IT Tips for Small Businesses

Small businesses rely on computers and mobile devices more than ever to improve productivity, share information and reduce the time it takes to communicate with each other and with clients. Despite how important information technology is to their success, many small businesses do not manage their systems very well.  Typically, this is because the depth of expertise and investment of time that is necessary to ensure that software, hardware, and networks are maintained to ensure maximum stability and security are not available in most small businesses. Below are some IT Tips for Small Businesses.


Outdated Software

The majority of malware is able to find it’s way onto computers due to outdated software, which include security holes. This includes applications like Adobe Reader, Java, Flash and the operating system itself, such as Windows or Mac OS X for example.  Software vendors release updates frequently that include bug fixes and security patches. When these updates are released they reveal problems with the software that hackers can focus on and attack.  About 80% of malware targets out of date operating systems and applications.  By keeping your software up to date, you can reduce the probability of malware invading your computer greatly,  this is just one piece of the 

Keeping Your Software up to Date

I’m sure you have seen the pop-ups for Adobe Reader, Java, iTunes and who knows what else, but are you sure these are legitimate? Many malware programs try to imitate legitimate software to trick you into running and installing it. Do these pop-ups interrupt your work? We provide a service called Patch Management, which allows us to review and selectively approve or decline patches for your computers. This allows us to block updates and patches that have been known to cause problems and it also greatly reduces or eliminates annoying pop-ups to update your 3rd party applications while ensuring your computers are secure and up to date.

Which Download Button?

Have you tried to download a program and when you get to the download page it’s full of download links? It can be difficult to figure what links are the ones you want and which links redirect to malicious software or fraudulent websites. Avoid annoying ads entirely by employing a third party plug-in to filter your ads. We recommend uBlock Origin on FireFox and  Google Chrome. By using an ad-blocking browser extension, you will have a safer web browser, far fewer ads and since a lot of ads are animated or flashy, blocking them will greatly speed up page loading.

Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs)

Many times when you download a legitimate program you get more than you bargained for. The reason for this is many software vendors will pay other vendors to bundle their software along with well-known programs. A prime example of this is toolbars being bundled with Adobe Reader for example. These PUPs will have a decline button or checkbox to decline the install, but sometimes it’s not that easy to find these, or you’re just not sure what they are asking so you inadvertently install software that you didn’t know was bundled and it will cause usability problems with your computer. The most common issues are browser related such as search hijacks and redirects when searching. To dramatically reduce the number of PUPs that get installed, we urge you to read carefully when installing software as well as installing a program called Unchecky. This program unchecks or declines most PUP offers, though it’s not perfect so you must do your part to read and understand what you are installing. If you have any questions it’s best to call your IT consultant or Managed Service Provider, that’s what we’re here for.

Avoid Optimization Software

There are many programs that claim to work miracles on your computer by offering tune ups or maximum performance, but one of two things usually happen with these. Either they are adware and full of pop-ups and ads or just trying to get you to buy other software. In the case of registry cleaners they can cause your system to stop booting if you aren’t absolutely sure what you are removing. Never just let a program “do it’s thing” if you don’t understand what it’s doing or you haven’t been instructed to by your service provider. Our IT Pro Care Managed Service Plans monitor the performance of your machines as well as performing routine maintenance so you don’t have to worry about that miracle software turing your computer into an expensive brick.


Backup Your Data

Most small businesses don’t have a solid backup solution, but they think they do. Backing up sporadically or hoping that your backups are working properly when the time comes to restore data is not enough.  Having, at least, one backup on-site and one off-site is critical. Having a hybrid approach is the best approach as it allows fast restores locally for simple recoveries and also allows data retention in case the local backups are destroyed in a natural disaster. When is the last time you tested your backups to verify that they are indeed working? Trust us, the time to test backups is not during an emergency.


Web Presence

Clients and potential clients appreciate a well maintained, visually appealing and most of all useful site. Websites that match these criteria will generate leads for your business as well as give clients a way to refer new business to your company.  Most websites will contain useful information, such as the company’s background, products or service, contact information and location.  Some websites also offer answers to frequently asked questions to improve customer service.  By having a website available, you are giving yourself a place for current and future clients as well as an efficient way to collect leads, inquiries and provide basic customer support.

Equipment Refreshes

How long can you afford to be down? Do you turn your computer on then go get coffee hoping your comptuer will be ready to go when you get back? Maybe it’s a good time to consider getting new business grade computers. You can still get machines with Windows 7 Professional so don’t let Windows 8 or 10 scare you. But one question with technology you must ask is how much time is wasted on slow computers?  If the machine in question is five or more years old it’s definitely time to replace it since it is a cornerstone of your company’s productivity and being down for any period of time can be destructive. Also with today’s software, Line of Business applications and all of the updates and patches, newer machines will handle the load much easier and most come with or have the option of newer hard drive technology that is 10x faster than traditional hard drives. 


Hire a Professional IT Consultant

If your company needs help with any of these IT Tips for Small Businesses or a second opinion, give us a call at 319-227-7000 or email us.