Server failure used to mean widespread panic and a scramble to find backup tapes and a spare server to restore onto. Inevitably this meant business interruption, user frustration and even data loss. Recovering from a backup can take hours; even planned maintenance can take the server down during business hours leaving users unable to work. Today there is no excuse for this situation.
Remote support is one of those bugbears that is never going to go away. At least with PCs and laptops you know where you are, and remote desktop tools make it easy to log in and take control of a user’s PC. You can grab logs, check files, and see just what your users see.
The best thing about Spacemonger (www.sixty-five.cc/sm, $24.95) isn’t that its intuitive display of how space is used on a hard drive allows you to pinpoint what’s taking up the space on your hard drives in a matter of seconds. The screen area shows a colour-coded and hierarchical treemap where the size of the box for each directory or file is in proportion to the space it takes on the drive. Hover the mouse over any element to see a popup with more detail, and scroll the mouse wheel to zoom down to level of individual files.
What you need to keep customer networks running; free network management tools perform basic tasks on smaller networks but pay-for tools give you more data and customisation options.
Protect computers from power problems and you can extend their working life as well as avoiding downtime and possible data corruption. Losing data on a laptop or desktop is bad enough, but losing a server to a power surge or power cut can be much more severe, potentially even a threat to the business. Losing a mail server or a major database can lead to serious data corruption that will take you time, perhaps even days, to resolve. During that time, your customer’s business is being impacted, and even if they’ve ignored your advice they’re likely to blame you, so you need to explain the danger and convince them to protect their systems.
Skip the traffic and use cloud services to proactively support clients without leaving your office.
If you’re using Active Directory and Group Policies to administer computers on customer networks, suggest they adopt Internet Explorer 8 to get more than 100 new Group Policies that you can use to maintain a stable configuration.
The phone rings; “My email isn’t working.” Now you have to decide: do you drive across town to give in-person support, or try to find a solution from where you are sitting? Personal visits for every support request are impractical, but telephone support can be frustrating and, at worst, a waste of time when a visit proves necessary after all.
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