Once we have a network it will continue to operate unimpeded – sometimes. However there are numerous difficulties which can arise and impede the operation of one’s network. We will look at maintenance as well as reactive and proactive approaches to maintaining a network in this section.
- Backups. The well-known saying is, “It is not if your hard drive will fail, but when.” Knowing that our computers will eventually fail us means that we must be prepared, we cannot simply await that day otherwise we may lose days, weeks, or even years of valuable work. Regular backups should be a part of every network. These backups may include on-site backups (backups made to another device that is kept at the same location) and/or off-site backups (backups kept at a separate location). Off-site backups are a must, while on-site backups are a convenience. While one can have off-site backups without on-site backups, one should never rely solely on on-site backups. In the case of a catastrophic failure (e.g. fire, war, flood) both the originals and on-site backups may be destroyed. While this could happen with off-site backups, the odds are dramatically reduced that data stored in two or more locations will be destroyed at all locations simultaneously.
- Computer Maintenance. Computers deteriorate with time, but there are several ways to reverse this degradation.
- Disk Defragmentation – This process reorganizes the files on the hard drive in such a way as ensures that the drive will be able to access the files in the most time efficient manner.
- Disk Error Checking – Analyzes the drive for damaged areas and attempts to salvage the data in those areas, then marking those areas as “off-limits” to the drive so that it doesn’t write to those locations in the future.
- Temporary File Cleansing – The removal of temporary files which are oftentimes left behind by a program but are unnecessary for the computer’s operation.
- Registry File Cleanup – Cleans out unneeded entries in the registry file on Windows based computers.
- Software Updates. There are three main creators of software that will provide you with updates. The first is your computer manufacturer. Over time computer manufacturers create better firmware and drivers for your computer and its many devices. Its important to upgrade to the latest firmware and drivers on a regular basis. The second is the creator of your Operating System. For our examples this is going to be Microsoft. Microsoft offers updates to its Operating System on a regular basis – at least monthly, oftentimes more. These updates optimize performance and close security holes as well as include additional functionality. The final manufacturer of software updates are the creators of software applications. These manufacturers create updates to release new features, fix bugs, or provide enhanced security.
- Monitoring. Another important step in maintaining your network is monitoring its health. Computers were made by some pretty smart people and oftentimes give off warnings before they fail or when someone attempts to compromise them. But if we aren’t monitoring we will fail to see these warning signs and possibly suffer disaster.
- Technology News. Computers are ever-changing. The information we know today is outdated tomorrow. We must be constantly learning if we want to successfully run a network and stay competitive. In this section we will discuss various sources of keeping updated with the latest technology news.