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  • Care and Handling for Your Computer System
    By Jim Talarico

    From time to time, all of your equipment will need regular care and maintenance — including your computer system.

    Although most florists are aware that computer systems need maintenance, that task is often relegated to another day. That "another day" often turns into weeks or months.

    Regular care not only can prolong a computer's life but also can keep your data safe. Although you'll need to check with your hardware and software providers on the proper steps for your system, here are some general rules to keep in mind.

    1. Some systems will operate better if they are regularly recycled (properly powered off and back on). This can clear up any memory drains and prevent operating system problems.
    2. Hard drive (or storage) space on your system is vital. New software and data will require more space, and you must keep track of the status of your storage space. Most systems need at least 20 percent free space to operate properly.
    3.  Use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to protect your system from power outages. If you have one of these devices, make sure it is working. Test the system regularly to see if it can operate without power. Although some UPSs come with a built-in testing system, others do not. If yours doesn't, don't put your system at risk by simply pulling the plug out of the wall. Make sure your system is secure and all items are saved or turned off first.
    4. Protect your system from high temperatures. Make sure your PC's fan vent is clear of debris. In addition, keep at least 2 inches of space between the fan and any obstructions. Note that many systems have vents along both the sides and back of the computer that must be kept clear.
    5. Don't underestimate the importance of backups. Most programs will provide a message saying if your backup was successful or unsuccessful, but you should still test the system regularly. Work with your software provider to load a successful backup tape into your system to see if the data can be retrieved. This can be tricky, so don't try it without your provider's instructions.
    6. Replace your backup media regularly. Use different backup media (tape, cartridge, etc.) for each day of the week. Keep weekly or monthly backups off-site for additional safekeeping. Backup media needs to be replaced on a regular basis (see the packaging for details).

    Many florists overlook computer maintenance because the computer is such a complicated machine. Don't be afraid of this task. Talk to the experts about the preventive steps you should take, just as you would with any other piece of office equipment.


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