Network management for your small business is the collection of devices that are connected to your business. It is the system that allows all your small business computers to access the same database. Any device that connects to the internet and any device that houses data are part of your network. Here are five areas to monitor to ensure that your network continues to run smoothly.
Network Management: Temperature
Temperature fluctuations can be damaging to your network, particularly if your server, server rooms, or individual devices have a tendency to overheat. Internal fans and heatsinks can help to keep your systems cool, and if you aren’t already housing the server in a temperature controlled room then it’s time to start looking into that particularly if overheating is a consistent problem. When network devices overheat, particularly in the case of a server, you risk widespread downtime for your entire office depending on the severity of the issue.
To keep this from happening, your server room should be set between 60 and 75 degrees, and this is also true for general work areas. You can also help keep personal devices cool by utilizing raised platforms that are designed to keep laptops cool and air circulating them from all sides. Updating your devices when prompted can also ensure that they run smoothly.
Network Management: Humidity
We all know that too much humidity is damaging to computer systems because a build-up in moisture can cause corrosion which leads to a whole host of problems. But did you know that too little moisture is also a problem? Overly dry air can cause static to build up which leads to static discharge that can also damage sensitive components of your system. Keep your office humidity set to 40-50% for optimal device performance.
Network Management: Cleanliness
Dust can clog air vents and other internal components, but beyond that it can also build up to the point that it acts as a heat insulator. Even the best temperature and humidity controlled rooms can’t compete if dust is allowed to build up to the point that your internal systems for each device are overheating.
If staff desks are cluttered or cleaned only rarely, then this can be a problem for personal devices, and a server housed in a high-traffic or rarely cleaned area can also suffer. Compressed air dusters and regularly cleaning each workstation and device can keep this issue at bay.
Network Management: Environmental Hazards
A verbose title for this section could be “what happens when your devices are exposed to clumsy humans.” The fact is that even something as small as a spilled drink at a workstation could do enough damage to take down your network!
For personal devices it’s a good idea to have at least an office culture (if not a specific rule in your employee handbook) about drinkware needing to have lids at all times when near laptops. You don’t want to make your employees miserable by not letting them have their morning joe at their desks, but a lidded cup or mug is going to cause a lot less damage if knocked over a laptop than an open beverage.
When it comes to servers, printers and other large network devices, the fact is that not all small businesses can afford to house these larger pieces of equipment in a private room or a temperature and humidity controlled space. A server might be relegated to the break room where it can be damaged by accidental food or drink spills, and your office printer and copy machines are obviously going to be in public spaces that have frequent traffic.
You can mitigate some of these environmental risks by putting large devices where they will be subject to the least amount of moving traffic (such as placing a printer in a corner rather than right by door), and where other office items can’t accidentally fall or on it (such as near an open and unsecured bookshelf.)
Other environmental factors to consider are whether your small business locations are in areas that can be affected by the literal outdoor environment. Are you in a location that experiences flooding? If you are in a shared office space that you don’t own, have there been maintenance issues that have led to leaks or other water damage? Think about the big picture of the physical security of your office space to ensure that each network-connected device is protect from small accidents to “acts of God” as insurance calls it, and everything in between.
Network Management: Monitoring
Let’s say you do, in fact, have your server in a locked room that is temperature and humidity controlled and the only people that access it are either maintaining or cleaning your server. You’ve done everything you can do to keep your network running smoothly, right? Wrong.
While the first four sections of this article have talked about keeping your network running smoothly by physically securing your network, we also have to talk about virtual safety and minimizing cybersecurity risks. That means that you also need to have a robust security system in place to ensure that hackers, spam, and ransomware aren’t able to access and lock up your system. You need to have a process in place for regular security updates and upgrades that can keep your system running smoothly, but also identifying and proactively protecting your network from the latest risks. Beyond just monitoring and updating your security system, you also need to be running regular back-ups in addition to having a robust data recovery plan in place.
The reason that this is important, perhaps the most important way to keep your network running smoothly, is that there is an ever-growing list of cyberthreats that can knock out your network, lock your out of your systems, and even risk the future of your small business. These risks include malware, viruses, spyware, adware, trojans, worms, phishing, spear phishing, wi-fi attacks, and denial-of-service attacks. Any one of these can attack any one of your network systems, even a small personal device like a phone that connects to your network!
Without a robust security system in place, a virtual attack on your network is what is most likely to keep it running smoothly and causing a serious disruption to your business workflow. Having a strong network firewall will protect you while ensuring that your small business continues to serve clients without interruption.
Tech Masters can evaluate your office space for both physical and virtual security threats. We also offer managed IT support which includes monitoring, upgrading, and protecting your security system. Contact us for a free consultation today and learn more about our nine-area evaluation of your business technology.
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