Every business, whether done internally or through an IT service provider, needs to assess their computer network periodically. For most businesses, if their network goes down, all production comes to a halt, and in a lot of businesses, not much can get accomplished without email, the Internet, or a reliable computer. Regular network assessments are a great way to make sure that your network stays up and running, and that productivity continues. A proper assessment can give you such information as whether or not your data is secure, if other technology would be more beneficial to your specific needs, and if your company is subject to potential security vulnerabilities or system corruptions. In thinking about your own network (whether assessing it yourself, or in your consideration to use an IT service provider) there are some key areas that should definitely be addressed.
Backup is crucial for any business. If your backup crashes, you could lose email, accounting files, or other important documents. Whether you are using software, cloud services, or a hard drive, assessing your backup is a must for your business to run smoothly. Not only should you assess whether your backup is running, but you should also assess whether you are using the correct type of backup. For example, it might be more cost effective and convenient for you to switch from a hard drive to cloud backup.
Computers are expensive, and businesses are hesitant to replace them before they are forced to. But if you wait until your computer crashes to replace it, you've lost time and work that is hard to recover. Age and speed of computers are a good indication of whether they should be replaced or not. Is your computer getting to be around five years old? Consider replacing it. Do you feel like you are often thinking faster than your computer? Consider replacing it. Even if your computers are relatively new, an assessment should include a plan for replacing them so that you don’t find yourself unexpectedly without working computers.
Every piece of software that your business uses comes with its own warranty and support terms and conditions. It is easy to let these warranties lapse. However, if you do that, and your software stops working, you are left with no support, and no working software. This is not a good position to be in. Instead, be aware of when to update warranties, so you don’t find yourself in a software crisis.
We’ve all been there: we’re busy working, and Java pops up with another update. What do we do? We ignore it. And when it pops up again, we ignore it again. Network assessment is a good time to do all those software updates you’ve been putting off. Setting aside time to check for updates and allow your computer to update and restart can keep things running smoothly.
This is a large umbrella that covers many things. For a network assessment, however, we are going to focus on anti-virus software, secure internet connections, and firewalls. It is a must for your business to have up-to-date anti-virus software. New viruses are being written every day, and the only way to gain peace of mind about them is to have anti-virus software that is current. Having a secure wireless connection is also important. If you don’t have a secure wireless connection, anyone with the knowledge to do so can access your computers. It’s like leaving your door unlocked; the likelihood of someone trying your door, finding it unlocked, and then walking in and stealing things is low. But it could happen. That’s why a secure wireless connection is important. As important as it is, it only offers so much protection. To make sure you are protected from whatever evil may be lurking around the internet, have a firewall in place. When you do a network assessment, checking on your anti-virus, internet connection, and firewall is necessary.
As you can see, a lot goes in to making sure that your network is running smoothly and that it will continue to do so. But now that you know what to look for, you can easily take steps to protect yourself from network disaster.