ADVISORS DON’T HAVE TIME TO BE COMPUTER EXPERTS.

Here are two improvements you can implement at your practice, be it your own business or a 50-person shop, that will take less than an hour and cost less than $15 each quarter.

CREATE SECURE PASSWORDS

This task is as essential as locking your office at night. Yet a 2010 study by software company Imperva found one in five web users choose easy-to-guess passwords like ‘password,’ ‘123456’ and ‘abc123.’

A strong password is at least eight characters. For example: 9b47ncaac541ooso82

That jumble of seemingly random letters and numbers is hard to break, since it has no identifiable words or common sequences. Yet it consists of my club ID, my rep code and a nickname, with numbers replacing some of the letters.

Use your favourite fund code, your childhood house number, or your first car, with simple substitutions:

  1. Stack words, alternating one letter from each word. For example, turn ‘deferred sales’ to ‘dSeAfLeErSred.’ Add in numbers and symbols such as 1 for the ‘L’ and # for the ‘e’ to form: ds#af1##rsr#d
  2. Use an acronym for an expression you use. For example, “Give me a call in the next week or so” becomes “gmacitnwos.” Add in symbols and numbers to get: gm@ci7nw05

Now change the rest of your passwords to your new secure one (or create two secure passwords and alternate). Then, in a few months, mix it up again.

BACK UP YOUR DATA

It’s easy.

PART ONE Back up Outlook.

  1. Go to File>Back Up> Options>Remind every 7 days.
  2. Choose folders—probably Personal Folders—and then a file name. I use the year and month under a folder called Outlook Backup.
  3. Overwrite it weekly for a month.
  4. Once a month, change the file name. This gives you a monthly record of emails.

PART TWO

Get a backup account with carbonite.ca. For $59 per year ($129 for three years), you get unlimited backup space and a program that uploads files as you create them. It backs up some file types automatically; others need to be specified, such as the .pst file created by backing up Outlook.

Data transmission is encrypted at the same security level as banks. Carbonite stores up to 12 versions of a file and allows you to retrieve a deleted file for 30 days. You can access Carbonite data from any computer with an Internet connection. Carbonite’s servers are located in the U.S., so check with compliance to see if that poses a problem (it shouldn’t).

Data transmission is encrypted at the same security level as banks. Carbonite stores up to 12 versions of a file and even allows you to retrieve a file you accidentally deleted up to 30 days ago. You can access Carbonite data from any computer with an Internet connection.

I have a Carbonite account for my office server, my home computer and my wife’s computer, where we have all our photos and videos.

Other backup account providers include idrive.com (500 GB, $500/year) and Canadian service mybackupserver.ca(100 GB, $110/month).

Originally published in Advisor's Edge