IT Check list
- Redundancy reduces the urgency of support and downtime
- Install source, product codes, passwords
A data backup (Documents, Photos, Videos and so on) is just that, it does not allow you to reinstall all the programs from the backup. An Image backup includes the boot information, operating system, application programs and all the data. A full disk image backup allows you to restore the operating systems, application programs and data.
While Windows Backup allows you to do a full disk image backup, you must restore or setup a WIndows environrnent first to be able to run Windows restore! That is you may have to do a windows installation first!
“Bare metal” restore means being able to restore the image backup without having to install anything one the PC first (All you need is a blank hard drive). Windows backup can be used for an image backup, but it does not have a “Bare metal” restore. You will have to reinstall windows to be able to run the Windows restore of the disk image. A proper Bare metal restore uses a CD/DVD or USB device to start the restore process. Examples: Paragon Backup, Shadow protect and many other.
VM backup / VM Player
An image backup restored to different hardware will not normally be operational. Some backup / restore software will attempt to install a minimal operational system. This allows you to download and install the appropriate drivers for the new hardware. Often it is not easy to know whether you can restore an image backup resulting in a fully operational system. Another method of generating an image backup is to generate a virtual machine. This is really just a backup that includes information to run the image as a machine. All you need is a player to “playback” your original machine. The player can be installed on another PC (Under WIndows or other operating environments). This allow you to run the backupped machine directly from the backup media. This way you know you will be able to have your old system operational even in a different hardware environment. Some backup software allows you to convert a normal disk image backup into a “Virtual machine”.
Best to have an automatic backup setup that runs at least every night, to an external hard drive. Rotate the backup between two or more hard drives and keep one of these at a different location. For two reasons:
1. If the office floods or burns down at night, both your main data and your backup drive attached at the time will fail. With two or more external drives you will still have another backup at a different location.
2. The only time you will access all data on the hard disk is during the backup. If halfway through the backup the software detects a main disk error, it may already have started replacing the last backup on the external hard disk. So you now have a main disk you can’t read and half a backup image
Allows you access to your data from multiple devices. To date this is usually only feasible for a limited data backup due to the cost of internet storage and the limited transfer speed of the internet connection (and possibly limited data transfer included in your internet access plan). At 1Mb /sec, It takes 100 hours to transfer 360Gbyte and you better have an unlimited plan. Best to rotate between two backup locations. (See point 2 above).
The cost of support is obviously influenced by the urgency of support. For any business, to be able to provide fast support, they must have people on standby, getting paid to be available at a moment’s notice. It is far more efficient to schedule support in the future, ensuring a full day’s work for support personnel. Key to reducing the cost therefore is to reduce the urgency of support required:
Have an alternative internet connection
Have a USB or mini hub broadband wireless connection. You can charge up on line only when required. That way when your main internet connection fails you can fall back on the wireless broadband connection.
If you have multiple devices, ensure you can do urgent work on multiple devices. Store your working documents online as wel as locally, even if you process them locally (DropBox)
`If one device fails you will still be able to access them on another device and often edit them using readily available tools on the internet such as Google docs for word documents and Spreadsheets.
Setup a dummy Gmail account and add the POP3 mail accounts you own to that Gmail address. You can ignore that Gmail address until you need an alternative access to your email. That way you get at your incoming email by logging into that gmail account if necessary. It also serves as an archive. No need to tag the emails, you can just search for any mail you need to locate.
Often when calling your internet service provider they will work their way through a script that usually starts with asking you to switch of the router and switch it back on again.
Their script may or may not involve you connecting to your router, modifying settings etc.
Once you call your internet service provider, you may waste time hanging on, and worse still at times your internet service provider, not being aware of your particular setup, may ask you to reset the router and setup from scratch. This may restore your internet connection and suddenly your network attached printers stop working, remote and gamIng links stop working.You will find that often internet problems are resolved over time without any changes at your location.
3. Install sources, product keys and passwords
Always keep your install sources (CDs, DVDs, backup copy of downloaded software) , product keys and passwords together.Without install sources and product keys you may have to purchase the software again should reinstallation be required. Keep service provider login details, including usernames and passwords . Keep all operating system and program installation disks, license numbers, usernames and passwords handy. For any download software purchased keep a copy of the download file on a backup medium: CD, DVD or USB memory stick or external drive. Best to have all these details in one secure location. Print out the license details and store them with the install media.
Buy all the extended warranty you can from the supplier, especially for portable devices! While the warranty does not cover you for everything, for example if the hard disk fails, under warranty the hard disk will be replaced, usually with the software (Operating system) that was supplied originally. Updates and application software will still have to be installed.
Part of the cost of service is made up of Call out costs for on-site support. Even if the support company is in your local area, this will add an hour to the service time required and the support person may not have immediate access to spares, test disks and other supplies that may be required.
Where possible use remote support, by phone and by remote access to your desktop PC. If you can still access the internet, your support person can talk you through a few simple steps to the remote access. Note that you can use the same programs to access your own computer remotely (Logmein Free)
A good UPS (“Uninterruptable Power Supply”) removes surges from the mains power and keeps the hardware operational in the case of a mains power failure, allowing you time to shut down the hardware and prevent data corruption. For this to be effective ALL equipment must be protected, including PCs, network switches and Internet routers.