Top of the list of words you don’t want to hear in any business is ‘the server’s gone down.’

It stops everything – your computers, your emails, your business – yet can be so easy to avoid with straightforward maintenance.

Urban IT Support, based in Halifax, West Yorkshire, pro-actively monitor all essential IT equipment remotely – ensuring issues are repaired before they bring the business to a sudden and irritating halt. For instance, we may detect that one of your servers is running low on system space. While users may not detect a problem, if this issue is not repaired, the server could restart automatically or shut down which would have a massive impact on the entire business.

Apart from the active monitoring, we also carry out monthly checks and provide a report for clients about any security and manufacturing updates we’ve applied.

So here you go, Urban IT Support’s guide to keeping your computer server both reliable and running:

1.      Keep your server clean and dust-free. Sounds obvious but keep it in a closed cabinet so it can’t get clogged up with dust and dirt. Servers need powerful fans to keep them cool – but that can mean they can suck grime and dust in – and this will have an impact at some point or other. Clean the filters regularly – some of them actually pull out so you can get to them better. Ensure the cabling is neat and tidy so one cable doesn’t get tangled up with another which increases the risk of them being accidentally disconnected.

2.      Make sure your operating system is updated with the latest security updates. Some businesses have no idea they are running old Windows systems that Microsoft no longer supports. Check yours is up to date with your IT support company. Perhaps use automated patch management tools and have monitoring in place to let your IT provider know when a system is out of date. If a security patch comes out, ensure it’s actioned immediately as hackers often scan for vulnerable systems that have failed to react quickly enough.

3.      Watch out for hardware errors. Your server may be on the verge of failing, and the warning signs are there – but ignored. These errors will show up when you switch your computer – don’t ignore it. Fix it or replace the component to avoid a far bigger problem further down the line. Overheating notices, disk read errors and network failures could be early indicators of potential hardware failure.

4.      Check your back-ups. You may schedule server back-ups, but take the time to make sure these are really happening and exactly where it’s being backed up to, along with recovery times. If you’re outsourcing your backups to a cloud provider, make sure you fully understand what they do to verify backups.

5.      Make sure disks aren’t full. Do regular updates to delete old logs, emails and software versions that are no longer used. If your disk storage goes over 90%, delete files or add more storage. If it gets to 100%, your server may stop working and vital data could be lost. Only install the software you actually need as the rest will just slow it down unnecessarily and make you more vulnerable to security risks.

6.      Monitor your RAID: All production servers should use RAID – which stands for the wonderfully-named Redundant Array of Independent Disks. This is a collection of hard drives, one or more controller cards and embedded software that increase the reliability and redundancy of data storage on hard drives. A single disk failure can bring the entire system crashing down.

7.      Check remote management tools. If your server is with a dedicated server provider, check that your 3 essential remote management tools work – remote console, remote reboot and rescue mode. It’s too late to start checking when you actually need them in an emergency.

8.      Review user accounts. If employees have left the business, remove them from your system to prevent the possibility of a security risk that could cause havoc to your server.

9.      Change passwords. Change passwords every 6 to 12 months – possibly sooner if you have had to share passwords for server maintenance.

10.  Check system security. Check monthly using a remote auditing tool – your IT provider can give you more information about this.

Urban IT Support provide outsourced IT Support and maintenance for businesses of all sizes – whether you have 5 computers or 500, we have the experience and resources to maintain and repair all hardware and network faults – especially servers! Our server maintenance includes (as standard) routine Active Directory management alongside full control of DHCP, DNS, IIS and SCCM services.

For more information, contact our Halifax IT Support Desk team on 01422 646465 or email [email protected] 

Blog written by Andy Hirst from Huddersfield-based AH! PR (