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10 Hidden IT Problems Waiting to Give You a Nasty Surprise

Nobody likes a nasty surprise, particularly when it comes with a large bill. Unfortunately, IT problems often fall into this category thanks to systems’ health problems that lurk undetected beneath the surface. Here, we explore ten of the most common hidden IT problems and how taking a more proactive approach will keep your business up and running.

1. Network Traffic Jams

Working at a snail’s pace not only frustrates your staff but slows your business down too. Network bottlenecks often cause slow device speeds and can be caused by a range of issues like poor internet bandwidth, servers running out of space and even the connection point between PCs and old phones.

Help your organisation work at light speed with a network review and broadband check to identify any blockers. Whether you need new infrastructure, a tweak to your storage capacity or a shift to cloud services, there are plenty of options to help your team work at pace again.

2. Basic Maintenance

It’s amazing how many businesses don’t take the time to carry out basic computer maintenance. Updating software, defragging your hard drive and removing temporary internet files that slow your computer down can all be done without any technical support and for no cost.

Failing to keep on top of Windows updates or forgetting to upgrade your antivirus software slows your computer down and can also create a cyber-security risk for the business. And, when your computer has had enough, it will decide to do a year’s worth of updates in one go which is an unpleasant way to start any morning.

If some of this sounds too difficult, working with an IT provider will ensure you have remote assistance available if something goes wrong. A good provider will also make sure software and hardware updates are done automatically if you forget to do it on your own.

3. Inadequate Digital Skills

As the digital revolution continues apace, your team’s IT skills need to keep up. However, a recent report from the government shows that the digital skills gap is costing the UK economy £63bn per year.

If you’ve spent time and money installing top tech or moving to cloud services, you want to be sure your team is making the most of it. A good IT training provider will provide you with user analysis reports to identify areas of risk and to upskill employees to ensure you’re getting best use of your investment and improved productivity.

4. Insecure Perimeters

The first line of your IT system’s defence is effective security. Fail to put the right protections in place and you could be hosting a whole herd of viruses or malware on your servers or devices. While many businesses have the right software in place, they fail to educate their employees on the security threats and their role in preventing them.

Hold a meeting with your employees to make them aware of the extent of the threat, reminding them to update passwords and remain vigilant of the most common method of virus transfer; phishing emails.

Here are some of the more common phishing email subject lines to look out for:

  • Security Alert
  • UPS Label Delivery 9ZAZ312ABC00015077
  • A Delivery Attempt was made
  • Change of Password Required Immediately
  • Password Check Required Immediately
  • Unusual sign-in activity
  • Urgent Action Required

Combining antivirus software and firewalls with employee education can provide a fairly solid defence. However, viruses can still get through. For full surety, work with an IT provider who will monitor your systems around the clock. They’ll be able to remove infections before they cause any downtime keeping your business fully functioning and protected.

5. Back-up and Recovery (You Don’t Do It)

Failing to back-up your data and systems is a major risk, but because it’s such an invisible process it’s easily forgotten.

Many smaller businesses also rely on a single individual to manually back-up systems creating the potential for a single point of failure when holidays or sickness occur. Even when organisations do carry out back-up procedures, they can often fail to check they’re actually working or that they can get their data back from them.

Put technology to work for you by looking into automatic back-up systems that remove the need for manual intervention. Or find an IT provider that’s experienced in putting back-up and recovery systems in place, so your business can carry on should the worst happen.

They’ll also be able to provide peace of mind that your back-ups are fully functioning, and that the data is accessible for your business.

6. Backing Up Your Files

Everyone knows the dangers of not saving work but backing up files to an external drive or even your own server can also be risky. If there’s a server failure, external drive malfunction or another catastrophe, like a fire or flood, physical back-ups can fail.

Using cloud services is a safer and more reliable solution that gives you peace of mind that your files are stored remotely. When you next log on, you’re guaranteed to have all your data intact, even after a disaster. With mobile device usage soaring, cloud services become even more important because hardly anyone remembers to back-up a mobile device. By using Office 365 on mobile devices all work is auto-saved wherever your team is working giving you peace of mind that back-up and recovery is assured.

7. Lack of IT Strategy

When your business relies on having fit-for-purpose IT solutions in place keeping one eye on the future is a necessity. An IT strategy is a great way to do this but many businesses don’t have the time or knowledge to implement one themselves. This can result in a shoot first, ask questions later approach to IT procurement, planning and budgeting which is often more costly and less effective in the long-term.

Working with an outsourced IT provider brings the expertise your business needs to plan effectively and make the most of your budget. A good plan, properly executed, will also pay dividends for your business in improved up-time, productivity and technical capability.

8. Outdated Tech

If you’re still clinging to trusty - and possibly rusty - old technology, it could be holding you back. Consider how much you spend each year maintaining equipment or the technical limitations of outdated devices and you can see how old tech can be costly and inefficient.

One way to get slow machines back up to speed is to check your warranty. If your equipment is still covered it could be worth getting in touch with the seller to see how they can help.

Alternatively, to keep your business at the cutting edge of digital capability, you can lease the latest technology. And at the end of your leasing period you can switch out the old for the new ensuring your business’ tech is always up-to-date.

9. Your Data is At Risk

Protecting your customer and business information is a key consideration for any organisation, particularly with the revised General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) around the corner.

Without the right security measures, back-up and recovery processes in place, you could be placing your data at risk and putting your business in line for hefty fines. Poor security perimeters make your systems a juicy target for hackers. And a lack of back-up and recovery processes could cost you reputational damage as well as a loss of revenue.

Moving your systems and data to cloud services gives your business added protection thanks to the strength of the security you’ll be buying into. Using a reputable provider means you’ll benefit from the latest in security technology at an affordable price all rolled up in your monthly bill. And you’ll also be able to meet many of the requirements of the GDPR without lifting a finger.

10. Power Cut

Experiencing a power cut is inconvenient but if it knocks out your computer it can be catastrophic. Even just a poor power supply can be troublesome with power surges being as destructive for IT systems as outages.

An uninterruptible power supply is the solution for businesses of all shapes and sizes, however most SMEs fail to have one in place. Reputable IT providers will ensure your systems have everything they need to deliver continued services regardless of your power supply.

Now you can see the hidden problems in your IT set-up, you can ditch reactive sticking plasters and avoid expensive surprises. With a more proactive approach in place, you’ll soon be making the most of your IT budget and enhancing the productivity of your business to boot.

This article was written by Barry Lowe, Founder and Managing Director of IT Support Company - San-iT.

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