Server Maintenance Checklist
What is server maintenance, and do you need to do it for your company? Server maintenance is the proactive process of keeping your servers in good condition to ensure they run properly for your business’s needs. It allows you to identify and address potential issues before your servers fail. Maintaining your servers ensures they’re adequately providing data to the devices on your network, which is essential to your business functions.
Learn more about this process and what should be on your server maintenance checklist.
What Is a Server Maintenance Plan?
A server maintenance plan is a schedule or checklist of server maintenance tasks that should be completed at certain intervals to prevent errors, operational downtime, breaches and other interruptions. Your server maintenance plan may include tasks to perform daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. Completing these maintenance tasks regularly helps ensure your server is performing properly and reduces the risk of it failing.
A server maintenance checklist allows IT professionals to check off maintenance tasks as they complete them, letting them track when tasks were finished and when they’ll be due again. Having a checklist or plan helps your IT team take necessary care of your servers.
Types of Servers
Your network is likely comprised of numerous servers, each with an essential function to ensure all processes run smoothly. Understanding the different types of servers you may run can help you understand the importance of maintaining them. Though this list is far from extensive, here are a few different types of servers and what they do:
- File server: A file server allows users to store, access and download shared files. These servers can typically map files on drives, allowing you to access them from any computer. An administrator usually controls file access and permissions to prevent unwanted users from accessing the files.
- Domain name service (DNS): A DNS server translates and matches domain names with their IP addresses. DNS servers prevent you from having to memorize long IP addresses — instead, type in the domain name, and the server will connect you to the right IP address. These servers also allow you to have unique domain names.
- Remote desktop server: This type allows your employees or clients to access office and business applications from a centralized, remote server. Rather than you needing to install software on each user’s computer, these solutions make remote server maintenance and software deployment more cost-effective and scalable. These tasks can be done on the server rather than on individual computers and devices.
- Web server: Web servers allow users to access and share information on the web. These servers share and store the websites and applications you access or upload. Larger companies with heavy site traffic may have a dedicated web server, while smaller companies with less site traffic could rent web server space.
Routine Server Maintenance Requirements
While your server maintenance checklist may vary depending on your needs, most servers have maintenance requirements in these four areas.
1. Software and Operating System
Your software and operating systems will require updates from time to time. Updates should be installed promptly, as they may include new features or fix bugs and other issues with the existing version of your program. Installing necessary updates ensures you’re using the most effective version of the software or system.
If you use physical servers or other hardware, their exteriors need to be cleaned to ensure proper airflow and prevent overheating. Keeping hardware clean helps it run well and extends its life span, letting you get the most usage from it.
Logs contain activity records over a period of time for a given server. Maintaining your servers’ logs can help you identify signs of potential issues, allowing you to address them before they worsen.
4. User Access
Other maintenance tasks relate to user access and security. Maintaining server security and user access is essential to preventing security breaches and unauthorized users from accessing data and files stored on your servers.
Server Maintenance Plan Checklist
A comprehensive server maintenance plan can help you prevent common issues and more effectively manage your servers. Here are several tips and maintenance tasks to include in your checklist.
Server backups are crucial to ensuring your business can operate smoothly. A backup is a copy of what’s stored on your servers, preventing data and file loss if your servers or drives fail. You may not need to use backups often, though it’s best to have them and not need them rather than vice versa. For example, if your server fails and you’re without backups, you may have to spend significant amounts of time and money to recover.
Depending on the sensitivity and amount of data stored on your servers, you may check your backups daily or weekly. Doing so helps ensure data is being backed up properly.
Manage Server Storage
Your server storage can easily get filled with old logs, files, data, emails and outdated software. To ensure your servers have adequate storage for the data you currently need and use, regularly check that your storage is being used effectively. Delete or archive old emails and log files to clean up your storage and make room for more current data.
Managing your storage helps the server run more efficiently and can make data recovery easier, as you’ll have less data clogging the server.
Update Software and Operating Systems
Keep in mind that your software and operating systems should be upgraded as updates become available to ensure you’re using the most recent versions. Some operating systems and software platforms allow you to automatically install updates, some will alert you when updates are available, and others require monitoring to stay updated. If your system needs monitoring, create an updating schedule to avoid missing important enhancements. For example, once a month you may review your software and operating systems for available updates and install them as necessary.
If your servers have sensitive data that you want to avoid being leaked, consider testing updates before implementing them across the board. Doing so allows you to determine the updates’ stability before putting your data at risk.
Check Remote Utilities
If you use cloud-based services or manage remote servers, regularly check your remote utilities. For example, your employees may work remotely — requiring secure access to your servers — or you may use remote server maintenance services. Regularly monitoring your remote servers and utilities is essential to ensure they remain functional. If they go down, remote capabilities may be put on hold.
Test the remote reboot, remote console and rescue modes often to ensure they work and allow you to effectively manage your remote servers and keep operations running.
Clean and Inspect Hardware
Like other machines, the hardware for physical servers can collect dust and debris, which can build up in various parts like the fans and circuit boards. Dust and debris buildup can lead to hardware failure and decreased performance, as debris can block airflow within the hardware, causing it to overheat. Schedule time in your server maintenance plan to clean your hardware to keep dust from accumulating.
This is also a good time to inspect your server hardware. Ensure the environment is at an adequate temperature, check for signs of wear and look for unusual wires or hookups — all of which can lead to server failure or security breaches. If you find major issues, you may need to replace your hardware to improve performance.
Review Server Security
Regarding your server security, review your password management system and user accounts. Assessing your password policy regularly helps ensure your team members have secure accounts and access to your servers and related data. Setting up password requirements ensures users have strong, updated passwords to deter hackers.
Additionally, review your list of user accounts. Check for users who are no longer at your company, review user authorizations and make changes as necessary. You can remove former employees’ accounts and change account permissions depending on what the user should have access to, helping prevent security risks.
Also, consider the overall security of your servers. Is the hardware stored somewhere secure, or could anyone access it? Is your network secure from outsiders? Consider using an external auditor to evaluate your network and server tools to ensure adequate security.
Check Server Logs
Server logs keep detailed records of server activity, including errors and accesses. While these logs can be extensive, ensure you check them often to familiarize yourself with server operation. For example, logged errors could indicate a hardware issue that can be fixed, and access logs can help you identify any unauthorized users who could cause a security breach.
Find and utilize procedures or tools that make checking server logs more manageable. Since they tend to be lengthy and may be difficult to decipher, the right approaches can help save you time, money and resources.
Check Network Utilization
Like storage or backup capacities, your servers’ network also has limits. Inspect network capacity and monitor network usage to ensure it’s being used effectively. If your network capacity is close to being full, you may need to consider making upgrades to ensure it can handle the level at which you’re running.
Monitoring your network is also important to maintaining your servers, allowing you to identify potentially problematic network usage. You can also monitor network traffic to improve the efficiency of frequently accessed resources. For example, if there are a few resources on your servers that customers or employees frequently use, you may consider transferring them to a faster server to ensure numerous users can access them at any given time.
Manage and Monitor Your Servers With Kirbtech
Looking for an easier way to manage and monitor your business’s servers? At Kirbtech, we offer several server solutions to meet your business’s needs. From simple server maintenance and monitoring to transferring your servers to the cloud or redesigning your data center, we’ll manage your operations so you have time to focus on other essential business needs.
We have the experience and expertise to ensure your servers are properly maintained and monitored so you can get back to what you’re best at — running your business.
Contact us to find out what server solutions are right for your business or request a quote.