Friday, July 27, 2007

The Benefits of Online Backup

Almost every business today depends at least to some extent on the data stored in its PCs, and that is true even for companies with client-server networks. Research compiled by a leading data management company shows that data loss costs businesses some $12 billion a year, and that almost 80% of all mission-critical corporate information is stored on PCs, not servers. In fact, one in four PC users suffers a data loss every year.

Many things can cause data loss, but the two most common are hardware failure (44%) and human error (30%) - and what small business can say it is immune to either of those possibilities?

The obvious move to protect against critical data loss is simple: Back it up. Most of us know that, but how many of us do it on a regular basis? Industry experts say not enough, and they offer several reasons why:

  • Businesses don't understand how important backups are because they haven't had a disaster happen to them - yet
  • They don't know how to do it
  • They know how but don't remember to do it
  • They know how but find it too time-consuming, so they don't bother

If you fall into any of those categories, a remote backup service might offer the right solution for you.

Online backup services promise ironclad security, easy setup and quick recovery. Because the services are Internet-based, you can access your data 24/7, in most cases from any PC. An added advantage is offsite storage of files, which protects your data should your business be hit by fire, flood or some other calamity.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Managed Services for Small Business

It’s the core offering of CMIT and it’s been set up in a way that’s great for small businesses.

You know the break/fix model. Technology breaks, client calls a consultant, consultant fixes problem & bills for work. The problem with this is that the client and their trusted consultant are actually working at odds with each other. The consultant only makes money when the client’s technology breaks. There’s very little inspiration for the consultant to keep the client’s systems running efficiently.

The Managed Services model puts the technology expert and the client on the same team. The focus is on preventative maintenance, efficiency, stability and security. With the flat-rate model, it’s in both parties interest to keep the systems running as efficiently as possible. Problems mean downtime for the client and higher costs for the technologist.

Most small companies still think in terms of the break/fix model and because their consultant is usually a trusted party who’s never steered them wrong, there is very little reason for them to look at other solutions. But managed services can benefit both parties.

By using the economies of scale that the a CMIT home office can leverage, and passing those economies down to the individual franchisees, the clients can benefit from lower rates and better service levels which previously would have been accessible only to larger companies.

Customize Outlook Calendar Entries

Electronic calendars have great advantages over a paper calendar. Once an entry is created electronically it is very easy to change and manipulate that entry. Electronic calendars can also be useful to see calendars in multiple views such as daily, weekly or monthly. There are other features in Outlook that can help customize your calendar view, here are just a few:
  • Use Labels and Color Code —When creating a new calendar entry, the label field allows the entry to be color coded. Outlook has pre-defined topics for each color but these can be altered. Go to Edit/ Label/ Edit Labels and you can change the topic/ category for each color item. It can be useful to color code travel, certain meetings, important events, etc.
  • Use a Naming Convention in the Subject Line — It is best to name your calendar entries with a subject heading that will be useful to see quickly in the future. Consider creating a standard ‘naming structure’ in the subject field of new calendar entries. Use spaces, dashes, and underscores between nouns and adjectives that will provide further information about that meeting or appointment.
  • Contact Association —All calendar entries can be associated with a contact in the Outlook Address Book. Once a calendar item is associated, it can be viewed in the Contact view under the ‘Activities’ tab for that particular person. This is useful if you forget the date/ time of an appointment but remember who the appointment is with. To associate an calendar item, open the calendar item and click on the tab/ field in the lower left hand corner called ‘Contacts’, it will allow you to choose from the Contact folders available, find the contact to associate and click OK.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Office 2007 Compatibility

Have you received an e-mailed file from a business associate who’s already upgraded to Office 2007 and found that your earlier version of Office wouldn’t open the file?

All the Office 2007 programs use new default file formats based on the Extensible Markup Language (XML). The new formats are indicated by an “x” in the file extension. For example:
  • Word documents: .docx
  • Excel workbooks: .xlsx
  • PowerPoint presentations: .pptx
XML is an open standard, and the change makes it easier to move files between different applications. It also makes file sizes smaller than those saved in the old binary formats. However, some users with previous versions of Office may not be able to open files in the new formats.

Click here to access the Microsoft Download Center and download the Compatibility Pack.

A compatibility pack is available to make sure that you can open and save Office Open XML Formats in earlier versions of Microsoft Office. You can install the compatibility pack on a computer that is running Microsoft Office 2003 programs, Microsoft Office XP programs, or Microsoft Office 2000 programs. When you install the compatibility pack, you can open, edit, save, and create files in the robust Office Open XML Formats.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Developing a Security Solution

Security solutions work best when there is a company security policy in place that defines what is to be secured, how and by whom. As every company is unique, one policy will not work for all, but the process of creating a successful security policy can follow a set of guidelines. When designing your company's security policy consider the following:
  • Scope: What information and systems need to be covered in this policy? Identify your critical information. What is its value to you? Only when you evaluate its value can you determine the amount of resources you should employ to protect it.
  • Objectives: What are the objectives? What do you hope to accomplish with this policy? What information do you want to secure? Who do you want to have access?
  • Security Parameters: What security level should the company maintain? How much security do you need to have on desktops, on the network servers and at the gateway to the Internet? What access and security do people working remotely require
  • Responsibility: Who will be responsible for developing and maintaining the policy, informing all employees, technically implementing security and enforcing the policy?
  • Rules, Rights and Requirements: Who has access rights to critical information? What are the requirements and rules to access confidential information? Which ones apply to employees and managers?
  • Information and Training: What training needs to be done and how often?
    Contingency Planning. What happens when there has been a security breach? What happens when someone hasn't complied with security policy? What routines should be in place to mitigate the damage?
  • Annual Review: Does the policy need updating? What has changed? How well has the policy been observed?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

3 Great Word Tips

Microsoft Office Word is the main work staple for most computer users. So any Word feature that can save you time could make a big difference in your day. Here are tips that save time and will improve how documents look.

1. Paste Special : If you copy and paste a lot of content from different sources, such as other Word documents or Outlook e-mail messages, using Paste (on the Edit menu, click Paste ) works fine, but it carries the formatting of the original document and requires time to adjust the formatting. Try using Paste Special and paste the text as unformatted text.

To use Paste Special:
  1. On the Edit menu, click Paste Special .
  2. In the Paste Special dialog box, select the Paste radio button, and in the As: section, choose Unformatted Text .
  3. Click OK .
2. Create better tables with the Tables and Borders toolbar and Table Properties : Tables are a great way to present information in an organized manner, but they can be a beast to format. There is a big difference between a poorly formatted and organized table, and making a table look good can make a huge difference to your reader. Here are two tools to improve the way your table looks:

First, use the Tables and Borders toolbar to more quickly and easily format your tables. On the View menu, point to Toolbars , and click Tables and Borders . You can use the toolbar for everything from creating tables to shading cells to distributing rows evenly.

Once the table is created, use the Table Properties dialog box to fine tune its appearance. To open up the dialog box, put your cursor in the table and on the Table menu click Table Properties . Now you can choose how to align the table in your document, how text should be aligned in the cells, and many other formatting refinements.

3. Use reviewing marks and comments for editing documents : If you send documents back and forth between people, being able to quickly view proposed changes and comments is crucial. It’s especially useful when more than one person is reviewing the document. When you’re tracking changes in Word with reviewing marks and comments, Word shows the markup in the text of the document and balloons that appear in the margin. Comments also appear in the margin.

To get started, open up the Reviewing toolbar. On the View menu, point to Toolbars and click Reviewing . Once you get started, you can refer to the Help menu and review the Audio course: Revise documents with Track Changes for additional information.