Serving Silicon Valley since 1994


SBH Enterprises Inc.

Avoiding problems

Why a surge suppressor isn’t good enough to protect your computers

A good quality surge suppressor will protect your equipment from power spikes that can damage your equipment. It can’t protect you from a power outage that may result in lost data. Modern file systems have implemented transaction management that uses a log to record transactions in progress so the file system can recover itself in the event of a power loss. This almost always allows you to reboot successfully after a power failure. The worst case scenario is low voltage that doesn’t crash your computer but causes data corruption. You may not even notice that you have a problem until you try to reboot or your system becomes unstable and starts to crash or hang. Make sure all of your computers are plugged into a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) and configured to communicate status of the battery. This will enable the UPS to power down your computer before the battery power runs out.

Security

Even if you only have one computer in your business it is still a good idea to have a firewall router between your computer and your internet connection. The bad guys have programs that probe IP addresses to see if they can break in to your computer. A router if properly configured will use NAT (Network Address Translation) along with other features to limit the access by these probes to your computer. The next layer of defense you need is good internet security software. When you access the internet your computer has an open port so you can read a web page. There are malicious programs that can exploit that open port to damage your system. There are a variety of ways a computer on a network can be attacked. The bad guys are working on new methods of attack every day. It is important that you keep your security software on the current version and that it is updated daily with the latest anti-virus definitions. We recommend AVG because it provides excellent protection and has less impact on your system performance than similar products from other vendors.

Why did my system just lock up or crash with the blue screen of death?

When you get your system restarted the first thing you should take a look at is the event log. This may give you some incite as to what the problem is. If you are running Vista or later Windows OS, you can get to the event log viewer in the control panel under System and Maintenance and then under Administrative tools you should find the View event logs tab. If your system starts running unusually slow or hangs frequently check the event logs. Modern disk drives can report errors to the operating system. An imminent disk drive failure may be reported as a warning message in the system event log. If you do find drive failure warnings, shutdown your computer immediately and get your boot drive replaced while it is still possible to do a drive image copy. It's a lot faster and less expensive that doing a complete reload or a restore from backup.

Backup your system on a regular basis

"I had been using that computer for years and never had a problem before" are famous last word spoken by many people after their system failed and they have no backup for their data. When you run a business you need to protect your data. Make a daily backup part of your systems scheduled tasks. An internal backup drive is an inexpensive way to protect your data from a hardware failure. You have insurance to protect your business in case of fire or theft but what are you doing to protect your data? A backup to an external disk drive is a good way to take a copy of your data off site. High capacity external drives are inexpensive. If your computer and the external drive have a USB3 (blue) interface, making a backup for offsite doesn't take very long.

Keep it cool and keep it running

Too much heat can cause your system to fail. A good system will have some thermal protection that will shut down the system before some parts like the CPU or power supply over heat. Many systems have no thermal protection and will just fail if they get too hot. Keep the side panels on your computer case when it's in use. This will enable the case fan to provide good air flow over the system components and keep them cool. If your computer is in a normal office with carpet and your office is cleaned at least once a week you should power down the computer, unplug it and blow the dust out once a year. If you are in an industrial environment with a lot of dust, you may need to clean your computer once a month.

Things you should have documented

Most small businesses don't do their own IT support work. If you need to change your support provider you will need to have documentation to make that happen. This is a list of some common things many businesses should have documented:

  1. What's the logon user any password for your router?
  2. What's the administrator password for your server?
  3. Where is your domain name registered and what is the user and password to logon to maintain the account?
  4. Where is your web site hosted and what is the user and password to logon to maintain the site?
  5. Who is your internet service provider and who do you contact for support?
  6. Where is your email hosted and how do you add or change email accounts?

If you do have accounts or domain names your business should be the registered owner not your IT service provider.

32 VS 64 bit Operating System

A 32 bit operating system with 4GB of RAM will have about 3.5 GB usable due to some memory being used by hardware. Adding additional memory will not add more usable memory due to the 32 bit size limitation of a pointer. A 64 bit Microsoft operating system is required to access more memory.  A typical business workstation will not need more than 2 GB of RAM. For motherboards that support dual page mode, having two memory modules will get you a little extra performance. Most programs don't use a lot of memory so having more that what you need is useless. If you have a program that can take advantage of lots of memory then adding more to a 64 bit operating system makes sense.

A 64 bit operating system doesn't run any faster that a 32 bit one unless you have an application that can make use of the extra memory. Instructions that are executed by the operating system are 8, 16 and 32 bit instructions. The 64 bit OS allows for a larger pointer to access more memory but it can't access memory or compute faster.