December 26, 2019

The top IT support mistakes small businesses make

We’ve had our fair share of late-night panic calls from business owners just realizing the error of a poor IT support decision. The truth is that technology moves fast and at any given point in time, making the best decision just requires too much knowledge to be casually made. No matter how technology changes, certain common mistakes always reappear. Below is a list of some of the most common top it support mistakes we see.

Lack of an effective backup process

Every year, we receive requests to help a new client retrieve data they were certain was backed up to their system, only to find it wasn’t. Most or all of what ends up being lost could have been saved with regular backup testing, which should be done at least once a month. 

Buying an additional external drive and making a copy of your entire system is a great way to ensure nothing gets lost. Additionally, back up your data in the cloud so that the most recent copies of your files are stored in off-site servers that are maintained by a team of IT technicians. These backups can also be accessed from virtually anywhere with a company-sanctioned, internet-connected device. With multiple backups, you can rest easy knowing that your data is safe in case disaster strikes. 

Skimping on gear

Not all routers are the same. If you settle for unreliable networking, you could suffer costly downtime and unhappy customers, which are problems that are nearly impossible to repair. Business- and enterprise-level products and solutions are not always out of reach. It’s worth consulting with an IT professional if you’re not sure of the quality of the product you’re eyeing. 

Pushing past the expiration date

Buying new gear can be stressful, and putting off a purchase for as long as possible may seem like the most convenient option. But when your equipment starts to slow down and lag, it can interrupt business-critical processes, slow down workflows, and create massive inefficiencies. 

Pushed too far, your equipment will break down, leaving you in a panic-inducing bind. We’ve gotten those calls, too. This doesn’t mean you always need the newest thing on the market, but pay attention to how old your equipment is, noticing any hiccups or slowdowns in applications that used to run well. The average server or PC has a life cycle of three to five years. 

Skipping the tutorial

It’s always tempting to just open the box and start turning on, plugging in, installing, or whatever else it takes to start using the new toy you bought. But most IT comes with instructions and user guides. 

Use these, but it pays to do further research, too. Take the time to get trained on best practices for the technology your company depends on. Whatever small cost this may incur will save loads more down the road, when you’re not running your gear into the ground with improper use or leaving yourself open to viruses, hacks, and malware. 

Skipping out on quality security

This is related to training, but there are other reasons and ways we’ve seen companies downplay the importance of proper cybersecurity. A lot of small business owners make the false assumption that their business is too small to be the target of a serious hack. 

In fact, hackers often target small- and medium-sized businesses under the assumption that their defenses will be lackluster compared to larger enterprises. Online scams have proliferated in recent years and targeted small and mid-sized companies. Splurging on good encryption, firewalls, professional setup, and training to know how to use it all are worth the investment a million times over. 

Pirating software

People are often driven by a desire to save money. If a software user agreement doesn’t license enough copies for your whole team, it is tempting to pirate the additional versions you need, but this is a bad idea. 

While pirating older software may cause fewer problems, programs today have much more sophisticated tracking and it’s just too big a risk to be worth it. You’ll be cut out of updates or found out if updates are automatically installed, which could lead to $100,000 fines from the Business Software Alliance. Keep your licenses updated to keep in the clear.

These are some of the more common errors we see small-business owners make, in LA and across the world. To make sure your IT decisions are in line with best practices, have a chat with a Frontline IT professional now.

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