What to Look for When Using an Online Booking System

When you decide to book a service or reserve a time slot with an online booking system it helps to know what to look out for to ensure your information is safe and your instructions are conveyed accurately to the service provider.

Paramount is your privacy. Does the site have a privacy policy? Most sites will place a link in the footer of the page. It is always a good idea to read their promises on what they will or will not do with your details slot online. Do they categorically state they will not pass your information onto any third parties? If that isn’t in there then think again. Nothing is more irritating then finding your inbox being bombarded with offers you don’t want and didn’t ask for.

Your personal information is valuable. So be sure the site you are dealing with is going to protect you. Any site which is acting as a third party service provider to enable you to book or reserve a service through them with another company, should have obtained assurance from the service/resource provider that they maintain a strict code of privacy.

Of course, all the assurances in the world won’t help if you don’t exercise proper care when booking online. For instance. if at all possible, don’t book while at a public terminal or if you are using a public wifi. The chances are you will be OK but there is a risk so if you can wait until you are back in the safety of your own home password protected internet connection, then all the better. Third Party online booking systems will be safe from phishing (a site which pretends to be another site in order to get you to do something like enter a password or personal information). If in doubt, type the actual website address into your browser bar to be certain you are connecting with the intended website.

Entering your information online is so safe these days because of the extraordinary lengths the technology has gone to to ensure your connection is secure. Look out for a padlock symbol in your browser or the letter ‘s’ after the http at the very beginning of the web address. This signifies you are connected via a layer of security existing between your computer and their system. Incidentally, don’t assume you are safe if you are using a public terminal or public wifi. The SSL will not afford enough protection in that environment.

There’s so many myths about online backup and why you don’t need it. Well, you do – and I hope you run out and get your computer backed up about 30 seconds after you read this article.

Myth #1 – I don’t need it. Yes you do – hard drives crash, houses burn down, your wife throws you out, but not your computer. You’ll thank me when you can download tomorrow’s presentation to your biggest client tonight in your hotel room. I learned this from my father, an insurance broker. He always said the biggest mistake people make is keeping their valuable papers (think computer files – remember, this was 30 years ago) in their house. Well, what happens when your house burns down? Or your wife throws you out? Or there’s a chemical spill and your whole neighborhood is evacuated? This is why you want your important files, photos, and more all backed up offsite.

Myth #2 – It’s expensive. Prices have dropped dramatically in the last few years. Many sites such as Mozy give you 2 gb to 5 gb free. Other sites, like Carbonite, offer to back up your home computer starting at just $59 a year. They’ll back up your small business computer for $229 and up. If you just need photos backed up, flickr, Photobucket, and others will host your photos for free. I always email important documents to myself as an attachment after I create them. That way, they’re backed up right away and they’re safely nestled in Google’s servers. Just in case…but this little tip has saved my buns more than once.

Myth #3 – It’s hard to do. No, it’s not. It takes about 15 minutes of active work. You can do it while you’re busy posting on Facebook or answering email. Pick your backup site, download the software, and install it. The first backup will take several hours to a few days, depending on how many files you’re backing up, but it’s all automated – you don’t have to do anything after you pick the files to backup. Once you have the initial backup done, pick a time for the computer to back up your files. If you have a desktop and always leave it on, then pick an overnight slot so you won’t be slowing down your computer while you’re trying to work. If it’s your laptop, pick a time when you’re usually just answering email or something else that makes light use of the cpu. Don’t schedule your backup when you’re playing World of Worldcraft or working on the sequel to Kubrick’s “2001” – it’ll take forever. Once a week is good – but more often if you have irreplaceable files. You can get by with once a month if it’s a lightly used computer and most of your files are already online – think email and facebook. Most backups will only backup files that have changed since the last backup, so it should take less than an hour. You probably won’t even notice it running in the background until the little icon pops up and says “Done!”. One last tip – after the initial backup – try to recover a file and open it on your desktop. This is to make sure that you have a good backup and no glitches popped up. You don’t want to open a bunch of gibberish from your backup site when what you really wanted was photos of your wedding.

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