COMP SCI 101: The small business office network

BY ANDY BLECHER

Hello Rockland!! My name is Andy Blecher. I am a lifelong resident of Rockland with a wife and 2.4 kids. At least that’s what the census tells me! But that’s not all! I’m also a Network Engineer and Managing Partner of a local business named Backplane Technology Group. At Backplane Technology Group we help folks at home as well as in small offices around Rockland County with their computer and network issues. We provide engineer level service where the big companies don’t go. We’re here to help and empower. My hope is that this blog will help shed some light on common computer and network questions. Perhaps you’ll even find yourself a bit more savvy!
Andy Blecher, Network Engineer and Managing Partner of Rockland County’s Backplane Technology Group

It’s your business. You’ve built it from the ground up. You’re very proud of it and you have a right to be.

As a business owner you know there are certain things that need tending to. One of those I see neglected more than anything else is the computer network. Considering that today’s businesses need this to operate I’m continually amazed at how little resources are allocated towards it. If it goes down so does your business.

Surprisingly, as a business expense, it shouldn’t be all that much if done on a continual basis. Issues arise when continual maintenance is ignored. Given that every environment is different there are however basic things that need to be tended to on a monthly basis.

First, all computers on the network should be up to date at least with Windows Vista as XP is no longer supported. All Windows and software updates should be up to date. That includes making sure antivirus programs and updates are up to speed. Cleanup should be done to keep them running smoothly. Hard drives should be checked to make sure they’re healthy. Antivirus and antimalware scans should be done on a monthly basis.  The same can be said for any servers you may have running. You might never know that your data is or has been compromised without running certain scans.

That said, here are few questions to use as a checklist.

Do you have a firewall in place? Are the firewall subscriptions up to date? Is the firewall configured correctly? Most places we visit do not have a firewall and those that do generally have no content filtering subscriptions and have less than optimal configurations. This leaves a giant security risk for your business.

Do you have a router with wireless access? Is the router configured with a solid password? How about the wireless connection? Do you get a good wireless signal? Sometimes the radio channel needs to be adjusted to get a better signal. Do you have a guest wireless network? Is that configured correctly so that there is complete separation between the work network and the guest network? Do you know where people are going on the internet through your wired and wireless work and guest network? This is where content filtering would help.

Are you doing regular backups? Do you use an external drive or the cloud for your backups? Everyone has their preference. My preference is the cloud and I will tell you why. A backup solution in the cloud will not fail. Your data is stored in a giant datacenter, fully encrypted. The chances of a hard drive failure in the data center causing loss of your data is next to nothing. An external hard drive solution is fine until the hard drive dies and you cannot retrieve your data. And the rate of hard drive failures in external drives is pretty high. Please don’t get caught in that trap. Retrieving data is expensive.

These considerations for computer and network maintenance are just the basics. There’s always more but this is what we’re sticking to right now. Should it be done on an ongoing basis? Yes. Like any machine, it needs care. Your car needs care. Without it, your Mercedes will begin to run like a ’73 Pinto. Do yourself and your business a favor and find someone, or a company, that knows what they’re doing and save yourself the grief I have seen too many times.

At Backplane Technology Group we help folks at home as well as in small offices around Rockland County with their computer and network issues. We provide engineer level service where the big companies don’t go.

We’re here to help and empower.