Whether you’re self-employed or you’ve been entrusted with company data while working from home, information management and data integration should be on your mind constantly. Without the benefit of a sophisticated office, you must turn your home office into a complete data management center.
There was a time when this would have included a huge volume of paper stacked in filing cabinets and backed up for redundancy in a room somewhere filled with banker’s boxes. Luckily, it’s more plausible than ever to manage large amounts of sensitive data from home and by yourself. You’ll need the right software, a good strategy, and the discipline to perform regular backups. But once you’re on track, you can rest assured that your company’s information is safe and well maintained.
The data that is probably the most important – and the kind that is certainly the richest target for online criminals – is your financial information. By using web-based software, you benefit yourself, your company, and your customers in several ways, and not the least of which is cost.
Most web-based accounting programs are cheaper than purchasing physical software suites, especially if they have to be licensed for multiple computers or updated every year for every new release. With web-based accounting, the only real cost is the subscription, which can usually be paid monthly or annually. Entry-level programs such as Mint and Outright are not only easy to use and reliable, but free.
Equally important is flexibility. With web-based accounting software, your information can be accessed from anywhere – including your smartphone – with nothing more than a password.
The days of data management are changing – for the better. Move away from local storage.
Store sensitive customer information in one of two ways, either on a computer or drive that is not connected to the Internet, or remotely on the cloud.
If you choose to store your data locally, warehouse it on a separate computer or external drive that hackers and viruses can not get to through the long arms of the Internet. If your company’s most vulnerable information is stored on the computer you use for work, it is under constant threat from intruders who may be more sophisticated than your protective software – not to mention physical threats such as data loss resulting from crashes. The second option – which so many businesses have already chosen – is cloud storage.
Unlike your home office, cloud centers are secure, sophisticated facilities.
Off-site – or cloud – data storage comes with a number of benefits. First and foremost, it relieves you of the burden and constant worry associated with storing information locally on the computer in your home office. Aside from crashes and hackers, homes – and the offices inside them – are vulnerable to floods, fires, burglaries, and other immediate threats, such as you spilling your coffee on your computer.
Cloud centers such as RackSpace are secure, remote facilities that are guarded digitally and physically, temperature controlled, and backed up with the most sophisticated levels of redundancy. Although it’s difficult to turn your data over to strangers, once you do, you can rest well knowing that your data is in the hands of people who guard data for a living – and as with web-based accounting, you can access it from anywhere.
If you work from home, you expose your purchase records, customer information, invoices, inventory lists, and crucial financial information to constant threats that are likely beyond your ability to handle – and often that realization isn’t met until it’s too late. Cloud computing and web-based software provide the keys to managing data. Pay professionals a nominal fee to do it for you safely, securely and flawlessly.
Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about home office management and small businesses.
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