Technology Toolbox: Monitoring (Part 2/2)

April 24th, 2018 by admin

Behind every successful professional that uses technology, is an expert in that technology that knows how it works in and out. Whether you are your own technology manager or have an outsourced or in-house team, you need someone that knows how to monitor your computer hardware, and ensure it’s working at all times. Looking at our process from a distance will show you what to focus on when monitoring your own hardware, and what your team should be sure to understand.

What is Hardware Monitoring?

Computers are like brains. The CPU is like the frontal cortex, the logic processor of the brain. The GPU is like the Occipital and Temporal lobes that interpret sound and visuals. Hard drives have some similarities to the limbic system as far as memory storage, and there are more connections to be made (no pun intended). Each of these parts of the computer provide meaningful functions, and are collectively called hardware. Fortunately/unfortunately, hardware faces critical failure significantly more often than our brains. For this reason, it’s imperative to properly maintain your hardware and its drivers. Drivers are software that help your hardware function. Hardware needs software to help integrate the functions of each into a whole brain. There are many ways to monitor your hardware, including tracking symptoms like visual artifacts and slower processing, monitoring driver patches to make sure everything’s up to date, hardware diagnostic tools that report specific statistics of each piece of hardware.  

Monitoring at Equinox

We do most of our hardware monitoring remotely. Using the agents, we install for our complete clients, we get real-time alerts when hardware malfunctions, and are able to analyze most aspects of hardware and drivers from HQ. With our tools, every computer has readily accessible data from error reports, hardware statistics, and disk usage. Technicians are trained to quickly analyze and diagnose problems based on this data. For clients that aren’t on a complete contract, we offer occasional monitoring using a few different freely available hardware monitoring tools to check GPU/CPU temperature and health, hard disk drive speed and error count, and network adapter health. Our techs use expert knowledge to interpret the data and make the necessary changes to prevent future problems.  

How Our Tools Work

Our software has two large parts: the first is a control center that technicians access and build client environments in. In this control center, data is collected by agents and monitors. Technicians have two-way access from their computer to each device with our agent installed. Once the data is collected, error reports are generated to show any version mismatches, hardware errors, and disk usage and other problematic statuses.  Our technicians receive these reports and make changes as needed. The second part of the software is the agent which is installed on each user’s computer. This agent records hardware health by very direct means; it monitors the hardware partially through the bios (which is separate from the OS), as well as information provided by hardware drivers. These together function a bit like the brain-stem of the software system by regulating core functions. The agents maintain a constant stream of communication between the control center and the host device the agent is installed on whenever the host device is online.   It’s important for all technology users to understand these basics of hardware monitoring to ensure their technology is working properly. If you have any questions about hardware, or anything else for that matter, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to message us or leave questions or comments below.     Kender Ostlund

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