Backup! Backup! Backup!

From our friends at msmbnetworks.com.

 

TRUST BUT VERIFY

December 17th, 2013 by Christopher C. Wright

 
Many Sonoma County businesses think they’re in good shape with backups, fault tolerance, disaster recovery plans, and data retention; the important question is “are those beliefs grounded in fact?” The hard truth is that many of these companies do not know for sure that their emergency solutions are reliable or configured properly. More than once we have taken over for previous on-site technicians who had not enabled backups correctly and though the employees dutifully switched the tapes or external hard drives nothing was actually backed up. When one of those companies had a data emergency where critical files needed to be restored, the extent of their vulnerability became evident.

Every business relationship is based on trust, from the newest employee to independent contractors and senior management. To run a business an owner has to trust that the people to whom he or she have given responsibilities are capable of performing those duties, and are actually doing so. Just as an accountant should be able to prepare an itemized profit and loss statement and a sales representative produce outreach metrics, IT administrators should be able to provide a number of documents and reports that detail the health of the network they manage. These reports are important not only to establish a history of the company’s technological landscape but also to ensure that appropriate steps and precautions are being taken against calamity.

WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT FROM YOUR IT ADMINISTRATOR

With little effort your network or server manager should be able to provide the following reports or details about the health of your network and critical systems. A quarterly review of these important details will help identify potential gaps in your protection plan as well as verify that all systems are in good working order.

  • Backup Verification — it isn’t enough to know that backups are being done, regular file testing and restoration must be performed to test the backup media as well as recovery procedures in the event of a crash.
  • Network Structure Map — from how your network connects to the internet to the location of servers and printers, this info sheet is invaluable when planning to migrate services, add devices, or when a problem causes a lack of connectivity.
  • Antivirus Scan Results — if utilizing a centralized antivirus solution these reports should be regularly read by your IT administrator and detail the health of the systems on your network, including what virus infections, if any, were recently discovered.
  • Authorized Users and Computers — in a network controlled by Active Directory or LDAP, only authorized users should have access to the network, let alone to sensitive data. Verifying who has access to what is an important regular security procedure.
  • Network Storage Utilization — when a server is used for file storage the ability to detail its current free space as well as the utilization on a per-user basis is essential to prevent over-provisioning or user storage bloat, slowing many server services.
  • Most-Browsed Websites — while many employers do not wish to track the internet habits of individual employees, information relating to the browsing habits of an office as a whole can be a valuable source of data related to how employees are spending their time.

WHAT DO THESE REPORTS MEAN?

Often the above reports and more are generated regularly which allows corporate management to see for themselves the state of the network in an easy-to-follow writeup. Whether these reports and statistics are provided automatically or on-demand, we cannot stress enough that business owners need to have access to this information so they know their networks are in good hands. In a properly-managed network the above information should be very straightforward to obtain or verify, with results prepared quickly and without delay. An unwillingness to provide these reports should be seen as a serious red flag — would you be comfortable with an accountant hiding your financial data?

We at MSMB Networks believe that all clients should be kept as informed as possible as to the health and status of their network and servers. Regularly our support contracts include backup verification, monthly network analysis, and security policy overviews to make sure not only that we are addressing our clients’ needs but that they are kept up-to-date with the health of their network and the safety of their data. By allowing and encouraging our clients to verify our information they rest easier in the knowledge that experienced professionals are watching out for them.

 

MSMB NETWORKS — MAKING COMPUTING EASIER!

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