You get into the office in the morning, turn on the lights and try to turn on your computer. Nothing. The computer has crashed, and the data seems irretrievable.

Data loss can happen to even the most tech-savvy building service contractor, due to hardware malfunction, user error or sabotage. That’s why it’s important to routinely back up your data. While small BSCs with little information on computers might get away with making the occasional CD backup of their hard drives, most contractors will need a more sophisticated system.

Chaim Yudkowsky, president of Byte of Success Inc. and author of a column by the same name, offers some tips for creating a backup strategy in a recent article:

  • Store backups away from the main computer, as theft, fire or water can destroy both the original and the backup.

  • Make sure the backup media and hardware are reliable, and that data can be restored quickly if there’s a loss.

  • If you’re choosing a third-party backup service, be sure to check references, as most of these vendors are new. Also, find out about their security procedures; you don’t want your backup data stolen or hacked.

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Is Your Company The Buzz Of The Blog World?

Until recently, web logs ("blogs") were usually monitored by narrow target audiences — political blogs were read by partisans and news junkies; personal blogs were read by friends and peers. Now, however, corporations are retaining firms to pay attention to Internet chatter about them, their industry and competitors, according to a recent story.

Some companies consider blogs and other online discussions as replacements for customer satisfaction surveys and focus groups, with nearly instant feedback. Also, where a dissatisfied customer might have written a letter or called in a complaint, they’re just as likely to blog about it instead these days, so companies don’t hear the complaints unless they seek out the blog. This allows building service contractors to respond in a timely fashion, even if the criticism is never spoken directly from the customer.

However, these services can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are some free or low-cost alternatives, such as, that aren’t as comprehensive, but they can offer some links BSCs can follow to see if there is criticism, or praise, for their company on the Internet.

A mention in the local newspaper can be a pleasant (or unpleasant) form of publicity for building service contractors. But, sometimes, reporters call and put the story on the back burner for days or weeks, and you miss is when it comes out. Or, a local paper you don’t read regularly will run a news item about, say, a recent real-estate transaction you made, and you never see it.

To increase the chances you’ll see coverage when it does occur, try a free news alert service. Several sites including Yahoo! and Google offer alerts by keyword. Simply enter your e-mail address and company’s name into a form and the system will send you an e-mail whenever it finds that keyword in a breaking news story. You also can track other keywords, such as “Chicago office buildings” or “minimum wage,” to stay aware of trends and regulations that apply to your own market or niche.

One caveat: Some sites will also send press releases or even parody news reports, so be sure to thoroughly review the articles before posting links on your Web site or mentioning them to clients.

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