In this article I’d like to highlight the common mistakes that most organisations make when setting up and maintaining their IT infrastructure.
1. Lose Track Of Subscription Renewals
All businesses rely on a web presence consisting of at least one domain, encrypted connections for secure transactions and email. Services such as SSL certificates, public domain & DNS management and various software subscriptions, all need to be renewed regularly. Most are critical to the smooth running of your business.
Although services have update reminder facilities, they are often purchased using an email address of someone in your organisation. If that person leaves and the email address is not functional, you will not get any reminders. It’s therefore a good idea to route all renewals to a group email address so that more than one person receives the notification.
Additionally, you can set the services to renew automatically when they expire. It’s also worth having a reminder system in place and always ensure that your payment information is current. I would set up standing orders or a direct debit – so that you don’t have to worry about an expired credit card.
2. Store Critical Data On A Workstation
If you take a peek at the desktops in your organisation, you’ll not be surprised to find critical data stored there. Users should habitually store all data on the network so that it’s accessible and backed up regularly. If data is stored on a local workstation, not only is it inaccessible to others, but in the event of the computer failing, it could be lost forever.
3. Don’t Have A Network Use Policy
Establish if you have a documented protocol for saving files onto the network, a file naming convention and a system for granting read-access to users on the network. If you have all this in place, it may be worth checking if these systems work and give some refresher training to your users. If a system is not in place, then fix this as soon as possible.
4. Neglect To Monitor Backups
In all probability, you or your IT provider has a backup system that copies all the data on your network. But it’s your responsibility to check whether this system works. When was the last time you looked at backup logs to see if all data was copied? Have you ever restored data from the backup to familiarise yourself with the process and ensured that the restored data is accurate? Also, establish if you have recently looked at all the drives and shares in your network and matched them with the drives and shares that are being backed up.
If your answer to either one or all of the above questions is a “No”, then act now. Diarise the items above so that you do them regularly. Then, if for some unforeseen reason a full recovery of your data is needed, you’ll know that you’ve done it before and it all works fine. Here is a quick checklist to monitor backups:
- Verify data backup selection.
- Verify data backup schedules.
- Monitor backup logs regularly.
- Test data restores.
- Check backup retention.
- Ensure that your databases are also on the backup schedule.
- Ensure that your accounts department is storing company files on the server and not on their workstations.
- Ensure users (especially laptop users) are not storing data on the workstations.
5. Fail To Take Any Offsite Backups
Whilst we are on the subject of backups – here’s a question to ask yourself: Do you have any backups that are stored outside of your office building? If not, consider some kind of offsite backup solution. It could be as simple as backing up your data on a detachable storage device which you could then take offsite or set up a Cloud Backups solution.
6. Fail To Archive Email
You may have a backup policy for your emails, so if a user inadvertently deletes an email, it can be swiftly restored. However, if data needs to be kept on record for data protection reasons, this is not a solution for retrieving old emails, as backups very rarely go back more than 14 days. If you are such a business, then opt for an email archive solution.
7. Choose The ‘Imaging’ Function
Imaging is the process of making an exact replica of a computer and storing it on another device, so when a computer fails, it can be quickly rebuilt from its image. Most businesses use the “imaging” function for workstations but neglect to use it on the server. All servers are complex pieces of equipment that host applications and data and need to function with minimal down time. Therefore, it makes sense for imaging to be applied to server, so that in the event of an emergency, they can be quickly rebuilt.
8. Don’t Have A Disaster Recovery Plan
Here are some typical disaster scenarios I have come across in the past:
- Server failure and data loss.
- Server damage/destruction owing to fire or other calamities.
- Office destruction owing to fire or other calamities.
- No access to office.
Are you confident that if disaster strikes your organisation your users will be back up and running with minimal downtime and very little data loss? If not, then it’s time to document a plan to ensure that all your data can be recovered and that servers are restored in an acceptable timeframe. Once you have a plan in place, it’s a good practice to educate your users and review it annually or bi-annually – keeping it current.