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Common Novice Network Administration Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes with computers, and small mistakes can have big consequences. As a network administrator, you should be aware of these common mistakes, and avoid them.

Deleting important files on the server

Without a network, you can do anything you want to your computer, and the only person you can hurt is yourself. (Kind of like the old “victimless crime” debate.) Put your computer on a network, though, and you take on a certain amount of responsibility. You must find out how to live like a responsible member of the network society.

Therefore, you can’t capriciously delete files from a network server just because you don’t need them. They may not be yours. You wouldn’t want someone deleting your files, would you?

Be especially careful about files that are required to keep the network running. For example, some versions of Windows use a folder named wgpo0000 to hold e-mail. If you delete this folder, your e-mail is history. Look before you delete.

The first time you accidentally delete an important file from a network share, you may be unpleasantly surprised to discover that the Recycle Bin does not work for network files. The Recycle Bin saves copies of files you’ve deleted from your computer’s local hard disk, but it does not save copies of files you delete from network shares. Thus, you can’t undelete a file you’ve accidentally deleted from the network.

Running Out of Space on a Server

One of the most disastrous mistakes to make on a network server is to let it run out of disk space. When you buy a new server with hundreds of gigabytes of disk space, you might think you’ll never run out of space. It’s amazing how quickly an entire network full of users can run through a few hundred gigabytes of disk space, though.

Unfortunately, bad things begin to happen when you get down to a few gigabytes of free space on a server. Windows begins to perform poorly and may even slow to a crawl. Errors start popping up. And, when you finally run out of space completely, users line up at your door demanding an immediate fix:

  • The best way to avoid this unhappy situation is to monitor the free disk space on your servers on a daily basis. It’s also a good idea to keep track of free disk space on a weekly basis so you can look for project trends.

    For example, if your file server has 100GB of free space and your users chew up about 5GB of space per week, you know you’ll most likely run out of disk space in 20 weeks. With that knowledge in hand, you can formulate a plan.

  • Adding additional disk storage to your servers isn’t always the best solution to the problem of running out of disk space. Before you buy more disks, you should

    • Look for old and unnecessary files that can be removed.

    • Consider using disk quotas to limit the amount of network disk space your users can consume.

Sending something to the printer again just because it didn’t print the first time

What do you do if you send something to the printer and nothing happens?

  • Right answer: Find out why nothing happened and fix it.

  • Wrong answer: Send it again and see whether it works this time.

    Some users keep sending it over and over again, hoping that one of these days, it’ll take. The result is rather embarrassing when someone finally clears the paper jam and then watches 30 copies of the same letter print. Or when 30 copies of your document print on a different printer because you had the wrong printer selected.

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