The internet can be a highly unstable and unreliable tool – quite contradictory considering that it is something that we rely so heavily on in day-to-day life.
We all know the frustration when you’ve got something really important that you need to email or purchase online, and the internet decides that it wants to be slow, your emails don’t want to send, or everything crashes completely!!
It is a challenge that people are faced with on a day-to-day basis and there are often many factors that cause these issues to affect you – satellite disturbances or damage, servers crash, thunderstorms can cause damage to power lines and cables which provide internet to people’s homes / businesses, and then there is the ever constant battle against hackers, spammers and computer viruses.
No matter what mankind invents, there is always going to be someone that tries to break, disrupt or damage the system, and without proper protection you can be left vulnerable.
In order to prepare yourself should the worst case scenario happen (and let us pray that it doesn’t) – but realistically, at some point or another you will experience issues of some form (hopefully minor!), here are 7 things that you can do to cover your bases:
1. Choose an Email Provider who you can rely on and trust
This is a really important decision not to be taken lightly. There are too many providers out there that are willing to take your money and set you up but aren’t interested in providing you with support or make you wait for 30 minutes on hold to get through. Don’t be fooled by choosing the cheapest option – do some research first, make some inquiries, see how fast they reply and how personalized their response is based on your needs, rather than just a generic email.
A dedicated provider believes that a clients needs and entitlements extend for the entire duration that they are their clients. They feel it is their duty to be there when you have an issue, provide good customer service and answer the phone or your email as soon as they can. Technology can be an overwhelming thing and it is important as providers in this field that they hold clients’ hand through the process to ensure they are getting the ideal service to benefit their business needs.
So really think about who your provider is and whether they have your best interests at heart.
2. Have a Backup Email Account
Although a lot of people find that having multiple email accounts can be hard to manage and keep track of, it is important that you have a backup plan if one day you experience issues with your domain email account and can’t send or receive emails. Having an independent email as a back-up such as an @yahoo, @gmail @hotmail @live account ensures that you will be able to communicate with people in some form if your other email becomes otherwise incapacitated. These email hosts are completely free to sign up with, so really there is no harm in having one.
3. Make sure you Backup Important Emails
One of the worst things that can happen – and we do see it from time to time – is people take their computers in for a system clean up / wipe and when they get home they realise that all their important emails have disappeared and they can’t get them back. That is why it is important to do a regular backup of important emails, just like you do with important documents so you can restore them if needed.
4. Have a copy of your passwords kept somewhere securely
Whilst the ‘Remember password’ function on your computer is one of the handiest tools on the internet, it always pays to have your passwords written down somewhere secure just in case you need them again. Email passwords are particularly important as we usually enter them into Outlook once and then you don’t have to worry about them anymore so it is quite easy to forget… and you don’t want to be changing your password all the time because you keep forgetting.
5. Don’t open any suspicious looking emails
Spammers use emails to try and target individuals in order to gain access to personal information stored on our computers or to upload malware/viruses into your system. It is really important that you do not open any suspicious looking emails – particularly those with attachments. Instead, you should delete them straight away. If you are unsure about anything, make sure to contact your email provider or computer tech person so that they can advise you accordingly.
6. Make sure your email account is set up correctly
When you get a new domain email through your website hosting company, they will quite often provide you with instructions on how to do so. It is important that you follow these correctly as the settings they have outlined are crucial to the correct functionality of your email account. More often than not, we receive phone calls to say that emails are not working and when we look into it further it appears that their mailboxes are full because they haven’t followed the instructions when setting up their emails so that the account isn’t leaving a copy on the server.
7. Make sure your computer is equipped with up to date Virus Protection
As web developers, we cannot stress this enough!! If you develop a virus or what we call ‘malware’ on your computer and then do updates to your website or send emails to people, there is a chance that you could be transferring that malware into the website and then onto your hosting server. Once on the server, it puts all of the clients hosted by that provider at risk and they may be forced to close your account down. And always remember… once a virus is in your computer it adapts and learns to fight against any virus software you may install – if you do contract a virus, it is important that you take your computer to your local technician.
If you are having an issue with your website, email or internet in general – don’t freak out – there was a time where we could manage without this and believe it or not, it is still possible.
If your emails aren’t working give your email provider a polite prompt just so that they know there is an issue that they need to look into and fix as soon as possible (they know how urgent it is and they will attend to is straight away). When issues like these occur, a lot of the time they are already aware and trying to fix the issue and the last thing that they need is to be bombarded by a heap of angry phone calls because people can’t access their emails. In the meantime, there is a handy device called a telephone that can be used to contact people. Or as suggested above, have a backup email account that you can use.