If you're like most small business owners, you rely on your computers for just about everything that relates to your business—email, documents, inventory, accounting< and so much more. You want to do everything you can to keep your computers and your network running smoothly and efficiently.

Having a good tech support team on your side is a great start, but there are plenty of other things you can do to maximize the productivity of your team and keep annoying problems to a minimum. In fact, many of the problems our tech team solves every day can be prevented by establishing solid habits that support your systems and your network.

Whether you're experiencing computer issues every day or just want to do everything you can to keep your staff productive, here are our top tips for increasing the IT efficiency of your business.

1. Restart Computers Every Night

If we only had room in this post for one tip that would make your employees more productive and keep your computers running smoothly, we would say RESTART, RESTART, and RESTART! Not restarting your computers on a regular basis creates many of the problems our techs see every day, from slow performance, to issues with applications that just don't work right.

Often when we review the logs for a computer that is experiencing problems, we find that the computer hasn't been restarted for weeks! Computers need to be restarted to clear their internal memory and take care of general housekeeping tasks. Not restarting actually makes your computer work harder and shortens its useful life.

That's why we recommend that you institute and enforce a strict "restart every night" policy with every computer in your organization. It only takes a few minutes at the end of the day and the payoff is well worth the effort.

2. Replace or Upgrade Outdated Hardware

Computer software changes so often today that it's hard for even the best computer hardware to keep up. If you or your employees are frequently frustrated by slow computer performance, your hardware may be struggling to keep up with the demands of the latest software.

As a general rule of thumb, plan on upgrading or replacing computer systems, that are used on a full-time basis, every 3 to 5 years to optimize speed and reliability. You'll also want to create a similar schedule for upgrading your servers.

3. Harness the Power of the Cloud

You can save computing power and wear and tear on your servers by running many of today's most popular applications from the cloud. Cloud applications also give you the opportunity to streamline your processes and reduce duplicate entries across the company.

Cloud applications are also a great solution for teams that work remotely, since they can be accessed from anywhere that an internet connection is available.

We recommend starting with cloud-based applications like Office 365 or GSuite to handle document creation, email, spreadsheets and more. These applications are available on a monthly subscription basis and the latest updates are available immediately, so you won't need to worry about replacing outdated software. Plus, you only pay for the number of users you have, making it easy to scale your software needs to the size of your team and add new users as you expand.

Beyond Office 365 and GSuite, there are many cloud-based business-class software options for almost anything you need to do from graphic design and web development, to accounting, database administration, inventory tracking and much more.

4. Review Your Backup and Recovery System

Losing precious files or data will bring your productivity to a grinding halt. That’s why it’s so important to have a solid backup system in place to easily restore accidentally deleted files or recover from a server crash, cyber-attack or natural disaster.

If you are still using backup tapes, we can't stress enough the importance of upgrading to a more reliable method for backing up important data. Tape backups fail nearly 100% of the time, are cumbersome to maintain, and slow to restore.

The key to an effective backup system is determining how long your business could sustain a loss of critical data and plan your backup and recovery system around that timeframe. For example, if your business could not sustain a loss of data for more than a few hours, you'll need a more comprehensive backup system than a business that could survive a few days or a week without your critical data.

At Technical Action Group, we offer a number of backup plans that combine onsite backup with cloud-based storage to maximize recovery time for each client's needs.

As you can see, the key to maximizing your IT efficiency comes down to careful planning and establishing some very simple habits. Restarting your computers every night, making sure your computers and servers are upgraded regularly, harnessing the power of the cloud, and establishing a reliable backup system can all go a long way to reducing computer problems and increasing your overall productivity.

If you have any questions about the items we've covered here, the Technical Action Group is always here to help. Just give us a call at 416-489-6312 to learn more!