Best Practices your IT Service Provider should be following

Outsourcing your IT needs to a service provider can be a cost effective way to manage and scale your infrastructure. It’s important that the relationship you have with your provider is more like an ongoing partnership that is adaptable and responsive to your ever-changing business environment. Constant communication will ensure that once a maintenance agreement is in place, it will be upheld over time.

When you meet with your provider, ensure that your current network environment is being fully optimized. Discuss any future plans your business has with your provider to ease any necessary transitions and/or migrations. Use the list below to verify that your service provider has established and follows industry best practices:

Run Updates.

Make sure your devices have the latest in security, performance and other important updates. Whether you have chosen to manually or automatically run updates, check the control panel to see the status and history of the updates in place. This safeguard will minimize the chances of getting a virus and increase the lifespan of your computers or mobile devices.

Check the Status of your Backups.

Backups are only useful if you are able to actually retrieve the data that is stored! Verify that the backups are intact, the files are readable and can be restored. Attempt to preform an actual restore, to ensure there are no false positives. Where are backups stored? It is recommended to move them off-site.  It may be a good time to re-examine the frequency of your backups as well. What policies does your company have in place in the event of a disaster? Meet with your IT service provider to make certain that the frequency and retention of your backup policy meets your company’s requirements.

Scan for Viruses.

Protect your environment and infrastructure from targeted attacks and security threats. Scan your computers for malicious software and catch problems before they start. Have your IT service provider implement Symantec Endpoint protection to make certain you’re fully protected across physical and virtual systems.

Check your website for security vulnerabilities.

Maintenance of your website and web server requires constant supervision. Whether you outsource these tasks or handle them in-house, daily monitoring should occur to ensure the overall effectiveness of your site. There are also additional precautionary measures your business can take to protect your site’s security:

  •  If your company’s website stores sensitive private data, it should also be protected with a username and password as well as  have an up to date SSL certificate. All SSL certificates have expiration dates. Be sure to check with your IT service provider or certificate vendor to confirm the validity of your SSL certificate.
  • Update your website’s platform and scripts that you have installed on the site. Installing security plugins will also help prevent hacking attempts.
  • It is also important to verify your backups as well as securing your passwords for your company’s website. If you have a blog running on your site, you should also confirm that a copy of each entry has been saved offline.

Just because you have a service provider running maintenance and monitoring your organization, doesn’t mean all the responsibility for your company’s data and devices is out of your hands. There are still some simple steps that every employee within your organization can take to ensure an optimal operating environment and increase your environment’s efficiency.

Clear your browser cache.

Your browser’s cache is the source for stored data that is used to accelerate the process of retrieving data from previously visited web sites. Designed to retrieve and display information stored directly on a local drive rather than downloading and display information over the internet, the browser cache can get quite large. Overtime, your browser cache can take up a lot of space on your hard drive– filled with data that is no longer used. Clearing the cache will not only allow your browser to function more efficiently, but can also protect your privacy.

Remove unused desktop icons.

When a new program has been installed on your computer, the program will create a shortcut on your desktop. You may notice over time that you don’t use the program often enough to warrant an icon on your desktop. Sorting and filing away items on your desktop can improve your computer‘s speed at start-up. Take a few minutes and put away outdated files, folders and remove icons you don’t frequently use.

Clean the actual devices.

Your workspace is most likely also where many coffees, snacks and meals are enjoyed throughout the year. Take some time now to clean all the devices found in your workspace. Dusting the keyboard, monitor, mouse and phone on a regular basis can increase the life of your hardware. Don’t neglect the inside components either. Over time the dust buildup inside your computer can diminish its efficiency.

Examine your passwords.

While changing your passwords regularly may not be necessary (as it usually just encourages users to reset it to weaker one), it is important to verify that your employees at all levels are following password best practices. While it can be challenging to choose unique passwords for every site and account in place, using a password generator or a password manager like KeePass can ease the process. It is commonly accepted as best practice to ensure your password is at least 9 characters in length, consists of upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and symbols.