Three System Admin Tasks for SMBs to Kick-start 2012

Paul Mah
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Top 10 Active Directory Tune-up Tips

Best practices for keeping AD running smoothly in 2012.

With the end of the year fast approaching, it may be a good idea to perform some spring cleaning or tweaking to prepare your SMB for 2012. I've listed three tasks below to help small and mid-sized businesses effect a noticeable improvement in their IT infrastructure.


Perform a system upgrade


The purchase of a brand-new system aside, two relatively painless methods for upgrading the performance of a PC desktop or laptop would be increasing its RAM, or upgrading its local storage. On a system with the 32-bit version of Windows installed, an upgrade to 4GB of RAM should see things run snappier and with fewer out-of-memory messages. Companies that make use of heavy-duty applications such as drawing software may benefit from an upgrade to 8GB (or even more) of RAM, though a corresponding upgrade to a 64-bit version of Windows may also be necessary.


Local storage can be upgraded with a solid-state drive (SSD) for much faster boot and application load timings, though their relatively limited capacity may prove a deal breaker for some businesses. An alternative would be to upgrade to a hybrid hard drive (HHD), which has come of age with Seagate's second-generation offering released in November. An HHD offers the above-mentioned speed-ups with the sustained file transfers of a standard HDD, but at a far lower cost than a similarly sized SSD. I have previously written about Seagate's Momentus XT, which you can read here.


Reformat of Systems


Even with careful maintenance, an inevitable amount of kludge can get accumulated over the course of a year. Moreover, the current state of security does mean that it may be next to impossible for a typical SMB to reliably determine the presence of malware. One sure method of putting a "reset" to any malware infestation though, would be to put in a fresh installation. Moreover, this has the added benefit of clearing out redundant software for a speedier experience.


Obviously, administrators armed with the right tools and prior preparation will have a much easier time here. For example, entire systems can be restored directly over the network clean system images, while work files can be restored from data backups. SMBs that don't already have proper system images and backups may opt to spend the time putting them in place instead.


Centralize storage


Finally, smaller SMBs or SOHOs may want to look into centralizing their storage if they have not already done so. This could be initiated by acquiring a Network Attached Storage (NAS) appliance, which is relatively affordable these days.


Moreover, the capabilities of NAS have also improved in tandem with their performance; most offer integration with Active Directory and other advanced capabilities that approaches that of entry-level SANs. In terms of performance, the throughput of a modern 4-bay NAS connected over a gigabit Ethernet network essentially matches that of local hard disk drives.


Do you have any other suggestions for system admin tasks to kick off the new year? Feel free to chip in below.

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