If you are going to use your computer to store your practice information you need to take three very important steps:
- Physical security. Buy a computer that can be securely locked with a cable to an immovable object. Many desktop computers have a lock ring that a padlock with a cable can be attached to.
- Backups. You must at a minimum do weekly backups. Not only is theft a problem but your computer might have a hardware failure or it might get infected with a virus and need reformatting. Not only must you do weekly backups but you must test your backups by doing a full restore, most people neglect this critical step. Unless you have done a full restore and verified that your system is fully operational with all the data intact, it most likely is not. This backup software comes free and standard with apple iMacs (os version 10.5 and later), on windows computers you need to buy separate software.
- Whole Disk Encryption. As mentioned before, it is a very simple matter to remove a disk drive from a computer and read its contents even though it is password protected. The only way to securely store your data is to use whole disk encryption. For users of Apple iMacs using os X and later, this is easy. Go to the system preferences panel, click on the "security" icon and set up the "FileVault". For windows computers adding whole disk encryption can be a much more expensive proposition.
- With your own computer, you can only work when you have access to that computer. You cant work from home if traffic is bad or access notes in an emergency while on vacation. With web based practice management solution, you can access your practice anywhere you have an web browser.
- Time. Installing software on your computer is notoriously difficult and time consuming. Doing backups and testing them is very time consuming too. How much is your time worth? Web based practice management solutions completely eliminate these tasks.
- Integration. Web based practice management solutions can be completely integrated which eliminates duplicated effort. For example, after a session is complete you can just press a button which charges the client's credit card without entering any additional information.