BOTH YOUR OFFICE PC and your company Web site will benefit from periodic maintenance and updating. Fortunately, software solutions for both take into consideration the technological limitations of the office crews of many small businesses.
In theory, by now everyone understands the importance of backing up data on the office PC or notebook. But just like some of us forget to change the oil in the car on schedule, many of us let too much time elapse between data backups. For a contractor, losing data can be more disruptive and cost more money than burning up an engine.
The most reliable way to ensure regular hard drive backup is to program your computer to perform periodic automatic backup.
Using innovative “Drive Image” technology, Symantec’s newly released Norton Ghost 9.0 (www.symantec.com, 800/441-7234) makes an exact duplicate of everything on your hard drive, including files, folders, programs, Windows operating system and personal preference settings. It’s called a clone. It’s like a snapshot of your hard drive.
After the cloned image is made, users can designate for incremental backups, updating only the files and data that have changed, without disrupting any computer use. Or, users can set it for automatic backups, which can be scheduled by the hour or day or upon shutdown.
If and when it is necessary to restore data, users can elect to restore either the entire system or specific files and folders. The software, which is suitable for small offices, allows users to mount images as a drive letter so the backup copy looks just like the original drive, making it easy to find particular files and folders.
One of the most important decisions in setting up an ongoing data backup system via hot imaging capabilities is where you will store the backup data. Scheduled backups are made on the local hard drive or network drives, but manual backups can be made to any storage media, including an external USB, CD-R-W, DVD and Zip drive, or a separate partition on your hard drive for extra storage.
If you are storing all data on your computer, then a rule of thumb is that if you plan to back up data more than once a week (and you should, otherwise you are losing the point of the enterprise) you will need storage space that’s 100% the size of the files you will be backing up. If you back up less frequently, then perhaps one half the size of the files you will be backing up will suffice if they are compressed, according to Symantec guidelines.
Separating data onto different partitions can speed the backup process. That way, current crucial applications can be on one partition, which would be backed up frequently, and data that is slated for archiving can reside on a partition that requires less frequent backup.
Job photos of completed projects and other digital images may best be stored on external media because they take up a lot of space.
An activities log shows details about backup jobs that have run or are scheduled to run. Automatic LiveUpdate, which is part of the solution, checks for new product updates whenever users are online to ensure they have the latest drivers for compatible devices.
An included (separate) Symantec Recovery Disk enables users to reboot, restore a backup image, perform system fixes and scan for viruses when the computer’s operating system is not responding.
Contribute 3 (Macromedia, www.macromedia.com, 800/457-1774) is a content management desktop solution suitable for businesses that want to maintain and freely update their company Web site with new content without requiring the services of in-house staff with expertise in Web design or knowledge of coding.
The solution is part of the Macromedia Web Publishing System, which Web site developers can use to create and populate an HTML Web site, but it can also be used as a standalone by non-technical staff once the site is created.
The software, which works with all existing HTML Web sites, including ones built in Dreamweaver and FrontPage 2003, uses numerous well-crafted site templates (starter pages) that can be edited through an embedded Web browser to suit company needs with about the same ease as editing a Microsoft Word document.
Web site administrators can define who within the company has approval to publish pages and who is limited to only edit and send pages to others for review and approval.
Featuring an intuitive WYSISYG format, Contribute 3 effectively allows other non-techies in the organization to update (but not fundamentally change) pages, keeping the Web site current and dynamic.
Users with authorization to publish can link any document to the Web site or copy and paste from Microsoft Office, and the text formatting and HTML code standards remain intact.
The software includes integrated image editing to create Web-ready images from existing files. Video files can be embedded directly into Web pages.
The software includes FlashPaper, which provides the capability of transforming any printable document into a fast-loading, Web-friendly FLASH format for linking or embedding onto a Web page.
William and Patti Feldman provide Web content for companies and write for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at [email protected].