Keeping your computer systems functioning and operational is essential for the success of every business or organization regardless of industry or size. Thankfully, the ongoing tasks associated with making sure this happens is best accomplished through regular and recurring computer maintenance and user system clean up. Not performing routine computer maintenance can lead to many issues — ranging from something as simple as slow performance to something as critical as an increased risk of falling prey to a cyber attack. Beyond the obvious, leaving your systems unmaintained can also leave your organization vulnerable to all sorts of cyber risks.
As an IT managed services and security professional for more than 25 years in Los Angeles, I’ve seen just about everything when it comes to companies and individuals performing (or more accurately, NOT performing) recurring computer maintenance and upkeep of their systems. I wrote a related blog several months ago highlighting the importance of performing computer clean up and provided tips for cleaning computer systems effectively.
In honor of National Cleanup Day, which is celebrated in conjunction with World Cleanup Day as a way to help clean up garbage and clutter, we thought it would be good to highlight the advantages of performing system cleanups for your computers and related systems — highlighting the need to clean up your systems’ virtual garbage. As people around the country and the world participate in cleaning up the planet, you can help clean up your company in terms of its use of technology.
Regardless of whether your system needs a Windows cleanup or you are cleaning up an Apple, it’s vital to perform proper computer cleanup on your systems regularly. Here are 3 of the key reasons why computer user cleanup matters:
1. Maintained User Systems Are Less Likely to Be Hacked
Maintaining a healthy computer system means ensuring that they are running in optimal condition. Well-maintained systems are those that are up-to-date on all of their security protections, are free of unnecessary clutter, and are accessed only by individuals who require that level of access to perform their jobs. This includes limiting access to systems such as shared drives and other pertinent resources if it is not necessary.
Keeping your workstations, servers, and other related systems healthy can be accomplished through the following:
- making sure that your IT security patches and updates are all properly applied and up to date
- performing regular computer maintenance, such as regular defragmentation processes and physically cleaning your computer and server technologies and their surrounding areas
- having cybersecurity prevention methods in place to protect your systems from external (and internal) threats - such as intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), antivirus software, firewalls, and network segmentation procedures (among others)
- limiting access to only those who need it and requiring users to update their login credentials regularly. Also be sure to update access lists whenever someone quits, is fired, or is otherwise reassigned to ensure their credentials don’t become subject to misuse.
2. Regular System Cleanup Reduces Risk of File Corruption
Much like cleaning up physical piles of paperwork, files, and other office space congestion, performing a virtual user system clean up on a regular basis helps to make things less congested for your computers. Keeping a bunch of unnecessary data, files, or applications running on your computers and servers bogs them down. This can lead to slow performance, freezing up, and an increased risk of your files being corrupted due to system malfunctions.
Putting it another way, imagine that you are trying to run a marathon. Now, imagine that someone ties weights to your arms and legs — this is, essentially, what you’re doing to your computer system while expecting it to run (let alone run at top speed). It’s just not going to happen. Before your computers can run free and unhampered, you first have to free up from some of that excess “weight” by ridding it of unnecessary data and files.
Furthermore, cleaning up your systems, including individual computers, helps to reduce the likelihood of your organization’s data becoming stolen. Keeping sensitive data on individual desktops or laptops can lead to data leaks should the computer become lost, hacked, or stolen which can result in big trouble for your clients and your organization as a whole. Sensitive data, such as clients’ personally identifiable information and payment methods, should be securely stored on isolated and well-protected systems that are protected by managed security services.
3. Wiping Systems Before Disposal Helps to Protect Your Data
Before you decide to donate, recycle, or otherwise dispose of any of your organization’s old IT servers and devices, it’s imperative that you properly wipe the hard drives of your valuable data. This action helps you to ensure that malicious users won’t recover your sensitive data. After all, any data that is left on a system potentially can be recovered to commit identity theft or other forms of fraud.
Often, performing a factory reset on your machine may not be enough to keep users who are intent on recovering your valuable data from doing so. To ensure complete protection, it’s best to manually remove the hard drive from your computer before you let the computer out of your hands and physically destroy it.
Similarly, did you rip out the hard drive when you last replaced your copier? If you didn't, your copier is out there with everything you've ever copied on it's hard drive available to anyone who can get physical access to it.
These are our big 3. What do you think are some of the other reasons as to why it’s essential to perform system cleanups regularly? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below or send me an email to chat about it more in depth.
To learn more about the costs associated with a lack of adherence to IT security best practices, security compliance, and IT services, check out our CFO’s Guide to Cybersecurity by clicking on the link below.