Condoms for Your PC – Run Reports from Logs

INTRODUCTION – In the large-scale server world, you expect to see reports of bandwidth usage and failed login attempts. You want to monitor the system load. You certainly want to know of malware or an unauthorized use of a server.

At the other end of the spectrum, as a user of a PC with access to servers (whether they are part of your company or the Internet) you want to know that you have a safe and stable PC. That’s why you run maintenance software. But, without reports of that maintenance, then maintenance management is difficult.

AUTOMATE MAINTENANCE EVENTS – Whether you are responsible for one PC or many, the automation of maintenance events can be a great time-saver for you. Whether you run maintenance events one at a time, from their own scheduler, from a batch process (scheduled or not), or have a utility to do the automation, you should track the status in a log.

WHY REPORTS? — From a log of PC maintenance status (in a text file, spreadsheet, or database), you can create reports of that status. Those reports can allow you to look at a history of events, to compare performance of one PC to another, to note what software is in use, and – perhaps most importantly – to know what users and/or PCs have NOT recently performed PC maintenance. Armed with such data, you can act in a pro-active manner to do PC maintenance before problems occur.

REPORT WHAT? – Begin with a report of when anti-virus and anti-spyware utilities were last run. If they were not run within the last week, determine why. Was the user on vacation or was the PC out of order? Either way, each PC should have an update and scan run at least once each week. A report to test the last date run, can show you where you need to take action.

Add a report of the performance of each PC. The test can be a simple utility to do a loop of calculations and of read/write operations with a value of how long the test takes. A report to compare the most recent value to historical values for the PC can give you a picture of the health of the PC. If the test time suddenly makes a dramatic increase, you may have some malware on the PC (or the disk drive may just be badly fragmented). You want to know how a particular PC compares with others when you plan for replacement of PCs. Since replacing the slowest PC is one approach, this can give you an objective measurement beyond just choosing a particular model of PC.

A report of current IP and NIC (MAC) addresses can save you time in tracking a security breach. A report of how much disk drive space remains can help you to avoid problems with disk defragmentation (it needs at least 15% free space to work efficiently) and to warn when users are about to need an increase in capacity.

SUMMARY – Become pro-active about PC maintenance and begin PC maintenance management. Rather than a passive process in which you run several maintenance tasks, track the results and observe them (as we discussed in an article on creation of logs). A log can give you great clues to tell you about your PC and to help to protect it to avoid problems. Reports from those logs can guide you to where to apply your efforts to see and prevent problems BEFORE they become BIG problems.

Copyright, 2006 by Tim Flynt. All rights reserved.

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