Byte Me Article 333 – IT Upkeep

26th August 2017

Focusing on IT Maintenance

This week we have again taken over the IT maintenance for a local company with a chain of half a dozen stores.  This time it has come about by a disaster at one of their stores and corresponding down time and loss of income.  Investigation of the cause has revealed simply a complete lack of IT maintenance or planning.

It is amazing how often we see businesses (even retail outlets) that totally depend on their IT to run and at the same time they ignore its upkeep.  In this case they have also lost a lot of documents and spreadsheets as there was no backup system running.  The other thing they have lost is a lot of money.

We have now replaced their server, upgraded their network and put a proper backup in place with the resulting equipment and labour invoice being less than half of their lost income.  I don’t know how these situations come about – except for thinking that is back with cash registers and sales ledger pads.

If you are dependent on computers for a living or for running a business then you have to accept the fact that IT never stands still and this is most relevant when connected to the Internet.  So what is the real price of being connected to the Internet?

The Internet connects us, individually, to the world.  This is a double edged sword as not only can it increase our geographical market – but it also puts us in direct contact with unsavoury types that are out of reach of traditional Western laws.  If a single scammer or a highly organised group of Internet scammers can get their hands on our money – they will, without hesitation.

Likewise if a group of hackers can bring down our personal computer or an entire corporate network then again – they will.  Sometimes this is done for financial gain and sometimes just for notoriety amongst their peers.  Often the motivation or reason behind these attacks is quite blurred.

What it means in real terms however is that websites are constantly getting security updates, web browsers need updating to work with new websites, operating systems are constantly getting security updates, anti-virus software is getting constantly updated and there is no foreseeable end to this cat and mouse game.

For an individual or business to keep their heads above water they need to be upgrading their core IT equipment every 3 to 5 years and between these milestones it needs to be kept properly maintained.  In this case an annual budget needs to be allocated to this very purpose.

This rules out the other scenario that we see – whereby a knee jerk reaction occurs because of one event like a virus, hacker or data loss and one big cash injection into IT follows – without any maintenance plan.  This will work for a while but even 6 months in IT without maintenance is a long time.

Once a new PC or new network is established it will still need operating system patches, hardware firmware patches, hard drive space/status monitoring and backup monitoring.  Even core software titles such as accounting software and point of sale software needs to be kept up-to-date.

It is not that much different to the constant painting of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to stop rust getting in.  We need to constantly maintain our computer systems to stop new hackers and viruses getting in. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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