Online Business Peace of Mind

Is your online business disaster-proof? Online businesses face a unique set of challenges. Unlike our offline counterparts, we must worry about hackers, credit-card fraud, loss of data, virus attacks, websites going down and more.

The good news? You can fix most of these problems in under ten minutes each!

The freedom of owning your own business comes with a price. That price often means taking care of the ‘little things’ that were provided us in our ’employee’ days.

One challenge we face is being ultimately responsible for everything. If we miss doing a task, it goes undone. That can spell danger when it comes to those important, yet not urgent, tasks that protect us when things go wrong.

To help you, I’ve developed a small-business peace of mind checklist. Taking even one afternoon to tend to these tasks can pay off in big dividends should disaster strike.

Whether you own your own business or just use the Internet for email, everyone who uses a computer will benefit from these three simple steps.

1. Keep Your Virus Scan Up to Date
The stories are legion. We simply intended to download a tool that would help us be more productive and ended up with the ‘worm of the month’. Now our tech friends tell us that a hard-drive format is the only cure and we will lose all our data.

In today’s online environment, it has never been easier to become infected. Email, file downloads, always-on high-speed connections and more expose us to the unfortunate truth that very bad people are out there waiting to steal and destroy our data.

The good news is that it has never been easier to protect yourself than it is today. Open up your favorite search engine and type in ‘free virus scan’ and you will find a buffet of safety at your fingertips. Three clicks later and your entire computer is protected.

INSIDER TIP: Once you install your virus scanner, be sure to set up the automatic options to allow it to download new virus ‘signatures’ as often as they are available. These ‘signatures’ or ‘definitions’ are the files your scanner will use to recognize the bugs that attack your data.

2. Make Regular Backups

This is one we all know we should do. I’ve never spoken to a person who did not understand the importance of regularly backing up important data. Equally true, only 10 percent of the people I speak with have backed up anything in the last 30 days! Have you?

In this area too there is very good news. While backing up your important files used to be a tedious and cumbersome job, today’s technology makes it easier than ever. Almost every newer computer comes with a CD burner. Today, CDs are cheap and hold about 650 MB of data. These are great for backup.

INSIDER TIP: Although CDs are convenient; it’s vital that you have an offsite backup plan in place. What this means is that you must store your backup files in a location away from your computer. The last thing you want is to make great backups only to have them destroyed by the same fire or flood that wipes out you PC.

The good news here is that you can get a secure, online backup solution for literally pennies a day. The advantage is that with one download you can restore an entire computer no matter where you are physically located. Cheap and convenient, this is the wave of the future in backup.

3. Install a Firewall

Long thought to be only for geeks, firewalls have become a must- have for computer users everywhere. Firewalls are simply programs that stand as a guard between you and those who would try to invade your computer through your Internet connection.

As with backups, firewalls can be online services or software you install on your computer.

As people get what are called ‘broadband’ connections (DSL, satellite and cable connections to the Internet) we see more computers being left on all the time or connected to the Net while idle for long periods of time. It is during these idle times that your computer is particularly vulnerable.

Online thieves today not only want to sneak a peek at your computer files (do you use Quicken by chance?) but also can actually use your computer to send unwanted messages or put a virus on your computer. A firewall will protect you from these evildoers.

Today’s computing environment is fast and fun. You can make it safe with very little effort. In one afternoon, you can complete our peace-of-mind checklist and be safe and secure.

If you work at home, or run a business using your computer, it is especially important to protect your files from theft or loss due to unforeseen events.

A little time invested on our checklist today will mean years of happy, worry free computing for you and your family. Make time today to ensure that you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are safe when you surf.