Check Off Some Of Your 2016 IT Needs.

Use A Slow Week to Knock Off Some IT Management To-Do’s

As the New Year approaches, there are any number of recommendations for things you should do on an annual basis; change smoke detector batteries, renew subscriptions, complete year-end accounting, etc.  But what about your information systems?  Well, make a list.  There are many things to knock out in regards to IT management.  Here are a several that regularly come up and are all too easy to overlook.

Check Your Batteries In Your IT Installations 

We are still plagued by the need for batteries in just about everything we do.  Take a look at your RAID controllers.  Most, if not all, RAID controllers that are non-integrated have batteries to maintain write caching and/or RAID configuration.  In most small to mid-sized businesses, I doubt anyone ever takes a look at the battery status or is aware of the limited life (5 years or less) of these batteries.

Recently, a potential client called with a downed primary domain controller.  A semi-technical employee had made repeated attempts to restart the system over the course of a day.  When on-site, I found that the RAID battery had failed some time long ago and had actually swollen enough to damage the RAID controller.  Fortunately for them, they had an out of service computer with a duplicate controller.  With the disk integrity intact, we were able to rebuild the RAID.

The moral of the story: check batteries in all of your devices and replace when in doubt.

Renew Software Subscriptions

You know the story.  The person who signed up for your Microsoft Office 365 subscription left the company.  Their email address was deleted.  No one received any notice that the subscription was in need of renewal.  One morning, not a soul was receiving email or able to access some services.  Subscription expired!

Keep a list of your subscriptions.  Check renewal dates and payment information annually.  Make sure that subscriptions are made under generic company email accounts with forwarders to several critical staff members.

Review Your Passwords

Keeping up with changing passwords can be a challenge.  In many secure environments, staff are required to change their passwords every 30, 60 or 90 days.  This is not, however, a standard.  Make sure to change all of your passwords with similar frequency.  At the very least, change rarely used password protected business and personal accounts annually.  Now’s a good to time to check-in on this.

Review Your Data Recovery and Business Continuity Solutions

Do some housekeeping!  You have just invested a year in typing documents, scanning, photographing, videography, creating presentations, etc.  Some of these things reside on your phone, tablet, in your cloud accounts or on your computer.  How often do you back them up in a repository where they are organized and easily accessible?  What are you storing them on?  How prepared is your company to keep conducting business if your network, or part of it, goes down?

Is your business using physical media to back-up its data?  Are you backing up to the cloud?  Or using a hybrid solution?  Are you 100% confident your data backups are working–is anyone actually checking them regularly?  There’s no better time to take a look at your data back-up solutions.

Maintain Anti-Virus Subscriptions and Updated Definitions

It baffles me when I enter a business to provide service and find the root cause of a problem stems from a virus or malware.  Often times the culprit is out of date definitions due to failure to renew a subscription.  I know I already talked about renewing subscriptions above, but Anti-Virus really does deserve it’s own section!  I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining both updated definitions and your subscriptions to anti-virus and/or anti-malware software.  (A good managed services provider will continually update these for your network throughout the year.)

Don’t ignore the warning for out-of-date definitions.  If you do, you’re really very likely to regret it.  If you’re curious what a typical malware attack on a business can look like these days, take a few minutes and read the FBI’s article on ‘Ransomware.’

Finally, don’t be intimidated–these are a few good starting points for looking at your IT at the end of the year.  Start today and prepare yourself and your business.  Happy New Year!