Spring cleaning the servers

Whilst we run a totally hosted system, it is still a “server” but not in the office. It is deep in a secure bunker and replicated in real time to another location. The hosted company allocates a fixed amount of space per user, although it is possible to pay extra if more space is required.

When the available space starts to drop and approach the “full” level, the focus turns to freeing up some of it. Despite reminders over the years, people still store loads of “junk” files on the server. We have repeatedly asked that photographs not be stored there – there are other ways and means of making them available for other staff to view. Similarly, we have asked that photographs and other potentially large files should not be emailed to all…. these sit in the sender’s email box and the recipients’.

Finding the large files is quite easy using a utility such as SpaceSniffer. This does not list directories, it is a graphical view that displays folders and the files in them by relative size. It is possible to double click on folders in this interface to drill down graphically.

It was therefore quite easy to identify which applications were eating up the storage. 

In many cases, Sage or QuickBooks backup files are obtained from the client and restored to the relevant programs on the server for the accounts preparation. Despite requests to delete these when the job is complete, this obviously does not always happen.

On a smaller scale, where just perusing folders in a Windows structure, there is a bit of a clue in the folder name; “temporary working papers” or “temporary correspondence” ……so why do files sit there for a year…or more? These are generally not hugely space hugging though.

We have changed practice management software, final accounts production software and payroll software in recent years, but the programs and data files are still sat on the server. Payroll not only had data files, there were also quite substantial backup files too. It was time to bite the bullet and remove these too. All the data (fingers crossed!) should be in our files in any event – payroll reports and payslips, accounts and detailed trial balances etc.

What we cannot see with SpaceSniffer is folders to which we don’t have access – each user has their own H drive which is personal and not shared. Generally, the outlook .pst files sit in these folders. However, we can see through the Outlook configurator the space being used in these files. The biggest culprit has a pst file 2 ½ times as big as anyone else. We know there are in excess of 40,000 emails in the inbox! Want to know every time there has been cake in the fridge as it was someone’s birthday in the last 15 years? He can tell you!

A spring clean has given us back a not insignificant amount of space again, although if there was really nothing else to do, there is no doubt a lot more could be freed up! Time – the enemy of us all!