When your business experiences IT downtime there are four area’s affected:

  • Sales: If your website is down or your server down – orders can’t be placed. One hour of downtime can cost thousands of dollars for some businesses.
  • Productivity: When your server or internet goes down you lose access to your company data, emails, applications that process orders or track stock completely come to a stand still
  • Customer Satisfaction: If customers can’t get to your website to make a purchase or email you to get information they potentially will take their business elsewhere.
  • Data Loss: Viruses cause havoc on a computer or server. Ransomware can bring an entire network to a standstill for hours if not days. Without proper security systems in place client information can be lost or worse even stolen.

So, it’s essential to be prepared before disaster strikes your business. Having good backups and secure networks is imperative but ill talk about these in another post. Today i would like to talk about one area I see all too often neglected until disaster strikes, and that is documentation. When i come to meet new businesses for the first time i often see some using a notepad with scribbled in passwords which is too hard to work out what is what. Other companies don’t know the information or the information that they did have was outdated.

Disaster can strike in many ways – Virus issues, Hardware issues, Natural Disasters like flood or fires. Getting hit by a bus or injured in some way is something you haven’t thought about either. What if you are the only one who knows the logins or passwords to important parts of your business and you get hit by a bus and end up in hospital for 3 weeks. If no one at your company knows how to do it, this will cause disruptions to your business.

This lack of documentation can cause delays in getting your business back online and working.This not only applies to IT related information but any processes you do in your business. But for this post, I am going to focus on the IT or tech things business owner should have documented. This is something I do with all my clients and have all their IT documented so that when/if disaster strikes we have documentation on their network.

So here is 10 Tech things you should have documented for your business:

Internet Provider: With internet settings, it’s important to keep record of the username, password, account number, Phone number its running on if its ADSL. I also like to list the support number so its quick and easy to lookup when needed. I also like to note out if the ADSL line is being used for phone calls, faxes and security alarm systems. This information is helpful in the event you want to cancel a phone line and accidentally cancel the internet connection- trust me it happens.

 Router/Modem Details: The router/modem is just like your Internet Provider details you need to keep records of the username, password and IP address to login to it. If it has wireless make note of your SSID (wireless name) and password. One extra step I like to do here for my clients is create a backup file of the modem. This way if the modem is to stop working you have a backup of all your firewall settings and can easily import this into a replacement model (preferable same model). Other parts i document is any VPN settings or Firewall Rules/Port forwards that maybe in place – if the router/modem dies and you dont have this information it can delay getting things back to how you had it previously.

Server Details: If you have a server you need to keep the administrator login and password, IP of server, Warranty information, a brief description of what is on this server – eg mail, myob ect. Also reference any software installed which will be mentioned below in point 9.

Backups: You need to keep documentation on what is being backed up, where its backing up to. Are there any passwords involved in accessing the backups? Who do the notifications go to daily to advise you if backup completed successfully. The data that is being backed up should also be reviewed regularly to ensure all your critical data is being backed up and nothing is missed.

Don’t forget to test your backups. When is the last time you tested your backup to ensure you can get your data back? I see it all too often with new clients that thought their previous IT provider were backing up their data and when it comes to checking it realised some critical data was missed or worse the backup hadn’t even been working properly.

Website Design and Hosting:

Where is, your website hosted and what are the login details? Does the website have a backed end like WordPress? Document how to login.

This information is often kept by your web designer but keep thinking about the getting hit by a bus scenario – If your web designer gets hit by a bus and is a sole trader – how will you get your login details. If things turn bad with your designer will they be willing to hand over this information?

Domain and DNS hosting:

Where is your domain registered and what is the login details and expiry date? Ensure your registrant details are in your name and not the webhosts. I often see this occur where the web design registered the domain in their name rather than the company name/contact. Then the business owner changes web designers and has a horrible experience getting this information from the domain registrar.

DNS is all the records that tell the internet where your website is hosted. I like to document this so in the even you can’t access the Domain Name Server you can replicate this information on to another server. Does anyone remember Exa Web Solutions They were one of Australia’s largest digital service company operating for over 15 years. Last year they went into Liquidation and caused a lot of issues for their customers

Emails:

Where is, your email hosted and is there any login information? Is it hosted on your servers in your office or is it in the cloud with Office 365 or hosted on your webhost site. Having this information documented can help when dealing with email outages or email issues. If its office 365 I also like to document the login credentials for administration, user logins and passwords.

Printers:

If you have network printers document the username and password, IP address and I also like to document the consumables used by this printer and where to order replacements from.

Software & Websites

If you have special software like MYOB or something that requires a login don’t forget to document this information. Having these logins and passwords can make solving issues so much quicker.

I like to put down the software and website, the username and password, where its installed, the support email or phone number to call when issues come about.

 Passwords:

With passwords, I recommend getting yourself a program like LastPass or Dashlane which is a website you can store all your passwords securely in and have a master password.

Try not to have the same password for everything – this makes it way too easy for hackers.

A little tip I have for my clients is to come up with a phrase you can remember quite easily.

For example: “Jack and Jill ran up the hill to fetch a”

Then take the first letter of every word: jajruthtfa

Then add some capital letters into it like JaJrUtHtFa

Next add the initials of what the password is for- example Facebook.

So, this would be JaJrUtHtFaFB and lastly add a number you can remember and a special character

So, the result would be JaJrUtHtFaFB17!

Facebook = JaJrUtHtFaFB17!

MYOB = JaJrUtHtFaMYOB17!

Word Press = JaJrUtHtFaWP17!

You get the idea. By doing this you have complex passwords on all your websites and if you remember your catch phrase you will never forget it.

As mentioned earlier I see a lot of businesses with hand written notes in the back of a diary and often don’t have the information or the password is outdated. This is where I recommend you have some form of electronic documentation. All Star IT uses Office 365 and I highly recommend using One Note and create a tab for each of these areas. Better yet give All Star IT a call and if you become one of our clients we can document all your IT information and we will provide you with a document to keep onsite.

So, this is just a few tips on what to document and if you would like to receive more simply put your email address below to subscribe to our newsletter.

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