It's Tax Time, Plan Your IT Budget for Next Year

money.JPG

Investing in your IT support services is always a good idea, but it's an especially smart tactic at the end of the year. It is your last chance to increase expenditures and tax-deductible purchases before the 2017 books close. Here are the most important IT fixed assets to consider.

With the year drawing to a close, many small business owners are looking for ways to reduce their taxable income and increase deductions. Investing in small business IT support services and hardware are good ways to achieve your tax strategy while also keeping your company secure.

Evaluating the following three critical components is strongly recommended:

1. Your Firewall

A firewall is a vital component of your network security infrastructure. It monitors all traffic that enters or leaves your network and is configured to block dangerous traffic.

Technology evolves quickly, and new and improved firewall models regularly hit the market, providing true business value. Cyber crime is on the rise in Central Ohio and beyond. Digital fraudsters work tirelessly to launch new attacks and outsmart cyber protection tools. Keeping up-to-date with advancements in cyber security is a way of staying a step ahead of cyber criminals. Plan to replace your firewall every four to six years.

Higher-end firewalls have other benefits for Ohio businesses, like centralized cloud-based management features, advanced security options, internet content filtering, and granular reporting capabilities. They allow small businesses to easily analyze their traffic and spot ways to improve network speed and reduce risks. For example, you’d be able to see if an employee spends too much time on YouTube watching videos that eat up bandwidth. You could also block sites with a few clicks.

Contrary to a common misconception, a firewall is not a “set it and forget it” piece of equipment. If you don’t have the time or knowledge in-house, your business needs an IT partner to help monitor your firewall. If you have a higher-end model, it will likely handle updates automatically, otherwise this must be done manually.

2. Your Server 

The term “server” refers to the software used for processing requests and delivering data across your network and the internet and to the physical device that runs the server software. A server should not be an old PC running in the corner of your office.

Servers are categorized by the type of service they provide. For example, web servers facilitate client computers’ web browsing and other web-based activity. A general-purpose server typically supports file serving, email, databases, and anything else your business needs to function properly. Large businesses utilize multiple servers, whereas many small businesses can get by with one. It all depends on the number of users, devices, volume of requests, and data you are processing.

Servers improve network performance and reliability, make it easier to share and store data, and increase network security. Servers can also be cloud-based. In this model, you don’t own the server or keep it on-site; instead, you access a remote instance that is owned and managed by a server company.

If your small business has ten computers or more, it may benefit from installing a server, but consider having an IT services provider perform a network security audit to evaluate your infrastructure first.

3. Your Data Backup Solution 

Data is a small word with big meaning. It encompasses everything from client contact information to credit card numbers to proprietary files. Your server helps team members share data among themselves more easily, but the role backups play in protecting that data—from cyber crime, human error, natural disaster, and plain bad luck—is just as important.

As the year draws to a close, take a moment to examine and test your approach to backing up and recovering data. Are you storing files onsite, in the cloud, or both? (We recommend both for maximum protection.) How often are you running the backups? How easy is it to retrieve your files? A managed IT services provider can help you run this assessment.