The Best Products & Services for Small Business

This post will be fairly brief, just a list of the products and services that I use and implement for customers. Everyone has favorite brands, and reasons for them. As I’ve worked in the small office environment for a long time, these are the brands that I have found reliable and deliver the best price/performance in a business office.

If you’d ask me what I recommend for your small business or church office, below are my answers. (I get no compensation for mentioning any of them.)

BackupComputAssist, iDrive
ComputAssist for business, iDrive for home. But most important, some kind of backup & recovery solution for everywhere. This is the most important thing you can do for your digital life. If you don’t have a tested recovery solution, drop what you’re doing and fix that now!
Desktop operating systemMac OS X, Windows 10
Consider Mac OS X if you are not tied to a Windows-only line-of-business app.
Server OSDevuan Linux
Free & free, stable, reliable, cross-platform, efficient, secure.
PCDell, Lenovo, Intel NUC
Small-form-factor PCs are great for almost eveyone, energy-saving and quiet. Dell has the Micro, Lenovo has the Tiny, Intel has the NUC. All highly recommended.
LaptopMacBook Pro, Thinkpad T
As with PCs, switch to Mac unless you have a business application that only runs on Windows. Those of you who know me say, “What, no Linux?” Nope, not for everyday end users. It’s great, it’s all I use for myself, but the marketplace has trained users to expect one desktop environment, one control panel, one file manager, etc. (whether it’s Windows or Mac.) The diverse world that is Linux presents so many choices it’s baffling.
Small office serverSynology Diskstation
Phenomenal small servers that can do so much more than serve files. Backups, VPN, camera surveillance, web apps and virtual machines are all in their bag of tricks.
All printers have their bad days. I’ve had fewer with Brother than most. Brother is also the most cross-platform, work-with-anyone brand I have found. And they don’t disable your printer if you use third-party cartridges.
RouterUntangle z4 hardware
A feature-complete router/firewall/threat management system that’s still fairly easy to use, owing to their very good browser interface. They have a free or subscription based model. Both are good, but go with the subscription for business.
Workstation/laptop driveSamsung SSD
For me they are a no-brainer. Good performance, reliability and price package. Need an SSD? OK, what size Samsung would you like?
Office suiteLibreOffice
A Free and free, open-source office suite that can do what you are likely to need in a small business. Does it match MS Office feature-for-feature? No, but give it a trial and see if you miss anything. The one missing piece is an Outlook replacement. But I encourage you to quit desktop Outlook and start using a browser for email anyway.
Web browserFirefox
This web browser is the only one that is open-source and supported by a non-profit company. Mozilla’s mission is to deliver a secure, free, open-source browser without monetizing you by collecting your private data.
DDG is “the search engine that doesn’t track you.” They retain no history of your web searches. They don’t sell your data to advertisers. It’s been their mission from the beginning.
Web site frameworkWordPress
There was a time when WordPress was bug-ridden and insecure, and no self-respecting web author would use it. Welcome to now, where WP is mature, powerful yet easy to use, and in use by dabblers and professionals alike. There are so many templates and plugins to add to its framework, and it can save you so much time, you’d need a specific reason to use something else.
Inexpensive cell phone planPureTalk
I discovered this MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) a number of years ago. Like many today, they offer simple no-frills plans for a great value. Get all the minutes and gigs you need at a huge discount from the big name providers.
Inexpensive home phone
I saved this for last, because to take advantage of it you’ll need to do a little studying. provides the phone-over-internet service, and you provide the digital handset or adapter for your home. They have all the tutorials you need to get set up, and will port your number in for free. I average less than $5 a month for home phone using their services.

I hope this list is helpful to you. I’ve saved you a bunch of research, and you won’t go wrong with any of these options.

Small Business Services That Save You Money

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 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, 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.

Personal Backup

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.]