Like the carpenter might use his wood working tools to complete his job, it’s likely that a computer is your tool of your trade. It could be an Windows system, or an Apple Macintosh (They prefer to be known as Macs now though!), a linux computer or even an advanced handheld tablet, computers rule the modern workplace.

There’s a lot to take in with computers, from how we can use them to how we can keep them safe and operational. Thankfully, we’re here to give you the guide to workplace computing.

Now, we can’t go into everything, but we can certainly give you a number of prompts, ideas and tips to help you further your own research. If something strikes you, delve into it!

Firstly, it’s important to talk about computer safety in the workplace. While computers can grant us so so much, they also act as little individual portals into our place of work. Each computer can access the internet, so with the internet someone can access your computer.

Sometimes this relationship is fine and consensual, but cyber-criminals can use it for criminal purposes. Computer’s hold masses of data and if you are a business, this is a lot of data that is essential to criminals as it can be sold on quite easily to companies that cannot be bothered to generate leads – these are spam companies.

This data doesn’t need to be financial in nature and this isn’t necessarily things like credit card numbers, bank details of bank account information – although those details are still targeted.

Every bit of information about companies and customers that you have stored is a great big target for cyber criminals and it’s up to you and your staff to keep that information under lock and key.

A breach and theft is bad news for a big business, but for a smaller start-up it could spell doom. Why would people do business with you if you cannot look after their information?

How do you fight back against cyber criminals? Truth be told – if someone has a borderline-insane desire to get caught and pursue your data then there is very little you can do. However, most criminals are not like that, and the slightest warning sign of security will throw them off.

In the very first instance – lock and encrypt any form or instance of sensitive data. Password protection works on a basic level, but encryption is a lot harder to crack – especially if two-factor authentication is used.

Two-Factor authentication relies on a password supplied by a secondary device, so that can be a big deterrence to cyber-criminals who want a quick smash and grab. It’s very handy indeed.

Secondly, you need to remove any customer data that is no longer needed. If there is no need to hold on to personal information, securely delete it. This lowers the amount of potential data loss in the event of a breach.

Thirdly, your systems need to be kept clean with anti-virus software. While many cyber-criminals might brute force their way into your systems, there are much more who let a computer virus open the gates for them.

There’s a reason why one virus is named a ‘trojan.’ It literally opens the gates and defenses of your computers up. Anti-virus software eliminates these threats as your business encounters them and also sweeps up any underlying security issues with scans.

Scan your computer systems regularly to ensure no threats are hiding behind the scenes of your business. Also, ensure that anti-virus software is kept up to date so it can recognize the latest computer viruses.

Some viruses are rather ‘innocent’ in nature and will simply disrupt your business, but the majority have malicious backgrounds and are not to be coddled. Delete, scan, erase and protect.

It’s worth talking to your staff about the dangers of the internet as it could be they who click on a suspicious email attachment that releases viruses onto your network. It pays to prevent! Of course, your computers need to be well-maintained to do anything! Keep them clean to get started with that.

To clean a laptop or desktop computer, you don’t exactly need to hose it down or do anything intensive, you just need to show a bit of basic care. Wiping any surface debris off of a screen or vent will help in the first instance as well as ensuring your workspace is clear of dust. This will keep the computer healthy.

Dust is the bane of workplace computers and will ensure that they are unable to breathe. If you can clear the computer and workspace of lying dust, you can ensure that it won’t be sucked into the fans or the inner workings of the computer.

It is worth checking the internal components of computers for dust or damage if they are running slow. If you don’t have the time for this, it’s worth hiring IT support or technicians who can look after your computers for you!

Of course, cleaning the computer doesn’t just mean wiping it down with a cloth. Remember how we talked about erasing data earlier? Well, files, documents, software, and data do build up.

If you download or install something – that isn’t a temporary relationship! It doesn’t just disappear. Most software or files will stay on the computer until they are manually removed and if they aren’t removed – they are simply going to take up space.

Delete files that you don’t need for security purposes and for basic computer maintenance. Most documents do have sensitive data on them and if they aren’t required, then you simply need to get rid of them – this was discussed earlier.

If software and files do build up to take up a large portion of a computer’s hard-drive, it can slow a computer down tremendously. Run a fit and fighting computer by only operating with the software that you need.

Of course, if everything on your computer is necessary, it might be worth expanding the physical storage of your computers in the workplace.

Sometimes computers do suffer hardware failures and unless you’re a dab hand at fixing them, it’s better to get them replaced or repaired by professionals. This is why backing data up is handy as a replacement computer can be rigged right up from where the old one left off.

How businesses are using computers at work

The types of computers that we use in business can vary wildly from Macs to Windows – there’s no real difference, though. If you can pinpoint the advantages from one operating system over another, it’s highly likely that you might not need this guide in the first place.

Computing in the workplace does vary according to our needs, though – Business computers usually operate over a network so we’d need to install VPS servers to handle the force and capabilities of a bunch of computers.

Remote workers will need cloud computing capabilities to link up with the business. Designers need portable tablets to design upon. If you know the needs of your business, you’ll have won half the battle already.

No matter your needs – a computer won’t get far if the system isn’t up to date. The operating systems of computers run it all for the business and if it isn’t up to date, it could affect your computer in a number of ways – negative ways. Most updates are delivered directly to computers, but it doesn’t hurt to check.

However it pays to be wary – if your business requires older software, a new update or operating system could knock it out and ensure it doesn’t work on newer systems.

It’s always worth installing suitable software that is compatible with updates and if crucial software can’t handle the latest OS updates, then it is time to find a replacement.

There’s plenty of applications and software that can save the day in business. Freshbooks can help with accounting issues and needs. Basecamp can act as a remote office and communication and productivity tool for your staff.

Google Drive enables both storage backup and remote working capabilities thanks to its fully functioning word processing suite.

For every problem, software issues a solution and no matter the industry your business is based in – it is highly likely that software package has been produced for it – from the hospitality industry right through to medical software.

You might not have to go looking far and wide for specialist software as it’s likely to be sold directly to you – it does pay to do some research though.

Maintenance, operation and applications – three key stages of using computers in the workplace. It seems hectic, but if you can get the grasp of these three areas, computers won’t likely bother you anymore in the workplace!

Of course – some strange issues can always pop up so never be scared to consult professionals if you’re truly stumped. It might save the day.

Founding Editor @Alltopstartups, Contributor @Entrepreneur, Columnist @Inc. Magazine and Curator at Postanly (his free weekly digest of the best life and career improvement posts on the web. Subscribe for free.

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