It’s that time again. The time of resolutions and to-do lists. As a System Administrator that also means getting ready for the year ahead and wrapping up the year that passed. It’s the perfect time to finish up the yearly budget, take inventory and do a spring-cleaning of obsolete equipment in that server room. Let’s take a look at some things to do as well as some tools to help you get 2012 off to a great start!

Spiceworks is a free application that offers everything from help desk, network health scans, inventory, and warranty management. Did I mention free? Simply download and install on a server and within a couple hours it has scanned your network and will display all devices, warranty status and drive capacity among other things. It is surprisingly robust and non-invasive to be a free product.

Spiceworks will help you manage your inventory.

One common problem facing most IT Departments is disposal. To be compliant with state and local laws in disposing of electronic equipment plus to do the right thing ecologically, we should contact an e-cycling company to handle our obsolete equipment. This site by the EPA offers contacts for your local area. But you’re not done there; you have to be certain your company data is off of these machines. Many firms simply remove the disks and eventually amass a huge amount of hard disks. Several document disposal firms also destroy hard disks, but you can handle it yourself. There are many utilities out there to wipe your hard disk, from Darik’s Boot and Nuke to Killdisk. I prefer the former, plus the tried and true method of hard disk disposal.

One resolution we have is to clean up that communications rack. How many times have we used long cables and just slapped it all together due to time constraints with “I’ll get to it later” being mumbled? Well now is the time. Cables are at an all time low with 1-3 foot patch cables going for less than $2 locally. Spend a couple hundred dollars and a few hours and the results will not only lighten your mood but will make troubleshooting a breeze.

Some inspiration

For budgeting purposes, don’t forget to include growth of existing systems as well as support. This article by Rick Vanover gives a great look into how many years you should purchase in your agreements. My take is this: an initial three-year support for a server, and then I go year by year after, evaluating the TCO of keeping vs. replacing the item. Generally if it is a production server, it will be replaced between year 5 and 6.

What items are on your New Year’s list? Recommend your tools and tricks below.