As 2014 winds down, many of us have already made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, or eliminate bad habits in 2015. In the spirit of these most popular New Year’s resolutions, we thought it might be fun to apply these same concepts to our computer networks.
Here are our resolution suggestions for a happier and healthier computer network in 2015.
Remove Unnecessary Software
Do you have software applications on your computer systems that no one uses? Now is a great time to create an inventory of the software that each person needs to perform their job and get rid of extraneous applications. Regain hard drive space and improve performance by lightening the load of unneeded software.
Purge Unneeded Documents
From email attachments and pictures to outdated PDFs, Word files, PowerPoint presentations or Excel spreadsheets, we all have personal documents that we keep because we might need them again someday.
Yet, taking the time to look through these files and delete unneeded documents can free up hard drive space and make it easier to find the things we decide to keep. Give it a try and see how much lighter your documents folder feels. Plus, it makes it a lot easier to find those important documents.
Replace Ailing Hardware with Lighter, Faster Systems
The end of the year is the perfect time to assess your future hardware needs and make a plan to phase out older PCs, printers or other hardware that is weighing down employee productivity. How much time can your employees save if they aren’t fixing a paper jam every time they use the printer or waiting for files to load on an older PC?
Get Your Computer in Shape
We all know that one of the keys to getting and staying in shape is establishing healthy routines that boost our strength, stamina and flexibility over time. Keeping our bodies in shape means less illness, injury and disease. We can apply these same concepts to our computer networks to keep them healthy and strong, reducing downtime and chronic glitches and issues.
Perform Regular Maintenance
One of the biggest ways to improve network performance is to handle small problems before they become big ones. Performing regular system maintenance can correct small problems on a regular basis, creating a more stable network. We recommend setting up a routine maintenance program for all the computer systems on your network.
Your maintenance routine should include:
- Downloading and installing the latest updates and patches for your operating system
- Downloading and installing updates for all your software programs like Microsoft Office, contact management software or accounting software
- Updating and monitoring anti-virus and security software
- Monitoring your hardware systems for potential problems and failures
Hire a Personal Trainer
While many of us know that we should establish regular exercise routines to keep our bodies in shape, we often feel overwhelmed by all the advice we read or hear about. It can be helpful to hire a personal trainer to establish a routine for us and get us on the right track.
Just as the world of fitness can be overwhelming and confusing, many business owners find themselves equally confused when it comes to their computer networks. Hiring a personal trainer – also known as a computer consultant – is a great way to get your network off on the right foot in the coming year.
Want some great tips for finding the right computer consultant for your business? Read our previous post – Why The Right Computer Guy Shouldn’t Cost You a Dime – for some great information.
Eliminate Bad Habits
Don’t Assume Your Backup System is Working
When was the last time you tested your backup system to make sure you could restore critical files in the event of a hard drive crash or major server failure? Backup systems are not set it and forget it systems. They need to be continuously monitored to ensure your critical data stays safe. If you don’t have a plan in place, your backup system is vulnerable.
In fact, 60% of companies that lose their critical data will go out of business within 6 months of the disaster. Don’t be a statistic. Check your critical backup systems and schedule maintenance checks at regular intervals to safeguard your valuable data.
Don’t Keep All Your Email in Your Inbox
Do you often miss important emails that get buried along with all the other email in your inbox? Are you constantly searching your inbox for email that contains important information?
Chances are you aren’t moving things out of your inbox on a regular basis. Instead of keeping everything in your inbox, try reading each email only once and then deciding on what to do with it. Think of your inbox as a to-do list and your emails as tasks. As you complete those tasks, or emails, you will eventually reach what they call inbox zero.
Here are some tips gleaned from productivity guru David Allen’s GTD system that might help:
- Does the email require a response? If it takes less than 2 minutes, respond immediately. If not, file the email in a folder and set a reminder to respond later when you do have the time.
- If the email requires you to do something, add a task to your task manager and either archive or delete the email.
- If the email contains important information, file it in an appropriate folder.
- If it’s junk, delete it right away.
- Finally, setup folders and sub-folders to house common types of email you receive and begin filing a bit of your backlogged email each day in the proper folder.
Establishing these simple habits for handling email will keep your email inbox much more manageable and enable you to see and respond to emails when you need to, making you much more productive.
Use Better Passwords
Do you allow employees to use the same password to access multiple points on your network? Have you established internal policies regarding password length and complexity? Do you require that passwords be changed at regular intervals? If not, you could be encouraging bad habits among your staff and compromising your network’s security.
Here are some simple things you can do to improve your network password policies:
- Establish minimum requirements for all passwords used to access your network. We suggest at least 8 characters. In addition, all passwords should contain at least one letter, one number and one symbol (i.e. – $, #, &, %).
- Make sure employees are required to use different passwords to access different areas of your network. This minimizes someone’s ability to circumvent security across your entire network if passwords end up in the wrong hands.
- Establish policies that require passwords to be changed at regular intervals for improved security.
- Discourage employees from keeping passwords on sticky notes that are displayed on their desk or at their workstations. This defeats the purpose of having more complex passwords. Instead encourage the use of easy to remember phrases with cleverly added capital letters or symbols to make passwords easier to remember and harder to crack. A simple phrase like “I love football!” can become a very complex password by adding numbers and symbols like this – iL0vef00tb@ll! – yet it’s still easy to remember.
We hope we’ve given you some food for thought to improve your computer network as we head into a brand new year. There’s never been a better time to get your networking house in order. If you need help implementing any of the strategies we’ve suggested here, don’t hesitate to contact EZSolution’s tech team for assistance.
Happy New Year!