One fine morning in the life of an IT contractor

An IT contractor's day is never the same. Recently, Ed Engelking followed around a TechRepublic contractor to get an idea of what his morning routine is like.

If you’re an IT contractor, you’ll understand that one morning is never the same as another. Recently, I had an opportunity to see what actually occurs during the early hours of an IT Support person’s day when I spent some time with TechRepublic IT contractor, John Reinert.

8:30 A.M.: Time to get started
I met up with John at 8:30, just as he was beginning to restore an Excel file that was corrupt. His first order of business was to scan the file for a virus, and he chose to use ServerProtect 4.7 from Trend Micro.

However, due to a problem that he was not able to fix at that time, he was unable to get the software to run properly, neither on the machine that he was using, nor on several other machines. John hopped from one machine to another, trying to get the software to cooperate, but to no avail.

9:00 A.M. and still going strong
John finally decided to try a different virus scanner after his many failed attempts to get ServerProtect to operate. He chose to use Norton AntiVirus by Symantec, found a machine that the software was installed on, and ran the virus check from that PC. Since there was not a single virus present on the machine he had scanned, he decided to extract a clean version of the corrupt file from a backup tape.

John used a program called UltraBac by BEI Corp to restore the file from the tape backup. After placing the tape into the tape drive, UltraBac alerted John that he needed to insert the first tape of the two-tape set in order to continue. Once he had done this, as a safety measure John proceeded to rename the original corrupt file before the backup version of the file could overwrite it. After the extraction was complete, John ran a test to see if the file could be opened, and indeed it could be.

9:30 A.M.: Backups are very important
It was now time for John to begin the backup of the server where most users on the network saved their data. John ran UltraBac once again, instructing the software to only update the newest files onto the tape. After waiting for 12 minutes for the software to process all the new data, he was informed that 32 GB of data was to be stored. John proceeded to put the new tape into the tape drive, and then began to back up the new data.

Soon after, he received a phone call from a network user. The caller explained to John that she had no access rights through Microsoft Exchange and asked if he could help her out. Unfortunately, John did not have the access rights in Exchange that were needed to fix her problem. He suggested the caller contact the head of the IT department so he could deal with her problem directly.

10:00 A.M.: Tech support receives a lot of mail
Since John had finished his morning ritual of backing up the system, he headed to his office to answer e-mails that he had received since he had left work the day before. One employee had e-mailed him about the very Excel file that he had repaired earlier. He replied to the e-mail, stating that the file had been fixed and was ready to use once again.

After reading through a few more of his e-mails, a new message appeared in his Microsoft Outlook from one of the head IT personnel. One of the employees had sent an e-mail stating that his phone had not worked since before noon the previous day, and was wondering if someone could take a look to see what could be wrong. John replied via e-mail that he would get right on it, then left his office. He met up with another one of the head IT personnel almost immediately upon heading out his door. The head IT person told John that the employee’s phone snafu was caused by a problem outside of the company and that it would be resolved later that week.

Moving on into the afternoon
As you’re moving into the afternoon, you’ll find that more IT issues arise from just about everywhere. Another IT contractor at TechRepublic offers these suggestions for making your afternoon much more stress-free.
  • Knowyourpriorities. A computer that crashes constantly isn’t as important as part of a network that has suddenly gone down.
  • Murphy’sLawstatesifanythingcangowrong,itwill. Always be prepared for anything that might happen throughout the day. Keep a backup plan for everything.
  • Knowhowtodealwitheverythingonyournetwork. It’s good advice to know how to do everything, from running the server to adding new hardware in a machine.
  • Useateameffortwheneverpossible. Things get done faster when you team up to work with your fellow IT peers.
  • Knowyourusers. This helps you understand their wants and needs, and allows you to provide assistance to them much more easily.
  • Giveextremetimeframes. If someone needs something done, tell him or her it will be done in a week, and hand it to them 3 days later.
Are you interested in sharing your experiences as an IT professional? If so, feel free to leave a post below or send us a note.

Ed Engelking is a regular TechRepublic contributor. He's also the co-owner of

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