, steal it, then sell it off on black market websites around the internet.  The more they acquire the better so no fish is too small to let go.

They may be able to put a number on the data they steal, but as a business owner you can’t put a number on your customers trust. Just look at the recent big companies – Equifax, Sonic, Target, etc. The list goes on and on, and it definitely makes you feel a little uneasy about purchasing at any of these businesses again.

4.) Properly Install Security Patches (Updates)

This one slips by most businesses. You absolutely need to keep your systems fully updated – including computers, networking equipment, and any other device that accesses your companies Wi-Fi.

You may have asked yourself before if it was really necessary to run windows update.  The answer is 100% YES! Here is how it all works.

Let’s use Microsoft as an example. Over time people (good guys and bad guys) will find security flaws in the Windows operating system or protocols.  These issues get reported or exploited and Microsoft has to fix it.  So, Microsoft will make an update that fixes these issues.  Microsoft then makes the update available to whoever is using that version of Windows and once the user checks for those updates and installs them then ta-da! You have a system that has had all known security flaws patched up.  The system is no longer vulnerable to outside attacks using that known exploit.

For those people who don’t download and install the security patch however, their system is wide open for an attack that Microsoft has acknowledged and already fixed.  But if the proper security patch is never installed then that system is vulnerable for attack.  And this is unfortunately how the majority of security breaches happen.  Equifax for example was compromised by a security flaw that had been patched several months earlier.  They failed to apply the security patch and well…months later we have 143 million people with their information stolen.

This is another place that investing in a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help.  An MSP can ensure that all security patches are installed and manage your whole system remotely.

5.) Change Your Absent or Very Weak Passwords

This is another one that is an easy fix.  We can’t tell you the number of businesses that do not have passwords on computers used at that business.  The passwords don’t have to be that complex to get into the computer, but it’s better than nothing.  If someone could break into your business overnight and just turn on your computer and get in – you could be in real trouble.  Something as simple as a password required on startup could be enough to deter a thief.

While we’re on the topics of passwords, everyone could benefit from stronger passwords.  Although it can be difficult to remember many unique, strong passwords, we wrote a little article that can make it a little easier.

6.) Backup Your Data

This might be where business and everyone could improve on the most.  We even wrote another article completely focused on the importance of backing up your data.

Having a good backup system can be the difference between your system being down for a couple hours and a few days.  Not only will you have reduced downtime, but with a proper backup in place you won’t have to be anxious about lost data.  Even in a worst-case scenario and your hard drive completely stops working, you’ll always be covered by your backups.  Everything will be right where you left it and you can rest easy knowing nothing is lost.