|If someone else is responsible for the technology in your business, it can feel fantastic that you don’t have to worry about that part of your business operation. But whether that person is an employee, a freelance computer guy or a larger I.T. support company, the responsibility for this part of your business still ultimately lies with you. Here’s a list of what all business owners should know about their own computers:
1. Administrator passwords – ‘Local administrator accounts’ have full access to make changes to your computers. If you have a server, there may also be a ‘domain administrator’ account. Make sure you have a record of these account passwords in a safe place. If your business provides laptops and mobile phones to your staff, also keep a record of any passwords or PIN numbers that are used to secure these mobile devices (e.g. are prompted for when the device is turned on). This may seem a bit over the top, but it only takes a disgruntled employee or an issue with your support provider and you can find yourself locked out of your own systems, at the mercy of someone else who knows the passwords when you don’t. I’ve actually seen I.T. companies refuse to release administrator passwords. Remember, your information is your property, not theirs.
2. Domain name details – If you have your company name registered as a domain on the internet (e.g. for your website or email addresses), make sure you know when your domain is due to expire. Domain name registration only lasts for a certain period (commonly 1, 2 or 5 years) and must be renewed. We’ve seen websites and emails stop in their tracks because the domain name registration company couldn’t (or didn’t) contact the business owner to process the domain name renewal. Also associated with your domain name is a password or PIN number (sometimes known as a registry key). This proves you are the rightful owner of the domain and is required for making any changes. It’s a long process if you need to get this password reset because it’s been forgotten, so make sure it’s stored in a safe place.
3. Internet connection details – The modem that connects your computers to the internet is configured with some details that are specific to your account with your internet provider. This may be as simple as a username and password, but may also include security settings or even ‘port numbers’ for allowing or denying internet access to some software programs. If you have internet connection problems and the modem needs to be reset back to the factory defaults, this information will be lost. It can also happen due to a power failure or if the modem is faulty. Once again, this only takes a few minutes to document, but can save you a huge amount of time when you need it.
4. Last successful backup test – Your backups are only as good as your last successful ‘test restoration’. If someone else manages your backups, ask them to test that they can restore the data and provide you with a monthly report so you know it’s been done. If you look after your own backups, make sure this testing is performed by someone in your company and that you receive a report from them to show when it happened.
5. Software licensing proof – Like the financial and taxation side of your business, the responsibility for legal software ownership rests with the business owner. Don’t think that you’re only a small business so no-one would audit you. Keep a safe record of your software license keys and proof of ownership (e.g. purchase receipts). This also makes license numbers easy to find if your computer software needs to be re-installed or moved to a different computer.
Please make it your ‘New Financial Year’s Resolution’ to obtain this important information and store it safely.