Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tech Upgrades for a more Effecient Small Business

Being effective with your time and effort is crucial for a small business (big business too, really). So one way to help is to optimize your technology. Work easier, not harder.

So here are some simple and fairly inexpensive ways to optimize your office!

Dual Monitors! -

I couldn't imagine life without them. I personally do all sorts of work with computers from purchasing for TVIT, to Graphics and Web Design at home. I will generally have information on one monitor and my quote/purchase order/or website back end, up on the other monitor. It saves so much time not having to flip back and forth between windows or panels. This gets especially slow when you have several windows open at once, which I generally do. The set up can be fast and easy. You may need a dual monitor capable video card but they are very affordable. Monitors too have dropped in price considerably. The setup on your system takes a couple tweaks once you've got all the hardware, and we can help you with that quickly!

In fact here's an article that details just how great multiple monitors can be!

Upgrade your RAM -
If you can upgrade your RAM that is. If your computer is older than 4-5 years old, you may be maxed out. Ram gives you a snappier performance. I like snappy! A funny thing about RAM however, is that the older and more out of date the type you need, the more expensive it is going to be. Also there are lots of different aspects to making sure you are getting the RIGHT RAM. So give us a call to help you with that! (367-1000)

Upgrade to SSD's, or Solid State Drives -

This is a bit more pricey depending on how many machines you want to upgrade, and if you don't know how to switch out hard drives (it can be tricky) then consider the labor cost involved as well.

Cost aside, there are a LOT of benefits to solid state drives. Hard disk drives, which are the ones you are probably using now, have a spinning disk inside. Anything with moving parts has a finite life span and finite speed. Well a solid state drive is, well, solid. As far as we can tell they have no definite life span, and a failed hard drive is a VERY common reason to get an entirely  people get an entirely new system.

They are also super fast. You can boot up your system faster, access information faster, and run programs faster. The immediate noticeable effect of upgrading to a SSD is even more substantial to that of upgrading your RAM. But remember, there is a bit more cost involved. It can take several hours for a technician to get it switched out.

Upgrade your internet - 

Are you sitting at your desk twinning your thumbs waiting for a page to load? Well that's not time spent very productively! Ask your internet provider if you are utilizing the fastest connection available to you. Better yet, ask SEVERAL internet providers what they offer. You'll be informed on the going rates across the board and the companies may even haggle for your business. 

The speed also relies on your equipment being up to date. I had a residential client call me a couple months ago with internet speed problems. They had just upgraded their service to a higher speed package, but with little noticeable increase. Turns out they had an older version modem and router that could only support lower speeds. Their equipment was essentially bottle necking their speed. I suggested they call their ISP (internet service provider) and see if that equipment was theirs or on lease. Turns out they were leasing it and were available for a free upgrade with no additional cost to them. So the lesson here is that it doesn't hurt to ask. If you've been using your service providers equipment for as long as you can remember it may be time to trade up!


Is your internet and equipment is up-to-date but you're STILL not getting adequate speeds? There could be some simple reasons why. How many people in the office are listening to music at their desks? Let's say you have three people out of ten people listening to a streaming music service, like Pandora, from their work internet connection. Well that is roughly 50mb an HOUR per user. That can add up. More importantly, that's 50mb of bandwidth that is being used for music and not actual internet speed. Additionally, if your internet plan gives you X amount of GB of bandwidth monthly, you will get charged for every GB that goes over. One full day of Pandora for ONE user is half of a GB. If that person is full time that will equal almost 10GB a month. Now if you have multiple people using that service, you can see how that adds up quickly.

We have a NO-STREAMING music rule here in our office. I get to cheat and play Pandora off my phone because I have an unlimited data plan with my phone carrier. If you do to, just plug your speaker jack into your phone and stream away. But just like internet, if you DON'T have unlimited data on your phone, the overage charges can be high.

Same rules go for Youtube, Hulu, Netflix, Torrent....it all adds up.

Another thing that could be slowing you down is malicious infections. Viruses and Malware could be running things on your system that are taking up bandwidth that you are completely unaware of. If it can happen to me it can happen to you. I recently moved into a new house and had my internet service moved over as well. Same equipment, same setup. I got an infection somehow and my monthly bill shot up $50 because my usage DOUBLED! Well I knew that wasn't true. I looked at my day to day usage charts from my ISP's web page and I was using roughly 5-10 GB a DAY! I am generally gone on the weekends and was not home AT ALL over Christmas. I ran full scans with my virus and malware protection software and sure enough, I had gotten infected somehow. The problem is now fixed, but that was an expensive lesson.

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