It's increasingly common for businesses to establish a blog to keep customers updated on new developments or promotions. Fortunately, the rise of blogging platforms means it's easy to establish a blog these days. The best known would undoubtedly be WordPress.org, though a variety of other platforms, including MovableType, Joomla and Drupal, are also popular.
One important consideration, in terms of both know-how and time, is the capability of a small business to configure and patch its own website against newly discovered vulnerabilities. As such, it may make sense to consider commercial full-service offerings, such as WordPress.com, which include hosting, bandwidth and maintenance.
Flip the Switch on Cloud Storage, Privacy
In an age of state-sanctioned snooping, you can never be too careful about storing confidential business documents in the cloud. After all, it would be foolish to assume that the NSA is the only organization out there with the technical know-how for online spying. Unfortunately, the allure of BYOD leaves most users oblivious to the risks of storing sensitive data online.
For businesses that care, one service to consider is SpiderOak, a cloud storage provider that stores only encrypted data. Because SpiderOak doesn't know the private encryption key used to encrypt the data, it has no ability to access to the data stored on its storage facilities. Other services such as Mozy also offer the capability to encrypt data with a locally stored encryption key, though as a selectable option.
Be wary of storage providers that claim to encrypt all data but offer the capability to edit or view the same documents through a Web browser. This implies that both encryption and decryption key is held by the vendor which in turn implies that your data could be wide open should a hacker succeed in compromising their systems. For secure data, the storage vendor shouldn't be able to access your data in unencrypted form.
Finally, for all this talk of cloud-only services, it makes sense to always have at least one copy of the data archived offline. This is a necessary hedge against situations such as acts of sabotage or corruption, or against a particularly malicious hacker deleting everything from your online storage cloud.
Start Taking Care of Business
The above tips address only some of the basic aspects of setting up an online presence for your business. A fully functioning organization will need a raft of other services. Here's a short list of online services that may prove handy:
- Online email marketing to send emails and track results (MailChimp)
- Web-based faxing to send and receive fax messages (eFaxor HelloFax)
- Private instant messaging network (Lync Online or Trillian)
- Note-taking that's accessible from mobile devices (Evernote or Simplenote)
- Online time tracking that's accessible from multiple devices (Toggl)
- DNS services (Dyn or EntryDNS)
- Online collaboration (GoToMeeting)
- Online password storage (1Passwordor LastPass)
With so many compelling Web services available, it's hard to see a real reason for today's small businesses to purchase physical hardware.
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