Be IT organised for the holidays

IT checklist for the holidays
Before you go on holidays it is important to ensure that you tick off your “IT checklist for the holidays”. This will ensure that you have setup the appropriate notifications to clients of business closure and/or contactability and generally leave your IT system in a good state to come back to in the new year. The last thing you want is a major IT disaster during or after your holidays. Provided here is checklist of things you should consider.

  • Global Email Footer advising closing period

Fast way to advise clients of closing period for the holiday is to add it to email footer. This can be done through Google Apps Control Panel and will automatically appear everytime you send an email. Read here for instructions on to set it up. Otherwise contact our helpdesk for the setup. Images can be included. Take a look at ouremail signature generating template.

  • Email auto responders.

This is handy to ensure that those trying to email you know that you are on holidays and are advised when you will be able to contact them regarding their enquiry. Here are instructions on how to set this up in Gmail.

  • Backups.

Test to see if your data backups are working. Do this by trying to recovering an important file from the previous day. Have an offsite backup of your data; it can be in the form of an external hard drive or Cloud backup. Revise your Disaster Recovery Plan. Make sure your Cloud Services such as Gmail is backed up. Are they backed up?

  • Lockup your IT equipment and set up surveillance.

Ensure that your server is securely locked up in a room or cabinet. It is not advisable to be left out in the open over the holidays in the case that there is a break in. Surveillance can also be set up which can stream live footage to your mobile and notify you when it detects movement. We recommend NAS solution with IP camera.

  • Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).

In the instance that there is a power shortage over the holidays, the UPS will be able to provide short term power to the server. This protects the server’s hardware and any data stored on the machine. Power shortages is highly probable consider the high demand for energy during the period to power air conditioning units. A UPS which “talks” to the Server to safely shut it down is highly recommended. A surge board is also recommended on all computers and IT equipment that are not connected to a UPS.

  • Network Security Review.

Wireless network security is high with WPA2 and a long complicated password or using RADIUS server. Remote Access is secure via VPN. Review who has access remotely. All computers, and network gear have strong passwords (not the default). Antivirus and firewalls up to date and working correctly. 2-step Authentication for cloud email and document services e.g Google Apps.

  • Proactive monitoring.

This service provided by Onsite Helper involves installation of hardware and software in selected devices to monitor, detect and alert us of any potential issues in your IT system before they become a major problem. This can be faults in your servers, network equipment and computers.

  • Yearly maintenance.

It is also a good time for yearly maintenance to be performed on all your computers and servers. This will extend the life of your equipment and keep them running optimally throughout the year. We have monitoring and maintenance services available if your interested. Or we could simply do a one off maintenance, a great time to do this is during the quiet periods of December and January.

Windows Server 2003 end of life

Microsoft will stop supporting Windows Server 2003 from 14th July 2015. If you are currently using this server (or known anyone who does), it a good time to plan what needs to be done with it for 2015.
Why now? As you already know your Server is perhaps the most central piece of equipment to your IT infrastructure. Your business relies heavily on it. For this reason, the perfect time to do server migrations from the old to a new system is over the Christmas break. Staff will be on holidays and so you will not experience any downtime due to the upgrade.
There are a few option with moving on from Windows Server 2003. The best options are either to upgrade to Windows Server 2012 or if you only use your server for data sharing then NAS. Some fantastic packages for by product types tailored for small to medium businesses have been put together (see the links below which will take you to our website with the brochures).

Upgrade to Windows Server 2012

Upgrade to the new Windows Server 2012. This is ideal for businesses currently using Windows Server with specific applications installed on it, that require a server operating system, or require tight network security with ability to configure and restrict for access.
Ideal for Accountants, Lawyers, Financial Planners & other professional services.
Read here for more info

NAS to replace your Server

If your main use for a server is centralised file sharing then a NAS (Network Attached Storage) may be a good option for you. NASs are often less than half the price for the hardware compared to Windows Server and only costs ⅕ to maintain over a 5 year period. See a recent case Study I did comparing a NAS to Windows Server for a Financial Planning business here.
For further information or if you would like a quote, please contact or call 03 9999 3106

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