5..4..3..2..1..Happy New Year! Time to dust off the cob webs and set realistic resolutions to improve your daily life. If you are like me you will sign up for the gym and promise to stop eating those delicious bagels at work. Two weeks later I vow to never kid myself again as I layer on the cream cheese and skip Zumba class.
Information Technology is a big part of your work life so make 2016 the year for technical resolutions! The result will be a much happier (and technical) you. Some quick research shows that 2016 will be the year of the monkey according to the Chinese zodiac. This is very fitting as monkeys are extremely intelligent, and hey, so are you!
1. Don’t be afraid to talk to your IT department
They are real people too! Become familiar with the procedure that your business has set in place to contact your IT help desk. Reach out to them if you need to install software, get a suspicious email, or even spill coffee on your laptop.
It is important to communicate when you need help and not worry about getting a highly technical "geek speak" reply that leaves you more confused. Bring up concerns that you have pertaining to the hardware or software that you use and engage in real conversation. Your help desk is on the same team as you. If your help desk isn’t friendly, take the necessary steps to get a better help desk this year!
2. Replace Old Hardware
Personal Computers (PCs), servers, mobile devices, and network equipment will eventually reach their expected life-cycle. Create a budget plan to replace that old server running critical applications. Go ahead and purchase that three year warranty for the new PC. As a general guideline, here are the typical life-cycles:
- Servers: 7 years
- Laptops: 3 years
- Desktops: 3 years
- Desk Phones: 3 years
- Cell Phones: 2-3 years
It is tough to tell a client that their hardware isn’t under warranty and they will need to purchase new equipment unexpectedly. You might not see the immediate benefit, however warranty coverage is valuable.
Every company should have spare hardware in case of an emergency. This will provide peace of mind in 2016.
3. Treat Yourself
It is always nice to treat yourself to a new device. The age of information has shifted from clunky desktops and heavy laptops to hardware that is mobile.
A new phone or tablet can greatly improve the mobility of your business too. Whether you respond to a time sensitive email from your phone or extend that presentation from your tablet, mobile devices can positively enhance your daily work life. Step out of your comfort zone and try a new device.
4. Become Security Savvy
Stop writing down your passwords and sticking it to your monitor. Make sure you don't share your credentials with other people.
If a new hire joins your team, don’t provide them your credentials to use. Instead contact your IT department to create their own account. Omit “Password1” and your name from your mental password vault.
Not sure where to start? Check out our post on Password Security 101 with detailed steps and ideas.
Reset your passwords often, especially if you recently had a virus/malware on your computer. Make your password cryptic by including some variation of the following:
- At least 8 characters in length
- Upper case
- Lower case
- Special characters
If you are not sure how to change your passwords, contact your friendly help desk and they should assist.
5. Get rid of XP in 2016
The XP operating system is no longer supported by Microsoft, which means they no longer publish patches (Windows Updates) to remedy known bugs.
Regardless of the size of your company, the cost of a potential attack thanks to the huge vulnerability of an XP machine on your network greatly outweighs the cost of upgrading to a newer operating system. If you need a life threatening reason to get rid of XP, check out our post on why XP must die.
6. Learn What “The Cloud” Is
It’s a buzz word but many people still don’t know what the cloud is. Interestingly enough a lot of people are already using the cloud. If you have a Gmail account, iCloud, Dropbox, and Google Drive (to name a few) you are actively contributing to the cloud.
The cloud is here to stay so find out how it can benefit your business as far as availability and scalability. It doesn’t have to be the cloud, but engage in training and training others. If your company offers any technical training, sign up! If it doesn’t, try to coordinate something to continue end user education.
Ring in the New Year making the conscious decision to improve your interactions with the tech world. Make it your happiest year, yet!