10. If you don’t have an information technician (IT) person on staff, get a local IT company to provide you with support. For a fee, the IT company will review your network on a regular basis and be ready to help if you do have a problem. The ongoing cost will be a lot less than the cost of having to completely rebuild your system. The IT company will also do regularly scheduled sweeps for worms, malware, viruses and such.
Getting hacked has a broad definition. Your computer can be attacked by someone from the outside. Robots are constantly searching the Internet, looking for vulnerable computers. Following the suggestions above should keep most attacks off the computer.
The most probable attack will come from a disgruntle employee who know the passwords and can get on your network to destroy files and programs. Print owners must think about computer security the same way they think about their physical plant. Any time an employee leaves, passwords should be changed on all computers and applications the same way as locks and keys are changed. Printers must keep a list of all passwords used by every employee so they will have access to systems, applications, and files. Printers should also check to assure that software applications are registered in the company’s name and not the employee’s name. The passwords should be reviewed quarterly to assure the owners have the correct passwords on file.
Question: Is it time to update my old Macintosh?
If you aren’t running an Intel Mac, you need to be. I have run into a number of companies trying to stretch the life of their old G-5s, but all they are doing is losing productivity. The latest prepress software takes advantage of the Intel processor so you can use the latest Adobe and Quark software.
A big question is which Mac is the best buy for the average print shop. The iMac is the perfect choice for most quick print shops. You’ll want to buy the one with the biggest monitor so your prepress person can be more productive. The less they scroll the screen, the more work they get done. You can get into an iMac for desktop publishing for around $1,200 with four gigs of RAM. Buy all the internal RAM you can. Apple does sell more powerful Mac Pros, but they are overkill for most print shops and aimed at the video market. They start around $2,400 and require you to buy a monitor. The iMacs are the real workhorses in print shops.
Question: It seems like everyone can make a PDF file. Should I expect to have any problems with customer-created PDF files?
Like any customer file, even one in the PDF format can cause you problems if you don’t talk to the customer about how to construct the file before he or she submits it. There are a number of programs that will turn files into a PDF, but the file you get still may not print properly. Print-ready PDF files will embed the fonts and the graphics. Every printer should have PDF tools to let him edit the file if necessary.
Some of the free PDF creation programs don’t automatically embed fonts or the graphics, so you might get a PDF file from a customer that you can’t do anything with. Make sure you bring up potential problems with customers before they submit a PDF file. Ask them if the procedure they are using embeds the fonts. Ask them if the procedure embeds the graphics and doesn’t change the resolution.
If you don’t want to give a customer a specific PDF creation program to use to make printable PDF files, then you should be suggesting that they export Adobe and Quark files as PDF files using the built in tools. You may also want a Postscript file from the customer that you can turn into a PDF file yourself. PDF files are very forgiving if you are going to a digital printer, but if you are sending the file to a platemaker for press, you may have problems. Avoid those problems by talking to the customer and preflighting every PDF file before it gets too far into production.
Question: What is the best Web-to-print solution?
That question is too broad. The answer is: it depends. What do you want to do? A number of the website services geared specifically for printers now include storefronts that can handle most of the needs of a quick or small commercial printer. For an additional monthly charge, most have an application that will allow your customers to typeset and order their own business cards and marketing material. You build the template and the customer can then change only those areas you allow. It helps protect the integrity of the brand. If you want something more sophisticated, you should expect to pay more. Xerox, EFI, Kodak, Printable, and others offer solutions for printers.