If there’s one thing you need to know about technology, it’s this: Technology changes at warp speed.
Every day, programs are updated and new threats emerge. Even a small network needs ongoing maintenance from a highly-trained technician in order to keep up. Otherwise, the network will be exposed to viruses, spam, spyware, sluggishness, user errors and data loss. While these risks are serious, not every business can afford to hire a full-time IT manager.
If this is the case for your business, you’re left with three options:
• Do nothing
• Do it yourself
• Outsource your support to a competent technical team
Today, in the first part of a three part series where we investigate IT options for companies without full time IT managers, we’d like to talk about the dangers of the “do nothing” approach to IT management.
Option 1: Do Nothing (Until it Breaks)
Ok, when you put it this way, it sounds foolish. But unfortunately, we see businesses do this all the time. Many company owners don’t pay any attention to the care and maintenance of their network until it stops working. Then, they’re forced to call in an expert in a panic to repair or replace whatever caused the problem.
But think about what would happen to your car if you never changed the oil filter.
Eventually, smoke would come billowing out of the hood and you’d be forced to take the car to the mechanic. Avoiding those oil changes didn’t save you any money because now you’re going to have to pay for extensive repairs and expensive parts. Actually, your lack of attention to your vehicle is going to cost quite a bit of money in the long run, certainly more than if you kept up the recommended maintenance schedule.
This kind of reactive approach doesn’t work any better for computers than it does for cars. When everything comes to a grinding halt, you’ll be left with extensive downtime, lost data and excessive IT costs; not to mention major disruptions in productivity, sales, production and customer service.
Even if your computer network appears to be working fine, there are a number of daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance tasks that must be performed to keep your data secure and your system running smoothly.
A very basic list of these tasks includes:
•Virus scans and updates
•Security patches and updates
•System back ups and disaster recovery planning
•Spyware detection and removal
•Server and desktop optimization
•Employee policies and monitoring
Of course, if you have more specialized needs, the list will get longer. If you use Customer Relations Management (CRM) systems or production software, there are additional tasks that need to be added to the maintenance list. The same goes for businesses that run multiple locations, wireless networks or store highly sensitive data.
Remember, your computer network is just like your car in that it needs regular maintenance to avoid problems.
If you’ve been down this road and had problems as a result of a lack of proper maintenance, you’ve probably learned your lesson. If this hasn’t happened yet, you still have time.
With the possible exception of a telephone, your office’s computer network and stored data are undoubtedly the most important business tools in your office.
When they are unavailable, your business essentially stops running.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – and this goes double for your computer network.