Spring cleaning your small business technology
(BPT) - For small businesses, technology is like the windows in a home. It's an essential component of your overall operation, one of the important ways in which you see and interact with the world, and, like windows in a home, you probably don't think about cleaning it that often. Yet your technology needs care and maintenance, just like the windows in your house. Spring is a great time for small businesses to focus on cleaning up and organizing their technology. Doing so can make a business more productive and efficient and also reduce costs. Here are seven must-do spring cleaning tasks for your small-business technology: 1. Appraise your security and protection programs. Ideally, your software settings should be programmed to check for security software updates automatically, but it's a good idea every now and then to manually run an update check. Also, if your business's PCs are running Windows 7 Professional, you're one step ahead in security, since the operating system already helps protect your computer network from malicious cyberattacks and safeguards sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and employee and customer information. 2. Update other software that you use frequently. Checking for updates to programs such as accounting or inventory tracking software is important to make sure you're running the latest version. To do this, simply go on product manufacturers' websites to see if they have any available security updates, and follow the instructions for downloading and executing the updates. 3. Review your back-up system. Backing up your data is essential. If you don't already have a back-up system in place, spring is a great time to start using one. If you already use back-up technology, review how well it's working for you. Is it secure, easy to access and easy to use? Products such as Windows 7 Professional have features such as Backup and Restore, which allow you to pick a schedule to back up files, so all you have to do is set it, and then you can forget it. 4. Organize documents on your PCs and in the cloud. When working with numerous documents on a daily basis, things can easily get unorganized and misplaced. Being able to quickly access documents improves efficiency for your organization and employees. If you use Microsoft Office 2010 or Microsoft Office 365, you already have access to the tools you need to manage email, documents, contacts and multiple calendars. For example, the Navigation Pane and Microsoft OneNote 2010 can help you get your files in order, while the calendar-sharing capability in Office 365 makes scheduling meetings with team members easy. 5. Maintain or upgrade your hardware. When was the last time you cleaned your keyboard with compressed air? Or wiped down the monitor with a static-free cloth? Or checked the battery in your wireless mouse? Spring is a great time to do those things, along with considering an upgrade to a wireless or Bluetooth mouse or keyboard. It's also a great time to research and check out new PCs on the market, such as ones that are more energy-efficient and easy to take on the go. 6. Give your printer some TLC. Printers tend to be one of the items no one thinks to maintain - if it prints, it's good. But like everything else, it's a good idea to do things like remove and empty paper trays to make sure no small bits of paper are trapped inside the printer, make sure components - such as the print cartridge - move smoothly, and check online for software updates from the printer manufacturer. 7. Don't forget about yourself. As important as it is to do some technology spring cleaning around your business, it is equally important to remember to take some time for yourself and smell the flowers. Sometimes it's a good idea to disconnect and put your out-of-office message on. But sometimes that's not possible, so products such as Windows 7 Professional can give you the option to take your business on the go and allow you to connect almost anywhere. Finally, if you need any more incentive to do some spring cleaning and upgrading, consider this: That new hardware or updated software you buy this spring can be a tax write-off come tax time next year. If you are considering updating this year, you should visit www.microsoft.com/windows/business and learn more about how Windows 7 Professional can help improve your business this spring.