SPRING CLEANING FOR IT – Everyone needs to do it. Might as well get some help.

SPRING CLEANING FOR IT – Everyone needs to do it. Might as well get some help.

Ah, spring cleaning: Just about everybody needs to do it, and almost nobody looks forward to it. Whether it’s tackling winter’s ravages in the yard, clearing out the garage, or de-cluttering the closet, it’s one of those tasks that often inspires undue dread beforehand, even when you love the results afterwards.

The same holds true for IT pros – perhaps even more so than everyone else. IT “cleanup” can honestly be a daunting task. Mistakes – either of omission or commission – can have far-reaching results, and the changing nature of the technology environment means that “garbage” in the form of gear, applications and data accumulates more quickly than ever before. At the same time, it is critical to get rid of the stuff you don’t want, use, or need – because chances are, that’s where the inefficiencies, security holes, and bugs are hiding.

In the run-up to Red Level’s annual Spring Cleaning event, we thought we’d offer a few general IT spring cleaning suggestions, because it never hurts to get a jump start on the next Promethean task.

  1. Start with hardware. You may have finally reconciled yourself to the idea of getting rid of that crate of 28.8 modems that’s been kicking around in the supply room – but have you taken a hard look at other gear that’s past it’s sell-by date, particularly the equipment you’re still using? That old router or wireless connector may still be performing its job admirably a decade past its manufacturing date, but is it giving hackers a nearly barrier-free entry to your business? What about that tired server, the obsolete printers, the rat’s nest of tangled and unused/unusable cabling? A good look around your premises will probably reveal a number of devices that suck energy, increase vulnerability, or compromise efficiency. Do yourself a favor and ice them.
  2. Destroy dead data. Bad things happen to a lot of good files when people store them – in particular, being forgotten. You know what we’re talking about: Those 2005 monthly reports, the few hundred identical copies of the same Excel file, all the archived customer feedback emails from back when you were still using America Online – they’re all still sitting there taking up storage space, clogging up your server or desktops, and generally getting in the way. How many gigabytes of ten-year-old cute kitten attachments do you think are sitting on your email server at this very moment? It’s probably time to take out the garbage.
  3. Do an application inventory. Sure, we know: Application upgrades are time-consuming and expensive (particularly if you haven’t migrated to modern cloud-based services like Office 365 or Adobe Creative Suite yet). But guess what: They’re worth it. Janice in Accounting or Bob in Sales may not mind running apps two generations past their prime – after all, they’re familiar and comfortable. But they’re also security risks, bandwidth hogs, prone to failure, and efficiency choke points, and they’re highly unlikely to be fully compatible (or compatible at all) with tools that their colleagues or counterparts are using. It may not be an issue today, but just wait and see what ugly surprises tomorrow may have in store in terms of files that won’t open, data that’s lost, or automated processes that fail.

At Red Level we understand that the whole out-with-the-old process isn’t that much fun. We do our best, though, to take the hassle out of spring cleaning – and help to make your summer hassle- and worry-free. Why not join us for our annual Spring Cleaning event on June 7, 2016. We’ll be offering up a whole lot more tips, tricks, and guidance, and we’ll be happy to help you develop a customized spring cleaning program that makes sense for you and your business. Request your invitation today, or give us a call for more information.

About the Author:

Edward Aube
Red Level's Vice President, Small Business Consulting