Guide

Computer software for business

Software installation and maintenance

Once you choose the right software solution, you will have to integrate it into your business. This includes installing the software into your existing systems, carrying out regular maintenance and finding support for your software when you need it.

Types of software installation

In the past, most off-the-shelf software came on CDs or DVDs. Many types of software are now available to buy and download online, and are simple to install.

You can install software on individual machines or on network servers - this is common in situations where several employees and applications share the software.

For businesses with more than ten desktop PCs, it is often better to set them up with a common set of software. This makes it easier to update and check that software is properly licensed.

You may need to activate certain types of software after installation, often online or by phone. If you change the hardware details of the PC, you may need to re-activate the software.

Software upgrades

Software upgrades may become available because:

  • new or improved functionality is added to the software
  • current software has become incompatible with other, newer programs
  • security 'fixes' or 'patches' are needed to address 'bugs' discovered in the software

You can usually access upgrades online. It is important to install them and keep systems software fully up to date. Otherwise, your systems may be vulnerable to newly discovered security flaws.

If you're using software stored in the cloud, your service provider will manage your upgrades. See advantages of cloud computing.

Software support

An important factor in choosing software is the availability of technical support. When assessing support, you should consider:

  • Location – Time difference can affect availability during particular times. Some providers may offer online or email support, or real-time messaging.
  • Price – You may get a period of free technical support when you install your software. However, software support is usually charged for after a certain period of time or after a certain number of queries. Check the cost carefully, especially if the support is on a long distance or premium-rate phone line.
  • Response times - If your business depends on your software, fixing problems quickly may be vital. Always read the small print of your maintenance contract.

Some suppliers may stop offering support for older versions of software which can make it difficult to keep software secure.

Look around for the best deal, but make sure that the supplier you choose can deliver on its promises. Find out how to choose and manage your IT supplier.