November 1, 2018

Server Maintenance Tips: How to Avoid Your Project Downtime

In our day and age, more and more companies decide to switch from the on-premise servers to cloud hostings for their software assets. According to some predictions, the cloud server market will only continue to grow and in 2019 is predicted to exceed $150 billion in value!

Total size of the public cloud computing market from 2008 to 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars)
2008:
5.82 billion dollars
2009:
8.68 billion dollars
2010:
15.08 billion dollars
2011:
25.5 billion dollars
2012:
40.96 billion dollars
2013:
58.61 billion dollars
2014:
78.42 billion dollars
2015:
96.98 billion dollars
2016:
113.94 billion dollars
2017:
128.88 billion dollars
2018:
141.43 billion dollars
2019:
151.71 billion dollars
2020:
159.28 billion dollars

However, this does not make the dedicated servers completely obsolete. If you want to have a full control over your project, ensure the best security possible and handy scalability, you should definitely use an in-house server.

Of course, stationing such a system assumes plenty of responsibilities.

Server Maintenance Checklist

If you want your server checks to be sufficient and competent, you need to only employ the help of experienced experts. Our team, for instance, will keep all the basic aspects in check and demonstrate you the general picture of how everything works, without excessive details. For your better general understanding of what exactly the experts should monitor and maintain, the monitored features can be divided into few major groups:

1. Software

When I got started, I committed to personally working through any resource I could get my hands. While bootcamps can be great, they can also be expensive. If you have the discipline, I’d encourage you to be resourceful with all that’s out there. Here are some things I valued greatly as I was learning:

Server software changes at a fast pace and the dedicated team can keep it updated at all times. The crucial points an expert works on during the software server check are:

  • Security updates for your OS – whether you use the Linux-based system or Windows Server OS, you need to have someone who makes sure it’s the latest version possible, as lots of security issues are fixed in those patches;
  • Updates for remote control tools – if you use such, they should be updated regularly, at least weekly - a responsibility to be handled by a dedicated expert;
  • Updates for the apps used daily – outdated applications, especially the web apps, are a massive security risk;
  • Your backups must also be checked – everybody hopes that they would never need to use their server backup. However, you have to be ready to do so. There is a number of tools and tests used to check your backups for validity and integrity, built into the backup tools and outside ones. Someone who is familiar with them and who is ready to prepare a separate virtual testing machine if need be will help you avoid digging deep into the complex tech aspects personally.

2. Hardware

Even the latest software updates can’t save you from a faulty hardware. So, in order to follow a recommended maintenance checklist, you need the help of someone who knows the most important areas and can fully answer the question ‘how does a server work?’. Here are the steps we take to conduct proper hardware monitoring:

  • Regularly review the logs for errors – without this, any hardware failure would be unexpected and tragic. The only way to catch it early on is to check the logs for errors – overheating drives, network transfer problems, etc. However, they are usually lengthy and messy, so there needs to be someone who knows what to look for;
  • Monitor the resource usage – if your hardware is old or was not taken care of well enough, at some point you could reach the limit of your resources. If that’s the case, you should change the device that is not up to the task in time. If you want to save the resources, you need someone to dedicate their time and attention to take care of your system;
  • Check the RAID status – RAID is an important system that provides the storage redundancy and hot-swap capabilities. Most modern motherboards, especially server ones, contain a built-in RAID controller. But simply building a RAID array is not enough by itself. Its operation should be monitored by a specialist often. If not solved, a fault of one drive can lead to the failure of the whole system.

3. Security

Hardware and software problems can lead to a security breach. But, there are also other, more direct security measures to be taken to keep your servers safe.

  • Inspection of the user security details – the unused accounts must be cleared;
  • Change of passwords – passwords should be updated every couple of months or when compromised for testing or other purposes. Make sure your passwords are strong enough - an expert will know how to come up with the strongest password possible, so you may use some experienced help;
  • Test the overall security – the specific tools are used that can help review the integrity of the whole system and manage vulnerability risks.

Server Maintenance Timeframes

Now that you have an understanding of basic server check-ups, take a look how often each procedure should be carried out. The complete timetable for a professional server maintenance looks like this:


Daily
Active DirectoryDomain Controllers - Check replication (Logs, Replmon, Perform Manual Replication)
HardwareCloud Services: Check Resource Consumption
HardwareServer/SAN/Networking: Physically check all equipment
HardwareSwitch - Check fans and power supplies
NetworkingVPN: Check Utilization, Latency & Packet Loss
OS/SoftwareCheck Backups and Replication
OS/SoftwareCheck Windows Services
Weekly
NetworkingWAN: Check Utilization, Latency & Packet Loss
OS/SoftwareBackups - Test, Perform VM restore in sandbox environment if applicable
SecurityEnd Point Protection - Check Dashboard and Logs
Monthly
Active DirectoryCheck for inactive user & computer accounts
HardwareSAN - Check Volume Usage (thin provisioned)
HardwareServer: Check RAID - Disks
HardwareUPS - Check Voltage, Utilization, Temp, Humidity, Batteries
OS/SoftwareCheck Application & System Event Logs
OS/SoftwareCheck Server CPU, Memory, Disk & Network Utilization
OS/SoftwareDelete Temp Files (Windows & Users Temp locations)
OS/SoftwareEnd Point Protection - Check for inactive computer membership
OS/SoftwareEndpoint Protection - Run Clean up Tools if applicable
OS/SoftwareIIS - Check Logs and purge
OS/SoftwareRun Windows Updates
OS/SoftwareUpdate Software (i.e. Adobe Reader, Flash, Java)
OS/SoftwareWindows Logs - Check (C:\Windows\Logs) especially CBS
SecurityEnd Point Protection - Check Policies & Scan Schedules, Workstation Membership
SecuritySecurity Logs - Check for brute force/unauthorized access
Quarterly
Active DirectoryGroup Policies - Check settings, authorizations, OU Structure
HardwareSwitch/Firewall: Check Firmware
NetworkingLoad Balancers/Application Firewalls - Check Firmware & Policies
NetworkingSpam/Web Filter - Check Firmware & Policies
OS/SoftwareCheck File Shares/Permissions
SecurityCheck Domain User Password Policy
SecurityReview Firewall Policies (i.e. NAT and Access Rules)
SecurityReview Security Group Memberships
Bi-annually
HardwareGenerator - Test Generator
HardwareSAN - Check firmware for controllers and hard drives
HardwareServer: Check BIOS settings (i.e. Time & Date)
HardwareServer: Check for new firmware/bios
HardwareServer: Check RAID - Firmware, Battery, Drivers
OS/SoftwareChange Local Admin Password
OS/SoftwareSSL Certificates - Check expiration dates
Annually
HardwareWarranty - Check on all Business Critical Equipment


The bigger your project gets, the more difficult it will be for you to take care of all of the points mentioned. The consequences of a minor slip up can turn catastrophic. So, if you expect your project to grow, you have to consider turning to server maintenance services.

Conclusion

Taking care of servers is a hard task that requires lots of skill and attention. If you’re planning to scale your project, the effort grows exponentially. So, if you want to make your job easier, concentrate on the project at hand and make the maintenance service express, get in touch with our server maintenance technician service. The Axisbits team is ready to help you out no matter the size and complexity of your server system.

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