End User Mistakes the Network Admins Have to Address

Here’s a list of some of the most common mistakes made by network novices. Avoid these mistakes and you deprive your local computer geek of the pleasure of a good laugh at your expense.

Connecting to the internet without considering security issues

If you connect a non-networked computer to the Internet and then pick up a virus or get yourself hacked into, only that one computer is affected. But if you connect a networked computer to the Internet, the entire network becomes vulnerable.

Beware: Never connect a networked computer to the Internet without first considering the security issues:

  • How will you protect yourself and the network from viruses?

  • How will you ensure that the sensitive files located on your file server don’t suddenly become accessible to the entire world?

  • How can you prevent evil hackers from sneaking into your network, stealing your customer file, and selling your customer’s credit card data on the black market?

Plugging in a wireless access point without asking

For that matter, plugging any device into your network without first getting permission from the network administrator is a big no-no. But wireless access points (WAPs) are particularly insidious. Many users fall for the marketing line that wireless networking is as easy as plugging in one of these devices to the network. Then, your wireless notebook PC or handheld device can instantly join the network.

The trouble is, so can anyone else within about one-quarter mile of the WAP. Therefore, you must employ extra security measures to make sure hackers can’t get into your network via a wireless computer located in the parking lot or across the street.

If you think that’s unlikely, think again. Several underground websites on the Internet actually display maps of unsecured wireless networks in major cities.

Thinking you can’t work just because the network is down

Some people figure that if the network goes down, they may as well go home. That’s not always the case.

Just because your computer is attached to a network doesn’t mean that it won’t work when the network is down. True — if the wind flies out of the network sails, you can’t access any network devices. You can’t get files from network drives, and you can’t print on network printers.

But you can still use your computer for local work — accessing files and programs on your local hard drive and printing on your local printer (if you’re lucky enough to have one).

Always blaming the network

Some people treat the network kind of like the village idiot who can be blamed whenever anything goes wrong. Networks cause problems of their own, but they aren’t the root of all evil:

  • If your monitor displays only capital letters, it’s probably because you pressed the Caps Lock key.

    Don’t blame the network.

  • If you spill coffee on the keyboard, well, that’s your fault.

    Don’t blame the network.

  • If your toddler sticks Play-Doh in the floppy drive, kids will be kids.

    Don’t blame the network.

Get the point?

Copying a file from the server, changing it, and then copying it back

Sometimes working on a network file is easier if you first copy the file to your local hard drive. Then you can access it from your application program more efficiently because you don’t have to use the network. This is especially true for large database files that have to be sorted to print reports.

You’re asking for trouble, though, if you copy the file to your PC’s local hard drive, make changes to the file, and then copy the updated version of the file back to the server. Why? Because somebody else may be trying the same thing at the same time. If that happens, the updates made by one of you — whoever copies the file back to the server first — are lost.

Copying a file to a local drive is rarely a good idea.

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