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The Year in Review: the Top 10 Posts of 2011

It’s hard to believe another year has come and (almost) gone. Every year seems to speed by ever faster, much like the pace of technological advancements. We understand that it’s a challenge keeping up with the latest technologies that impact your small business. So we were curious to find out what topics caught your eye this past year on the Small Business Blog.

Security was by far the most popular topic; and security in all forms—from your core network to personal devices to the cloud. That’s not surprising when you consider all the ways in which you can now access data.

Here’s the list of top 10 posts for 2011:

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Don’t Get Caught by These Phone System Pitfalls

Watch out for unexpected costs, tricky contracts, and poor customer service

When you’re purchasing a new phone system, your research shouldn’t stop with your company’s list of must-have features and functionality. Although a VoIP solution has many benefits, whether you choose an on-premise solution that you install on your local network or subscribe to an Internet-based hosted voice service, you should be aware of potential ”gotchas“ that can increase costs and hinder the phone system’s performance. Phone system pitfalls most often involve budget, contract, and customer service issues.

(See this post to learn more about how to find the right phone system for your small business.)

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Mythbusters: More Bandwidth Doesn’t Always Improve Performance

Combine an increase in the type of traffic running over your network—such as voice, video, and data—with an increase in the users accessing that data, and your network could easily get bogged down. When that happens, your first instinct may be to throw more bandwidth at the problem. In this second installment of our Mythbusters series, we dispel the myth that faster networking gear will solve your performance woes.

Installing faster equipment may improve your network’s performance, but it may not entirely unclog your data bottlenecks. Before you spend money upgrading your network with faster devices, look to see if the switches you already have offer network intelligence features. If not, your switches are handling traffic on a first-come, first-served basis, which means voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls can still drop, video streams can still hang, and data can slow to a crawl.

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5 Steps to Improve Wireless Connectivity

Optimize your network to provide faster speeds and greater reliability for a variety of mobile devices

When you first built your company’s wireless network, you had to support just the desktop PCs and laptops you chose for your small business. Now, your wireless network is probably host to a more diverse array of mobile devices from different vendors. On any given day, you may have tablets, iPhones, and Android-enabled devices accessing your network. Instead of trying to control the personal devices that employees bring to work, it may be easier to optimize your wireless network to better support these devices. (If you’re just building a wireless network for the first time, this post can help.)

We offer five steps to help improve the performance of your wireless network and provide a better user experience regardless of the devices employees are using to access company data.

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Hosted vs. Installed VoIP: Which One is Right for You?

Business needs, growth plans, and in-house expertise will influence your decision

Once you’ve made the decision to replace your legacy phone system with a Voice over IP (VoIP) solution, you must decide whether a hosted service or an on-site installation is better for your small business. Both delivery methods have unique pros and cons, and, like most technologies, one type is not inherently better than the other. Some small businesses will prefer the ease and scalability of a hosted VoIP service, while others will opt for the greater control and customization of a premise-based VoIP phone system.

VoIP has become the new standard in voice communications, in part because it offers a richer set of features than analog phone systems. A range of call management, monitoring, reporting, messaging, conferencing, and security features is fairly standard among both hosted and installed solutions. Your choice between delivery methods will be determined by whether you treat your phone system as a capital expenditure (CapEx) or an operating expenditure (OpEx) as well as your company’s plans for growth and available in-house expertise.

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