Lessons Learned Supporting Business Clients Just Like You!
The demands on SMB technology infrastructure have never been greater. Mobile devices, cloud computing, video marketing, remote employees—there’s no end to opportunities for a malfunction to slow you down. We’ve rounded up 10 common challenges and some steps to tackling them head-on.
Even the most basic office workflow has employees using different applications with multiple logins. And let’s face it—overseeing password integrity, access control, and identity management for those applications is no easy task, whether you’re working for a small business or a larger corporation. You can talk about password best practices, recommend password updates, but your employees may still continue in their bad habits that put everyone at risk. Use a password management tool like 1Password, which makes life easier for your employees by linking all the apps, but also lets you set standards and compel regular password changes in accordance with policies.
Employee BYOD Management
Smartphones have drastically changed the way information moves through business, and they bring with them a brand new set of security vulnerabilities and network issues. Once employees put their personal devices on a company network, you’ll want to consider two things: ensuring network priorities are set correctly, with the right apps getting the right bandwidth priority, and potentially blocking sites or apps that will never be work-related. You can also set up Virtual Desktops for employees in the Cloud, so no matter which device employees use to access work and work product, everything is safe.
Slowness and server dropouts are not only frustrating, they’re costly in downtime and company morale. Slow-loading webpages, timeout errors, and applications refusing to work creates new problems as employees seek unsecured workarounds just to keep up with tasks. Make sure your network is ready to cooperate when your people are ready to work by having up-to-date, enterprise-grade equipment. Then, check your infrastructure: Where are the points of congestion? When do they happen? Your configuration may not be correct anymore if you’ve added large new cloud-based services, hired a lot more people, or changed the business in any way that puts stress on the original network setup. Often, it takes a third-party tech specialist with the expertise so sort through network reliability issues.
These days, your actual amount of bandwidth is hardly ever the problem. It’s likely you’ve bought plenty of bandwidth, but you have priority issues. Enterprise-grade routers come with firewalls that let you carefully set network priorities. Make sure yours is configured properly. You should also check settings network-wide for defaults that are causing bottlenecks
- Scheduled updates that happen when you have usage peaks
- Large scheduled or unscheduled uploads and downloads
- Cloud services like Office 365 that have strong usage as they create backups
- Staff or guests overusing the connection for personal use—videos, heavy apps, etc.
The key to a reliable VPN is to ensure your equipment is up-to-date, and that your settings are correct. Check any startup options. Do you really need protection all the time, or just when your workflow touches certain data or apps? Do all employees need the security all the time? You can free up some resources by only launching the client when required. If you do need to troubleshoot your VPN, consider
- Firewalls, antivirus, or other security software that might be blocking it
- For authentication problems, check your credentials—did you create them or were they assigned to you? Go back to the user manual to be sure you’re working with the right set.
- Drivers not set up correctly. Many clients come with built-in troubleshooting, and you may need to walk through the steps.
Make sure there’s only 1 VPN client running at a time, and that there isn’t a conflict. Double check that all other VPN clients have been disabled on the network.
When you do go about making those upgrades, getting your new machine onto your current system often presents surprising challenges. Before you try to connect the new equipment, check that everything it’ll interact with—every app, every other machine—is working from the latest possible update. Run these updates ahead of time, because trying to connect with different versions in the mix will be a headache if you have to re-do configurations once updates run. It goes without saying that before you make ANY major changes to a system, you run backups for the system, devices, and data that will interact with the new machine.
Printer not working
Printer Issues are so common that there are memes and movies and old jokes about the havoc the wreak on office workflow. Here are some things to try:
- Make sure you’re not trying to use the printer over wifi. Even if your machine says it can handle it, you really need a wired connection for reliable data transfer.
- Replace your printers often. They’re expensive, but they really only have a lifespan of 2-3 years. Parts get worn and the technology to interface with them changes, too
- Check all those cables for a snug fit.
- If you’re still not connecting, re-boot all the devices involved and try to reestablish a connection—most people forget to reboot not only the printer but the machine sending the print job.
- Double check that all firmware and drivers on all the machines involved are up to date.
VOIP Calls Dropping
Poor call quality is almost always an issue with the underlying network. Make sure you’ve set your network rules to favor your phones. Check that all your equipment is up to date, and if phone use is crucial to your business, consider going the extra mile with a dedicated fiber connection just for your phones, avoiding shared systems that are also taxed by other users in your building. Fiber technology is the newest and best technology for internet delivery, and without it, you may be making concessions in quality without knowing it.
Hard Drive Failure
The first part of recovering from hard drive failure is to be ready for it: failures will happen, so backups aren’t just being responsible, they are also mandatory. Then make backups of your backups. Do this regularly and all the time. With cloud services, it’s never been easier to put good backup practices in place. Then, if there is a crash, don’t touch your original system. Don’t make any changes. Call a backup professional right away. They’ll know the exact sequence of steps to take that won’t jeopardize your data.
Viruses, Spyware, Malware, and Ransomware
Don’t wait until you’re under attack. For these situations, prevention is far better than a cure. The best way around ransomware is to have current, reliable backups you can access for a system restore without having to pay any ransom. The same can be said for undoing the work of a virus. Having a viable backup gives you options should an attack happen. This is in addition to creating strong firewalls and regularly updating anti-virus software on every machine that comes in contact with your network. For more tips on security, check out The Federal Trade Commission’s Guide to Small Business Security.
When it comes to solving the IT problems for any business, regardless of the size, remember the solutions are more about prevention than recovery. Ultimately, it’s up to the business owner to prioritize that prevention, or to enlist the help of a Managed Services Provider to stay on top of it. The costs of recovery can be devastating, and it possible to minimize them with effective system setup, regular review, and consistent, up-to-date backups.
Curious about what an MSP can do for you? Contact us for a free network assessment and tune-up.