Getting a move on

Making any move is always a big deal. When you're moving a home office, it's an even bigger deal. This isn't just about my antique china cabinet, it's my livelihood. How will it all work out? Well, you'll find out when I do.

Moving a home office is never easy.

My friends have heard me say that I'm going to move for so many years that some of them still can't believe that I'm actually doing it. Well, I am. In mid-June, I'm leaving muggy, crowded Washington, D.C. behind for a house in the cool, quiet Blue Ridge Mountains in Arden, North Carolina, just down the road from better-known Asheville.

Making any move is always a big deal. When you're moving a home office, as I'm doing, it's an even bigger deal. This isn't just about my antique china cabinet, it's my livelihood. How will it all work out? Well, you'll find out when I do. And, come the day when you move your own office, you'll know more than I currently do.

YES

The first thing I did was to take a long, hard look at my office and decide what needed to make the trip and what could be tossed overboard. After being in the same 800-square-foot office space for more than a decade, I have a good ton of equipment, software, manuals and the like that I really wasn't using anymore.

In my case, I've decided to say farewell to a dozen old workstations, ranging from 486es to 100MHz Pentiums that were no longer doing well even as testbed boxes for beating up servers. Now, I hate with a passion trashing anything that someone can still find useful; so I've found homes for most of the systems with church groups and local families for whom even a 486 is a step up. (Shudder!)

If I hadn't found local homes for my old stuff, I would have donated it to the National Cristina Foundation (NCF; http://www.cristina.org). The NCF is a not-for-profit charitable organization that delivers refurbished computer equipment to poor, handicapped and disadvantaged students.

Besides knowing that your old stuff is making someone's life better, you can also take a charitable deduction from either your corporate or individual taxes for the equipment's fair market value and the cost to ship the items to the NCF. Of course, with really old equipment, we're not talking much of a deduction, but as people are even more aware of this time of year, any deduction is better than none. Even after bidding farewell to some PCs and the odd scanner and modem, I still have 10 workstations, half a dozen servers and countless routers, switches, hubs and the like to take with me. Now, here is where I may be making a mistake: instead of using a corporate moving service, I've opted to have my move done by a company that primarily handles residential moves. They also do office moves and they know that I have a small business-if you have more than a dozen computers, you're no longer just a small office/home office-but I fear that by saving money with the move, I may be borrowing trouble. All I know for sure is that I'm going to be watching the office move a lot more closely than I am my china.

For most people with a SOHO, I'd recommend getting a mover that really knows offices. The Better Business Bureau says they get more complaints about moving companies than any other kind of business. That's not encouraging.

The best way to check on office movers is simply to ask other companies about their moving experiences. I wish there was a good Web site that really gave the inside scoop on corporate movers; but I've looked and the moving companies themselves run the only decent ones. Need I say that they're not all that objective about the quality of their services? I thought not.

Even with the best corporate moving companies, though, I've already heard enough horror stories to know that you can't expect them to do a good job of setting your network back up. Count on your network administrators and technicians putting in days of overtime getting everything hooked up again. Even with my small network, I anticipate spending at least two days doing nothing but resetting up the LAN-and that's not even counting reconnecting to the Internet with a new ISP.

That will be a headache all its own, though, and a story for another day.