Survival Guide: Top 10 List For
By Stephen Lawton
Today everyone seems to be running
Top 10 lists, ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime. Don't get me
wrong - I love David Letterman's Top 10s. What I can't stand are the lists
in trade and business magazines that purport to be useful but aren't.
Since these lists normally fill lots of space and offer little of value,
how could I resist the challenge of actually providing useful information
in what has now become one of the great American pastimes - spouting off
So here's the Lawton Top 10 List: A survival
guide for entrepreneurs who serve double duty as IT managers.
10. If you're about to buy new computers
and you don't have a full-time IT professional, buy a prepackaged system
that includes a Restore CD with all system files. Some vendors selling
customized PCs provide the Restore CD only with their standard systems,
not customized models. Each time you customize a PC, you add complexity
and raise potential standardization issues.
9. Insist on on-site service in your service
contract. There's nothing worse than having to drag a machine to the service
center each time you need help. Plus, you can't tell if you have a network
problem if you're not connected to your network.
8. Let your users try out monitors and keyboards
before you buy. They have to live with these peripherals every day, and
a comfortable employee is (often) a happy and more productive employee.
7. Match your monitor to the video card.
You won't be happy if you buy an expensive monitor and hook it up to a
low-end graphics card. Check with the monitor manufacturer for recommended
6. Avoid bleeding-edge technology if you
don't need it. That 500MHz PIII system might look cool, but can you get
by with a 233MHz Celeron instead and save a chunk of change? Not every
employee needs a high-powered system - particularly the CEO in many firms.
Often, you can save a lot of money by buying what's appropriate rather
than what's cool.
5. Back up. Back up. Back up. Make a daily
and weekly back-up policy and stick to it. You'll thank me the first time
your hard disk crashes.
4. If you're connected to the Internet -
and who isn't? - use a firewall. Keep external intruders out rather than
fighting them file-by-file.
3. Create a policy for downloading software
from the Web. It's one way for you to maintain some kind of control over
2. Employ two levels of virus checkers,
one for incoming files and e-mail from the Internet and another for each
client. Have the program run automatically during boot-up. Automate the
process so users don't forget to check their systems.
And my No. 1 piece of advice: E-mail is
not private. Remind your employees not to put anything into their e-mail
they wouldn't want plastered in a public venue - including spam and chain
letters, which could put your company at financial risk.
OK, so this isn't rocket science. Sound
advice doesn't have to be.