Questionable Small Business Practices – SBS 2003 R2 and XP SP3

August 15, 2008

At Onsite Computer Services in New Orleans our typical small business client uses a Microsoft based system in the management and operation of their firms. During uncertain times in the economic cycle, small businesses often employ unorthodox and dubious methods to accomplish industry standard tasks in an effort to reduce expenses. These questionable methodologies are often applied to the operation and maintenance of many company assets, including computers. This week, Onsite encountered a few questionable practices and this post is dedicated to exposing the unsafe practices.

An Onsite client who operates a dental practice is a poignant example of ‘penny wise and dollar foolish’ (please excuse the anecdote). The dentist’s receptionist called for service to their Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 and several aspects of their practice management software. Apparently the practice management software, Dentrix, was experiencing corruption of their data and the dental practice could not operate as Dentrix manages every aspect of their operation.

Upon discussion with the receptionist and examination of their system Onsite identified one of the problems. Their SBS 2003 is subjected to frequent power spikes and outages. Although the server was originally installed using industry standard UPS protection, the UPS was decommissioned by the owner/dentist due to a battery failure. Although the owner/dentist was cautioned about the lack of UPS protection by Onsite, the dentist refused to allow Onsite to replace the UPS and now operates without UPS protection.

Every time the power fluctuates, the receptionist claims the system is very slow. Although we tried to explain the operation of mirrored server drives and their resync procedure upon power restoration, they refuse to purchase the critical UPS.

While we were examining their SBS, we noticed a new program was added for using flash drives. According to the receptionist, their new backup procedure involved the use of flash drives to backup > 40GB of practice management data, including accounting and patient information. When asked why they changed from HP tapes to one flash drive, the receptionist informed Onsite that one flash drive is cheaper than tapes. It is interesting to note that the receptionist claims the ONE flash drive is full of errors. Although the receptionist understands the flash drive backup with errors is not a replacement for tapes and the SBS backup program, she is still using the flash.

While I was examining the PCs, every client PC required updating with XP SP3, including the owner/dentist’s PC. Additionally, the owner/dentist’s PC acquired a Trojan which performed its reinstallation process upon every reboot. The dentist explained his PC was ‘slow’ and when the Trojan reinstallation commenced upon every reboot, he simply ignored the activity and proceeded with his online purchasing. We removed the Trojan, installed the SP3, and restored the system to full operability.

I guess economic contractions are difficult periods for certain businesses; however server database corruption and the associated repair costs for mission critical applications like Dentrix are FAR MORE expensive than a working UPS, functioning backup procedures, and installing software updates. In the immortal words of Mark Twain, “… thank God for the uninformed, for without them I couldn’t succeed.”

If you’re searching for New Orleans computer service or repair of your Microsoft based system or network, then call the Microsoft specialists at 504-469-6991. Onsite Computer Services, Inc. in New Orleans

You may also be interested in Onsite Computer’s Blog.

This New Orleans On-Site Computer Service post was provided by Eli Lucas. Eli can be reached at eli@onsitenola.com. Onsite Computer serves the Microsoft computing needs of small businesses throughout the Greater New Orleans area including Uptown, Lakeview, Broadmoor, Mid-City, Metairie, Jefferson, Kenner, Westbank, French Quarter, and the Warehouse District. Please visit our website for New Orleans Computer Service.

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