Keep everything Up to Date!

Filed in news, regular maintenance by on August 6, 2015

..or why Does My Server Need Periodic Maintenance?

Servers just run, right? You hardly ever look at it, shut it down or reboot it. You probably don’t give it a second thought as you walk out of the building for the night. Out of sight, out of mind right… until it goes down!  Many businesses have servers on their network and it’s true, you really don’t think about it until it starts to give you a reason to. Usually a client finds out that they have a problem with their server when it ceases to function. Your phone starts ringing and people are coming to your office complaining that they can’t perform their work. The server is down and you have twenty five people who depend on that machine to perform their day to day duties trying to remember how they did their job with paper before you had a server. Could this have been avoided? In most cases, it could have, with a proper maintenance plan.

Most business class servers have fail-safe features built into them. These hardware enhancements make a server fault tolerant. What this means is that critical, but failure prone devices like disks and power supplies are installed in a redundant configuration so that a one component failure will not take the server down. Rather, the server keeps running but starts logging errors that tell the administrator that a component has failed and needs replacement. Examples of fail-safe configurations are mirrored disk drives where a server would have two disks that are a mirror image of each other. In the event of a failure of one disk, the system will keep running on the other member disk until the failed disk can be replaced. Once the failed disk is replaced, the mirror is reestablished and resumes its fault tolerant status. Redundant power supplies work in much the same manner.

The key to attaining maximum server uptime is monitoring the operational status of these fault tolerant features. In the last year, we found four clients that had one disk failures in their fault tolerant disk systems during a regular bi-monthly or monthly maintenance cycle visit. We replaced the failed disk and restored the mirror configuration during off business hours. Had these clients not been on a regular maintenance interval, the degraded condition would not have been detected until the unfortunate failure of the functioning member disk. In this case we would have had to re-install the operating system, all the application software, and restore the client’s data from the backup, resulting in one to two days of downtime.

This is just one example of the systems that are verified on a periodic maintenance visit. We examine all of the server logs, backup subsystem logs, AntiVirus subsystem logs, e-mail server logs, monitor disk free/used space, memory usage and any other systems or devices that are critical to ensure maximum server uptime. If your business uses a server, call us to inquire about our periodic maintenance plans. The cost of prevention is a fraction of the cost of a day of downtime.

Just for Thought….

“Gentlemen, when the enemy is committed to a mistake, we must not interrupt him too soon.”
– British Naval Commander Horatio Nelson

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