So far, the articles on this page have been about security issues that are important to small businesses. So for a little change this week, let’s talk about how you can save money by finding good but inexpensive business services. I’ll cover three this week.
Mobile phone service is something almost every office needs, for C-levels, managers, sales, and on-site techs. If you are used to walking into a mobile provider’s store and buying a phone and a plan together, you may be spending too much. Buying a phone separately up front may seem like a big outlay, but compared to signing a two or three year contract, you will save money. The mobile operators really aren’t giving away free phones, you know.
Then discover all the mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, that resell one of the big four networks at a discount. You can get plans very like what the big names offer for significantly less, with no contract. Two that I have used and can recommend highly are Boom! Mobile (Verizon) and PureTalk (AT&T.)
While we are communicating, let’s look at landlines as well. Up front, the service you get from your local wire-in-the-ground provider will be the easiest to set up. But if you need multiple lines it’s going to cost you. Consider switching to Voice over IP, internet-based phone service. It’s not like the old days. If you remember the crackly unintelligible sputter that came from IP phones a decade ago, forget that. Today IP telephony is first-class.
You can’t just use your old telephones with VoIP. You need IP phones that connect to your local network via computer cables (Ethernet.) You can have a central PBX or set up the desk phones to connect directly to your VoIP provider and manage the call rules for routing and coverage there.
I have used VoIP.ms for my phone service for a number of years. They have been excellent on uptime and service. Of course there are other similar providers as well. With VoIP.ms, you only pay for calling time, and rates are under a penny a minute. Do the math and see if that will save you money based on your total talk time.
I preach the gospel of backup, backup, backup. PLEASE make sure you have good backups of all your files — personal documents, pictures, music, all of it. You must know that storage hardware like hard drives and flash drives do die at some point. When they do, the data on that device is gone, gone, gone. If you only have one copy of any file, that file is right now at risk of being lost forever. You need a minimum of two copies of any file you care about to be safe.
Of course, for your business I recommend you choose Proactive Data Protection from ComputAssist. It includes off-site storage, versioning, regular testing and daily monitoring. It is also off-site but local, so in the event of a disaster, you can get all your files back in hours, not days.
But for personal computers at home, I recommend iDrive. They offer five TB (terabytes) of storage along with an excellent backup application for around $70 a year. The app is non-intrusive. Once you set it up, it just runs in the background copying your local data to the iDrive servers. It’s very light-weight so won’t slow you down, and the user interface is quite good, making exactly what is being backed up easy to see. One iDrive account can be used to back up all your devices, even smartphones and tablets. They often have promotional discounts, so ask about them before you sign up.
[Note: I have received no financial rewards or incentives from any of the above-named companies.]