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Avoid these common storage pitfalls

You might have the most advanced storage network around, but you may be overlooking some fundamental items that can cause serious unplanned downtime. Use this list of common storage pitfalls to make sure you've got everything in and out of your data center properly covered -- and connected.

Even if your data center features all the latest and greatest technologies, overlooking some of the most basic things could have you up against some unexpected downtime. Not to panic, though, most of the items you need to watch out for are more minor than major. To help you keep your network running smoothly, we asked expert W. Curtis Preston to share with us some of the most overlooked areas in a data center that can also be the most catastrophic. Take a look at this list and consider the most common pitfalls -- like making sure all your cables are properly connected -- to some of the largest, like ensuring all of your company's data is being backed up regardless of the user's location. Then read the accompanying articles in this week's featured topic to find out more information.

  • A clean environment. Keep your data center free from dust and make sure there isn't any debris that could possibly contaminate your tape drives.

  • Be well-organized. Clear, concise and proper labeling is key to keeping your data center organized so you know where your tapes are stored and which information is stored on them.

  • Keep your hardware cool. Making sure your hardware is cool and won't overheat is key to making sure that your equipment will run smoothly and you won't have to put your disaster recovery solution to the test.

  • Keep your cables in tact. Cables that get pulled out accidentally or that get bent or frayed are all common culprits of downtime. For this reason, it's essential to keep a clear path from where the cable begins to where it ends.

  • Create clear labels and a clear labeling system. If something does go wrong in your data center, mislabeled cables and an unclear system of how to label them only leads to confusion and possibly an increase in downtime. Your labeling system should be follow a pattern and be easy for all to understand so that if you're not there when something goes awry, anyone else can quickly and easily identify if the cables are the culprit or connect new cables in keeping with your already established system.

  • Make sure every blackberry, handheld and pda is backed up. Because more and more business is being done while in transit, it's essential that all transactions and correspondence is being backed up daily. The best way to accomplish this is to make sure your users are syncing their handheld devices to computers that are being backed up at the end of every day.

  • Back up data from remote workers. While there's a growing trend towards people remotely and only visiting a corporate office a handful of times throughout the year, some would argue that there should be a growing trend that their data isn't being backed up at all. To ensure the data from remote workers is being backed up, Preston suggests three main options: Use a backup product with very little bandwidth (Connected and Avamar are two such examples); Make sure the remote workers connect to the network instead of saving their data locally; Let them use CDs or tape to back up their data at their remote site. Although, according to Preston, the last option is the most common, Preston suggests that the first one is the best to use.

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