Thursday, June 08, 2017

5 Ways to Proactively Protect your Tech

Technology is like many other things in life, being proactive provides a better value than the time required to maintain it. Neglecting a tech device is risky, like driving a vehicle without checking the gas gauge and hoping to make it to your next destination. Each year computers, laptops, tablets and other devices become more and more sophisticated. As a result, these devices will be more reliable and have an increased life span if they are regularly maintained.

This post covers 5 tips listing various types of maintenance that can be addressed to proactively protect your technology devices including:
  1. Periodically testing the UPS device
  2. Checking the used and available storage
  3. Checking the health of solid state and hard drives
  4. Determining normal performance and checking logs
  5. Updating software

5 Ways to Proactively Protect your Tech

1. Periodically Test the UPS Device
Uninterruptible power supplies, or UPS devices, are used to supply supplemental power to a computer when power becomes unavailable. Any computer running important software, left on all the time, or holding critical files should be plugged into a working UPS at all times. If the power goes out, the UPS will beep to notify everyone that the devices plugged into it are running on battery rather than power. NOTE: This is less of an issue for laptops or tablets. If the power goes out, laptops and tablets will continue running on battery and are typically set to go into sleep mode after a shorter period of inactivity when running on battery. 

Unfortunately, UPS devices, like all batteries, will go bad eventually. When a UPS goes bad the alarm will sound even though the power is still on. The alarm will continue until it is powered off. Rather than waiting for a UPS to go bad, be proactive by checking the batteries on a regular basis. Almost all UPS devices have a test button, simply press it to see what percentage of battery life is left. Some UPS devices come with software which allows you to check the battery status. Either way, checking the remaining life of the battery can be done within minutes.

2. Check the Used and Available Storage
Checking the amount of available storage on a device is one of the quickest and easiest ways to protect it. When devices run low on storage, they can max out RAM to compensate. Once this happens, the responsiveness to each task requested slows. Long term, as a device runs out of storage the following things can happen:

  • Programs may fail to load
  • Applications can crash
  • Services can be stopped
  • Files may be lost or fail to save
  • Programs may fail to update
  • & More
Checking the available storage on the hard drive or solid state drive on a regular basis lets you proactively plan an upgrade rather than re-actively responding when choices are no longer available.

3. Check the Health of the Solid State Drive or Hard Drive
Checking the health of a solid state drive, SSD, or hard drive gives you a better idea about the life of the drive. In another post we describe what makes a SSD different than a hard drive, but the quick explanation is they are comprised of different hardware and a SSD is rated with a life cycle number of read / writes. We also touched on how to check the health status of a SSD in another post as we believe this is very important. Luckily, the same free software used to test the SSD's can also be used for hard drives. 

Checking the health of hard drives is a valuable tool as the results can alert you to issues you might not be aware of and/or let you know you need to start planning for a replacement. Planning an upgrade or replacement will go much more smoothly than trying to recover from a crashed drive.

4. Determining What Normal Performance Looks Like & Check Log Files
Looking at the normal performance of a device is called getting a baseline. This is important because it helps identify what part of the device is being affected when issues arise. If you check the task manager after a device is acting funny, you have no idea how the resources should be performing and the information is less helpful. Being aware of how a device normally operates is helpful when trying to determine if something really is wrong once you suspect there is a problem.

To check a device's performance:
  • On Windows - right-click on the task bar and select "Task Manager" or search for "Task Manager". Click on the "Performance" tab.
  • On Mac - open finder and select "Applications". Open the "Utilities" folder and select "Activity Monitor".

If you suspect something is wrong with a device, whether you have a baseline for the system resources or not, checking the log files can be helpful. Log files contain information about many areas of the device including hardware and software. Log files can help identify specific problems, when the problem began, and what other changes were made around the same time that may have led to the issue.

To check log files:
  • On Windows - search for "event viewer". Expand the "Windows Logs" folder to access various categories with detailed information about existing device issues including Application, System and more.
  • On Mac -  open finder and select "Applications". Open the "Utilities" folder and select "Console".

5. Update Software
One of the biggest mistakes a user can make is to install anti-malware software, set a scan schedule and then never check it again. It is important to check software, especially anti-malware software and free software regularly to verify the existing version is up to date. Software updates for Adobe Reader, Java and anti-malware come out on a very regular basis. Keeping these up to date protects you from security issues while providing new features. Simply open the application and go to the Help or About menu for a check for updates setting.

Whatever kinds of devices you regularly use, most of these tips apply. Being proactive when it comes to technology and our devices is important because it saves money and time over the long term. Think of tech devices as tools. Like any tool used to accomplish tasks, without maintenance and oversight they can become outdated or unusable. Most software will let you update it directly if not prompted. 

As always, planning and regularly checking the status of devices is absolutely worth the time!

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to our Blog

No comments:

Post a Comment