June 19, 2016

How to avoid costly IT breakdowns

By SpiderGroup

A large amount of IT infrastructure in offices is installed, bought online and then left alone, never to be touched again. Suddenly, one day a major device or system fails and the business grinds to a halt.

I’ve walked into a number of server rooms during my time in IT which haven’t been maintained in years and the required work to get everyone back online again has stacked up into a hugely expensive and laborious process.

Some simple, semi-regular maintenance tasks can hugely reduce the risk of such a breakdown.

Hardware Maintenance

A well designed IT system should have a detailed breakdown of the components and structure of all hardware items in your server room/cabinet.

I would recommend at least once every 6 months running through the list of all your hardware and checking to see if there are any hardware updates (generally known as firmware). Most hardware manufacturers (Dell, HP, Juniper, etc) have hugely detailed websites with information on how to upgrade.

Additionally, check to see if your hardware came with any warranty – you may find that a failure is covered by hardware warranty and a replacement can be sent to you very quickly.

Software Updates

Depending on the size of your business, you should have a strategy for updating all versions of software that are run in your office. Be this Windows, Mac OS X, Microsoft Office or other third party software it is worth making sure that these are patched and fully up to date.

This applies to both client (Windows 7,8 etc) and server operating systems (Windows Server 2012 etc).

Generally, you should be looking to update and reboot servers on a monthly basis.

Budgeting for Upgrades

As part of any business’s annual budget you should be putting aside some money to perform upgrades to your software and hardware.

Servers and key network hardware should look to be refreshed every few years. It seems obvious that hardware that has been running 24/7 for 10 years is more likely to fail but I’m always surprised at how this is very often ignored or forgotten.

Similarly, key software such as operating systems generally only ever have a 10-year cycle before their manufacturers stop supporting them. This is true recently with Windows XP. It is still widely used as businesses haven’t budgeted for the upgrades but is now unsupported by Microsoft and its use is now considered a huge security risk. Consequently, many of these businesses are now spending small fortunes to get support for 10-year-old software rather than upgrading.

The majority of software manufacturers are now adopting subscription based payment models to address this particular issue; paying monthly/yearly ensures your computers are all running the latest software.

Not budgeting for upgrades will ultimately result in a very expensive upgrade cost further down the line, so ensure IT upgrades are included in your budget.

Care for your IT

In conclusion, the biggest piece of advice I can give is to ensure that your IT systems are given the time and care required to keep them running at their most efficient. The most expensive IT system recovery is one which hasn’t been given any love for years.

Ensuring updates are applied on a regular basis and budget is allocated for refreshing hardware and software where possible. Remember how much your business relies on IT to keep it running smoothly, and budget according to how important it is or how disastrous downtime could be.

If you would like some help with IT support in Bristol, get in touch with the team at SpiderGroup. Please fill in our contact form or call us on 0117 933 0570 and we will be happy to discuss your IT and how to avoid costly breakdowns.

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