Tag Archives: school network

TEACHERS! It Is Time to Junk Out Your Files on the Server!

Organize Files

Follow these tips to stay organized!

We do a daily backup of information for staff and students using an offsite backup utility. It was generously donated to us with a 250GB storage limit.
However, I just received a backup error to say that we are over our limit!

I started to look through the directory to locate the source of the problem. Volume for teacher folders is rather large.

They are jam packed full of stuff!

I notice there are the essential files such as templates, lesson plans, worksheets, and assessment tools. Those cannot be deleted. However, there is a large portion of outdated files that can likely be removed from the server. On closer examination, I discover the biggest contributor to the storage capacity issue is PHOTOS! Since most photos are taken in a hi-resolution format they eat up space quite quickly.

Teachers are BUSY people. They barely have enough time to create a file, never mind take the time to delete outdated ones. It is a good idea to clean out your folder at the end of the school year. However, IF you ignored this request last year, it is a good time to do it now!

I know you don’t want to part with anything, because “you might need it”. However, there are definitely some files you can delete.

For example, do you really need the Pizza Day announcement from five years ago? The event is over.

What about the photos from the school trip in 2002? Those children have graduated and left the school.

Here are some suggestions to get and STAY organized:

Sort Files by Date: Open your folder and sort the files by date. Just because the files are OLD does not mean they are unnecessary. Take the time to open up your old files. If they are not necessary then delete them. If you want to keep them, organize them into folders so that you can find them easily in the future.

Transform Documents into Reusable Templates: There are likely parent letters, newsletters, or other publications you created that are reusable. Create a Template folder. Place the “master” files into the template folder and apply a read-only property. Now you can use the file over and over again.

Organize your Files into Folders by School Year: I understand that you want to keep files for the school year in case you need to refer to them at a later time. For example, school calendars or school trip forms might be something you want to store for the year. To stay organized, create a folder that includes the school year as the first label in the name, such as 2012 2013 School Calendar or 2012 2013 School Trip Forms. Store suitable files for the school year in those folders. At the end of the school year, you can quickly sort the folders by name and then delete all of the unwanted folders for that school year or move them to an external storage device.

Zip Old Photos: Today, digital cameras take photos at such a high resolution that the file size for just one image can be quite large. Combine that with all the photos taken over the course of a school year with the photos saved from previous years and your folder can easily reach capacity. If you are storing photos from a few years ago, but you have no immediate use for them, you can compress them. To do this, place the photos into a clearly labeled folder. Right click the mouse and select Send to and then Compressed (zipped) folder. A new zippered folder will appear with all your pictures. You can now delete the original folder.

Use an Image Resizer to Reduce File Size: An Image Resizer is software that will compress your images to make them a smaller file size. The Windows PowerToy and Image Resizer for Windows offer the unique advantage of small file size paired with scalability. Photos can be scaled to fill an entire Microsoft Word page or PowerPoint slide without losing their sharpness. Instructions for how to use these tools to resize batches of photos is explained in the blog, Resizing Images Without Losing Quality.

Archive your Photos to DVD: You are proud of the work you and your students have created. Deleting it can be difficult. A good idea is to archive the files instead. You can transfer the materials such as the school year book from four years ago to a DVD and clearly label the content. Place it in a safe place. Now you can access the files in the future if necessary.

Delete Photos as you Go: Preview the photos while they are still on the camera. Delete immediately any photos that are blurry or have a person’s head cut off. You aren’t going to use them, so get rid of them right away.

Be Selective of the Photos you Keep: Digital cameras let us take many picture of the same subject matter, so that we can be sure we have the “perfect” shot. This means often there are six photos of the same girl smiling. It is a good idea, that once those photos are transferred from the camera onto the computer to identify the perfect photo and immediately delete all the photos you did not like. Then take a few minutes to resize the photos you want to keep. This will keep the storage problem to a minimum and save you time in the future!

Technology Gremlins Do Not Take a Vacation

It was quite nice to have two entire weeks off – no early morning alarm clocks, no traffic, and most importantly, no work! However, as I was soon to learn, there is a major price to pay for that break. Even though I took some time away from the school, the technology gremlins did not.

troubleshooting technology issues at a school

While I was away, the technology gremlins played.

My plan was to go into work early on Monday to get a jump start on the day. I knew that the Grade 3/4 class was beginning the Internet technology project, TechnoJourney and I had promised the teacher that I would print the student workbooks. I arrive at 8 a.m. with my flash drive in hand and laptop ready. I send the required pages to the photocopier. No problem!

NOTE: TechnoJourney was replaced with TechnoInternet. The activities are similar.

Then, problem…the office staff is back and they can’t get their email.
The Internet is down.

OH NO! I head over to the proxy server and am welcomed with a machine that is totally frozen, offers no response, a blue screen, and no logon box…hmmm. I decide to force a restart. The bad news is the Windows why did you shut this machine down dialog box will not appear. Instead my blue screen is now black. It has a message that says something about the master boot record and that I must press F1 to continue. I hold my breath, press F1, and the good news is that after a few moments the server comes back online.

PHEW! I sigh too soon. A short time later, the secretary is at the door. “Happy New Year, I cannot get to the staff directory”. Another problem…
Seems there are now issues with the network.

My troubleshooting senses are tingling. It has to be something to do with the network switches. I stare at the rack of spaghetti-like cables coming out of 4 switches mounted beautifully on the wall. AHA! One of the switches has no lights. I wonder if we’ve blown another switch. Wishing that this isn’t the cause of the problem, I reach out my hand and fiddle with the power cords hoping that this simple solution will work instead. It does! VOILA! The lights are back on.

The feeling of success is short lived. I turn around to welcome a school volunteer. She greets me with “Happy New Year, our debit machine isn’t working”. Another problem…
The fundraiser ladies are eager to sell gift cards, but the machine won’t connect.

The Christmas cobwebs are all gone now, as my brain goes into overdrive trying to figure out this new dilemma. I recall a network line was recently dropped so that the debit machine could connect to the Internet for speedy transactions. I put in a quick call to the guy who dropped the line. Seems he’s not sure if a cable for that line has been connected. OH NO! I frantically scan the mess of spaghetti-like wires on the rack. I find the dedicated port for the debit machine and a free spot on the switch and quickly plug in a new cable. Everything is now fixed. GREAT!

As I turn around a teacher is standing at the door. “Happy New Year,” I say. “Happy New Year, I can’t print,” he replies. What! Another problem…
The main printer isn’t working.

UGH! Before the Christmas break the printer was out of toner. To save print jobs from coming out invisible, I decided to turn off the printer. My plan was to have the print jobs stay in the queue on the server and in a day or two when the toner arrived, I’d turn it back on and we’d be back in business. However, this was not the case. After installing the new toner, the printer insisted it wanted to stay offline. Puzzled, I rush over to the server and glare at the printer properties. I start troubleshooting. Is it the Print Spooler, outdated drivers, firmware, or do I need a new patch cable?

NOPE! Perplexed, I turn to Google for answers but I could not find anyone with my exact problem. Back to the server. After staring at the printer properties for the umpteenth time I notice that there are TWO devices assigned to the IP address for the printer. HUH? I have no time to ponder how this happened. Instead, I leave the assigned IP on the printer and reassign the second device a new IP address. Now the teachers are back in business. They can print!

I feel like I’ve put in a full day and it is only 8:45! What can the rest of the day bring? Those technology gremlins better take a vacation soon – or else I am going to need another one!


How to Complete a School Network Audit Fast

Annually the school has to complete a computer audit for insurance purposes. Each year the bookkeeper hands me a form that I use to list the hardware used throughout the school. The insurance company requires the name of device, manufacturer, model number, and serial number. With more than 200 hardware devices in use at the school this can be a daunting task…but not this year!

School Network Audit is made easy with Spiceworks free download.

Do you have to complete a school network audit?

I installed the FREE network monitoring program from Spiceworks. This program can be installed on a server. It scans the network and detects all hardware. Within only thirty minutes I had more than 80% of the information I needed. Spiceworks provided me with a complete listing. The only items missing were monitors and a few routers. I was so pleased!

Not only did the Spiceworks network monitoring program save me a ton of time, but it also provided me with additional details about the status of our equipment. This allowed me to quickly review computers that were nearing their hard drive capacity or warranty expiration, as well as those that could accept more RAM to run more efficiently.

I heard about this program from a technician at the company BlueRange Technology. Their recommendation was greatly appreciated. In the past, I used a database to manage the school’s hardware inventory logging all the information by hand. However, things can get pretty hectic. When this happens, a donation of a computer or other device can easily get missed. Now I can use the school network monitoring program to keep the records up to date. If you need to complete a network audit I highly recommend Spiceworks.