Right before the April deadline, Cahill doubles her staff from two to four so she can handle filing tax returns for her clients in and around Old Bridge, New Jersey.
Last month, Cahill ran into a Windows update problem that threatened to bring her operation to a standstill, and cost her money to pay idle staff.
Cahill had run a standard Windows XP update procedure on her primary file server, which hosts all her clients’ tax records. The familiar “Do not turn off your computer” message came on screen. But after two hours the message was still there.
She knew she needed to call for help.
It was 9 a.m. and Howard Sherman of RoyalGeeks.com picked up his ringing cell phone. He glanced at the caller ID. Cahill is one of the few clients that has his cell number, under the premise she’d only call if it was a dire emergency. “I braced myself,” recalled Sherman.
Sherman suggested Cahill reboot her system, but to no avail. Sensing the necessity for her to get the server back up quickly so the working day wouldn’t be wasted, he headed straight to her office.
“I literally dropped everything and got there within 30 minutes. Her computer was ‘stuck’ on Windows updates. In such a situation there’s nothing to prevent it. I repaired her server’s Windows installation and got her back to work right around lunch time,” he said.
The job took about 2 hours and cost Cahill $250.
For Cahill, she felt “relief” that she didn’t lose her files and was able to utilize her additional staff for the remaining part of the day.
Server maintenance is crucial for any small business, according to Sherman. “Every mission-critical server should have routine monthly maintenance to check for issues and potential problems in its Windows registry health, current Internet security signatures, recent Windows updates, hard drive status (error-free, plenty of free space, status of backups, etc.) to insure a server is kept in pristine condition,” he said.
Sherman points out that disaster can strike a small business, despite the best safety plans. “Maintaining a solid relationship with a proven IT professional is an insurance policy for the small business owner in guaranteeing the help they need is just a few minutes away – be that via phone call, remote tech support request and/or onsite visit,” he said.
Cahill had worked with another IT consultant before, but found him to be “lacking in social skills.” She went looking for another consultant and found RoyalGeeks.com through a local newspaper ad.
“Howard came in and impressed me with his knowledge, and he was very personable. His price was right,” she said. “I count on him especially when things like this happen.”
Small business owners should look for certified IT consultants to partner with. Sherman makes these recommendations: “A Microsoft Certified Professional always stands out in a crowd through superior knowledge and training. For Windows Server 2003 that would be an MCSA or MCSE. For Windows Server 2008 that would be an MCITP. It must seem like alphabet soup but those credentials separate the wheat from the chaff in the IT support world.”
Cahill is the default tech person in her office. But when she has to face out of the ordinary tech challenges, she knows with a direct line to her IT consultant, she’ll be just fine.
(Photo credit – justlooking)
by Joseph Mutidjo, Reporter, Smallbiztechnology.com