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Are your I.T. Elves working hard this Christmas?

Article By James Mills | | Technology Consulting

Whilst most of Brisbane (if not Australia!) seems to close down over the Christmas to New Year’s Day period, the Altitude Innovations Team use this valuable time when no-one is using their systems to perform much needed maintenance work during a period when it won’t inconvenience everyone should things take longer than expected or need to be taken offline (as they so frequently do…).

Apart from being a great time to complete any major projects that would otherwise cause downtime to your business if they were carried out during the year, there is also vital maintenance work that should be performed on a regular basis – annually at a minimum – to ensure that your systems are operating at their peak efficiency, and protect you better against any nasty surprises.

Below is our list of standard tasks we tend to perform for our Clients whilst they are closed for Christmas:

  1. Fully Restart Servers – May seem a bit obvious, but just like your home/work PC, even Servers can benefit from a reboot every now and again. If your Servers aren’t part of your regular maintenance routine (see below re: updates) there is a good chance that they have been running all year without a chance to have a mini ‘refresher’.
  1. Install Operating System Updates – Even with the ease of automated Windows Update delivery, there are still some who prefer to have control over which updates are installed and when, so that they can also control when that Server is out of action for the necessary reboots. As a downside though, the more updates that have been allowed to back up, the longer that reboot/Server downtime will take.
  1. Install Application Updates – Once the core Operating System is up to date, you can turn your attention to some of your general/productivity Apps to make sure you are using the latest version of these with all the new features. Care must be taken though to ensure that your Application Licensing covers you for version upgrades, however if you are paying a regular Subscription for something (e.g. Office 365), generally you are licensed to install and keep up to date with the latest version.
  1. Install Firmware Updates – often the forgotten piece of Software which drives every piece of Hardware on your network, Firmware Updates almost always fix critical issues either with Performance, Stability or Security and although in an ideal world they should be applied immediately, because they typically require a reboot of each device once installed, the holidays are a perfect time to do these if you haven’t already.
  1. Perform a Data Recovery Test – You may be regimented with your Data Backup process and have a Backup Rotation plan which allows you to restore data from any point in time throughout the year… but when was the last time you actually checked you could? Backups are only half of the solution, you can have all the Backups in the world but if you haven’t tested your Recovery Process, or that the media being used for the Backup can even be read, your systems are just as vulnerable as those who aren’t taking any Backups (hopefully though, that is no-one reading this…).
  1. Carry out a UPS Runtime Test – The battery in the Uninterruptible Power Supply protecting your Servers from power outages and surges (you do have a UPS, don’t you?) is just like any other rechargeable battery in the world: over time and repeated discharges, they will hold less and less charge and give you less runtime on battery despite showing ‘100% capacity’ (smartphone battery anyone?). Therefore, it is important to perform an annual runtime test to determine exactly how much charge is left in the batteries to ascertain whether it is a long enough period to ride out any power interruptions or provide for a graceful shutdown. If not, it might be time to get some new batteries…

Obviously this list doesn’t include all of the other regular tasks which should be done far more frequently than annually – such as changing passwords, checking your Anti-Virus/Malware Protection is working & updating correctly, or checking Event Logs to get advanced warning of potential problems.

If your current I.T. Provider isn’t assisting you to carry out this vital maintenance work, you should contact the Altitude Innovations Team with haste to ensure you minimise your chances of inconvenient and unwanted downtime.