These tips and tricks may be obvious but if you get stuck try them.
If you can't figure it out call
us. We'll be glad to help.
Clean, reliable power is a must for all computer equipment.
This includes hubs, switches, modems and any other I/O that is connected to your workstations or
servers. A power dip can cause corrupted routing tables or partial re-initialization of I/O. We
recommend (and use internally) the Cyberpower Series of UPS's.
When updating or upgrading a system make sure you have the
latest BIOS already installed. See the motherboard links on the
links page. Go to support
and then check for the latest BIOS and the procedure for flashing it. Flash BIOS at your own risk.
A power dip during a BIOS flash can leave you with an unusable motherboard!
Know which cards are in which PCI slots. The IRQ assigned to a
PCI card is slot dependent. If you add a card, check the manual for the motherboard to see which slots
share which IRQ's with on board devices. A problem can usually be solved by moving the cards around so
that they don't conflict.
Murphy is alive and well. Especially when you are handling
hardware and you are not grounded.
Make sure that the system is unplugged and that you are
grounded before you open the system to change / add anything.
You can't tell how fast your system is until you run some
tests. Check out our links page under the topic of software. Sissoftware makes great benchmarking software.
Some of the others listed are also very good. Try them. Most of them are free. Once you get a benchmark
on your machine, write down the results and put them in a safe place. If you think the machine is
running slower all of a sudden: test it.
Have all the software, operating system disks and drivers
available before starting any changes or updates.
If you are running Windows, clean up your disk and defrag it
once a week. The performance may not go up much but this will prevent it from going down!
Install and monitor CPU
temperature, Fan Speed and System Voltages to head off problems before
they damage your machine. Check the motherboard manufacturers web site
for utilities that do this. They are usually free and constantly updated
to support new machines. They usually include alarms and the ability to run a program or send an email to you telling you
that a machine is no longer in spec.
Turn off any tasks or processes you don't need. Whether you are
running Linux or Windows this will free up memory and there will be less running in the background. This
leaves more CPU cycles and memory available.
The proper sequence for reloading a operating system on a hard disk is:
- Backup all your Data First
- Boot from CDROM
- Format the Disk
- Install the Operating System
- Load the Drivers for the Motherboard chipset from CD
- Load all the other drivers for graphics, LAN, etc.
- Test the system with benchmark software
Setting up a network is not trivial. It's also not difficult
with the correct approach. First decide the IP address for each machine on the network (example:
192.168.0.1 to 192.168.0.254 these are un-routeable IP addresses). Write up a table of each machine's IP address and its machine name. Pay
close attention to the machine name and note the case (UPPER or lower) of each letter in the machine's
name. Keep a written record of your network like this:
192.168.0.1 icshost (or
You'll be glad you did when it comes time to add, upgrade or
change your network.
Next create / modify the "hosts" and/or "lmhosts" files to reflect
the IP table you made above. Be careful and read the samples included on the machine before modifying
these files. Always copy an original file to another location so you can return to where you started.
This is a must - We repeat:
Always copy an original system file to "filename_org" so you
can return to where you started if you need to.
Once all the machines are configured, bring every machine down,
reset the hub or switch and then boot the server. Once the server is up and operating correctly (give
NT/2000/XP Server a few minutes to get the network running properly), you should then boot one
slave/client at a time and check to make sure it operates as expected. See
Microsoft's Knowledge Base for common Windows network gotcha's.
Plan for growth. Plan for failures. Plan for "Mary" in
accounting deleting the whole accounting directory by accident.
Figure out how much storage you will need and then double it.
Also make sure you have the ports, power and space to add more disk storage next year.
If you have critical business data make sure it is on a fault
tolerant disk array (RAID 5 or 10 - mirrored and striped).
Put a tape backup in place and backup your data often. Put your
backed up data in a fire proof box for safe keeping.
Consider IDE RAID. Its faster, less expensive and just as
reliable as SCSI based RAID. Did I mention its less expensive? We use it for all our servers and
critical data. Maybe you should.
We are always glad to get suggestions or solutions to problems
you have encountered. We will add those to the appropriate topic above as they come in. Send them to