Servers and Network Monitoring

Preventive is always better than cure.  Being a IT support staff, have you ever asked

  • Why the server was down?
  • When it was down?
  • Why?
  • How come you did not know?

Without a server and network monitoring system, you may need to check all the system event log files and spend at least a day to prepare your incident report. For some bosses, the incident report is just an excuse report which does not help on your performance appraisal. Some open-minded bosses would ask a question on how to resolve the issue in a better way next time.

PRTG is a network monitoring tool that help you to monitor all computer systems such as your server, network switch, firewall, website, email server and so on up and running. You can use web interface, ios / android app to monitor it. Therefore, if any server or device goes wrong, you will be alerted and you can trace all the monitoring sensors to troubleshoot it.

network-monitoring

source: https://www.paessler.com/network-monitoring-software

SME IT Support usually focuses on certain business scenario

  • Server up and down (Uptime)
  • Server performance (Disk, Memory, CPU usage)
  • Web page performance (Load time)

Uptime: PRTG comes with a set of sensors that allow you to monitor all your hardware, software, database, VM, Application, IP, Ping. Example, if you want to monitor your Accounting System, you can monitor the server by PING, Database Port,  Web Port and Service running. If the machine is still running but database server is down, you will receive an database monitoring alert.  Therefore, you can restart database server before any complaints received from your end-users.

Server Performance: IT Support always face the issues that end user complains on the performance of the server getting slower and slower. Without PRTG, IT support needs to go to end-user machine and do a response time tracking, understand the compliant. Then, start doing performance counter setup and capture. This process takes few days or up to a week. PRTG can monitor Memory, CPU, Disk Usage 7×24. You can easily trace back any suspect events happened before. Perhaps some users did not close an application properly that causing memory problem.  Perhaps memory leak occurs on an application. Perhaps disk fragmentation problem.

interfaces

source: https://www.paessler.com/computer_monitoring

Web page performance: “Web site is very slow today”.  IT Support may be puzzle how fast was the web site performance yesterday and how slow it is today. Therefore, IT support spend the time checking all the network devices, test the website loading speed, found no problem and usually answer to end-user,  “We have checked and please try again”.  Instead of wasting time on doing meaningless trouble-shooting, let PRTG monitor the website closely for you on every minutes.

website-monitoring_hompage_http_sensor-details_2tage  map-sunburst-4

source: https://www.paessler.com/website-monitoring

App for your Mobile Phone (ios, Android).  So, you can monitor your network easily anywhere anytime.

ios-01

 

Download PRTG

PRTG has a freeware edition that comes with 100 sensors.  If you need more than 100 sensors, you need to go for paid edition.

https://www.paessler.com/prtg/price_list

Spend a little time on monitoring work, then you can sit back and relax for support trouble-shooting.

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SQL Backup – SQLBackupAndFTP

SQLBackupAndFTP is a simple backup solution for your database. I have used this tool for years and recently SQLBackupAndFTP support store backups in cloud storage – Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and so on.

SQLBackupAndFTP backup database with the following features

  • Backup MS SQL databases
  • Backup Windows Folders
  • Compress your backup files
  • Encrypt your backup files
  • Upload to your destination
    • FTP server
    • Dropbox
    • Google Drive and other cloud storage
    • Network drive
  • Send e-mail confirmations

The tool can run on Windows Task Scheduler or SQLBackupAndFTP service with Full Backup or Differential Backup.

In my previous post (Remote Offline Database Backup), remote offline backup is critical in case of ransomware attack.

You just need a few steps to configure SQLBackupAndFTP to perform database backup onto Dropbox and Google Drive.  Below are the steps:

  1. Click “Connect to SQL Server / Azure”
    • Enter your server name, login and password
  2. Check the database(s) to backup
  3. Click Add Folder to add desired folders
    • If your ERP system stores images, pdf files on a folder, you can Add that folder to backup
  4. Click Add backup destination
  5. For Dropbox or Google Drive
    • Enter your Dropbox or Google account information
    • Grant access right to SQLBackupAndFTP
  6. Check Send e-mail confirmation
    • Suggest you to have two different email addresses for success and failure notification.
    • On Success email to: backup-success@your-email.com
    • On Failure email to: backup-failure@your-email.com
  7. Check Schedule this job. Set your desire time.

sqlbackup

Click on Advance Setting button, Check Encrypt zip/7ze file using AES-256 algorithm.  The backup file will be encrypted by AES 256bit key. Make sure you secure your password. You need the password to decrypt your backup files.  Backup files will be encrypted. Anyone steals your backup files cannot be restored unless they have the password to decrypt the files.  Therefore, please use STRONG password (Uppercase + lowercase + number + symbol).

aes

Click on More backup options, You can check

  • Add CHECKSUM option to BACKUP statement
  • Run RESTORE VERIFYONLY afterbackup
  • Use SMO for remote backup

backup-adv

Now you can try “Run Now”.  Check any errors on the steps. Check your backup destination. Download your backup files from Dropbox or Google Drive. Unzip / Decrypt using your password.  If everything goes fine, then the backup configuration is completed.

for detail tutorial, please refer to this.

job

You may ask why not to use MS SQL Server Management Studio to perform backup or other enterprise backup solution.  Yes, you can do it on SSMS, but you need to do all integration and scripting by yourself.  Features provided by Enterprise backup solution is definitely more advance, but expensive.

You may ask shall I install Dropbox client on my MSSQL database server so that all backup files can be sync automatically.  I think this is not a good approach to have remote backup because you do not know when the file sync is completed and there is no email confirmation. Besides, if someone accidentally remove file on Dropbox folder, files on the cloud storage will be removed also.

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Remote Offline Database Backup

To flight against ransomware, firewall, security policy, anti-virus, anti-spam and other security tools are definitely required. However, just in case your desktop or even your database backup is encrypted by ransomware, what can you do?

Restore from Backup is the only solution.

If your backup files are encrypted or corrupted, there may not be any solutions.  Therefore, database backup and store it remotely is essential.  Here I am going to illustrate how to use some simple tools to build up a Backup Solution for SME that can

  1. Daily Database Backup and Verification
  2. Backup Files Stored on Cloud and “Remote Locally”
  3. Restore Backup is protected using AES encryption
  4. Email notification for the entire backup process
  5. Automated Backup process
  6. Storage up to 1TB backup files

Software Tools required:

  1. Software: SQLBackupAndFTP
  2. Hardware: WD Mirror Cloud Backup
  3. Cloud Storage: Dropbox Plus

backup

 

SQLBackupAndFTP is a simple database backup solution that

  1. backup automatically on schedule
  2. verify the backup file
  3. encrypt backup file using AES encryption
  4. upload backup files to FTP, Google Drive, Dropbox and other cloud storage
  5. send email notification on the backup and upload process

Therefore, SQLBackupAndFTP can reduce the administrator workload on performing backup manually and checking the status.

For remote offline backup, you can upload your backup files to Dropbox, Google Drive and other cloud storage.

Dropbox Plus offer 1TB storage and Extended Version History Feature. It is sufficient to keep databases and related files.  Dropbox Plus has an Extended Version History that keeps previous file versions and deleted files for one year without taking up your space.

WD My Cloud Mirror is a backup device that support backup files from your Dropbox account. Therefore, you can run your WD My Cloud Mirror at home, in other office location or even same office. The purpose of having WD device is to allow you to restore backup file directly from WD device. This approach can reduce the time to download backup file from your cloud storage.

You may use other cloud storage solution such as OneDrive, Box, Amazon AWS.

You may also use other Cloud Mirror devices such as Seagate and Synology

 

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