Laptop computer

It’s pretty easy to spend an entire day in front of the computer, between doing your work and making sure your computer does all the things you need it to do. While it may be difficult to outsource your work, you can definitely hand many of the tasks and projects necessary to keep your system up and running — such as upgrades, data backup, data recovery, file migration, troubleshooting, and files management — to specialists and online Internet service providers.

  1. Backups: We all know that we’re supposed to back up our computers religiously — but most people never get around to it. Services like Mozy will back up your computer automatically, and store your data, for prices as low as $4.95 a month.
  2. Repair: It’s possible to find instructions for just about any type of computer repair online, but it’s faster and easier to take a computer to an expert. If you ask around, you can often find an individual or company willing to make house or office calls.
  3. Remote data access: Unless you take your laptop everywhere you go, you’ll eventually need to access information on your computer while it’s not anywhere near you. With a remote access program, like LogMeIn, you can access your computer from anywhere. Alternatively, you can bring in a computer professional to set up secure access to your desktop.
  4. Website design: While there are plenty of ways to set up a website for yourself on the cheap, you usually get better results by going with a professional design firm. You can even arrange it so that the firm handles updates, maintenance and other website issues for you or your business.
  5. Software selection: There are long lists of software bundles already put together for just about any purpose — it’s just a matter of selecting the bundle that matches your needs. Even Firefox offers collections of plugins, so that if you need plugins to complete certain tasks, you can just pick the appropriate collection.
  6. Software development: You may have a brilliant idea for a piece of software, and even have the necessary skills to create it, but if you’re short on time, that project may never be finished. A solution is to hire a developer to complete — you can often find bargains on development through sites like Elance.
  7. Troubleshooting: Even if you aren’t to the point where your computer needs repairs, there may be small problems, particularly with individual software programs. You can have some troubleshoot your machine remotely, and even explain the specifics of a software program, through services like CrossLoop.
  8. Security: If you have sensitive information on your computer, securing it is generally a project better left up to a professional. Many computer repair services will offer security services, but it’s worth taking the time to find a professional who specializes in security in your area.
  9. Finding WiFi: When you’re out and about, finding a wireless access point can take some doing, but there are software packages that sniff out WiFi points you can connect your computer to. The iPhone has several applications for that purpose, such as APlogger.
  10. Data recovery: The worst does occasionally happen and computers do suffer major failures. If you don’t have a recent back up to work from, most computer repair professionals provide data recovery services. Be prepared for a hefty price tag, though — data recovery doesn’t come cheap.
  11. Upgrades: Is your computer system slowing down? You may be ready for an upgrade. Depending on where you bought your system, an easy solution is often to go back to the same store — stores like Best Buy will often have minimal waits for parts, while independent shops may have to order them.
  12. Social networking accounts: Being connected on multiple sites is starting to be a necessity, but signing up for every service under the sun takes a lot of time. KnowEm will check each site for the availability of your preferred user name and then — for a premium — register your name on 120 social networking sites.
  13. Blog set up and customization: By picking the right web host, you can have a WordPress blog (or other content management system) with one click. Blog customization services will also set up your blog, as well as making sure that the appearance and tools match your needs.
  14. Sharing large files: Back in the day, you had to have access to a server in order to move large files. There are now many services that allow you to send large files for free. YouSendIt, for instance, will let you share a file up to 2 gigs in size without having to switch to a premium plan.
  15. Files management: Have difficulty maintaining order in the many directories on your computer? Some virtual assistants specialize in cleaning up digital filing systems. Even if your virtual assistant doesn’t officially offer such a service, you can usually request it.
  16. Server setup: Home servers, as well as servers for small businsses, are becoming more and more common. Unless you want to spend hours getting your server up and running, you can purchase a server already set up for such uses, like the Acer Aspire easyStore server, which just has to be plugged in.
  17. Internet setup: Finding out why the lights on your router are blinking when you don’t have an Internet connection can be time-consuming, requiring calls to tech support. With many Internet service providers, you can actually request that a repairman visit your home and office for a fee.
  18. File migration: When you purchase a new computer, many retailers, such as Apple, offer to move your files over to your new machine free of charge. Many will even install your software, provided that you can produce the original CDs and license number.
  19. Database development: Many businesses use databases that don’t particularly meet their needs, and creating a custom database isn’t so far out of reach. You can check for a database development consultant in your area, or find one. Sites like Elance even accept database projects.
  20. Digitizing files: Sitting at your computer, scanning in documents, photos or even receipts can be an incredibly tedious project. You can bring someone in to your office to handle such projects. You can also turn the project over to a digitization service, which typically has equipment to handle the process far more effectively.
  21. E-commerce: If you’re interested in selling products online, you’ll need an e-commerece solution to handle sales and order fulfillment. While it is possible to write e-commerce software from scratch, it’s much more practical to take a look at one of the many existing options, such as PayPal.
  22. Online marketing: Marketing a product or service online can be a fairly specialized project. You can bring in an Internet marketing specialist to handle the details.
  23. PDF creation: With some software packages, you can simply export a PDF — but it’s easy to tell if you’ve simply changed a Word document into a PDF. For important projects, such as ebooks, hiring a designer who specializes in PDF publications can make the difference between a humdrum file and something eye-catching.
  24. Hardware procurement: For anyone needing new computer equipment, but without access to a large IT department willing to research, select and procure your new system, many computer technicians will offer procurement services, at least for business clients.
  25. Printing: While you may have a printer on your desk, any print job requiring more than a few pages of standard printer paper may require a specialized touch. FedEx Kinko’s allows you to send files directly to your local print shop from your own computer, specify the details and then pick up your print job.

Image credit: CostinT / iStockphoto

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