A Day in the Life of a System Administrator
By Stephen Bucaro
People interested in becoming a computer system administrator or those who are
studying for the Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE) exam might not know what
a system administrator actually does. There are some system administrator tasks that
are boring and a big pain, and other tasks that are challenging and exciting. Guess
which one the beginner gets?
The system administrator's first priority is to keep the network up and running. If a
non-critical subnet goes down, the beginner might get the opportunity to troubleshoot
the problem. But if a mission critical part of the network goes down, the beginner is
demoted to being a gofer for the more experienced administrators.
During these times the beginner is well advised to pay attention and learn from the
experienced administrators. Some day you may be the only one available when a
mission critical part of the network goes down, costing the company thousands of
dollars per minute. All eyes will be on you!
Most system administrator tasks are routine and present very little stress. These tasks include:
Perform Regular Backups
Although this task can be mostly automated, it must still be monitored diligently.
And having backups doesn't help much if you don't know how to restore from backups
when it becomes necessary.
The reality of backups is...
• The morning after the failure to perform a backup, there will definitely be a major network crash causing loss of data.
• A user can destroy an important file with the click of a mouse, but it takes all day to locate
and restore the backup of that file.
Maintaining the paper and toner (or ink) supplies for the printers is usually a job
that falls to non-administrators. Most printer administration tasks revolve around
configuring users access to printers. When a user prints something, you have to
figure out why it didn't come out of the printer (or which printer it went to).
You will be required to deal with print jobs that are plugging up the spooler and
re-directing print jobs from broken printers to working printers.
The reality of printer administration is...
• Sooner or later somebody's cover letter and resume to another company will get re-directed to the
printer in their bosses office.
All users feel that they should have access to the entire network and be able to do
whatever they want with their computer. As a system administrator, your duty
is to restrict users access to only the data they need to do their job.
You can save yourself a lot of time and grief by using security policies and hardware
profiles to limit what users can do with the company's computers to only what
is required to do their jobs.
The reality of security administration is...