Home' LAPTOP Magazine : December 2010 Contents ISP doesn't want to work with you, call a com-
petitor and start comparing rates. "There is a lot of
opportunity in bundled services like getting Internet
and voice calling from the same company," said
Bradley Mitchell, an IT expert and contributor for
About.com. "Companies might also overestimate
how much bandwidth and how many phone lines
❺ Go with shared hosting or a
virtual private server.
If your website isn't receiving more than 50,000
page views a month, it's time to get rid of that
expensive dedicated server. Hundreds of sites offer
consumer-grade shared web hosting, which
is a great, less expensive alternative. If you
have a site that you don't update frequently,
look at ww w.1and1.com, ww w.bluehost.com,
or www.polur.net, three companies that offer
affordable business-targeted web hosting for
less than $10 a month. If your site requires
more attention, consider hosting on a virtual
private server. Such a server can run around
$100 a month, but it is still much less expensive
than a physical dedicated server.
❻ Have online meetings and
conference calls for free.
There are tons of conferencing services for get-
ting together online and over the phone. Skype
lets you conduct business conference calls with
other Skype users for free. Microsoft's Windows
Live Messenger also has an impressive amount
of free options; it lets you escalate from instant
messaging to VoIP to HD video chat in a matter of
clicks. Live Messenger also has the handy ability
to accommodate as many as 20 people inside of
a single IM conversation.
❼ Avoid upgrade costs later.
Why buy cheap equipment now when you'll have
to worry about upgrading later? Notebooks and
desktops with higher build qualities will last longer
and require less maintenance. Hersch says the
lifecycle of an office computer used to be more
than 3 years, but now it is more in the range of
18 to 24 months. Because the cycle is shorter for
laptops, it's better to buy a device that can handle
high-level productivity tasks. It saves your company
from fiddling with repairs.
❽ Nix extended warranties.
Almost every PC manufacturer will ask if your company
wants extended warranties for those products. In
most cases, there's no need to oblige. Manufactur-
ers' warranties often cover a product for 6 months
or more---often enough time to identify any serious
problems with hardware or software. However, Mitchell
suggests that long-life equipment such as routers
sometimes deserve an extended warranty.
❾ Use the cloud for storage and
sending large files.
Take a look at MozyPro, which provides data backup
and storage for businesses at affordable prices.
To back up your server, MozyPro has a monthly
fee of $6.95 plus $.50 per GB per month. For an
individual desktop, the fee is $3.95 per month
plus $0.50 per GB.
Many sites also offer easy and inexpensive ways
to share files. For shares of 2GB or smaller, Yousendit.
com offers plans for 5 to 25 people that start at
$17 per month per user. For large-scale infrequent
shares, Drop.io offers 20 10GB shares a month for
$19 and 50 30GB shares a month for $49.
1 Spend less on IT support.
The average IT manager with 5 years of experience
in New York City makes $81,000 a year, according
to PayScale.com. If you can hire a part-time or on-
call IT manager, you can spend roughly half of that.
"If you have a full-time IT person, they might be
willing to accept less pay to have at-home hours
when they are on call," Mitchell said.
For small businesses with no regular IT staff,
there are many sites that offer forums for tech
questions at little to no cost. Sites such as www
.techguy.org, and www.geekstogo.com provide
free help for minor problems, but might not always
have what you need. For more advanced help, iYogi
.net offers 24/7 over-the-phone tech support
and remotely service 20 computers for $1,200
a month. At $14,400 a year, that's a lot less than
hiring a full- or part-time IT staffer. Or you can go
the do-it-yourself route and rely on a site such as
w w w.experts-exchange.com, which charges only
$12.95 per month.
1 Use a cloud-based database.
Instead of a database hosted on an internal server,
look at cloud-based services such as Intuit Quickbase
or Salesforce CRM for your database needs. For
businesses with less than ten employees, Quick-
base runs around $300.
Salesforce offers the ability
to track contacts, customer
interaction, sales deals, and
more, and it has a Contact
Manager service for $5 a
month for up to five users.
Salesforce's Group service
(for up to five users) costs
$25 a month, and a Professional service for an
unlimited amount of users runs $65 a month.
1 Set up a wireless network.
For companies with less than 20 employees, a wireless
network could be less costly than a wired network. And
it means you can skip hiring someone to drill holes in
your work stations or lay down Ethernet cables. With
a wireless network, employees with Wi-Fi-enabled
laptops and smart phones can be up and running on
the web in ajiffy. For desktops, a wireless card can be
installed to get Wi-Fi. Thanks to the enhanced range
and speed of 802.11n, your employees should enjoy
wired-like performance along with mobility.
1 Cut your energy costs.
It sounds simple, but plugging your expensive
electronic devices into surge protectors can
protect your investment while lowering energy
costs. Also consider purchasing devices that
help you better govern energy use---think
light timers, sensors, and protectors that
zap vampire electricity usage. For $29.99
the Belkin Conserve Insight (w ww.belkin
.com) can help you monitor energy output
for anything plugged into the wall. You can also
save energy by unplugging computers and other
devices when they are not in use.
1 Buy a networked laser printer.
A high-quality single laser printer that connects to
office networks and efficiently handles a high volume
of printing can be less expensive than printers for
every desk. The HP LaserJet Enterprise P3015dn costs
$699 and offers good speed and high-quality text
output. The Lexmark E462dtn runs $749, prints fast,
and has a high 550-sheet input capacity.
1 Let employees to use their own
notebooks and smart phones.
Suppose an employee wants to use his or her
personal computer or smart phone for work.
Instead of having employees use only company-
owned assets, businesses should encourage the
office to bring in their own equipment. When you
don't have to provide a work PC for an employee,
that's one less machine that you need to invest
in. "Companies could set requirements on PCs
and provide a stipend to let employees buy their
own machines," Hersch said. "This also allows
employees better flexibility for working at home
and using virtual applications."
Get More Online
GO WIRELESS ON THE CHEAP
How to get your wireless of ce up and
running on a budget.
See p. 6 for more info on how to use this code with your cell phone.
"Using free software is a
good strategy as long as
you apply caution."
—Bob Hersch, global managing director
of the workplace technology and
LAPTOP | December 2010
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