Importance of planning for infrastructure changes.

Few days ago, I was upgrading my main router. These days internet is extremely important as everything done via internet: distance learning, remote work, ordering stuff online. And it will be sad to lose internet connectivity for long time. So, any such change should come with plan first.

Firstly, you need to think: do you really need to do it? Sure, having more modern version is good, but what if something is wrong. Can you afford it? In my case I want to have faster internet and I have second spare router as well as spare really old one in my junk box. If something will go wrong, I will just promote my secondary router to primary and put spare router instead of secondary one. And even if during upgrade I will mess up internet completely I could use mobile internet for quite some time.

Second step: when should I started? I decided to start Friday evening as I will have 2.5 days to detect any potential problem. My “clients” using Monday-Friday, so Friday evening is obvious candidate to start upgrade. Next, try to not to plan two changes at the same time. I already wrote about it here.

Third step is plan. I write list of steps I have to do into file or paper. As I usually reset settings, I have to restore them. Not all settings are equally important, and some can be done like week later. I put these steps in file and during few days I usually remember and add more things. Just in case go over current settings few times and see if you missed something. Try to think in your head what will you do and check if this step is written in file. Remember that you will be under stress, there always will be some hiccups. Also be quite detailed. Some things could be quite obvious when you are writing plan, but under stress they will not be as obvious. For example, in my last plan I forgot to put setting Encryption for my Wi-Fi. Lucky during testing I found that Wi-Fi is unprotected and quickly corrected mistake. Don’t rely on your memory, something can distract you and you will forget.

Next step is about case when something going wrong. For example, imagine that during upgrade your router will die? What will you do? Ideally create plan for this case. What if new version does not work as expected? Do you have previous version? Are you able to downgrade? Do you know how? Remember that sometimes hardware dies just because you are touching and moving it. It is rare but it happens. Do you have plan for this case? Do you have alternative means to connect to internet? Test them before starting upgrade. Or you could find that to use your phone with your PC, you will need download driver.

If something went wrong, usually IT has certain window to fix it. If process failed and it cannot be fixed after some time, then change is reverted. Usually it is good idea to define cutout time and after that you will have to stop fixing and will start to revert your changes. But before you do, collect as much information as possible, so you can troubleshoot this problem until next upgrade window is available.

And then, when time comes, execute your plan. I found that plan allowing upgrade to be way smoother and I am more relaxed. For example, my last upgrade took only 15 minutes of downtime and I was sure that I did not miss anything. For example, my previous time upgrade was also fast, but I spent a lot of time going over settings and checking if I forgot something.

Save this plan for next time you will upgrade router. It will save you a lot of time.

And what is best, this can apply to anything in your life, including vacation or renovation!