Web servers, email servers, identity servers and FTP servers—they constantly run day and night, sometimes round the clock, processing and facilitating various sets of requests of clients over a network.
Us, being able to upload this blog and you being able to access this blog is also because our local servers were able to process our requests. This goes to show that severs are the underappreciated workhorses.
Many organizations keep jockeying them over the intensive work routines, without ever caring for them until they go totally broke. That’s when the reality dawns upon them.
The server has crashed. The backup doesn’t seem to be working. The operations are now at the standstill.
This wouldn’t have happened if they had been proactive in their approach, conducting regular preventive maintenance, to keep their servers humming in full flow. Plus, regular maintenance also ensures that you get the most out of your server system, both in terms of functionality and life serving capability.
But, what accounts as a comprehensive server maintenance program – you may wonder. Allow us to help you.
We have compiled a 6 Point Inspection Checklist for Server Maintenance, which covers all the inspection elements that you need to go through when conducting scheduled server maintenance. The list is divided into a sub-list of physical elements and a sub-list of system’s critical configuration. You can copy it, add to it or go through it to supplement a server maintenance list of your own.
So, let’s get started.
Inspection Checklist for Server Maintenance – The Physical Checks
Inspecting a server physically is as important as running it through configuration checks, after all it is a machine, just like your computer.
1) Inspecting the Operating Environment
Server hardware should be stored in an environment with optimum working conditions. If the operating environment conditions do not comply with the standards, as set by OEM, your server’s performance and life quality will be negatively impacted.
Whenever, you are running a preventive maintenance, it is always advisable to take note of the ambient temperature, measure the relative humidity, look for any sources of mechanical vibrations and make sure that the hardware is not mounted on an inclined platform.
- High temperatures can lead to premature component failure.
- Excess humidity can lead to condensation, which may corrode or electrically short the hardware circuit.
- Mechanical vibrations may cause the hardware to get dismounted, resulting in a fall.
- Inclined platform too increases the risk of hardware damage incurred from a potential fall.
So make sure you monitor these parameters and take necessary steps if any measurement is out of spec.
2) Inspecting the Traces of Dust and Other Airborne Particles
When conducting server maintenance, you should always be wary of any traces of dust or other airborne particles. If these particles accumulate on the exterior air inlets or outlets they can impede the air flow which can degrade the performance of a server. Similarly, and much more worryingly, if the dust finds its way right to the chassis, circuit boards or memory modules, it can lead to static discharges, damaging the sensitive components of a server’s hardware.
Clean your server’s hardware regularly, starting all the way from the air duct pathways and right to the heat sinks and component assemblies.
3) Lastly, Inspect the Health of a Server Visually and Audibly
Visually check for the LED statuses of the modular components that form the part of a server’s hardware assembly. Audibly inspect for any unusual noise emanating from the server. Both of these can potentially signal the failure of a component.
Inspection Checklist for Server Maintenance – The System Checks
Once you have physically examined the server’s hardware, conducting proper maintenance where found necessary, you can now move on to the second part of server maintenance checklist: making the system checks.
4) Inspecting the Local Hard Disks
You need to inspect the local hard disks for two primary purposes:
- Checking and ensuring that the disk integrity is maintained.
- Checking and ensuring that the files on the hard disk are properly maintained.
Your hard disks are an integral component on which your servers rely for booting, storage, workload startup and other functions. As such its maintenance is an important element of every server maintenance checklist.
When inspecting for the disk integrity, bad sectors and disk fragmentation are the two most common issues that you will be focusing to resolve.
- Bad sectors can lead to premature disk failures. Therefore, by using tools like Check Disk utility, you can verify the presence of bad sectors on your hard disk and recover them conveniently.
- Fragmentation is commonly associated with a disk’s decreased processing throughput, which slows down a server. Again, you can use tools like Optimize Volume to address this problem.
When maintaining the file archival system, make sure that all the old data – the emails, software versions and unused programs, are removed from the hard disk to free up adequate space for optimum performance. Never allow the usage to exceed ninety percent of the total disk capacity.
5) Inspecting the Backups
Many organizations acknowledge the fact that a server backup, needs to be created as part of IT disaster recovery plan, but only few regularly inspect and test these backups to ensure that they are working. It’s only when a server stops functioning that they realize the backups aren’t working either.
When executing a server maintenance program, it is advisable to perform a restore test on your backups to ensure that they are working as intended. You may find this a laborious process, but in the end it is a strategy that would serve you well in the long term. Also make sure, that the backup is located to an external location, rather than creating it locally on the same server.
6) Inspecting the System Security
Reviewing the system security at the time of performing scheduled server maintenance is another important step, which should form the part of every comprehensive checklist. By regularly inspecting and ensuring that your server system is secured, you can protect the important data and access points.
A server’s system makes use of a software stack to work efficiently. This includes BIOS, OS, drivers, applications, hypervisors, and support tools. All these software regularly release newer versions. By making sure that they remain updated as per the latest version and patched with assisting programs, you can protect them from security threats, while also improving the performance levels. However, be wary of automatic updates as this can often result in other issues, which your server is not equipped to handle.
Regularly update and review the user accounts, who have access to the server. This can limit the danger posed by ex users, as they can easily exploit the server’s access, if their accounts haven’t been cancelled.
Exercise password change policy after every 6 to 12 months to further reinforce your server’s system security.
By executing these steps while exercising a preventive maintenance schedule, you can make sure that your servers remain healthy and they continue to serve you for years to come. For further details get in touch with Noel Network & PC Services, Inc.