The final countdown

Fewer than 30 days remain until Y2K. Are you absolutely positive you've done everything necessary to prepare your network? Better review this last-minute checklist!

With fewer than 30 days remaining until year 2000, I hope that you’re finished with your Y2K preparations! If you are, then now would be a good time to review a quick checklist to make sure you’ve done everything possible to prepare your network. In this article, we’ll run down an informal checklist of things that need to be done before New Year's Eve (just in case you forgot anything), and we’ll review some things that you should do when the date rollover occurs.

As you probably know, every computer in your organization must have the year 2000-compliant BIOS. The BIOS chip controls the computer's internal clock. If the date controlled by your computer’s BIOS is incorrect, then the date displayed by your operating system and most of your programs will also be incorrect. Since most BIOS chips manufactured through the end of 1998 don't contain true year 2000 compliance, many computers will require you to install a patch program to intercept date calls to your computer's BIOS.

Operating systems
Your operating system must also be year 2000-compliant. Straight out of the box, Windows 98 Second Edition is year 2000-compliant; however, Windows 95 and Windows NT aren’t. To make Windows 95 compliant, you must download the year 2000 service patch. You should also install Internet Explorer 5 because it contains several year 2000 fixes. To become year 2000-compliant, Windows NT must also use Internet Explorer 5 in conjunction with Service Pack 5. If you still run Windows 3.x, then you must download and install the year 2000 service patch for it.

For those of you who use other operating systems, year 2000 problems and solutions vary. Macintosh users have little to worry about. The MacOS has been y2k compliant for years. Likewise, Linux users can relax. OS/2 users must download and install the latest fix pack for the version they’re running.

Network operating systems
Just as the operating systems on your workstation computers must be year 2000-compliant, the operating system on network servers also must be compliant. Making Windows NT Server year 2000-ready is easy—simply install Service Pack 5 and load Internet Explorer 5. To make a NetWare 4.x or 5 server year 2000-ready, all you need to do is load the latest Support Pack for the appropriate version. If you still run NetWare 3.x on your server, you must install the minimum patch sets from Novell first. Then you can install the year 2000 patches for NetWare 3.x from Novell's Year 2000 Web site .

Most applications obtain their date from the Windows operating system. More complicated applications and programs often perform data calculations; therefore, they need their own year 2000 patches. Without a patch to make them four-digit date-aware, such calculations’ results would be incorrect. An example of this type of program is Microsoft Office. If you're running Microsoft Office 2000 you're fine; however, older versions of Microsoft Office require service patches.

December 30th
On December 30, I recommend making sure that you have a verified backup of your system. Making a special effort to obtain a full backup will help you recover, should you have any year-end catastrophes. I also recommend going over the emergency procedures with your support staff one more time. For example, you might remind everyone who will be on-call on New Year's Eve and who will be on-call on New Year's Day.

New Year’s Eve
On New Year's Eve, I recommend shutting down all of your systems, including servers and workstations. The reason for doing this is that some BIOS chips calculate the date rollover incorrectly if the system is turned on. Many BIOS chips will cause the date to roll over to 1900 if the computer is left on, but the date on the same system could rollover to 2000 with the power turned off. Your 2000 BIOS patches are supposed to correct this problem, though many won't. Therefore, I suggest that you turn the power off for your systems, just to be safe.

After midnight
After midnight on New Year's Eve, I recommend turning on only one server at first. Check the date on the server to make sure that it's correct. An incorrect date on some types of servers could be sent quickly to the workstations. If any of the dates are incorrect, you can change the date manually before bringing up your entire network. Once you've verified the date on the server, unplug one workstation from the network and turn it on. If the date on the workstation is accurate, turn the workstation off, plug it back into the network, and begin bringing up all your workstations.

Brien M. Posey is an MCSE and works as a freelance technical writer and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. If you’d like to contact Brien, send him an e-mail . (Because of the large volume of e-mail he receives, it's impossible for him to respond to every message. However, he does read them all.)

The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.