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Server Maintenance Checklist: Keep Your Server Running in Tip-Top Shape!

Even though servers play such a key role in keeping operations running, businesses are sometimes tempted to ignore updates or let maintenance slide. Like many things in life, it’s easy to ignore best practices as long as everything is running smoothly on the surface.

However, regular maintenance is a critical part of keeping the network running. It helps avoid a total or partial network failure and prevents costly downtime and loss of data. Much like your car, when you stay up to date on recommended maintenance, your server runs better for longer and lets you get the most out of your investment.

Regular maintenance can help you find problems that haven’t yet affected server performance but could have significant consequences in the future. Since servers are the backbone of your company’s IT infrastructure, and many other processes depend upon them, server failure can lead to a breakdown of the entire chain. Therefore, investing in server maintenance can save money and time in the future.

Understanding How Servers Work

Servers allow for the centralized management and monitoring of network access and network data. A server is a standalone computer that is used to provide data and other services to computers in a network. They are specifically designed to manage a heavy workload, day in and day out.

Unlike a standard computer, which uses a single hard drive for storing and delivering data, a server uses a Redundant Array of Independent Disks ( RAID), which means it stores information on multiple hard disks. This redundant approach to storage improves the system’s overall fault tolerance and increases the mean time between failure. But it’s also important that regular maintenance is followed, since a RAID failure could go unnoticed until a problem occurs, such as a corrupt database.

In addition to using RAID, servers rely on sufficient RAM (Random Access Memory) to provide fast access to information. Regular maintenance means you’ll be able to see how much memory is being used and what kind of burdens are being put on your hardware. That can help inform decisions such as whether it’s time to upgrade your hardware or add more servers.

Your Server Maintenance Checklist

Keeping your server running properly is easier when you create a regular maintenance schedule. The frequency of maintenance will depend upon how old the equipment is, how many servers require maintenance and the environment in which they are kept. So, if you have newer equipment in a well-cooled data center, it will need less frequent maintenance inspections than older or poorly-kept equipment.

When you stick to a maintenance schedule, you are more likely to catch problems before they start and can see areas that need to be addressed before they lead to downtime. Here’s our 13-step maintenance checklist to keep your server running smoothly.

1. Schedule a maintenance window

Set a time in advance for maintenance to take place, and make sure all users are notified of the timing, as it will affect the availability of the server. Be sure to remind all users as the date approaches and again on the day maintenance is to take place. Ideally run server maintenance outside peak usage hours for your teams and clients.

2. Review logs for important events, alerts or trends

Looking for errors or events that will require specific attention should be the first plan of action. Those should be addressed, and updates or patches should be made before the scheduled maintenance begins.

3. Migrate workloads off the server

If you have virtualized servers, you can migrate the applications to other servers so they will remain available to users. Once the workload has been verified as functional on other servers, the server being inspected can be shut down and removed from the rack.

4. Complete physical inspection

Conduct a complete physical inspection of the server to look for wear on hardware components such as fans, cables & wires, power supplies, hard drives, and so on. Be sure to also check for any missing components.

5. Replace or add hardware components as needed

Based on your findings in the physical inspection, add, remove, replace, or repair the hardware in your server.

6. Check airflow

Look at both internal and external airflow paths and remove any dust or debris that might diminish the cooling airflow.

7. Run a hard disk scan

Check for common problems such as fragmentation and bad sectors. The Check Disk utility can be useful in verifying the disk’s integrity.

8. Evaluate and test any necessary patches or updates

As patches and updates are released to fix bugs and enhance software performance, they can sometimes interfere with existing hardware and software. Any needed patches or updates should be evaluated to make sure they won’t cause performance issues or workflow interruptions.

9. Update or patch operating system if needed

You’ll want to update your OS to reflect any releases since your last maintenance. While you can use automated patch management tools, you should also review updates to make sure you have not missed any critical security improvements at the operating system level.

10. Update monitoring/management agents if needed

Review your automatic management and monitoring tools to make sure they are fully functional.

11. Test system before returning workloads to service

Turn the machine on, check the user interface, and verify connection to the network.

12. Verify CMDB, backup and DR status of the system

Make sure that your configuration management database, backup, and disaster recovery systems and agents are updated and any changes are recorded

13. Schedule next maintenance interval

Determine when your next maintenance will be required and set aside time for it.

Improving Server Performance Through Prevention

Many server failures can be prevented just by proper planning. By scheduling regular server maintenance, you ensure that small issues can be detected and resolved before they evolve into something costly and disastrous — such as total system failure.

Reviewing server logs regularly and becoming familiar with how your servers operate can help identify issues as well.

Interested in learning more about your server upkeep? Contact our team of experts at 1.855.AVENTIS to learn more about how you can keep your server running smoothly for years to come.

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