What Do I Do When…: Answers to a Few Common Questions about Computer Software

By Taylor Sisk, Staples® Contributing Writer

Where’s my disk? Are my files really gone forever? Is this the best version of QuickBooks® for me?

Sometimes when you buy new software, you have more questions than answers. Here are the most common queries — and some answers, too.

Q. Why is there no disc in the box of software I just purchased?

A. Many software titles use electronic software distribution, or ESD. In other words, the download comes from a cloud server, not a CD. To ensure the customer always has the latest and greatest software, many software makers require that you go to a registration site and verify the serial number in the package. The download will then begin.

Q. Can I just give a copy of this software to all my employees instead of purchasing a multiuser version?

A. No. Many software makers now count how many PCs the software has been installed on and keep a record of which PCs those are. “Trying to circumvent this is often a breach of the end-user license agreement, or the EULA,” says Ryan Salinger, a senior analyst for technology services at Staples. “That’s something you don't want to be breaching as a business.”

Q. How can I manage software as employees come and go?

A. “Software marketplaces are a great way to manage your subscriptions from multiple vendors, add licenses and manage expirations,” Salinger says. “They allow the flexibility to see your business as a whole and expand as you see fit.” There are a number of good options out there on the Internet. Shop around for the one that best meets your business’s needs.

Q. I’m trying to decide whether to purchase QuickBooks Online 2015 or QuickBooks Pro 2015. What considerations should I factor in?

A. There are compelling reasons to go with either. It really depends on the nature of your business. The online version is simple to set up, intuitive and provides you with easy access to a nice range of QuickBooks features. You get free software upgrades. And, of course, you’ll have access anywhere. This last attribute comes in particularly handy for companies that have employees working from different locations who need access to the tools, or if you’re using an accounting or bookkeeping consultant. The online version also includes free support. And you can give it a free 30-day trial spin to see if it’s right for you.

On the other hand, with the desktop version, you don’t need an Internet connection for access. There’s no monthly fee and you’ll have more bookkeeping and reporting tools to work with. There’s more of a learning curve with the desktop version. But if you have some bookkeeping experience, you’ll probably be up and running pretty quickly and will enjoy the additional features.

Q. What’s the best way to back up my data?

A. There are several acceptable ways to back up your data. Some are preferable to others. The “old-fashioned” way (remember floppy disks? Didn’t think so.) is to use a CD-R, a DVD-R or an external hard drive. Backing up with any of these is easy, but capacity is limited. A USB thumb drive is fast, easy and inexpensive, and will hold more data than a CD-R or DVD-R. It’s also nice that you can stick the drive in your pocket if you want that data very close at hand.

But more people are turning today to the cloud to back up their data. Online backup affords the luxury of not having to keep track of a physical disk or drive, and your data is secure and with you wherever you go, assuming an Internet connection is available.

Q. When are files actually permanently erased from my computer?

A. Most people don’t realize this, but deleting a file doesn’t mean it’s actually gone — as in, irretrievable. It just means that the pointer to the file in your file system has been removed; it’s still possible to recover that file. To permanently eradicate a file, you can use a digital file-shredder that overwrites it.

Don’t feel around in the dark. Got a question about that software? Ask an expert. Staples® EasyTech Support is at your service. Let us know how we can help.

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