Monthly Archives: October 2012

4 Ways to Enable Your Employees to Work Remotely

Work from Anywhere

Image Credit: Ed Yourdon

If your business doesn’t allow employees to work remotely, it could be at a big disadvantage, especially compared to the competition. In today’s fast paced world of mobile devices and instant connections, the business that doesn’t take advantage of their technology is the one left behind. Will that be your business?

It could be, particularly if your current network configuration doesn’t allow for employees to access the office remotely. While there are many benefits to allowing your employees to work remotely, perhaps the greatest benefit of all is being able to access important information and records on demand, no matter where you are. By having access like this, you can instantly provide quotes, documentation, or any other item needed, without having to travel back to the office, saving both your employees and customers time.

There are quite a few ways you can enable your employees to work remotely, allowing your business to be as mobile and as flexible as your industry demands.

Allow Email Access on Cell Phones

Most smart phones today have the ability (and proper software) to access office email. If you are hesitant about allowing remote access to the office completely, consider starting with remote email access. At the very least, this will allow employees to stay updated on their email throughout the day. If your office communicates important information via email, this will also allow remote employees to get the memo long before they step foot in the office.

Provide Equipment – Laptop, Mini’s, or Tablets

One of the easiest ways to ensure your field employees have access to the office is by providing them with the equipment they need to be mobile. This includes providing a laptop or other portable computer so that employees have the right equipment. If equipment weight is a concern, consider going with a lighter, smaller device, such as a mini-laptop (aka netbook), or a tablet. If cost is a concern, consider issuing one computer to remote employees – a laptop – that they use both inside and outside of the office.

However it is important to note that providing equipment is just the first part of the equation, your network setup also has to allow for employees to access the office remotely.

Setup Remote Web Workplace

Depending on your edition of Microsoft Server, your business may already have the tools it needs to allow employees to connect remotely, using Remote Web Workplace. This Microsoft feature allows employees to access the office from any computer with internet access, by using a specialized website address.

From there they can access email, or log into a computer on the network.  Remote Web Workplace is particularly useful for allowing employees to work from home during a personal emergency, as they can use their own desktop computer which is already setup for their job duties.

Setup a TermServer

Another way to allow remote access is to setup a TermServer, which is a server that employees can log into using a remote desktop connection. One of the advantages of using a termserver along with Remote Web Workplace, is that you can have multiple employees logged onto same computer at once. Employees can access the termserver using a Remote Desktop Connection, or using the Remote Web Workplace, and selecting the server instead of their desktop computer.

These are just a few of the ways you can enable your employees to work remotely, allowing your business to stay ahead of the competition.

If you have questions about how remote access could work for your business, please contact us today so that we may discuss your options.

How to Safely Remove Your USB Drive

Safely Remove HardwareDid you know that if you don’t remove your USB drive (aka thumb or jump drive) properly, you could potentially damage the valuable data that is stored in memory? This is particularly true if Windows is still accessing the device when you remove it.

Instead of losing your data, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that you safely remove your USB drive every time.

Safely Remove Drive – Manually

While there are automatic settings within Windows to ensure your device doesn’t get held open every time you access it, you may not know if your computer is setup that way. This is particularly true if you’re using someone else’s computer.

Whenever you want to take extra precaution with your data, it is always wise to activate the Safely Remove Drive features manually.

Safely Remove MediaTo do this, click on the “Show Hidden Icons” up arrow next to your time, and locate the gray device with the green check mark. When you put your mouse over it, it will say “Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media.” Right click the Remove Media icon, and select “Eject [Name of Device].” (Example, Eject FreeAgent Go.)

You will then get a message stating it is

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safe to remove your hardware. Now you can detach your USB device and have peace of mind knowing your data is safe and secure.

Safely Remove Drive – Automatically

However, if you want to be able to remove your USB drive from the computer at will, without worrying about your data, you can set Windows to automatically handle this task.

USB Management SettingsTo check how Windows handles your USB devices, and change the setting if needed, plug in your USB device. Then, open the Device Manager (right click

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on Computer, go to Properties > Device Manager). Expand the Disk Drives heading, and locate your particular disk drive. Right click on the drive, and select Properties. Then, go to the Policies tab.

Here, you will have two options, Quick Removal (default for Windows 7), and Better Performance. If your drive is set to Better Performance, your data is not protected, and you will have to follow the steps to safely remove your drive manually every time.

If your drive is set to Quick Removal, Windows is already managing your USB drive, and you do not need to worry about safely removing your drive manually. Instead, make sure everything is done saving (if you’re updating a document), and then remove your drive when you’re ready.

While newer versions of Windows are already set to Quick Removal by default, don’t just assume that everything will be okay when it comes to your data, particularly if your only backup is on your USB drive. When in doubt, take the time to safely remove your device manually to ensure your data is always safe.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you make peace with your technology. Email:

Does Your Business Need a Server?

Rack Mounted Servers

Image Credit: Jamison_Judd

At what point does a business need to think about the big picture when it comes to their technology infrastructure?

Small businesses sometimes find it difficult to spend money on computers and technology when there are more pressing things to purchase. However, there comes a certain point where a technology investment needs to be made in order to ensure the growth and expandability of your business.

This tipping point of needing to invest in technology typically occurs as soon as the business has grown enough to really start gaining momentum. By the time the first few employees are hired, many businesses aren’t even thinking about the next big technology benchmark – the server.

Why does a business need a server?

Servers are more than beefed up computers – they are the backbone and lifeline of any business. A server is a machine that stores critical data and documents, and allows this information to be accessed by any of the computers on your network. Depending on the setup, this information can also be accessed remotely, by employees who work in the field.

However, servers do more than store data. They can also run important applications, like hosting your company’s email in-house, so that you don’t have to pay additional fees for email and hosted Exchange.

Additionally, having your information in one location makes backing up your critical data easier, and more reliable. Instead of having to back up all the computers on the network, the backup can be focused to the most vital and valuable part of your business – your data – to ensure it is backed up and protected from emergencies.

When does a business need a server?

While there are many ways to tell when a business should upgrade to using a server, here are some of the most common signs:

  • Using 2 or more computers. If your business has 2, or more, computers hooked together, then you are already utilizing a simpler type of network – the peer-to-peer network – and would benefit from a server.
  • The need to share documents. When employees need to share documents, or cannot work on an item because it’s on someone else’s computer and they cannot access it, then it is definitely time for a server. Servers allow you to keep your documents in one central location, so that everyone can easily access them.
  • Mobile employees. Servers allow businesses to better serve their mobile employees, by giving them access to the information they need remotely, so that they don’t have to make unnecessary trips to the office.
  • Backup and Recovery of data.  Is your valuable data easily recoverable? A server can help you protect against data loss by giving your business better backup and restore capabilities.

Because the cost is exponentially higher than a desktop computer, many businesses fret over the initial expense of a server. However, the benefits you gain far outweigh the costs.

If your business needs a server, but is concerned about the funds needed to properly implement one, give us a call. We have many cost effective options which make servers much more affordable for small businesses.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help small businesses make the most out of their technology. Email: