Archive for May 2019

Looking After Your External Hard Drive

Looking after External Hard Drives

Despite its many advantages, many people still do not use ‘Cloud’ storage as they prefer to use external hard drives that they keep in their home or office. External hard drives free up storage, offer portability, and provide a lifeline in case of computer disaster.

If you are still using external hard drives, it pays to take good care of these compact, convenient devices. Here are some helpful tips.

Don’t knock the drive.

Depending on the type of drive you have, impact could damage it. The hard drive’s mechanical drives work a little like a record player – a bit like spinning platter and a needle arm reading it.

Note, you don’t have to worry about this with a Solid State Drive (SSD) as there are no moving parts.

Don’t pull.

You can damage the drive port with a hard or sideways yank on its USB plug. Remove the device cable with a gentle pull on the plug itself (after ejecting it first).

Then, when you are reconnecting the external drive, inspect the connector before plugging the cable back in. Look for any damage, debris, or corrosion to help maximize the device’s lifespan.

Don’t skip steps.

You may be in a hurry, but always take the time to remove the hard drive from your desktop before physically unplugging it. On Windows, you’ll usually right click on the drive and press Eject. For Macs, you can drag the drive icon to the recycle bin (which changes to an eject button).

Never unplug the drive while moving data to or from the hard drive unless you want to risk data corruption.

Don’t suffocate the drive.

Ever put your hand on the hard drive after prolonged use? It’s hot. Don’t immediately store it away in a bag or tight space. Give it some time to cool off first.

When it’s out, and in use, keep the drive’s vents clear of other objects so that it has some airflow. Set it on a flat, level surface. Avoid placing it on paper, towels, or other cloth items that could add to its heat levels.

Condensation.

Condensation is an enemy to your hard drive. Hard drive failures can be caused by environmental factors such as temperature and air quality too.

Don’t expect immortality or invincibility.

A hard drive isn’t going to last forever. They can also get lost or stolen. Don’t let one external hard drive be the only place you are backing up your data.

If you want to guarantee that your data is safe, have a backup on your computer, on the drive, and if possible, a copy in the Cloud.

If you need help deciding on the best hard drive for your needs, give us a call on 01455 209505.

Managing Your Email Better

Managing Your Email

A staggering 269 billion emails are sent every day. In fact, the typical business employee in 2018 received 90 emails (excluding those pesky spam emails of course), and sent out 40 – and each year the figure goes higher.

Email is a powerful tool but it can easily get out of hand. Here are five strategies for better email management.

Don’t start your day with email.

Many people do, it’s how they set up for the day. However beginning the day with a cup of coffee and clicking through your Inbox, can backfire. Many of those emails become items on your to-do list. You can put off important tasks from your day responding to other people’s requests.

Try to plan your day around your needs first. Even do some of the more important tasks, before diving into that Inbox!

Think twice about checking email constantly.

It’s tempting to open emails as soon as they arrive, but aim to tackle your Inbox when you have the time to take action. If you open an email planning to get back to it later, you’ll likely forget. When you have to revisit an email to remind yourself what it’s about, you’re doubling the time you spend on that message.

Avoid interrupting your momentum by turning off email alert notifications and phone badges. Instead, try to set regular times to read and respond to accumulated emails.

Write clear, concise emails.

Avoid contributing to someone else’s Inbox chaos by providing as much relevant information as possible. Now, that doesn’t mean writing a War and Peace-length email – just focus your message for your audience, anticipate questions, and answer in that email.

Starting the message with an informative subject line can make a big difference too, rather than a generic one, e.g. instead of having a subject line saying “Update” and then going into your email, say what the Update is about, so that the person at the other end knows what it is and when to open it.

Save time with reusable messages.

You often end up answering the same questions over and again. Create templated emails that you can have at the ready to provide relevant details. Depending on your email software, this capability may be built in or you may need to add a plug-in.

Use filters and folders to sort email.

Learn how to use automatically filter your messages into the appropriate folders. For example, if the email is from accounting@yourbusiness.com then send it to your “Accounting” folder. This can save hundreds of hours a year. The better your folder system, the less time you’ll spend looking for specific emails the you need them.

In Outlook, you can also set up a filter to change the colour of email for different senders. Your boss could be red, and you’d know to handle that one first. Also save time by setting up strong filters for junk and spam.

Unsubscribe from mailing lists that you don’t need any longer, although be careful here that you are unsubscribing from emails that you actually subscribed to in the first place! Some spammers send emails with ‘unsubcribe’ links, but if you click on that link, you are merely confirming to them that you have a valid and active email address for further spam.

Cleaning out the clutter can make your Inbox much less overwhelming.

Email is an essential tool today, especially in business. Don’t let it become a drain on your energy and attention. Make the most of the time you spend in your Inbox with smart strategies for email management.

Need help selecting the right email or setting up useful mailbox management tools? Give us a call on 01455 209505.