The end of the year is rapidly approaching, with Christmas only a couple of days away. The weather is heating up, the cricket is on the radio and those Brisbane summer storms have already made their presence known. For a lot of folks a well-earned summer holiday has already begun, while the rest of us count down the days and hours until we can join them.
Whether you’re already relaxing by the pool, or still just wishing you were, worrying about the technology back at the office is not something you want spoiling your down time. Here are 5 simple tips to help you ease on into the break.
1 – Make sure your backups are working
As much as we all hope that it doesn’t, things can and do go wrong. Summer in Brisbane in particular has a history of throwing some particularly curly challenges at us such as raging storms, power outages and of course even floods. Even something as simple as a failed air-conditioning unit in a server room can have a disastrous impact on your business as servers over heat and shutdown or potentially crash.
A full discussion around Business Continuity Planning and Disaster Recovery is very important, however best left for another day. Right now, let’s just focus on this one tip – make sure your backups are working. If worst does indeed come to worst, and your technology does suffer over the holidays, as long as you have a working backup everything should be recoverable.
So how do you know if your backups are working? Well if you have us managing your systems then you have nothing to worry about, because we constantly monitor your backups to make sure their working. If you have your own IT person in house, or work with another IT company for support, just ask them to test your backups for you. The important point to remember is that they must test your backups, and not just assume that having no errors means all is ok. That means they must actually restore some data from a recent backup to ensure that the backups are functioning as expected.
2 – Power off unnecessary equipment
This tip is as much about saving money and the environment as it is about avoiding bigger problems. If you are the last one out the door before the office gets locked up for the break, take a walk around the office and make sure that all non-essential IT equipment is properly powered off, and optionally physically unplugged from the power point.
We’ve all heard the statistics about how much electricity devices can use, even when in ‘standby’ or ‘power saving’ mode. Well if no one is going to be using that printer, or those monitors for a week, why not properly power them off and save some electricity.
The other potential benefit of unplugging devices from the power point is avoiding power surges that can sometimes happen, particularly during summer storms. Computer equipment likes nice, clean, steady power, so unless you have surge protectors or UPS protection on every device, a power surge has the potential to physically damage or destroy your expensive technology.
The exception to this though, is your servers and communications equipment such as internet routers and switches. Turning these off incorrectly can actually cause more problems than it avoids. Not only that but if anyone requires access over the break to email, software or documents stored on your network, with the server and communications equipment powered off they won’t be able to access it.
3 – Set an Out of Office message on your email
Setting an Out-of-Office message on your email is extremely easy to do, and a great way to make sure others are aware of when you will be away from the office and not responding to emails. This not only helps to manage their expectation as to when they may hear back from you, but also gives you the opportunity to provide them with alternative contact details if the matter is urgent.
To turn on an Out-of-Office message in Microsoft Outlook 2013, click on the ‘File’ button, and then select the ‘Automatic Replies (Out of Office)’ button from the main screen.
In the window that appears you can enable your Out of Office message, set what dates you want it active to and from, and of course enter the message itself. Some points that may be worth including in your message are:
- Thanking the sender for their email.
- Let them know that you may not reply in a timely manner.
- Tell them what date you will be returning to work.
- Who can they contact in your absence if the matter is urgent?
4 – Let your IT Support team know who to contact in an emergency
If your servers, networks and office locations are managed and monitored either by your own internal IT person, or an IT provider such as us, how should they respond in the event that they identify an emergency with your computer systems while your business is closed for the break? Should they ignore it? Who should they call from your office? Do they have that person’s mobile phone number? Or do they have their own key to your office and permission to access services in your absence?
There is no right answer to this question, but it is worth considering. At the very least, let your IT people know what dates the office will be closed so that they can manage their responses accordingly.
5 – Relax!
Most important of all, give yourself permission to relax. If your computer systems are well setup, maintained and professionally managed then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about, and you can focus on making the most of your time away from the office to rest and recharge ready for a great year in ahead.