Computers have revolutionized the way small businesses operate today, enabling business owners to quickly launch new enterprises, expand communications capacity, compete on the world stage and function on a 24/7 basis. For many business owners a lap top computer has taken the place of their right arm.
So, when a computer goes down unexpectedly as a result of a virus, a hacker, or a corrupted hard drive, most business owners would probably be willing to give their other arm to have their data back.
As a business owner, your computer is your business’ life! So protect it.
Backup Your Data Often
With the growing number of backup options available to computer users there is just no excuse for not backing up data on regular basis. Businesses that generate a high volume of data or documentation should back up their files daily. Everyone else should backup at least weekly.
The key to a fool proof backup strategy is to maintain a copy of the data off site at a secure location. CDs, external hard drives and flash drives that are removable and easy to transport should be kept in a fire and theft proof off site location.
You can use a web based service and avoid dealing with flash drives, etc. Companies such as Carbonite or Mozy are good web based options and they have recently introduced services geared towards small businesses. With web based backups, data can generally be restored from any location. And they have options to use with your laptop as well, so that you can backup securely while traveling.
Keep Your Computer Lean and Mean
Ideally, you should maintain separate computers for personal and business use so that you minimize your risk of being hacked, don’t slow down your system by filling up your hard drive with games and other software or risk having a family member drop your laptop.
Practically speaking, for most folks this is unrealistic since having everything in one place is really convenient. And, of course, it’s less expensive. So for starters, do try to keep your computer clean and free of non-essential software programs. Downloading software or applications should be done sparingly and only after verification of their source.
Your computer should be treated as a vital business asset and should be maintained periodically by a qualified technician. You do it for your car; your PC or MAC needs some regular care as well. And scheduled maintenance should be arranged that includes registry cleanings, system updates, virus scans, and hardware checks.
Upgrade Your Firewall
Many operating systems come with a built in firewall which serves to limit the flow of data to and from approved locations. You may want to consider upgrading that to a third party firewall program with more bells and whistles. Make sure you regularly update your firewall to keep your computer secure.
Downloading and opening attachments is a great way to become infected with malware of some type. And many phishing scams or virus infections come in emails that look like they really are from your bank or from a friend. Remember, if someone else’s computer gets infected, they may easily and unknowingly pass it along in an attachment.
So, don’t download anything from someone you don’t know or websites you aren’t sure about. And before opening downloads even from trusted places, run a virus scan on the files to be careful.
Be a Virus Vigilante
It may be comforting to some to have an antivirus program installed on the computer. Programs such as NOD32, Symantec and McAfee do provide a solid layer of security that can prevent virus attacks. The best layer of defense, however, is investing in the best antivirus software available and making sure it is set to update automatically. You should also set it to automatically run complete system scans a minimum of once per week.
For small business owners, the business is their life, and in most cases, their computers are their business. So protect your business from financial risk by protecting your computer. It is much less expensive to take steps to protect against disruption than to have to recover from it.