Consider Server Virtualization

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According to a survey by CDW, 25 percent of small businesses have virtualized at least some of their servers, with improved data protection cited as a direct benefit. But what is server virtualization? Server virtualization allows you to take one physical server machine and run several virtual server environments (for example, your email, database, and web servers) on it. Essentially, one server performs the work of many. Along with cost benefits, virtualization also makes disaster recovery easier.   Read more about the ins and outs of server virtualization in this Server Virtualization Guide for Small Business on Small Business Computing.com.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “4 Ways to Safeguard and Protect Your Small Business Data.” For more information, please visit www.sba.gov.

Thanksgiving Safety in the Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, especially at Thanksgiving.  Kids love to be involved in holiday preparations.  Safety in the kitchen is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day when there is a lot of activity and people at home.   Follow these important safety tips to help keep your family safe!

  • thks_kitchenStay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children alone in room with a lit a candle.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Thanksgiving Safety in the Kitchen.” For more information, please visit www.nfpa.org.

Automate Your Back-Ups and Build in Redundancy

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Whether you’re a freelancer or a 50-person firm, an automated back-up system is a must. Many of us know the value of backing up to a local hard drive (you can buy one that will store terabytes of data for under $100) or server.  But you should also consider backing up to a third party or off-site service. If your business property (along with your back-up device) is destroyed in a disaster, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your data is retrievable.

Cloud back-ups are increasingly popular, whereby companies such as DropBox, Symantec and Carbonite will securely replicate, back up and store your data in the cloud (basically a shared computer hosted by a third party on the Internet). Cloud services are particularly beneficial for small business owners who may not have an in-house IT team to help them manage and administer server back-ups.

To help you determine the best approach for your business, read this blog: Finding the Best Backup Option for Your Small Business Data.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “4 Ways to Safeguard and Protect Your Small Business Data.” For more information, please visit www.sba.gov.

Travel Safely On The Trains, Planes, and Buses During the Thanksgiving Holiday

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For people traveling by air, bus or train, the Red Cross reminds them that the seasonal flu can occur as early as October. If people have come in contact with someone who is sick, perhaps the trip should be postponed as they may be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.

Other safety tips to avoid the flu while traveling include the following:

  • Remember that everything someone touches has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle one’s own belongings as much as possible. Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes and use them to wash hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
  • Bring one’s own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
  • If someone has to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or sleeve.
  • Avoid touching the face or eyes.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Travel Safely During Thanksgiving Holiday.” For more information, please visit www.redcross.org.

What Are You Doing to Safeguard and Protect Your Small Business Data?

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Are you doing enough to safeguard and protect your small business data?

Small businesses are widely adopting data back-up practices to ensure data is retrievable should a disaster occur, but gaps remain. According to a July 2012 study by accounting software company Sage, the bulk of small businesses are backing up key data such as financial information, but most businesses back up that data on-site only. Furthermore, the study found that only 38 percent of surveyed small businesses have a formal emergency or disaster preparedness plan.

Given the brutal impact of Superstorm Sandy and other disasters that affect small businesses on a regular basis, these are worrying statistics.

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Backing up on-site may not be sufficient to protect small businesses from natural disasters – particularly if the business is located in an area prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, fires or flooding – or more common crises, such as theft or hardware malfunction,” said Connie Certusi, executive vice president and general manager of Sage Small Business Solutions, in a company press release.

The development of a preparedness plan that includes solutions for protecting critical information, such us backing up off-site, could be the difference between getting a business on its way to recovery and worrying about its survival.”

The above is an excerpt from the article, “4 Ways to Safeguard and Protect Your Small Business Data.” For more information, please visit www.sba.gov.

Travel Safely On The Road During Thanksgiving Holiday

Many people will travel to visit loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday and the American Red Cross has travel tips holiday travelers can follow to arrive safely at their destination.

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ON THE ROAD Most holiday travelers get to where they are going by car. To arrive safely, the Red Cross recommends these safety steps for travelers who will drive to visit their loved ones this Thanksgiving:

  • Make sure the vehicle is in good working order.
  • Start out with a full tank of gas, check the tire air pressure and make sure the windshield fluid is full.
  • Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired. Designate a driver who won’t drink.
  • Be well rested and alert.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  • Give one’s full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increasethe chance of being in a collision.family_happy_fall_shutterstock_152301965
  • Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If the driver is tired, stop and get some rest.
  • Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.
  • Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
  • Clean the vehicle’s headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows.
  • Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or if using windshield wipers due to inclement weather.
  • Don’t overdrive the headlights.
  • If car trouble develops, pull off the road as far as possible.

It’s also recommended to keep an emergency preparedness kit in the vehicle. Useful items include water, snacks, a flashlight, first aid kit, extra cash and blankets.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Travel Safely During Thanksgiving Holiday.” For more information, please visit www.redcross.org.

Foster Fan-to-Fan Engagement & Don’t Overly Automate : Social for Small Business

Foster Fan-to-Fan Engagement

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Some of the strongest social networking communities are based on supportive relationships and information sharing between fans. If you are posting inte
resting content, this will follow naturally as fans start to engage with others based on common interests. There are a few things you can do to encourage these relationships, many of them mentioned in this blog – listen to fans, chime in when you think you can add something, respond to comments, open the doors to shared experiences/needs, encourage fans to share photos and experiences and always communicate authentically (drop the corporate hat).

Don’t Overly Automate

While there are some great free tools that can help you automate your posts, don’t overly rely on these to get you through the day – it will show. Instead, set aside some time, 2-3 slots a day to post (note that the evening is a high volume time to post and get noticed), monitor and respond to fans.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “10 Ways to Make Your Small Business Social Media Activities Rock.” For more information, please visit www.sba.gov.

Don’t Forget Your Other Marketing Channels and Measure Your Social Returns

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Don’t Forget Your Other Marketing Channels

Social media may be free, but it only works as part of a wider, integrated marketing strategy. It should never replace your website (which is the hub of all your marketing activity and the home of your online content). Email is also still important. You have a captive audience there; your message is delivered to their inboxes and allows for a deeper conversation.

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Don’t forget to measure the impact of your social media efforts. Use third party apps or Facebook’s Insights tool to monitor click-through rates. Compare these across posts to see if there’s a trend as to the type of content that’s popular. Measure engagement by tracking how many likes and shares your posts get (measured by Facebook as “reach”). Use this data to inform and adjust your content strategy.

Portable Heaters

The following is a video regarding portable heaters courtesy of fema.gov:

The Causes of Electrical Home Fires, and What Can Be Done to Prevent Them

firefighters-shutterstock_110774579The Cause

  • fire_house_iconMost electrical distribution fires result from problems with “fixed wiring” such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords (such as extension and appliance cords), plugs, receptacles, and switches also cause many home electrical fires.
  • Light fixtures and lamps/light bulbs are also leading causes of electrical fires.
  • Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse of electric cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance, and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.

Safety Precautions

  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately. Do not try to repair them.
  • Buy only appliances that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Major and small appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord. Unplug small appliances when not in use.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • summertime_home_energy_savings_wasted_energyReplace any electrical tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.
  • Use only surge protectors or power strips that have internal overload protection and have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Keep clothes, curtains, and other items that can catch fire at least three feet from all portable electric space heaters.
  • Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture.
  • Avoid putting cords where they can be damaged or pinched by furniture, under rugs and carpets, or across doorways.
  • Extension cords are for temporary use only. Have a qualified electrician determine if additional circuits or wall outlets are needed.
  • Electrical work should be done only by a qualified electrician. Call an electrician if you have any of the following:
    • Recurring problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
    • A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
    • Discolored or warm wall outlets or switches
    • A burning smell or rubbery odor coming from an appliance
    • Flickering lights
    • Sparks from a wall outlet
    • Cracked or broken wall outlets

Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Smoke alarm in a smoky room

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Electrical Home Fire Safety.” For more information, please visit www.fema.gov.