COVID 19 has taught us a lot including how important our servers are to us. With an uptick of about 170% in remote working, server preventive maintenance has taken on a new urgency. Today server function, reliability, and performance is a new priority.
Server preventive maintenance has always been a critical activity, but now, with more people working remotely, there is no room for error when it comes to caring for your equipment. Follow a few simple guidelines for server preventive maintenance and you will stay up and running.
Why is Server Preventive Maintenance So Important?
Your server is the backbone of your IT and to your business. It houses everything your business needs to manage data, client information, company organizational information, and much more. Servers are critical to day to day business activities, managing past business transactions, and keeping data that is vital to your business safe.
Server preventing maintenance helps to ensure that your data is protected and that your business can perform. Preventing security breaches, protecting data, and loss recovery is all dependent on preventive maintenance.
In today’s market no matter what industry, data is the new currency. Data management and the equipment that processes it is the irreplaceable capital that your business depends on. Taking the time to ensure that your servers are safe, secure, reliable, and highly functioning requires regular maintenance.
Server preventive maintenance is a cost-saving activity that protects your business. Like all equipment the better you take care of it the more reliable and long-lasting it will be.
Make a Checklist
Server preventive maintenance is not hard to manage, but it absolutely something that needs to be managed. It can be time-consuming, but it is always well worth the time investment. Even with cloud computing options widely available many businesses are still relying on servers for their computing needs. If your business is one of those businesses, you need to make a checklist of server preventive maintenance that you follow religiously.
Servers are like any other piece of equipment. Maintenance and proper care are necessary to ensure continued performance. Additionally, with the proper maintenance, you may be able to extend the life of your equipment and save some money.
Consider The Environment
Before we get to the checklist of maintenance activities, consider the environment of your server. Servers do not like a hot stuffy humid environment. All the maintenance activities in the world will not keep your server up and running if the environment in which it is housed is inadequate.
Your server cabinets need to have the right airflow. Servers need to be a safe distance from each other to avoid overheating. Climate control and physical location of the rack in a server environment is critical.
Air conditioning and other climate controls need to be available. If your environment is not set up to protect your server you are at risk. Consider installing the necessary climate control units to protect your equipment.
If your ac is not up to part or not efficiently cooling the space consider having some AC service done to rectify the problem. Keeping your equipment in the right environment is critical to the survival of your equipment.
The right environment is not only important for your servers but it is important for other tech equipment, even inket printers have been known to jam when the room temp is too warm. Before you do server preventive maintenance do a little environmental maintenance.
Servers can be fickle. Taking other precautions like having a backup generator installed can help you to ensure that your server never skips a beat and that you do not lose critical data should the power go out.
A lot of business owners wonder if it is worth the investment of having an electrician install a generator for their servers. The fact is you have to decide how valuable your data is to you to figure out if it is worth the investment or not.
Paying for the cost of commerical electrical work to have a generator installed may turn out to be more affordable then you thought when you compare it with the cost of replacing a server that lost all of its data do to an unexpected power outage. Do servers lose information when they are suddenly booted off? Sometimes. It may be a slim risk, but a risk nonetheless.
When and if you do connect with an electrician, you may want to ask about electrical feedthrough for your server room. Why you need one or may need one, is far too in-depth for an article that is focused on server preventive maintenance, but you should ask an electrician about whether you need one for your server room or not.
Making sure your environment is safe for your servers is really the first thing that should be on your server preventive maintenance checklist. Once the environment is safe for your servers half the battle is done. One more thing for your environmental check, you may want to consider contacting a fire extinguisher service to get a fire extinguisher for the server room. They can get pretty heated up. It is always better to err on the side of caution.
On To the Checklist for Server Preventive Maintenance
If you never had a catastrophic failure, good for you, if you have, you know a drive failure, can really be awful to deal with. The first thing on your checklist when it comes to server preventive maintenance is to check your backup system.
Double checking your backups will ensure if something goes wrong the results will not be a catastrophic data loss. It can be very hard to recover from a complete data loss. Checking your backup system periodically to ensure everything is working as it should will save you a lot of headaches.
RAID needs to be checked. RAID or Redundant Array of Independent Disks are multi hard drives in your server that act together to create a single storage area. In updated servers, there is a monitoring tool that monitors the RAID. This utility will allow you to see potential failures, that you can address without interruption to services.
Monitor storage. Servers can hang on to a lot of information that can suck up your storage space. Consider moving old logs into archives, clear out old software, and move other unnecessary “junk” to an offline portable drive. Keeping your server storage space freed up for more important data is important. What happens when your storage space starts to fill up? You can miss out on important updates and patches. Keep an eye on your storage space and periodically clean things up.
All of the above is relative server preventive maintenance for data verification on your server, but that is just a small part of your checklist there is more. Let’s move on to the system checks:
- Check out your resource usage. Do not use disk space (storage space) usage as the only guide for how well your server is performing. Checking on the resource usage can be a great guidepost for knowing when it is time to upgrade your system. If your system resources are nearing 100% often, you may need to upgrade your server to something with more space or adding another server to carry the load. Over extending the capabilities of your server frequently can result in damage to the hardware.
- Updates to your control panel are a necessity. Cpanel and other control panel software need to be updated manually. That means that you have to go in and manage the updates on your own. Don’t forget to update the software that the control panel controls as well.
- Regularly update software. Some packages have management tools that will manage the majority of the updates for you, some packages do not. Checking for updates is essential. Keeping your software up to date will ensure that your system is running at its highest potential.
- Verify remote management tools. Check rescue tools, remote desktop tools, and other remote management tools. It is critical that these tools are functioning at 100%. Don’t forget your remote boot as well. It is vital if you rely on cloud computing to do these checks frequently. Many server hosting issues can be resolved with a remote reboot. It is vital that these utilities are always functioning.
- Server network loads. Just like memory loads, and CPU loads in servers, there are network load capacities. Check your network load and if your system is reaching 100% capacity, consider adding another server to balance the load. Overloading your system can set it up for a critical fail.
- Stay on top of OS updates. Updates can be a tricky business. Planned OS updates can be a field day for hackers. Hackers wait for planned announced updates to breach your system. Hackers look for ways to breach the system before the patch is released and take advantage of a system’s vulnerability. Of course, there is always the risk of conflict between the updates and the software installed. Keep your eye on OS updates and look for any potential conflict before you hit enter.
Feels like you should be done by now with the server preventive maintenance, but there is more. You did your hardware checks, and your software checks, and now you should move on to caring for your physical hardware.
Let’s Clean Things Up
Servers attract dust. Dust can be the number one enemy of any hardware. It is important that you clear away debris regularly from your server to ensure proper operation. Dust build-up can interfere with the board, how your unit manages the heat it generates, and other physical functions.
Clearing away debris using a soft cloth will help to keep dust and other dirt from building up and infiltrating the unit. While you are dusting things off check for any unusual cables, flash drives, loose wiring, and other out of the ordinary physical attributes. An unauthorized cable or drive can mean a security breach.
This is a good time to check your error logs. Servers have SMART logs that can reveal driver errors. Make it a habit to check these logs on clean up day.
The Last Things On the Server Preventive Maintenance Check List
The list bit of server preventive maintenance has to do with security. Keeping your servers secure should always be a priority. In that note, we are often concerned with outside threats, and unfortunately, ignore internal threats. How can you keep your server safer? Do the following monthly:
- Evaluate users passwords. If you do not have an enterprise password system installed, you should, but if you do not, that you should be putting out reminders for users to change passwords regularly. A good enterprise password system can take the burden off their shoulders to remind users to change things manually every month.
- Clear out old users. Sometimes old users are forgotten about and never removed. This can mean that the last guy that was fired, still has access to your system. Periodically check your user accounts to ensure that everyone on the list is supposed to be on the list. Remove old users. You should develop the habit of removing users as soon as they leave while it is still fresh in your mind. Periodic screenings of users accounts can ensure that no one has access that should not.
- Get familiar with your log system. Unusual activity in the log can mean unauthorized use, it can also mean a breach. There are a lot of logs to contend with on your server, but there are tools that can make it easier to review. Periodically review the logs and look for unusual activity or hardware errors to help heighten security.
Your final task on your server preventive maintenance checklist is to review your server security policies to ensure that they are up to date.
All of these tasks do not have to be completed at the same time or even the same frequency but they do need to be done regularly to help protect your server and keep the information flowing. Take care of your servers and they will take care of your business.