The purpose of this article is to help business owners verify that their servers are maintained properly by their IT support technician. It is our experience that many IT support technicians skip basic server checks and regular monitoring; as a direct result of their negligence the business suffers from a server failure.
Disclaimer: Even though most of these steps may be easy, anyone following them should use caution and acknowledge that you are doing this at your own risk. If at any point you are unsure of what to do or how to do it, then DON’T DO IT and ask an IT support professional for help. We are not responsible for any server, hardware or data failures.
CHECK 1: (Visually verify that the server hard drives have not failed)
On most servers it is easy to do a quick visual check of the hard drives to see if any drives have gone bad. To do this go into the server room and look at the front plate of your server. On some servers you may have to remove the front bezel. You should be seeing a set of hard drives stacked horizontally or vertically.
NOTE: If you do not find a blinking set of hard drives then do not proceed any further as you may have a generic brand server that does not give visual alerts
When looking at the blinking set of drives try to identify a drive bay with solid red or amber lights. This drive bay should distinguish itself from the other drive bays.
This indicator usually means that one of your hard drives has died and that your server is in jeopardy of failing. To completely verify the drive failure we recommend that you call the customer service of your server manufacturer (Dell, HP, ABMX, Intel, etc…) and ask them if they concur with your visual findings. Once you verified a hard drive has failed, it is important to get it replaced ASAP by a reliable IT company (like us).
CHECK 2: (Verify Physical Maintenance of the Server) Look at the front and back of the server. If your see large amounts of dust on the fan holes, this means that the server has not been maintained for a long time and is likely overheating inside. An overheating server will cause hard drives to fail and hardware to break down.
CHECK 3: (Run the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer) First download the “Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer” from your workstation (not the server). You can Google the name or click the download link here:
If your server is 64 bit then click the “MBSASetup-x64-EN.msi” download.
If your server is 32 bit then click the “MBSASetup-x86-EN.msi” download.
(If you don’t know your server version, you can download both but only one will run on the server, the other one will just refuse to run. Typically the newer servers are 64bit)
Next save the file(s) to a USB drive, insert the drive to one of the USB ports on the server and login to the server. Copy the file(s) to the desktop and run the program. Use the default settings and scan the computer. The result will be a report on the status of the server and any issues that may exist. For further help in understanding this report, contact Tampa PC Geeks.
Check 4: (Verify Backups) The best way to verify your backups is to login to the server and place a document file on the server. Give the file a catchy name and then on the second day delete the file from the server and the recycle bin. On the third day call your IT Company or person, give them the name of the file, and ask them to recover it for you. If your server has daily backups, they should not have any problem recovering the file for you. From our experience, we learned that an actual restore is a much more reliable way of testing your backups vs. just getting a report. This is why with our backup agreement we require our techs to manually restore a random file from the server on a regular basis.
Check 5: (Server Restart) This last step could be risky and should be done during non-business hours. It may also cause services to fail after the server comes back online so do this at your own risk. We also recommend to have an IT person on standby should something go wrong and to verify your server backups first. During power outages and hardware failures your server will restart. It is important to understand what happens when it does, what fails during restart and to have a controlled test. In most cases, a server should restart completely within 30 minutes and should not need an IT person to bring the server services back online. If a server that does not restart on its own, its usually because the server is not maintained or has a lot of serious errors.
To restart the server, login to the server and then select restart from the bottom left windows menu. Do NOT restart the server by pulling the power cord from the back, powering off the UPS/surge protectors, or by holding down the power button.
By following the steps above you will have a better picture of the status of your company servers. In the chance that you discover that your IT is not doing a good job, we ask that you call us and allow us to earn your business...