Server Maintenance: Why We Do What We Do

By Tech Experts Staff
Most small businesses have onsite servers, which is a change from years past when small businesses didn’t see the benefit of having a server in place and instead depended on sharing within a workgroup.

With the great benefits of having a server in-place comes some additional costs to make sure your investment continues to be beneficial.

Many businesses that put a server in place are always defensive about having server maintenances done within a month after putting a server in place.

The number one phrase we hear after putting a new server in is “Are you sure that needs done, we just put that server in?”

The problem with taking this approach with your new server is that you already put a substantial investment in your new hardware and want it to run great for a long time.

Neglecting the server, even if it is for a short period of time, or even if it was “just put in,” is dangerous.There are items that can go bad or cause problems if not addressed, even on a new server.

The first item and most arguably one of the most important are the server updates. Servers have to be kept up to date especially since they physically host your important data.

Allowing a server to become outdated is highly risky and potentially allows hackers access to your server via security exploits in the operating system, Internet Explorer, Adobe, etc. If these items go without their security updates you run risk of data breach.

The second item that is one of the most important items that we check is the health of your RAID disks.

Most servers (at least the ones we install) have a RAID configuration of some sort configured to help protect your server in the event of a hard disk failure.

Hard disk failure is not a matter of if it will happen but rather when it will happen.

Since this is the case we generally set our clients up on a RAID 5 configuration which allows up to two RAID disks to fail at different times.

The redundancy provided by RAID 5 configurations allows for a large amount of protection from data loss but does not guarantee it. If a business’s server was not having regular maintenances done it is very possible to have the RAID disks fail and lose all the data because it was not caught.

We have had clients bring in computers that are brand new with failed hard drives so it can and does happen at any time, even when they are brand new.

During our maintenance we also go through the logs on the system carefully combing over the entries looking for any instances that could potentially indicate a problem or an upcoming problem if let go.

If this is not done your server could be showing that it is starting to have problems but you would never know it until it is too late.

One of the logs, the Security Log, allows us the ability to see whether or not your server has had unauthorized attempts to login to it. Yes, we mean hackers trying to get in your sever and to your private data.

These are just three of the numerous areas we check with the server maintenances to ensure that your server, whether new or old, is running properly and continues to do so for years to come.

If a server is not properly maintained, it can degrade quickly into an almost useless piece of equipment and the investment you put into becomes a waste as well – not to mention the potential data loss.

Don’t waste your company’s hard earned money! Invest in systems maintenances, every month. This is the only way to prevent major issues with your server and avoid data loss or compromise.

What Is RAID, And Why Should Your Server Have It?

Did you know you can increase storage functions and reliability through the redundancy of RAID?

RAID is an acronym for “Redundant Array of Independent Disks.”

RAID was first developed in the late 1980’s because servers were encountering a dramatic increase in the amount of data they needed to store.

Storage drives were really expensive then and would cost a fortune if ever you needed to replace one.

By having RAID on your server you were able to use a large number of low cost hard drives and link them together to form a single large capacity storage device, which offered greater performance, storage capacity and reliability over older storage solutions.

It has been used mainly in the server markets, but over the past few years RAID has become much more common in end user systems.

There are three major advantages by having RAID.


This allows for a form of data backup in the storage array in the event of a hard drive failure.

If one of the drives in the array failed, it could be easily swapped out for a new drive (without the need to turn the system off, this is referred to as “Hot-Swappable”) or you could continue to use the other drives in the array.

Depending on which level of RAID you are using and how many hard drives you have in the array you can increase the read/write speed of your drives.

Lower Costs
You can set it up so that you have several inexpensive (low capacity) hard disk drives brought together to make up one big (high capacity) disk drive.

Also in the event you need to replace a hard drive you will not have as much down time if you chose a RAID level that supports redundancy.

Types Of RAID
There are several different RAID levels, and each has advantages over the other. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, you can choose between (these are just the most common choices) RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 5.

RAID 0 is a base confi guration called striping, which requires a minimum of 2 disks. With RAID 0 all of the drives in the array will appear as one drive with the sum of all drives adding up to make one big hard drive.

The logical disk is then created with “stripes” which run a crossed each disk in the array. The advantage of having RAID 0 is that you gain storage space as each disk is seen as one giant logical disk. However if one drive goes bad, then all of the data is lost and there is no way of retrieving it.

RAID 1 is the second base configuration and it is called mirroring. Like RAID 0, this level of RAID also requires a minimum of 2 disks and can only be used with an even number of disks. RAID 1 provides data integrity. Instead of each disk showing up as one giant logical drive as with RAID 0, RAID 1 will mirror any data that is written to one of the disk’s in the array, and copy the data to all of the other disks in that array.

Therefore if one of the mirrored drives goes bad, no data is lost as it is on the other drives in the array. The bad drive can then be replaced and the data can be copied back over automatically (if set up to do so).

RAID 5 is the most commonly used RAID level. It combines the features of RAID 0 and RAID 1. It requires a minimum of 3 disks in the array.

RAID 5 uses the same striping aspect as in RAID 0, however not all of a stripe is made available for data storage.

Part of each stripe is reserved for parity. Parity is used to ensure the integrity of the array by comparing two bits of data and then it forms a third data bit, in which each bit is on a different physical disk drive based upon the fi rst two bits, leaving you with 2/3 of your storage.

However depending on which disk dies, each triplet will lose one of the bits built by the RAID level.

Either bit 1, bit 2 or the parity, but with the other 2 existing on a different disk, the third can be quickly calculated and replaced onto the replacement drive.