Resolving to improve fitness and eating habits are great New Year's resolutions, but Apple professionals should also consider a few work-related improvements. Here are three resolutions sure to help Apple professionals prove more efficient and productive in 2015.
1. Regularly monitor Time Machine backups
All computers fail, but you don't have to lose data in the process. Leverage Mac OS X's integrated Time Machine to ensure documents, spreadsheets, presentations, PDFs, audio files, videos, and other files are all backed up to an external hard drive. Better yet, ensure Time Machine backups are directed to multiple hard disks (enabling you to rotate copies outside your office) or a hardened device, such as an ioSafe SoloPro, to provide additional protection against fire and water damage.
While iCloud is making great strides backing up common office files, it's still critical to maintain local Time Machine backups to assist recovering everything from iPhones, iPads, and Mac laptops, desktops, and servers. Don't assume backups, once set up, work properly. Backup drives encounter issues, physical connections disconnect, external hard disk power cords go missing, wireless Time Capsule connections fail, and numerous other issues arise. Only by regularly monitoring Time Machine backups can Apple professionals ensure backup routines are completing properly.
Don't assume you'll remember to check the backups. Schedule a recurring task in Outlook, Calendar, or whichever calendaring or task management program you use. Then honor the reminders when they occur.
2. Replace aging hardware
Are you or users you manage dependent upon four-year or older Mac desktops or laptops to perform daily operational tasks? Keeping computers in service longer than four years is a losing proposition. While business owners tend to justify keeping systems longer, and thereby save the expense of new computer purchases, the opposite is true. Keeping systems running beyond four years typically costs more than buying a new system. Worse, older systems slow daily productivity and, when they fail, halt a user's production altogether.
Develop a hardware lifecycle replacement plan in 2015. It's easy. Take an inventory of the critical computer systems you use and document the dates when they were purchased. Begin budgeting replacement purchases for each at the four-year mark. Should you have several systems that reach their figurative expiration date at the same time, but you cannot afford to replace them all at once, replace the computers that perform the most critical tasks first. Remember, too, that small- and medium-size businesses that replace 25% of their computers every year should end up never having a computer older than four years.
3. Invest in the app you know you need to learn
Everyone knows there's an application they've been neglecting or never quite learned properly. Maybe you were sick the day the office hosted training or never found time to complete web-based training. Whatever the reason, resolve in 2015 to master the app that's holding you back.
Whether your nemesis is an office productivity tool, proprietary app, cloud-based program, graphics utility, business-line application, CRM solution, or other software selection, tackle it head on. Most software firms offer training if you check the manufacturer's website. Many publishers offer self-paced training materials for more common programs, too. Check Amazon or Barnes & Noble to review your options. Other firms, such as Fred Pryor Seminars and New Horizons, offer independent training classes for a wide variety of subjects and applications. The important part is to realize there's a knowledge gap and take action to close it.
What resolutions have you made for 2015? Share them in the discussion thread below.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.