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Training Your Own IT Troubleshooters

Consider these secrets of effective part-time systems administrator.

September 18, 2003
Related Topics: Behavioral Training, Basic Skills Training, Training Technology
Remote branch offices face a unique IT dilemma. These company outposts are often too small to justify on-site IT employees, but too large to enduremajor computer-support headaches.

Even without an on-site IT group, someone takes on the role of internalcomputer guru—the one everybody instinctively yells for when the laser printerjams, the database locks up, or toolbars and files disappear. This person, oftenan office manager or administrator, frequently has little training on hardwareor software.

A few hours of highly focused training, from either your IT group or anoutside vendor, however, can transform the person into a highly effectiveon-site systems administrator. In addition to providing a more immediate response to ITproblems, the training can dramatically reduce IT support costs.

To help jump-start these orientation sessions, consider these eight secretsof highly effective part-time systems administrators:

• Administrator Password Sanctity: The administrator user account isall-powerful. Use these credentials only when absolutely necessary. If a breachis suspected, change the password immediately. Otherwise, follow your corporateIT guidelines for regularly changing passwords.

• Antivirus Software: Since new viruses are discovered almost daily,antivirus software must be updated constantly. Because automatic updates don’talways work, learn how to check the date of the last update and how to force amanual update.

    • Lock the Server Console: Even if kept in a locked room, the serverkeyboard should always be “locked”—either manually or with apassword-protected blank screen-saver (and a very short time delay).

• Log File Watching: To nip problems early, know where to look for logfiles for your data backup, power protection, virus protection, and securitysystems. Know what a “success” or “failure” looks like.

• Password Changes: Sooner or later, someone will “forget” his or herpassword—or leave the company. Learn how to manually reset a password.

• Printer Job Administration: If a problematic print job inadvertently goesto an expensive-to-operate printer, such as a check printer or color laserprinter, know how to rapidly locate and delete the job from the queue. Also,consider using network permissions to restrict printer access.

• Rebooting the Server: Know how to properly reboot your server(s). Checkfor open files, manually stop key services to speed up the reboot, and shutdown/power cycle the server.

• Tape-Backup Management: Although backup systems are generally reliable,they do malfunction occasionally. Besides monitoring the tape-backup log andrebooting the server to un-jam a stuck tape, know how to restore a file. Filerestoration is also a great way to test whether the backup system is working aswell as you think it is. Also, learn how to launch a manual, off-schedule backupjob.

Workforce, September 2002, p. 48 -- Subscribe Now!

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