The importance of keeping server documentation

Today we’re going to talk about server documentation. It’s something that should always be done, yet there are those that never create the documentation for their servers as it’s just not a high enough priority.

It’s great if you have a server backup configured but have you got any documentation regarding how to restore your backups? What’s the point of having a backup if it can’t be restored quickly?

You may say but Sam in the IT department knows it all! Stop this is the worst thing to say, what would happen if he was to get into a car accident and suddenly become a vegetable, you would be lost and would be faced with the hurdles of finding out just how much Sam had stored in his brain.

The benefits of having this documentation can help with accountability, governance and compliance and troubleshooting just to name a few. It’s therefore the utmost importance for you to maintain good and up-to-date documentation.

I’m not going to give you instructions but I’ll mention a few points that you should have documented.

Documentation from General to the Specific РThis type of documenation should cover content such as your point of presence (internet gateway) to devices on the network and servers. It should also cover  your router configurations and any special configurations you may have for DHCP reservations or IP forwarding.

The following sections in our documentation lists processes for managing our virtual server. At the very least it includes our backup and recovery process.

Update Documentation – Once you’ve established your documentation it’s worthwhile to keep it up-to-date otherwise there’s not really much point to having any and all your hard work will have gone to waist!

System and Software Configuration – This section should cover any special configurations there are in the applications you use. For instance in our documentation for AuTechNet.com we’ve documented configurations for our phone system, we’ve also documented where an up-to-date backup of that system is. For your system’s configuration we find a copy of Belarac Advisor’s PC audit is enough for us.

Secure your Documentation – Currently our documentation is stored on our server, however once we’ve completed it the first edition we will encrypt it’s content using an encryption application.

Why would we need to do this? By encrypting your documentation you can limit who has access to seeing all the information about your servers and network configuration.¬† This ensures only those that need to know, know, better still it means you have the ability to grant access. It’s every server admin’s worst nightmare to wake up one morning and find all your systems are documented and available over the internet.

Download a copy of our example server documentation here as a PDF or Doc.