Our First Award Was Printed in a Magazine, Our Latest is a Link

Best Web ToolWe’ve been in business since 1999, and garnered our first award in 2000, PC World’s “Best of the Web”  in the Online Storage category. In those days that meant being written up in an actual printed-on-paper magazine. They also sent us a nice plaque that still hangs on a wall in our offices to remind us of our history.

Now  WebHostingSearch.com  has informed us we’ve been named a “Best Web Tool” in the  File Sharing category. The Web having matured somewhat in the past dozen years it takes the form of an image file and a link.

Five Ways You Can use the Desktop App to Improve Your Workflow

The My Docs Online website is a great way for you and I to store files in the cloud.  Using the website is easy – it’s accessible from anywhere and using it is simple.   However, there are a few things that we’d like to do that we just can’t do through the website.

The My Docs development team has heard our requests and they’re in the beta test phase of  introducing a new desktop based application.   This application will do a number of things that, because of the nature of web browsers, can’t be done through Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or other browsers.

I’ve been working with a number of you who are beta testing this new product and you’re telling me both what you like about it and the features that you’d like to see added.

Here are the top five things you say will help you with the new app:

  1. File compression on all uploads and downloads – This is mentioned often as a big time saver, especially for users who upload and download lots of files and folders each day.
  2. The “Open Last Folder” at login option – Those of you using this option (it’s in the preferences section) really like the way the app takes you directly to the last folder used as soon as you log in.
  3. Drag-and-drop or file select for file uploads – I’ve always been a big fan of using file select for uploads but many of you report a preference for drag-and-drop file uploading.  This new app allows us to upload files either way.
  4. Easily login into and out of multiple accounts – Some of you maintain multiple My Docs Online accounts and mentioned this as a much easier way of accessing them.
  5. Being able to lock the files you’re working on – (It was the power users among you that mentioned file locking.)  The desktop app allows you to apply file locks to any file type. This means that you can “Lock and Open” any file in your account without fear of any of your other team members trying to update the file while you have it open.  When you’re done with your changes you simply “Save and Unlock” the file and it’s available for use by any other team member.

Not surprisingly there were also features that are not yet in the beta version of the Desktop App that you’ve requested as well.  The most requested feature available through the website that is not yet available in the Desktop App is the “give” feature that you use to share files with people who may not be My Docs Online users.

The Dev team hopes that you see the Desktop App as a useful addition to the My Docs Online website.   If you’d like more information on the beta test program, or if you’re interested in helping us test the new product (we’d love to hear your feedback) please send me an email using the [email protected] email address.

Don’t Risk Losing Your Microsoft Outlook Data

Recently, I was reading through some technical forums and happened upon an entire page of frustrated individuals who have lost data from their Microsoft Outlook account. Here’s an example of just one situation. This is a direct quote from a question and answer tech site:

“One day I could not open Outlook. I was getting a message that said it’s not a personal file folder. I tried everything I could think of like restoring to a certain prior point etc. Then I researched. What I learned was that there is a limit to the size your Outlook files can use up. I think that might be what caused it, but I could not find any further information. There was no warning, and no instructions for fixing whatever happened. My computer people looked at it and said that there were programs that might work but that costs money.”

That certainly doesn’t sound promising. If you Google the phrase “Outlook lost data” there are a disturbing number of do-it-yourselfers out there who are offering help to panicked Outlook users who have found themselves in this unfortunate situation.

How Can I Lose My Data?

Many businesses rely on their Outlook accounts just as they would a personal desktop rolodex. There’s just one problem with that way of thinking. Although Outlook does connect with the internet to import messages, send files, and store contact lists, it is part of your Microsoft Windows Operating System. What does that mean to you? I’m glad you asked. That means that although Outlook connects with the internet to send and receive emails, electronic business cards, and files, all of your data is stored on your hard drive. This, of course, puts you at risk to lose all of your data along with any saved files or emails.

  • If your computer is damaged, lost, or stolen, you may never retrieve this information.
  • Potential loss of data also comes whenever you decide to upgrade from one version of Windows to the next.
  • Simply switching over to a new computer can cause headaches and possible data loss.
  • Storing large files definitely causes a problem, as stated in the example above.

Should I Switch to a Different Email Provider?

Overall, Microsoft Outlook is a very efficient business tool that can streamline your contact efforts and make your business life a little easier. We don’t recommend that you pack up your things and get outta Dodge.

What’s the Solution?

You could, of course, back up your Outlook files and contact information and save them to your computer, but you’d still lose your information if your computer is lost, damaged, or stolen. You could also back up your files to a CD, although CD’s can become lost or mysteriously corrupt at the most inopportune times.

Backing up your Outlook data to My Docs Online is a simple process, and we even provide you with step-by-step instructions. You can use your My Docs Online account for much more than just your client files or sensitive information files. Use your account to store any type of personal or business data that you don’t want to lose. A regular backup of your Outlook files will give you peace of mind and keep you from weeks of headaches searching for the answers in technical forums or with your computer repair service.

Make file backups a regular part of your weekly tasks and soon it will become second nature to you. Don’t put your business at risk. Find out about My Docs Online and how we can meet your needs today.

Data Theft Has Gotten Out of Hand: Are You Safe?

Data theft and loss are two significant areas of concern in today’s society. The world demands and expects instant communication, and much of that communication consists of sensitive information that is stored and transmitted electronically. That means that our sensitive information is not always under our care, custody, and control, and we are forced to make some difficult choices.

How Safe Is Your Information?

In many corporations, there is little or no control over the sensitive information that has been entrusted to them. This is true for information exchanged within a business, as well as information that is transmitted to parties outside of the company. Because of this failure on the part of many organizations, legislation has been introduced in some areas requiring protective measures. These regulations include HIPPA, Basel II, SOX and many others. It is not merely sending information that makes it unsafe, it is also the manner of storage that is in question. Items like CD’s, USB sticks, and even tapes are used, and then often placed in a location that is easily accessed by other parties.

Not very long ago, personal and banking information on over 25 million people that had been stored on two CD’s was misplaced in the United Kingdom. On October 18, 2007 these two CD’s, containing information on each family that had filed for the Child Benefit, were sent to the National Audit office.

This correspondence was sent without the protection of  postal registration and was not documented.

This constituted a breach of existing protocols, and endangered the financial and physical safety of every person listed in the communication. It was approximately two weeks later that an announcement was made, informing everyone of the existing situation. It quickly culminated in the resignation of Mr. Gray, who was HMRC Chairman at the time.

Another event of data loss or contamination involved the United States Army Reserve. As of  May  2010, a contractor had been storing sensitive information on 207,000 reserve members on his laptop. That is risky enough, but when this laptop containing a CD-ROM with Reserve names, addresses, and social security numbers was stolen, the potential for disaster increased dramatically. The two other laptops that were stolen were not in possession of sensitive data. There have not yet been any further complications from this inability for the U.S. Army Reserve to store their information safely.

IT Security Protocols

It is very common for some IT departments to overlook guidelines that pertain to security authorizations. It has been estimated that  in more than 50% of accounts, the majority of employees, regardless of employment status, have access to all of the existing files. Given the volume of information that is exchanged between information systems, on a daily basis, it is crucial to guarantee the safety and reliability of  the transfer procedure. Most current methods are proven to lack either of those qualities.

Following a well-known incident that involved personal information being sold on eBay, the chief executive of Applied Security was quoted as saying, “ Instead of looking at specific technologies such as laptop or USB encryption, the focus should be on encrypting files and folders at the source.”

It is quite obvious that Mr. Frank Schlottke is correct in his statement.

What Can You Do?

My Docs Online was founded in 1998 to provide a exceptionally secure online environment for the storage and sharing of files globally for enterprise workgroups, small businesses, and for individuals.

The My Docs Online development team is comprised of former Senior Principal Computer Scientists from a leading Internet security firm. Their design and the goals of the My Docs Online Member services are to protect the integrity of the user database, and to prevent access to your files or documents without your knowledge or consent.

We are a privately held corporation located in sunny Naples, Florida in the U.S.A.

Our 10 years of online file sharing and collaboration experience has given us the opportunity to successfully help businesses of all types in over 160 countries with their file transfer and storage problems. Give us a call today at 239-495-1181. We take security seriously and have several convenient plans to fit your needs.

Is it Time for a Productivity Check-Up?

We’ve almost rolled halfway through 2010 and chances are, many of those changes you were thinking of making to your business may not have been accomplished as originally planned.  If I’m correct, and I think I am, maybe it’s time for a ‘productivity check-up.’

I can already see the roll of your eyes as you imagine yet another uninteresting article, telling you how to simplify, and how to break down uninteresting tasks into manageable tidbits that you still won’t enjoy.

I promise, that’s not the case. This productivity check-up will actually help you to quickly recognize where your time hogging tasks are. By doing so, you’ll be able to change or adjust the way you complete your tasks, and ultimately create more time to check your fantasy baseball stats…err, I mean, to engage in more productive business duties.

Example…I am aware of a local sign business who writes each of their invoices by hand. This task generally takes the owner a good deal of time every Sunday. It’s a task he dreads. What is the reason for the hand written bills? A lack of computers? No, surprisingly it is only because the owner refuses to  stop his regular daily grind long enough to install the necessary software. Sound silly? Maybe, but numerous businesses continue to put off unfamiliar tasks for fear of risking the work momentum.

So, how do we break the unhealthy cycle of defeat? Start by making a list of all the basic things you spend time on during your day. Be sure to include weekly tasks, such as writing invoices by hand.

Now call your spouse or business partner into the room and take a look at your tasks with an extremely critical eye. Is there anything that you do, that could be streamlined? Just as a bit of help, here’s a list of the most common time sucks, along with ways to complete these tasks efficiently.

  • LARGE FILES:  Whether you are trying to store them or share them, large files can become quite a hassle. Do you find yourself repeatedly trying to email or reduce the size of a file? This can take blocks of time out of your work day. MyDocsOnline allows you to store large files in a safe, organized fashion, and seamlessly share them with your clients and colleagues. We can’t help you with poor filing skills, but we will keep them safe.
  • INVOICING HEADACHES? Freshbooks has excellent time tracking tools for the small business owner or the freelancer on the go. Freshbooks creates professional invoices that can conveniently be branded with your business logo.
  • EVENT AND APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING: If you’re still playing phone and email tag with clients or groups of individuals, trying to come up with mutually compatible meeting times, come on out of the dark ages. Doodle is an easy and convenient scheduler that practically makes your appointments for you. Compatible with your Google calendar, Facebook, your mobile phone, and more…You’ll have your appointments and meetings neatly scheduled while you spend time on more important business tasks.

Okay that’s your first three helpers. We’re taking baby steps. Each one of these changes is painless and extremely ‘time management’ approved!

They are without complicated software downloads and can be used immediately. By making them part of your business toolbox, you’ll save countless hours of ‘time hogging’ tasks. What a great way to start your week!

How to Store Client Files for Your Accounting Business

Making the decision to store your client files online is one of the best ways to ensure their safety. Hard copies of files can become lost or damaged, creating a problem for efficient retrieval, should the need arise.

A general retention policy is to keep all current and former client files for ten years. This can add up to quite a bit of paperwork if your client decides to leave after several years of work. Instead of having to stand and make photo copies of all of their paperwork, wouldn’t it be easier to copy a few files online, zip them up and send them along to your client? Absolutely.

By storing your client’s files online, you’ll have the convenience of categorizing by the client’s last name, and then subcategorizing by year. Everything will be easy to locate when referencing certain years, receipts, or other necessary data. Sounds pretty elementary, but many accountants and bookkeepers who work independently make the mistake of becoming overwhelmed with file storage issues.

Just because you’ve struck out in business for yourself and possess awesome accounting skills, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are the most organized business person. If you’ve caught yourself storing client files on your computer’s hard drive (or even worse; your desktop), you are well on your way to a filing dilemma. All it really takes is one busy tax season and you’ve got a potential mess on your hands. You can take care of this before it becomes a problem, with an online storage system.

Large Files

Another reason to store your files online is the fact that many of the pdf’s you’ll be dealing with, such as scanned copies of receipts, take up a lot of space on your computer. Storing large files online is a quick and easy process with My Docs Online. There’s no limit to the files you can store and it’s a simple drag and drop process. Plus, your files will be safe, neatly organized, and easily retrievable by yourself, your client, or your coworkers when necessary.

Now that pdf and scanned copies kept online are accepted by the IRS, more offices are becoming paperless.

What to Keep Readily Available

Just because you are going to get organized, doesn’t mean that you are going to become a filing cabinet for your client. Be sure to set up a policy with each new client, and have it in writing. The policy should state how long you will keep your client’s files, how often they can request information without an additional charge, and what administrative fee you will charge to pull archived files. Generally, you’ll need to have the most recent year available to your client at all times, and possibly the prior two years. After that, the rest is considered to be archived.

Be sure you are aware of the laws in your particular area. A good resource for information on document retention is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Also keep an accurate archived document list. This will greatly simplify your duties and make your files accessible at all times. Archiving files online is a simple solution to the unnecessary legal complications of destroying records.