Having organized data is necessary, but being able to access your data whenever you need it is even more important. Data is only valuable when it’s accessible. Imagine spending five years collecting data from your customers to improve your marketing strategy, but not being able to access it when needed. It would be like you didn’t have the data at all.

Here are five tips to help you manage your data from the start, so it’s always accessible to you:

1. Secure your machines

You can never be too careful when protecting your computers. Cyber crime costs about $3 trillion each year around the world. Between viruses, malware, spyware, adware, and now ransomware, there’s a lot to be concerned about.

Being able to easily access your data starts with having secure data. It’s not enough to backup your files and databases; you need industry-leading antivirus software as well as dedicated anti-ransomware software.

Both types of software use different methods to identify the culprit, since ransomware behaves differently than viruses. The recent WannaCry ransomware attack hit over 100 countries within the first few hours. Although eventually foiled, the attack gave an important lesson: it can happen to anyone.

2. Centralize your data from the start

Several pieces of software are often used when a business launches, which can cause overlapping data collection. Initially, this is okay, but if data remains disjointed and in multiple locations, it can get messy fast.

How many different programs are you running to collect, store, and manage your data? Do you have multiple databases with duplicate entries you can’t easily combine?

If your data isn’t centralized, accessing it remotely will be a challenge. Centralizing your data should be the first foundation you set for the future of your business.

3. Have the tools to access data stored on local machines

As a small business owner, you work long hours to get things done. Chances are, you do much of this work at home. As you’ve probably discovered, some tasks aren’t easily performed from home because the computers that house the data you need are in the office; not all data is stored in the cloud.

You need a way to access data stored on your office PC. One solution is Dameware’s Remote Support. Just leave your computer on when you leave the office and you can control it from home. If it goes to sleep or hibernates, the remote wake up feature will instruct it to wake up. With Intel vPro technology, you can also restart the computer if it crashes.

Setting up remote PC access gives you the power to gather data from all your office computers from home. You don’t have to stay at the office longer than necessary.

4. Configure security settings to allow remote database access

If your data is stored in a Microsoft Access database, you’ll need remote access at some point. It’s better to set it up now than worry about it later.

In addition to configuring database connections, there are basic security settings required to connect to a remote Microsoft Access database from ASP.NET. Those settings include:

· Windows NTFS settings
· IIS settings
· Local security settings
· ASP.NET configuration settings (Web.config)

Microsoft has a thorough guide to help you properly configure your remote database access settings.

5. Setup your smartphone for remote access

You can remotely access your PC from your Android smartphone with the Chrome remote desktop app. You probably don’t want to perform complex functions on a tiny screen, and there are certainly other limitations. But it is better to be prepared to access this data remotely on your cellphone than not have any access. If you’re out to lunch with a client, they might ask you a time-sensitive question that requires immediate access to your office PC to answer.

In today’s world, you need access to your files and data from wherever you are. It’s no longer feasible to call someone up in the office and ask them to email you what you need. To be self-sufficient, you need to establish remote access with all of the machines you control, including your smartphone, when possible. You can’t afford to be disconnected from your data at any moment.

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