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Key tasks in a network maintenance checklist

Network technologies and devices might change over time, but certain maintenance tasks, such as data backup and device inventory, will always be essential for network teams.

Network maintenance is important, but projects like designing and installing a new section of the network or installing a new application can often interfere with needed maintenance tasks. Despite the urgency of these types of projects, network teams cannot push aside the following network maintenance tasks.

Network maintenance checklist

1. Data backups

Data backups are the most crucial maintenance activity. No matter what kind of network disaster takes place, it's crucial to be able to recover up-to-date data. For some firms, an end-of-day backup is sufficient, while others require continuous backup. Backups can be made locally or across the network. Local backups should be stored off-site to protect against fire or other factors that could damage them.

Network teams should check periodically that backups are actually are being done and are readable. There's nothing worse than when teams need the backed-up data only to find out that, for some reason, backups haven't been made or can't be found. 

2. Malware protection

Malware protection is increasingly important. Update protection software, run scans and keep track of new attack types. It's also important to keep server OSes and network device software up to date. If possible, maintain a test network with no connection to the main network. Try any updates on the test network before updating OSes.

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3. Network documentation updates

Keep network documentation up to date. It's easy for teams to accidentally skip this task when dealing with an emergency. Record the time and date of every fix, the name of the person who made the fix and a description of why the fix was made.

Network maintenance tasks have always been necessary and are unlikely to change a great deal in the future.

4. Device inventory

Maintain an inventory of devices. Develop a set of device names that indicate where in the network a device is located and the type of device. Include IP and MAC addresses.

5. Power checks

When teams are focused on all the other things that can go wrong in the network, it's easy for them to forget that power failures can occur. If possible, connect to power from two poles and regularly test uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems. Increase UPS capacity when adding to the network.

network maintenance checklist

6. Device filter dusting

Dust can clog device intake filters on network devices and air conditioners. Replace filters when necessary. Clogged filters can decrease airflow, which causes the temperature to rise. Hotter devices run slower and use more energy.

7. Cable organization

Organize cables, and keep them where they won't be dislodged by a custodian or someone tripping over one when walking by. Critical networks have been taken down by these types of accidents.

Changes in technology have introduced new types of devices and management, but network maintenance tasks have always been necessary and are unlikely to change a great deal in the future.

This was last published in March 2021

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