After Hours

Welcome the newest members of The Second Network Admin's Club

Here are some more horror stories submitted by TechRepublic readers who joined The Second Network Admin's Club.


Based on the horror stories we’ve heard from TechRepublic readers, some of you have accepted new jobs and found yourselves up to your necks in alligators. Here’s one more round of stories from the newest additions to The Second Network Admin’s Club. Thanks again to founding member Jake Necessary. (Read the article that got this whole thing started here .)

David W.: Documentation?
Well, I would have to say Jake hit the nail right on the head there. I recently stepped into an administrative position after some very intense technical training and network-oriented support, and my predecessor wasn't too bad but she could use a lesson or two. Documentation? What's that? I have three drawers full of paper that I guess she thought was documentation for the network, but as far as I can tell, the information is the kind of info you never need. Nothing like the IP addresses for the key equipment of the network, etc. Now you would think that that would be something you should have close by in the event of a problem, wouldn't you? Anyway, it's good to know that there are others out there in the same boat. I will keep looking for articles relating to this subject. I sure could use some tips!

JC Warren: The last guy got promoted
Thanks for initiating the 2nd Admin Club, Jake! I'm hoping to gain some insight by reading how others overcome some of the problems associated with inheriting someone else's mess. I, too, have walked into shops where the shares are wide open. (The previous admin had insisted that NT's default settings were as secure as it gets.) No documentation was to be found on anything, and everything seems to have been an ad hoc solution as opposed to a thoughtful process.

One site I remember had no logon scripts. The users would map their own drives (if they knew how) with no regard to standards ("My q: drive is gone!", "Uh, what did it point to?", "I don't know! YOU'RE the tech guy here!"). Come to find out, the last admin didn't even know how to set up home directories. At least he was available for consultation since he had been promoted within the company for doing such a good job...

Brett N., MCSE, MCP+Internet, Manager, Information Systems: Software nightmares
Those other stories are great, but try these on for size...
  • The previous admin loaded all servers with the same default Administrator account, and then proceeded to load Exchange, SQL, and other programs that rely on that account. GREAT. (We will probably never have to change the name and password on the service account.) Now it will take several weeks and five support calls to Microsoft to successfully change the Service account and get Exchange and SQL to work properly again.
  • Let’s format all the drives on the server with NTFS, then set all security to everyone—full control. (I think that makes a lot of sense don't you?)
  • The next step is to load all the beta software you can get ahold of. (Sounds good, because you know it is free.) Then remove all trial versions of software by deleting their respective folders. (By all means don't use the uninstall command, because it takes too long.)

Don't get me wrong. I am not mad at the former administrator; I pity him. These are just a few of the things I have had to fix since I started working here.

Marc M., MCSE: Stay out of the payroll files
I'm a sysadmin for a small public company in Philadelphia. When I took the job in January 1999, the admin password was cigar.150. The former sysadmin gave all users the same user name and new passwords in the form as follows: cigar.151, cigar.152, cigar.153, and so on. So if the user had cigar.152 and accidentally typed cigar.156, the user would get somebody else’s rights, no rights at all, or full rights. The user of cigar.156 could then not log on because somebody was already using that password. I changed it the third day I was there.

Lots of users complained because they didn't have full control, and I had managers complain to me that they should have full access to everything. Human Resources was on the same network, and I heard that, before my time, people would regularly snoop into Excel and Access files to check up on other peoples’ salaries and bonuses. Or read dismissal letters of why certain employees were fired. I have changed all that, and it is now like Fort Knox.

By the way, I have been the second network administrator on my last two jobs.

Rodney B., IT Manager: Password agony
Everything in your top four rings true. My predecessor kept what little network documentation there was on his local machine. Nothing was on the network. Guess what I did? That's right, erased his old (my new) hard drive to put on a fresh NT 4.0 Workstation installation.

He also never bothered to record (anywhere) all the different passwords he used. I knew only his login password for the network (not the database admin password or the e-mail server password).

I now have all the passwords documented and kept on a secured network folder in an innocuously named spreadsheet. The old interim network admin still works here as an engineering/designer, which is what he was originally hired for. He and I are the only ones who know the location of the password file. Speaking of passwords, people used to repeat them out loud to me in mixed company. I don't even want to know them! I have stopped that practice in all but one or two people. I kept telling them that passwords are a secret between them and the computer, no one else.
If you’d like to share your experience of inheriting a messy system, please post a comment below or follow this link to submit your story .
Based on the horror stories we’ve heard from TechRepublic readers, some of you have accepted new jobs and found yourselves up to your necks in alligators. Here’s one more round of stories from the newest additions to The Second Network Admin’s Club. Thanks again to founding member Jake Necessary. (Read the article that got this whole thing started here .)

David W.: Documentation?
Well, I would have to say Jake hit the nail right on the head there. I recently stepped into an administrative position after some very intense technical training and network-oriented support, and my predecessor wasn't too bad but she could use a lesson or two. Documentation? What's that? I have three drawers full of paper that I guess she thought was documentation for the network, but as far as I can tell, the information is the kind of info you never need. Nothing like the IP addresses for the key equipment of the network, etc. Now you would think that that would be something you should have close by in the event of a problem, wouldn't you? Anyway, it's good to know that there are others out there in the same boat. I will keep looking for articles relating to this subject. I sure could use some tips!

JC Warren: The last guy got promoted
Thanks for initiating the 2nd Admin Club, Jake! I'm hoping to gain some insight by reading how others overcome some of the problems associated with inheriting someone else's mess. I, too, have walked into shops where the shares are wide open. (The previous admin had insisted that NT's default settings were as secure as it gets.) No documentation was to be found on anything, and everything seems to have been an ad hoc solution as opposed to a thoughtful process.

One site I remember had no logon scripts. The users would map their own drives (if they knew how) with no regard to standards ("My q: drive is gone!", "Uh, what did it point to?", "I don't know! YOU'RE the tech guy here!"). Come to find out, the last admin didn't even know how to set up home directories. At least he was available for consultation since he had been promoted within the company for doing such a good job...

Brett N., MCSE, MCP+Internet, Manager, Information Systems: Software nightmares
Those other stories are great, but try these on for size...
  • The previous admin loaded all servers with the same default Administrator account, and then proceeded to load Exchange, SQL, and other programs that rely on that account. GREAT. (We will probably never have to change the name and password on the service account.) Now it will take several weeks and five support calls to Microsoft to successfully change the Service account and get Exchange and SQL to work properly again.
  • Let’s format all the drives on the server with NTFS, then set all security to everyone—full control. (I think that makes a lot of sense don't you?)
  • The next step is to load all the beta software you can get ahold of. (Sounds good, because you know it is free.) Then remove all trial versions of software by deleting their respective folders. (By all means don't use the uninstall command, because it takes too long.)

Don't get me wrong. I am not mad at the former administrator; I pity him. These are just a few of the things I have had to fix since I started working here.

Marc M., MCSE: Stay out of the payroll files
I'm a sysadmin for a small public company in Philadelphia. When I took the job in January 1999, the admin password was cigar.150. The former sysadmin gave all users the same user name and new passwords in the form as follows: cigar.151, cigar.152, cigar.153, and so on. So if the user had cigar.152 and accidentally typed cigar.156, the user would get somebody else’s rights, no rights at all, or full rights. The user of cigar.156 could then not log on because somebody was already using that password. I changed it the third day I was there.

Lots of users complained because they didn't have full control, and I had managers complain to me that they should have full access to everything. Human Resources was on the same network, and I heard that, before my time, people would regularly snoop into Excel and Access files to check up on other peoples’ salaries and bonuses. Or read dismissal letters of why certain employees were fired. I have changed all that, and it is now like Fort Knox.

By the way, I have been the second network administrator on my last two jobs.

Rodney B., IT Manager: Password agony
Everything in your top four rings true. My predecessor kept what little network documentation there was on his local machine. Nothing was on the network. Guess what I did? That's right, erased his old (my new) hard drive to put on a fresh NT 4.0 Workstation installation.

He also never bothered to record (anywhere) all the different passwords he used. I knew only his login password for the network (not the database admin password or the e-mail server password).

I now have all the passwords documented and kept on a secured network folder in an innocuously named spreadsheet. The old interim network admin still works here as an engineering/designer, which is what he was originally hired for. He and I are the only ones who know the location of the password file. Speaking of passwords, people used to repeat them out loud to me in mixed company. I don't even want to know them! I have stopped that practice in all but one or two people. I kept telling them that passwords are a secret between them and the computer, no one else.
If you’d like to share your experience of inheriting a messy system, please post a comment below or follow this link to submit your story .

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox