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User Question: We have 2 Internet connections and when the Internet went down it didn’t failover to the backup line. Our IT guy said even when setup right it wont switch over 100%. Is this accurate or was it set up wrong?

Answered BY A CTO: Excellent question that we run into quite often. First of all, it of course depends on the firewall you have, the license on it, and the configuration that is setup on the firewall. However, even if everything is good, and the Internet failover is setup right and working, I do agree, it won’t work 100%. If the primary ISP is down, but the issue is in their datacenter (also called a CO / Central Office) the firewall might still see the primary connection as UP and RUNNING, so it won’t failover. Because it is receiving power and is actually connected, it just can’t follow the whole path needed for Internet access. So in short, it is definitely possible.

User Question: Windows 7 is a great operating system. Should we really go through the trouble of upgrading to Windows 10 if we are happy with the older version? Can we just upgrade some of our computers and not all of them?

Answered By a CTO: Yes, you should absolutely go through the process of making sure every single computer connected to your domain (and especially to the internet), is upgraded to Windows 10. In addition to some performance and visual enhancements, the most important reason to upgrade is to stay current with security updates.  Network security should always be the top priority of any business.  The main issue we are seeing today is an increase in ransomware attacks, which not only target application flaws but can exploit vulnerabilities of an outdated operating system itself.  And while it is easy enough to keep software up-to-date, Microsoft will no longer be providing operating system updates for Windows 7 starting on January 1, 2020. So at that point, even known security issues won’t be able to be remedied or patched with the latest updates. That leaves your business extremely vulnerable to well-known attacks, and there will be no way to protect your domain, even with the best firewalls and other security methods. Your entire network’s security is only as strong as its weakest link. All it takes is one vulnerable, out-of-date computer to open up your whole system to a cyberattack. You really do need to upgrade all of them in order to have a secure network.

User Question: Should I be worried about my APCs power protection with Hurricane Dorian coming?

Answered By a CTO: Well, not if you recently checked and tested them.  Sorry, to pull a “Monday Morning Quarterback” remark on you.

I will provide as much advice as I can to assist you.  First a bit of general information:
APC is the top company in the market that produces uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).  It often comes with a software program called PowerChute which monitors for a power outage or surge in power, and allows servers, workstations, switches, firewalls… to be shutdown.  This is very important when there is a possibility of an extended power outage.  While the UPS is a battery backup, it will run out of power based on the type of battery it has, how many and what type of devices are relying upon it, how long the outage is, and other criteria.  In addition, like a cell phone or any other battery, if it is old, it may not hold as great a change, thus reducing the time your devices will stay available, also called “runtime”.

You can read more about it here at APC’s website:  APC Power Considerations

To answer your question, if your current power usage and protection has not been professionally tested periodically by a qualified IT Services firm, there may be a considerable danger.  Even if we ignore the potential downtime from Hurricane Dorian, it is possible that if the devices connected to the UPS are not working properly, (such as if the battery is not working – check for a red light!) or if it was not configured correctly, any connected hardware may just crash down.  In that case, when power is restored, the result may be crashed servers and potentially lost data.

At this point, my recommendation would be to assess the risk.  I am assuming you do not have a Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery plan, based on the fact that those are more costly and complex to setup and manage than the scenario we are reviewing.  As such, you may want to minimize risk by powering down your servers, firewall, switches, and even unplug the UPS from the wall when everything is shut down.  This will ensure that when power restores, a Jolt Of Power won’t damage the hardware.

As with all business decisions, sometimes minimizing risk with some lost productivity is a wiser decision than taking a much larger and potentially costly gamble.

I hope you and your family (and network) are safe and sound.