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How to prepare your small business for tech success

Paul Mah | Jan. 15, 2014
Take some time in the early days of 2014 to improve the computer setup in your home office or small business. These security, networking, storage and productivity tips will help you work faster once you get back to business as usual.

If you still use 802.11g, or you have slower access points or routers, do yourself a favor and buy a faster one with at least 802.11n capabilities. Better yet, ensure that the new APs supports simultaneous operation on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands; in environments with a mix of 2.4 and 5GHz Wi-Fi devices, as it effectively offers twice as much bandwidth. Larger offices should consider deploying additional APs for better coverage.

On the wired end, upgrade to a Gigabit Ethernet LAN if you don't already have one. This typically entails swapping out an aging Fast Ethernet (100Mbps) network switch with one offering Gigabit Ethernet (1,000Mbps) capability. This upgrade that makes sense even in offices where Wi-Fi use predominates, as a slow LAN can become the bottleneck with faster 802.11n implementations, as well as with the upcoming 802.11ac "Gigabit Wi-Fi" standard.

Laptops manufactured in the last couple of years should already have Gigabit Ethernet - though there isn't much you can do if they don't. In some cases, a USB Wi-Fi adapter will give you a speed boost, though a clunky adapter can be unwieldy and detracts from the portability of a laptop.

If you work from home extensively and rely on fast Internet access, one unconventional approach is to consider doubling up on your Internet access by signing up with a second ISP. Whether configured in load balancing or fail-over mode, having two Internet connections helps ensure that you are not beholden to a single ISP for continued Internet access. On this front, a company called Peplink makes router appliances that deliver robust, easy-to-use WAN load balancing.

Make Storage Faster, More Robust
While cloud storage providers would sooner have everyone exclusively on cloud storage, this isn't always possible from a compliance or privacy standpoint. Even if these aren't concerns, a local backup allows for much faster disaster recovery, as well as substantially faster access for large files.

The Transporter NAS device offers a portable way to synchronize files.

For businesses that can't consider cloud storage, or that need a local copy for quick disaster recovery, a disaster-hardened device such as the ioSafe SoloPRO external drive offers protection from local disasters such as fires and flood. While not invulnerable, it does offer 30 minutes of protection against fire of up to 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit (843 degrees Celsius) or 72 hours of protection in water of up to 10 feet (3 meter). The company also makes a Network-Attached Server (NAS) version in the form of the ioSafe 214 that runs the popular Synology DSM operating platform under the hood.

Another strategy to consider is deploying a second NAS to an offsite location and setting it to synchronize with a primary NAS. A number of NAS devices, including Synology's DSM platform, offers some form of support for this, though exact capabilities vary. On a similar vein, Connected Data (now merged with Drobo) sells a novel Transporter network-enabled storage drive that offers both PC-to-Transporter and Transporter-to-Transporter synchronization capabilities.

 

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