Your company’s computer network is the brain of your operations. It connects your employees, your customers, and your data. If it goes down, your business can grind to a costly halt.
You already know it’s best practice to keep your network healthy, but many small businesses neglect proper proactive network maintenance simply because they lack the resources and the IT staff. Not having a network maintenance plan could leave you vulnerable to revenue disruptions, data loss, and even cyberattacks.
With a few proactive steps, network support and maintenance can become part of your company’s regular function, helping to ensure reliability, security, and productivity.
Steps for creating a network maintenance plan
Small businesses often have a local area network (LAN) or a wireless LAN along with an internet connection. These types of networks are relatively simple to set up, but as with any network, they require ongoing maintenance to keep them running smoothly. They also require robust security protocols to prevent data breaches.
As you begin setting up your plan, start by creating a network overview that includes the number of employees and computers and the type of network and internet connection. Then you can create a more in-depth network maintenance checklist with regularly scheduled tasks. Tasks should include:
- Software updates
- Data backups
- Password management
- Employee training
- Ongoing monitoring
Update software regularly
Keeping software up to date helps to maintain a secure, efficient, and productive network. Software companies often release patches and updates to fix security issues and improve performance and stability. Updates also include new features and functionality and keep your system compatible with newer operating systems. Enabling automatic software updates is an easy first step, but creating a quarterly schedule to check software ensures you stay abreast of crucial updates.
Establish a data backup system
Even with the best network in place, a data crash can happen, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster for your business. A backup system allows you to mirror your important data and recover quickly in the event of a crash. Small businesses can opt for on-premise or cloud-based backup systems. On-premises backups are kept at your business and rely on external hardware like hard drives. Off-premises systems are usually cloud-based third-party solutions. Regularly checking your backup system to make sure it is operating correctly is an important part of network maintenance.
Maintain secure and strong passwords
Password management is often overlooked, but it’s crucial to safeguarding your data. Weak or reused passwords can inadvertently compromise your business, exposing you to potential security breaches. Quarterly password changes are a good practice to include in your network maintenance plan.
Train your employees
Your plan should include regular training for anyone with access to your company’s network. They should know your security, password management, and software updating policies—and how to adhere to them.
Regularly monitor your network
From equipment documentation to licensing requirements, knowing your network and its capabilities is essential. Regularly scheduled assessments can ensure that your network is up to date and operating correctly. It can also help you anticipate future needs as your business requirements shift.
Additional network maintenance tips
A comprehensive network maintenance plan should also consider power supply backup, emergency response for when something goes wrong, and equipment and software upgrades.
Outsourcing network maintenance
Ongoing maintenance can be time-consuming for a small business owner. If you don’t have the time or resources to manage it yourself, hiring an outside company can ensure you stay on top of important tasks. According to Clutch, 22% of small businesses looked to outsource their IT needs in 2023. Investing in an IT management company saves time, but it can also save money in the long run by preventing unscheduled downtime, security breaches, and other issues. For small businesses, network reliability is critical to profitability. Ensure you have a strong and reliable internet connection with Quantum Fiber .
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