Summer holidays should be about sun, sea, lazing around and enjoying precious time with friends and loved ones. What they shouldn't involve is glancing at email or taking calls from work. Sadly, work often creeps into our well-earned breaks. While there's no way of averting true workplace emergencies, there is a lot IT managers can do to ensure their network (and the applications running on it) are as stable and secure as possible.
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Just as paperwork builds up on desks, it is the files and excess data on the network that negatively impact productivity and pose security risks. I can’t promise you won’t get a panic call while you’re lazing by the pool, but following these 10 steps should minimise the chances.
#1 File Away Old Data
Old, unnecessary data clogs the network. It slows people down, impacting on productivity and poses a security risk. Get rid of it.
#2 Monitor your bandwidth
Part of tidying up the network is identifying when more space is required. Bandwidth requirements change over time, so while the company may have had enough two years ago, the same may no longer be true. Now is the time to for capacity planning because you want your time away to run as smoothly as possible.
#3 Tighten your security
Chances are, you’re not the only one who is going on holiday. Fewer staff can mean sloppy security as people share log-ins and passwords as part of the handover process. Remind staff of what best practice security looks like. You know the drill: passwords, multi-factor authentication, centralised user management and single sign-on. Review access controls to critical data – limiting access plays an important part in minimising the damage caused by any potential breach.
#4 Make Critical Updates and Patches
Both your holiday and the overall security plan will benefit equally. More than half of all breaches occur because the organisation failed to patch a known security vulnerability.
#5 Archive old files and emails
Nothing quite captures the 'end of holiday blues' like returning to a full inbox. Before you go, make sure you archive old emails and delete big files you no longer need. If you can automate deletion based upon preset rules, that's even better.
#6 Disconnect old devices
Devices that are no longer in use like fax machines, copiers, phones, can be a huge strain on the network and represent potential vulnerability points in your security. Disconnect any device that is no longer in use.
#7 Tidy Up the Servers
Servers can become cluttered, unwieldy and completely disorganised, which leads to needless requests to locate specific files or programs. Allow time in the run-up to your holiday to tidy up the servers and contents in a systematic way that is easy to understand and identify
#8 Clean Up Your Wi-Fi Connections
How many wi-fi signals is your organisation supporting? How many points of connection exist and where do they lead? Make sure you shut down wi-fi connections no longer in use or needed. Simplifying the infrastructure improves security and makes it easier to manage yourself, or indeed easier to hand over management to someone else for two weeks
#9 Ensure Network Drives are All Connected
Another contender for most annoying calls to IT: network drives that don’t connect. Make sure they are mapped correctly so they connect automatically upon reboot.
#10 Filter Out Unwanted Junk
A great way to ensure that the network is not cluttered with junk is to filter it out before it gets on to the network. There are several tools that can keep unwanted emails and data out of your network before they ever gain access.
Achieving a strong, stable network takes time and planning, so don’t leave it until the last minute. But take heart, your hard work will reap rewards long after your holiday has ended. After all, you’ll be returning to a less stressed, more efficient, trouble-free infrastructure.
This article originally appeared on Lifehacker UK.