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Useful sites for small business

Elsa Wenzel | Sept. 30, 2011
Whether you're running a business out of your den or from a penthouse in the sky, you don't have time or money to waste on second-rate tools. These well-designed services and resources are among the best the Web offers for small and midsize businesses. Some include apps for smartphones and downloads for your desktop, but all of them provide the bulk of their features within a Web browser.

Security

Do you stash your login secrets in plain text in a Word doc? Shame on you. Passpack stores your passwords safely, and lets you share them with individuals and workgroups. It offers daily backups and AES-256 SSL connection, with your data encrypted and decrypted in the browser. Passpack is free for two users storing 100 passwords, with monthly business plans priced between $1.50 and $40 for keeping between 1000 and 10,000 passwords, all the way up to 1000 users.

Proxify comes in handy when you want to surf securely on a public Wi-Fi connection at an airport or café. Just enter the URL, say, of the bank you wish to log in to, and it allows you to choose to strip cookies, scripts, ads, and more once you arrive. If a shady-looking filename or URL gives you the stranger-danger vibe, submit it to VirusTotal, which will tell you whether it's safe to open or whether it should go into your virtual recycling bin. To help your employees better detect online threats, include a link to StaySafeOnline in your company handbook.

Office Space

The Coworking Wiki is a great place to get acquainted with alternative, shared office spaces that you can rent by the month, day, or hour. Loose Cubes and DeskWanted match people seeking a temporary work room--or at least a cubicle--of their own with those offering space. If you're in the market for longer-term digs, WorkSnug rates available office rentals in many major cities.

Working Remotely

Both LogMeIn and GoToMyPC let you access a faraway PC securely. The LogMeIn Pro version is $70 per computer each month, or $50 or less per month for at least five computers. GoToMyPC Pro costs $20 per month for up to 50 users. But LogMeIn starts with a free option, while GoToMyPC's basic plan costs $10 per month. Each service offers mobile options as well.

Trip Planning

Frequent flyers swear by TripIt, which collects your jumble of travel plans into elegant itineraries for your iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone, or BlackBerry. When you receive a confirmation email message for a flight, a hotel stay, or a rental car booking, just forward it to TripIt.

Hipmunk's unique airfare finder displays flight options in a handy grid. Rather than forcing you to start each search anew, it arranges each search in a tab. It gets points for sorting flights by "agony" factor, too. And as long as you're using the same browser as last time, it saves your latest searches even if you haven't logged in.

If you're not loyal to a single airline, check out UsingMiles, which is built to help you manage multiple mileage accounts--as well as loyalty programs for hotels, credit cards, and car rentals. Too bad you can't get your miles to count like they did in 1999.

 

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