These kinds of activities are admittedly a pain to deal with, but they are an integral part of keeping the servers in optimal working condition. Failure to do so could result in problems that could necessitate more than just a simple server maintenance.

What is Server Maintenance?

Before we talk about its corresponding checklist, we should familiarize ourselves on what is server maintenance first. Server maintenance is defined as the process of keeping the server software up to date and running so that a network of computers can continue to operate smoothly and avoid any unnecessary downtimes and data loss. Doing this frequently will help keep the server running in good shape and prevents any total or partial network failure.

Server Maintenance is usually a task that is delegated to a network administrator. The admin must review how the server is performing and check for any potential security risks and backup protocols at regular intervals. In line with this, the network administrator must also ensure that the automated system monitoring utilities are installed and appropriately configured. During the process of server maintenance, essential updates are installed on the network computers. Ideally, this is to be done after working hours so that routine activities are not disturbed.

What is a Server Maintenance Checklist?

A server maintenance checklist is a document that lists all the necessary steps to do and information that should be known that the network administrator uses in order to perform the needed server maintenance. The number of items in the checklist depends greatly on the type of network server/server computer, and the type of maintenance that is to be performed, whether it is preventive, corrective, or routine.

What Are The Items Included in a Server Maintenance Checklist?

Keeping a server up and running takes more than just a simple installation of a software patch or update. Having items listed in a checklist keeps things in an orderly manner and ensures nothing is skipped. As stated earlier, the number of items listed in a server maintenance checklist varies on the server itself and the type of maintenance that should be performed. With that being said, here are some of the common things that are included in a server maintenance checklist document, along with a short explanation:

Backup checks. This is usually the first step that is to be done before any kind of work is performed on the server. Essentially, it should be made clear that all backups in the server are not compromised or corrupted. Test recoveries can also be done if critical data is involved. An effective way of backing up server data is by mirroring it into a cloud server.Disk usage checks. This is necessary because having a smaller data footprint means a higher possibility of faster data recovery. Old and junk emails, files, logs, and outdated software should be deleted. If old log files should be kept, they can be moved to an external archive. If server storage reaches 100% utilization, it may stop responding entirely.RAID array checks. RAID means a Redundant Array of Independent Disks. In this configuration, multiple hard drives act as a single storage device in the event of a single disk failure. A RAID array usually has monitoring tools in place, and these tools should be checked because they serve as an alarm system for potential drive failures. It also lets you plan ahead on future drive replacements because a catastrophic server error can turn a simple drive replacement job into a tedious recovery process.Server resource usage checks. This is also done in addition to physical disk usage checks. Basically, if the CPU and memory usage reaches 100% frequently, the server may be overloaded with tasks. This can be alleviated by upgrading the server hardware, adding additional servers, or by migrating to a totally new server. Allocating certain tasks to a cloud environment will also help ease the burden of the server hardware.Software update checks. Different kinds of software exist on different kinds of servers. But one thing is common and that is they must be frequently updated. Some advanced servers have automated package managers/installers that can automatically install any new software updates as they go live. The main kinds of software that usually need to be updated frequently are web-based applications. This is due to the fact that they account for a majority of software breaches. However, it is also important to keep in mind that there are some servers that specifically require a build version of a software that may already be out of date. In such cases, caution must be observed to avoid exposing that old software to an open network environment which can result in its vulnerabilities getting exploited.Remote management tools checks. These tools include the remote management console, the remote reboot, and the rescue mode. This should be included in the checklist especially if you are running a cloud-based virtual server or if you are running a server remotely. Make sure that all of these tools are functioning properly. Should you encounter any small problems, a simple reboot may do the trick and fix them.OS update checks. Updates to the OS (Operating System) should also be regularly reviewed, as some hackers have devised a cybersecurity attack called a “zero-day exploit” which aims to attack a software update or patch before it even gets released, resulting in an already vulnerable update before even the patch is applied. The use of automated software patching tools is recommended to always stay on top of these kinds of updates.User account checks. A frequent review of user accounts in the system should be done, and the old accounts that are no longer being used should be removed from the system. This is because old accounts and sites can pose a legal and security risk. Account permissions can also be checked to make sure that the permissions being granted are appropriate to each of the users. These checks should be done whenever the management undergoes staff changes, client changes, or other user reassignments.

Why Do Servers Need to Undergo Maintenance?

Since a server is usually considered as one of the company’s main technological workhorses, it can be prone to failures from time to time. It is important to get the servers frequently maintained because it also serves as the backbone for all of the organization’s works. Here are some of the reasons servers need to undergo maintenance:

Memory errors. Numerous factors can cause the memory stored in the server to go corrupt. One of these factors is dust particles that settle inside the server cabinet which can lead to electric and magnetic interferences and cause serious damage to the memory modules. Data overload can also lead to memory errors because a server can only hold so much data at a given amount of time.CPU errors. A CPU can be prone to errors due to the following reasons: too many unnecessary applications running on the server, a surge of demand from users in a short amount of time, full CPU usage for an extended period, and unresponsive system applications.Surges in Power and Temperature. A common reason for power disruption is a faulty power supply unit. Which can lead to damages to a server’s equipment. A faulty cooling system can cause a server to overheat, which in turn leads to server failure.Virus and malwareMalware in a server system can cause serious failure and unexpected downtime. A server should be frequently checked for viruses and malware because the most knowledgeable people who can perform this kind of cyberattack can be simple hackers who have deep knowledge about how the IT works. Outdated software can serve as a gateway for malware to enter inside a server.

How to Prepare an Effective Server Maintenance Checklist

Here are the steps that you can follow in order to prepare an effective server maintenance checklist:

1. Plan for the checklist to be created.

In this step, it is important to identify first the kind of server maintenance that needs to be done, if it is preventive, corrective, or routine maintenance. Plan ahead if many people are to be involved or just the network administrator. Also indicate the software or hardware tools that are necessary to perform the server maintenance. Include also the spare server parts to be used in case replacing is necessary. Also plan for the number of working hours that the maintenance task needs, and the overall cost of the process. This is important to avoid using the wrong tools for the job, to control costs, and also to avoid having too many workers for a single maintenance task.

2. Begin writing down the checklist.

After the planning process, you can now proceed in writing the checklist. Start with the most basic information first, such as the company name, the date and time that the server maintenance will take place, the location of the server/company, and the type of maintenance to be performed. Then, list down the main areas or items of the server that will need to be checked with appropriate spaces for the action performed in that particular area. You can make the checklist a detailed and lengthy one, or you can just choose to make a very simple checklist.

3. Save some spaces for the feedback report.

In creating the server maintenance checklist, it is also important to leave some spaces in the checklist for feedback or a maintenance report, problems found with the corresponding actions taken, and the recommendations from the network administrator or the workers who conducted the server maintenance. The recommendations written will help everyone know if there are any components (especially critical ones) of the server that will need replacing or restoring in the next maintenance interval, as well as if there are any upcoming software updates or patches that may be installed in the next interval. The actions taken will also let the manager/administrator know what the workers did on the area they are inspecting and maintaining, and also if there are any defective parts found and immediately replaced.

4. Add space for a signature.

It is important for any kind of checklist (or any kind of document) to have a space allocated for the required signatures to ensure that any kind of action done during the maintenance process is true and validated. A checklist without a signature affixed on it is considered invalid and must be submitted to the appropriate manager or administrator for verification of the actions that were taken.

5. Checklist verification.

After creating the server checklist, it is important also to take your time to verify it, to make sure that everything is correct from the type of maintenance to be done, the overall cost, the personnel involved, the corresponding work hours, the hardware or software that is needed for the server maintenance, down to the type and number of replacement parts that are needed for the maintenance process. Make sure that nothing of importance is overlooked, especially in server components that serve a critical purpose in its operations. If the server maintenance checklist is to be handed over to the maintenance workers, it is also important to let them know about the general scope of their work to be done so they can also verify your created checklist and also to avoid any confusion.


What are the types of servers?

There are four various types of servers. These are the following:

  • File Server – this type of server serves as a central storage for files that can be used and accessed by the client computers.
  • Domain Controller – this is a type of server that responds to security authentication requests that take place within the network. Security authentication requests include logging in and checking permissions.
  • Remote Desktop Server – this is also known as a Terminal Server. It provides a secure line of remote access to the offices and business applications to employees or contractors from a centralized server in place of having a separate computer for each personnel.
  • Web Server – this type of server is well-suited for companies since they frequently experience large amounts of web traffic.

Why is server maintenance important?

Server maintenance is important because it keeps the network of your company or business in reliable condition. Server maintenance also helps protect all data inside the server and the server itself from getting corrupted, randomly crashing, or totally failing. It can be a costly process, but it is nothing compared to the consequences that your business may face when frequent problems continue to bug your server because maintenance is neglected.

What happens on a server failure?

When a system server fails, all plans of the company or the organization can go down in an instant, and they may be unrecoverable unless a reliable backup is kept, which there should be. Short-term effects of a server failure can be revenue and productivity losses while long-term consequences involve data corruption and the tarnishing of your company’s reputation if such failure gains heavy publicity.

With an effective server maintenance checklist, we should be able to understand how a routine server maintenance is performed. Every business in today’s modern period makes use of computer systems to make and complete transactions with their clients. Because a server is a company’s workhorse, it is no surprise that it is prone to numerous glitches or failures. This is one of the reasons why a server should be regularly maintained. It ensures that simple server issues or hiccups don’t lead to massive catastrophes. In this article, there are examples of an effectively written server maintenance checklist that you can use as an example or reference if you end up needing to create one for your company.