Don’t Ever Lose Your Laptop Again

A study released last year by the Ponemon Institute revealed that business travelers lost a truly shocking number of laptops at airports every week: about 12,000, by their count. (http://www.darkreading.com/security/encryption/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=211201139)
 
Even with fewer business travelers flying this year, you can bet that laptop losses are still far too many — especially considering that 65 percent of survey respondents who said they were carrying confidential information didn’t take any measures to protect it. That’s a whole lot of sensitive information just floating around out there because somebody got careless in the airport security line.
 
So the next time you take your computer with you on a business trip, remember two basic principles: prevention and mitigation.
 
First, prevent laptop loss by giving yourself plenty of time at the airport, making sure you pack lightly so that you’re not overwhelmed by your luggage, and keeping an eye on your computer as you go through security and boarding. (The two most common places people lose computers are in security checkpoints and at gates.)
 
To mitigate laptop loss, encrypt and back up all your important files. That way, if you do lose your computer you’ll minimize the risk that confidential company information will end up in the wrong hands, and you’ll be able to quickly rebuild your files and get back to work.
 
If you take all these precautions and still, at the end of a business trip, discover that your laptop has wandered off for parts unknown, it helps to have a theft-recovery system like Absolute Software’s Computrace LoJack for Laptops installed. If your laptop goes missing, Absolute personnel can start working with local law enforcement to find it. Your computer automatically calls in to the Monitoring Center once a day, but you can increase that to once every 15 minutes if your computer is stolen. Once your computer checks in with the Monitoring Center, they can initiate a data delete to remove sensitive information – hopefully before the thief is able to access it.
 
The Computrace LoJack for Laptops comes embedded in Dell Latitude™ notebooks and Dell Precision™  Mobile Workstations. It can also be purchased as a standalone product.

 

As a Dell Certified Partner, we can give you expert advice on what Dell laptop is right for you and your business. Call us at (800) 399-CMIT to find out more.
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Plain Text, Rich Text, or HTML? You Decide.

When you’re sending out email to new recipients who haven’t heard from you and who may be using a variety of mail programs to view your message, it’s best to go the simplest route possible and stick with a plain text format. You won’t get any fancy formatting bells and whistles – no crazy fonts, no pictures or backgrounds – but it’s your best hope of keeping the email from landing in a spam filter or rendering as unreadable gobbledygook on the other end.
 
HTML, on the other hand, works great for newsletters like this one: where you’re sending to a known subscriber list and you have images, headers, and a variety of styles to manage. HTML is also a very widely recognized format, and the default for Outlook.
 
Rich Text is another formatting option offered by Outlook, but it’s only useful in very limited circumstances. (For example, if you’re sending email within a company that uses Outlook on a Microsoft Exchange Server and want to include an attachment in the body of the message instead of up near the subject line.) Plain text and HTML are really all you’ll need to send attractive, readable emails to recipients using everything from Thunderbird to mobile phone browsers.
 
To alter the format of a single email, take the following steps:
 
Go to Actions > New Mail Message Using > And then select the format you want. (The default in Outlook is HTML.)

To change the default format for all outgoing mail:

 
Go to Tools > Options > And then click the Mail Format tab. A drop-down menu gives you a choice of HTML, Plain Text, or Rich Text.

Every Remote Office Needs an Online Conference Room

Online conferencing allows people to meet, collaborate, and exchange ideas without having to be in the same place – which comes in handy when corporate travel budgets take a hit. 
 

Combine reduced travel allowances with many smaller businesses’ decision to downsize or even eliminate their physical offices to save on rental costs, and you can see why online conferencing is getting popular again. Not only does it allow for realtime collaboration, it can also allow you to record and replay meetings and presentations for people who couldn’t make it to the original event. You may not have all your employees in the same place at the same time anymore, but you can make it easier for them to communicate like they are.
 
So how do you evaluate a Web conferencing service? Here are a few suggestions:
 
1. Determine your needs and priorities. Do you need a bare-bones service that offers basic desktop sharing, or do you need something more elaborate, with bells and whistles like polling, streaming audio, and document sharing?
2. Determine what platforms it needs to run on: Windows, Mac, Linux, or all of the above.
3. Watch providers’ online demos. You can read all the white papers and datasheets you want, but you won’t know what a product really feels like until you see it in action.
4. Pay attention to customer service. If they don’t respond quickly to your concerns as a potential customer, they might not respond any faster once you’ve signed up.
5. Compare pricing. Most services charge by the month and offer a discounted annual plan.

If you’ve got questions about how to set up a remote office, call us at (800) 399-CMIT. We can help with virtual private networks, remote access, security, and more.

Leasing vs. Buying: What You Need to Know

It’s just a good sound business practice to keep a healthy cushion of cash on hand at all times. And with credit markets tight, you need to keep what credit reserves you have for real emergencies.
 
At the same time you’re attending to cash flow issues, you’ve also got to keep on top of your computers and IT infrastructure in order to keep your business running smoothly. So how do you meet technology demands while keeping cash on hand? Leasing presents one good financing option for many small businesses.
 
When you buy equipment, it’s yours forever. But when it comes to computers, the pace of innovation is so rapid that owning equipment “forever” doesn’t always make sense. Leasing lets you acquire equipment at a fixed, affordable monthly cost, leaving bank credit and cash reserves free for other expenses. You can upgrade or refresh technology whenever you need to, instead of trying to extract value from old or out-of-date equipment. And some providers will finance not only the lease but also installation and configuration, so that you can roll up all the costs of a technology refresh into a single payment.
           
 
Leasing
Buying
Initial investment                  
Lower
Higher
Soft costs (taxes, shipping, installation)
Payable over time
Payable immediately
Predictability of expenses
Very predictable
Variable
Risk of obsolescence
Low
High
Preserves bank credit
Yes
No
Preserves available cash
Yes
No
 
A potential down side of leasing is that, depending on the length of the lease, you may ultimately pay more for an item than you would if you paid for it outright. This is particularly true of longer-term leases. You should also consider the residual value of the equipment at the end of the lease. Equipment value declines over time, so a shorter-term lease results in fewer payments with a higher-value asset at the end, as well as lower risk of obsolescence.
 
Remember, there may be tax implications to consider for either option. You may want to consult with your accountant to determine the best fit for you.
 

If you want to learn more about financing options available through CMIT Solutions, give us a call at (800) 399-CMIT.