Network Documentation: Why you shouldn’t just rely on memory!

I wanted to post a quick reminder about storage of network documentation. Last week I ran out to help a larger client who was experiencing a full-network outage. This is a sophisticated client with a small internal IT department and they call on us for project and emergency help when needed.

When I arrived on-site the network was almost completely unusable and the client was in a near state of panic. In order to properly troubleshoot we needed to try to log into various servers, switches, etc. And so, I needed the passwords and network information.

Now we all know that no one can (or should) remember all their passwords–isn’t that why they created Roboform? And who can possibly commit to memory all the other important details such as IP addresses and other network settings, especially when you need a secure password to do anything these days? This is why Latitude 34 Technologies makes such a big deal out of network documentation. It is critical to a business’ operational success!

This particular client does a very good job of documenting their network, probably better than most, which is great. The problem arose when I asked her for the information and she said “Oh, it’s in the documentation, which is on the server… ”

You can see where I am going with this. If your documentation is only on your network it is going to make troubleshooting during an outage very difficult.

A best practice is to copy that documentation on a regular basis (even a few weeks or a month out of date is better than nothing) to either a printed version or a flash drive. And don’t forget to store your copy in a secure place!

A good option is a hardware-secured flash drive. This is one that is encrypted at the hardware level on the drive itself and has keys on it to enter a pass-code for access (typically entering the code incorrectly 10 times will cause it to self-wipe). If you have one of these secured flash drives, you can easily carry it with you at all times so you always have it in case of emergency.

Moral of the story–don’t forget to document your network and keep a secure copy off the server! You will be happy you took the extra time if you experience a major outage and want to be back up and running as quick as possible.

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