When your company relies on a network server, it can be easy to forget about server maintenance. Frontline devices like laptops and smartphones tend to hog the attention, along with the internet connection itself, making servers the middle children of any office setup. Left to their own devices, servers can deteriorate gradually before failing suddenly – potentially taking a company’s entire IT infrastructure offline in the process.
To perform effectively, servers require regular monitoring and preventative updates.
These are our top tips for ensuring optimal server maintenance and long-term network health:
- Don’t treat a server as an archive. The 1TB hard drive in a modern server might seem like a perfect place to dump digital archives, but it wasn’t designed for storing historic emails and accounts. Not only is this a very public place to keep sensitive material, but servers primarily need their large hard drives to perform core networking functions.
- Check that redundancy or scheduled backups are taking place. Those backups are critical, but like any piece of computing equipment, servers can develop faults that prevent them operating properly. Test recoveries or analysis of system logs will indicate whether data is being backed up successfully, and in the correct location.
- Update the server operating system. Servers typically run Linux, but certain distros like RHEL have regular updates. Failure to update these can expose a system to vulnerabilities, while the same is true for software upgrades and web apps. Monitor Linux websites and user forums, or use automated patch management tools.
- Review server logs. These provide feedback about server activity and performance, so make sure they’re constantly assessed. The error log will highlight disk read errors or failure notices, potentially illustrating underlying problems. If processes start to fail, server maintenance can prevent these glitches developing into bigger issues.
- Assess available hard disk space. When a server reaches 100 percent capacity, a number of things might happen: it could stop working, begin refusing connections, or start to corrupt stored data. Performance monitoring tools provide plenty of advanced notice, and server maintenance also minimizes any risk of capacity being reached.
- Change passwords periodically. That disgruntled graduate trainee who left last year could still access your servers if old accounts aren’t deleted and passwords aren’t altered regularly. While hackers may be probing your firm’s firewalls, permitting free rein for former staff is also a bad idea – as well as potential for sabotage, they could also steal valuable data.
- Update antivirus software on connected devices. Servers don’t operate in a vacuum, and it’s vital to ensure that any hardware linked to the server is protected. Viruses constantly mutate and evolve, so automatic database updates should be enabled with antivirus scans run daily – or at the very least weekly – to reduce attack threats.
- Prepare for a replacement. Don’t assume that your server will last forever – like any piece of computer hardware, its daily operations will eventually take their toll. Develop a pre-emptive plan for replacing it in advance, and avoid the nightmare scenario where a system failure occurs without an adequate response in place.