Four end of year Technology processes everyone should complete!
Another post on the Canyon Horizon Blog! At this rate, in ten years I might have ten posts! Seriously, one of my goals for the new year is to post more frequently on topics that concern all of us. If you ever have any questions or concerns about your network, workstations or servers, you can always reach out to me at Mike@canyonhorizon.com and I’ll do my best to get you answers asap!
Since we are getting close to the end of the year, I wanted to touch on some End of Year operations we should all perform as a part of your proactive technology plan.
- 1: Passwords. Now that we are leaving 2016 behind and entering 2017, we should all be changing our passwords. Of special importance is the admin password(s) that your network/computer may have. Here’s a couple of thoughts about password changes:
- A: We all know by now you need to make it complex. You also should make your passwords distinct and not have a common password for all the areas you login. I’ve been reading the interwebs and there’s a few thoughts on “formulas” that you can use.
B: A phrase + Service: If you have a phrase that you like you can use the initials from it. For example, The Arizona Cardinals will win the Super Bowl this year. TACwwtSBty. Then you can add something easy like the last four digits of your phone number, and the initials of the service you might be protecting: 5345 qb
Just to spice things up and because most complex passwords need to have a special character add a “signature” to the beginning or end. So one pw might be?: *TACwwtSBty5345qb#
This way you have a unique, complex password that follows a formula wherever you might use it. For Microsoft login: *TACwwtSBty5345ms#
C: There are password services that can help store your completely random password safely and securely. I happen to use LASTPASS, but there are others on the internet that have a variety of integrations. The one drawback with a service like LASTPASS is you have to be logged into a workstation in order to use it, so your computer login will need to be something you can remember.
D: When you are logged into whatever account, now is ALSO a good time to make sure all contact info is up to date, since many password recovery options need a current phone number and email address.
E: Approach this with Intention. Don’t just start changing passwords without a plan, chances are you’ll leave out some services, sites, or applications that need to be changed. Here’s a basic template you can fill out to make sure you have a good record of your password management. Notice that this template does not have you ENTER the passwords, but you have a “key” to the formula, or where the password is held so future tech support specialists can gain access on your behalf.
- 2: Backups. Now is a good time to go over your backup strategy and if you don’t have a “plan” here’s a resource to develop one. You will need to identify what data needs a yearly archive, and where you can store these.
- A: Backup strategy: I’ve talked a lot about backup strategies in other posts <insert link> but now is the time to create a backup strategy if you haven’t created one yet. EVERYONE needs some kind of backup plan of some kind, so identifying your daily work and data that needs to be backed up is critically important.
B: Archive: An archive is different from a backup, it is a complete snapshot of your year. You may have active work still occurring and moving forward into 2017, but your yearly archive will become your repository for documents created throughout the year. If you haven’t created a yearly archive yet, now is the time. I would use some kind of cloud service like OneDrive, Dropbox, or google drive and create a directory by year as well as saving your archive to removable media.
- 3: Security: Now is the time to go over your technology security policies and make sure they are in line with your business goals and industry best practices. Here are a few areas to consider
A: Access: Who has access to what data? A lot of times, during the year, we make adjustments and ad hoc decisions that carry forward and never get corrected. Now is the time to go back over access and identify exactly who should have what level of security. In enterprise environments it’s important to have an hierarchical division of access.
B: Firewalls: Make sure your workstation and network firewalls are in place, actively monitoring, and make any adjustments you might need. I generally do NOT recommend Windows Firewall if you have another workstation firewall product installed. Most antivirus programs come bundled with a firewall product and do a much better job of handling the internal firewall on your computer. Windows Firewall usually causes more problems than it solves.
C: Antivirus: Updating your antivirus, and performing malware and virus scans always ensures your computer and servers are working as efficiently as possible.
- 4: Hardware and software planning: If you intend to purchase new hardware or software, now is the best time of year to get these purchases completed. Many manufacturers offer year end sales, and if you are operating a business you can mitigate some of your next year tax liability by investing in company resources before the end of the year.
- A: RAM: If your computer can handle more RAM, this is a great time to upgrade. If you search by manufacturer and product number you can identify if your computer is able to handle more RAM. Here is a handy tip sheet to identifying the RAM your system may need.
- B: Network Equipment: Make sure all switches, routers, and access points are online and functioning. Inspect any cables, and blow out the dust! If anything needs to be rewired updated, or replaced, now is the time.
That’s it for now! We at Canyon Horizon wish you and yours the happiest of holidays! Let’s make 2017 a great year for technology!
President of Canyon Horizon LLC.