Computers, just like us, have their own boiling point. Some may be able to withstand a little more, but in the end, everything burns. Unlike with people however, the smoldering fire isn’t a metaphor and the stress isn’t a metal or emotional one. The physical stress on computers is a huge one, because we use them to dump our workload onto them. And the only breaking point a machine has is its final one. If we’re overworked, pushed to the limits, we break down, but it’s not a fall we can’t get back up from. A good, sound sleep, a lavish meal and our favorite hobby are enough to get us back on track for Monday.
But computers don’t heal. Even if they’re powered down, the minor cracks that result from an entire week, month or even year of constant work, don’t heal. It’s just the opposite. They build up. They pile up. They get bigger. A computer’s state of health, regardless of its usage, can only deteriorate.
What computers do have in common with us is one of the basic reactions to disease: a fever. As a component’s health nears its breaking point, its temperature begins to rise. Sometimes, a small capacitor burning out is not enough to kill a computer board, but the resulting stress is shouldered by the rest of the components; an overload they were not designed to handle.
The first sign of a malfunctioning component is a rise in its temperature. It’s simple: if it’s hot it means that something is wrong with it. And treating the symptom is a mistake that occurs in the IT world just as it does in medicine. Adding additional ventilation will lower the components temperature, sure, but that serves only to mask the problem. The technical flaw of that component is in no way solved. The outcome? the CPU, graphic card or hard drive is going to let out a puff of smoke, a whispered cry and die. And if an organ fails, the whole organism dies, along with the responsibility it carried on its solders.
Regular check-ups are a solution, but in a large company, with hundreds of workstations and computers, there’s a big risk that the computer will die on the hospital floor, waiting outside the doctor’s cabinet for his name to be called by reception. And all this happens while a healthy patient is with the doctor, tilting his head and coughing gently.
Put a thermometer on your patients’ wrist. Keep a close eye on them, and at the slightest sign of illness, schedule them for a doctor visit. Give them the right-of-way and avoid having your entire business brought do its knees by a computer flu that was left untreated.