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I'm an elevator contractor with a growing business with a low I.T.  I.Q.  I need a more secure/private way of browsing the internet and a more secure way to communicate and send files to my customers which range from large architectural/engineering companies to your average joe in suburb, USA. Any recommendations???  I figured this would be the place to get good unbiased information. 

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In my opinion, for your business you should get your own domain so that your email conversations are an extension of your branding.  I further believe that the cheapest hosting you can get is the way to go.  I use Ipage, but there are many discount hosting services.  bluehost, hostgator, A2 hosting, Inmotion... to name a few.  The hosting will allow you to set up your own web page, but you'll also be able to set up email addresses using your domain name.  You'll want to compare plans as to how many email addresses you are allowed.  How large of files can be emailed.  And possibly how much data you are allowed to transmit over a given time period (probably a month). 


Odds are, just for elevators, you probably can transmit plans, quotes, and shop drawings, submittal data through email.  However, plans sometimes get really large.    Maybe 10 Gigabyte or so.  Those are a pain to email. Working with larger architectural firms, you will find that many of them have an ftp site set up to share data.  I've seen Egnyte is pretty common.  Bluebeam is another.  You can actually set up your own ftp storage for sharing utilizing your allowed data at your hosting site, however, though the procedure is pretty straightforward, I'm not sure I'd recommend it for someone who describes themself as low IT IQ. (I do stuff like that mostly so I know that I can).  The easiest way to share relatively large files is to utilize a file sharing site like DropBox, or Microsoft Onedrive, or Box. (or all three).  There are others also.  I'm cheap so I always strive to utilize the free version of everything.


OK... that's my opinion on email and transferring data.... but I haven't even touched on security.  You specifically stated " secure/private way of browsing the internet."  I'm not sure if you realize what a mouthful you said right there.  We could discuss this for the rest of the year... but maybe that wouldn't actually be beneficial to you.  Secure browsing.  What does that mean to you?  Private browsing.  Who is it that you want to hide your browsing habits from?  The answers to those questions can be significantly varied and each different answer will lead to a different solution.   Maybe what you really want to do is keep your data of your business as secure as possible.  If that is the case, the first line of security is your network setup.  Is your data password protected?  Is your network behind a physical firewall?  Sharing data on a site like DropBox is relatively secure, but if it isn't enough... there are ways to encrypt it.  It all comes back to what level of security do you feel is enough?  Personal data needs to be kept secure.  Business financials also... but do you care who sees your shop drawings?  If you are working on government projects... city halls, schools, etc...  Those documents become public record and are availible to whomever wants them and cares to go to the trouble to ask for them.  Even your bids are public record.  For me, my rule of thumb is that anything I send to anyone else is no longer secure and no longer private.  Therefore, I don't worry about it's security.  I'm old fashioned.  I don't send financial data to accountants.  I put it on a thumb drive and deliver it.  However, there is a fair chance, since you describe yourself as a small business, that you use quickbooks.  If you do, most accountants share that information everyday and you can let them access your data simply with a password.  This is another question that you must answer regarding how concerned you really are about security.


I think I've rambled enough.  The bottom line is that you need to be more specific in what you are trying to keep private and/or secure.  Then you will need to decide how much effort (money) you are willing to spend to achieve that goal.  Please note that everything above is simply my opinion.  Hopefully others will share theirs also.

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