April 23, 2012

Spring cleanup time

Well Spring is finally here, at least in Boston. Spring is that time to look around and do some of those cleanup tasks that always get skipped. So here is my top 5 spring IT tasks.

5. Check for zombie devices. You know which ones I mean right? The server that should have been retired 3 years ago but never seems to actually get turned off. Everyone has some of these devices. I’ve got apache web servers that we “retired” years ago, but they are still online. Some of them are so old and shaky we have to restart the service every 5 minutes to “keep it working”. Clearly they should just go away. My goal is to review all the devices in my network and see what should go away.

4. Review usage reports. Do you have WAN links or uplinks that are constantly running at 90%. Probably need to upgrade them. Or do you have a few ports that constantly generate errors. Maybe not enough to cause an alarm, but enough that you should fix them. It could be as easy as a bad patch cable and help solve some of those weird issues that pop up every few months. I’m also a fan of walking through the data center and closets looking for red lights. Sometimes people miss the alert that goes out and the next thing you know the second drive in the RAID set went bad and you just lost data.

3. Update and test your DR plan. If you have a DR plan that hasn’t been tested, it won’t work. They never work the first time you try it. Never. Run a test and figure out what isn’t going to work before you need it. Along with this, check the business continuity type things, like redundant power supplies actually going to different circuits. If they both plug into the same power strip they aren’t done right.

2. Check backups. Not just to see if they have errors, actually compare it to the list of servers that are online and make sure that you are backing up, or at least aware of, anything that is online.  Some systems may be online but not need to get backed up. Some active directory servers for example, or NIS slave servers and be rebuilt faster than restored anyway and they don’t store data. Not all AD servers are like this. If you aren’t sure back it up.

1. Check firmware and upgrade if needed. There are two schools of thought on this. “If it aint broke don’t fix it” and “Newer is better”. In my opinion, newer has better features which generally make life better, but be smart and make sure you understand and test the better features to make sure you are ready for them.

I’m sure everyone has their own list of maintenance that they want to do as well. If you want to add ideas, I’d love to hear them.

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