Keeping up with the latest computer is as easy as changing the tires on a moving car. You can either wait until you think the time is right to buy — which unfortunately is never — or you can buy what you need. Better yet, buy more than you need. A rule of thumb is that a computer can't be too fast or have enough memory. Make sure that you buy a computer from a reliable source and that support is available if something goes wrong with it.
Any printed materials that leave your home office are a reflection of you and your company. Considering how much the price of printers has dropped, there's no reason to give clients poor-quality copies or sales materials. When you're looking for a printer, find out the paper capacity. The more paper a printer holds, the less time you'll spend having to add more. Also, look at the "footprint," or the amount of desktop space it needs, including the paper tray and make sure you have room for it. I really like the Brother line of inkjet SOHO printers and all-in-ones, particularly the MFC-J615W, which can print professional-looking Web pages, presentations, reports, invoices, images and graphics. It also has a compact, modern design that will look great in any home office.
You can replace hardware — data, not so much. One of the best investments you can make is in a reliable back-up system. You can choose between removable media drives (thumb drives) or external hard drives. Remember to test your back-up system often to make sure you've actually saved your information. Also, keep three copies of your backed-up data in different places.
Always use a surge protector for your equipment to protect it from power surges. One step further is investing in an uninterrupted power source (UPS). A UPS gives you at least five minutes to back up what you're doing before the power goes out.
You'll need a separate phone line (your cell phone will also work) that only you answer, and a reliable voice mail system (family members aren't always the best at taking messages). Test your outgoing message to make sure there aren't any noises in the background that you didn't notice while you were recording.
Keeping up with the latest technology is challenging and at times, frustrating. By finding the right equipment to meet your needs, you'll be able to stay ahead of the game and keep up with all of the other demands on your time.
For more tips for working moms, visit www.workingnaked.com.
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