Software

Strap on your IT safety belt

Program yourself to avoid the most common cause of data loss and down time. Remember these two stories the next time you need a reminder.


"If you don't know, ask." In August, I nominated that phrase as the "golden rule of disaster prevention." My theory is to beat that mantra into your end users' heads—because they always guess poorly. You hope for more calls that start with, "What should I do?" but fewer that start with, "Guess what I did..."

That rule helps prevent mistakes made out of ignorance. But mistakes that result in lost data and down time are more often the result of a more lethal IT sin—haste. So strap on your mental IT safety belt each morning, and resolve not to pull any bone-headed stunts like these.

Weekends are made for building servers
TechRepublic member John D. sent me this first story. John was hired as a consultant to help a small company upgrade its e-mail services. On Monday, he met with the full-time technical support specialist on staff, a recently certified MCSE who had his eye on the network administrator title.

"The company wanted to make a lot of changes to their Exchange server," John said. "And I suggested that we wait until Friday night. I figured that would give us plenty of time to get our act together."

John was supposed to come back in on Thursday, but instead he received an urgent call on Wednesday morning. "The techie decided he could take the Exchange server down over lunch and install some new services. But it [the server] didn't come back up, and the vice president was upset because he couldn't get his e-mail." John saved the day, of course, and got some unexpected billable hours out of the deal.

This lesson is one that the IT rookies with brand-new certifications can learn from the old pros. It's a lesson my grandfather tried to teach me when he'd say, "Slow down, Jeff; you're not killin' snakes!" Take your time, and do it right.
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Murphy loves a rush
I once worked for an IT manager whose motto was "Think thrice, measure twice, cut once." I was hyper, and every day he'd tell me, "Slow down, or you're going to mess something up." And he was right.

I was scheduled to do some basic DOS training for one of the second-shift people starting at 5:30 P.M. However, instead of taking a little break after a long day, I worked right up through 5:29. I was in a hurry—gotta lot to do, gotta hurry. Let's start this training.

I was demonstrating DOS commands, and I got to DEL *.*, and I said, "Now, when I press [Enter], it'll ask if I'm really sure, and if I say Yes..." And I typed Y and pressed [Enter] and deleted all of the files in my database directory.

Hundreds of files had been nuked by that stupid, senseless keystroke. I had an Undelete utility in those days, but you had to provide it with the first letter of a file, and there were too many. Fortunately, I had a backup that was only four hours old, and I only had to rekey about 2,000 records. Only 2,000...

Suffice to say, I never again typed DEL *.* during a DOS class. And that experience burned the lesson into my psyche: Always stop and think before you press a key or pull a plug.
Do you get yourself in trouble because you move too fast? Rebooted when you could have waited? Share your favorite haste-makes-IT-waste story. Start a discussion below or follow this link to write to Jeff.

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