The 5 Biggest Mistakes Network Admins Make

This guest post is by Britney Baker. When she’s not getting excited about new gadgets, Britney Baker writes about prepaid cell phones for PrepaidCellphones.net. Her latest article took a look at the GoPhone from AT&T.

Technology has grown by leaps and bounds since the first personal computer came on the market. It certainly has kept the field of information technology stable, providing help, employment, and other resources for not only the folks in IT, but businesses and home offices alike.

The people that are primarily responsible for the way your office computer works is that of the IT department, which is usually made up of a team of technology professionals or in some cases, just one or two people. A network administrator is someone who identifies, sets up, and manages the computer network of corporation or business. Their job is to make sure that the office is set up for internet and in house connectivity, as well as keeping the system running and updated when needed.

Unfortunately, some network admins may mistakes that can cost the business they are working in. Here are five biggest mistakes that network admins make.

1. Implementing New Tech without the Test

This is one of those mistakes that newly minted network admins – and even the pros – make when coming into a new work environment. The given lifespan of technology is a short one and it makes sense that keeping systems updated and bringing in the new technology is a no brainer. Unfortunately, the rush to get new technology may often backfire if not tested completely before implementation.

2. Under/Overestimating Employees

Every tech person has a story for encountering that co-worker who doesn’t know anything about computers or thinks they know EVERYTHING about computers. Unfortunately, this means that network admins will either talk down to those that actually are technological savvy or dismiss those that may not be. Treating employees as if they don’t know anything or getting frustrated usually backfires on you, as they will think twice in calling you when there’s a problem or they will try and fix it themselves.

3. Overlooking Security

While network admins and other IT managers enforce security for their business, many of them don’t use that same enforcement when it comes to their own office or department. No network admin would allow for an employee to not have a password or for a PC to remain unlocked when they aren’t at their desks, however these rules never seem to apply to them, as they ‘know better’. In this case, taking the same precautions that you ask of your employees is paramount.

4. Not Taking Time Off

Everyone needs a vacation once and a while, but IT pros seem to be the exception to that. The downside of this workaholic mentality is that often times, the network admin will become burned out, not only in their job, but the management of their network.

5. Not Asking for Help

While you may be praised for knowing everything there is to the technical, no one can know everything all the time. Many network admins and IT pros are reluctant to ask for help, citing that as the pro or expert, they should know it. This often comes back to bite when something comes up that he or she doesn’t know.

 

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This post was written by a guest contributor.  Please see their details in the post above. If you’d like to guest post for AMIN Solutions, please send an email to info at aminsolutions dot com.

How to setup a WordPress site without hosting your domain with the web host provider?

A client has recently signed up with a WordPress hosting provider for $4/month. A web developer was subcontracted to design the look and feel, upload content and images, and ensure it is configured to be a linkable subsite of the client’s main web site. Everything was in place on a temporary folder off the web hosts URL. However, when it was time for go-live, we found that the DNS zones have to be transferred over to the web hosting provider, especially if we wanted to use the client’s domain name for the WordPress URL.

Have you run into this issue before? This is true for web hosting providers like 110mb.com, freehostia.com, lunarific.com, or byethost.com. They will get you to change your domain’s name server (NS) records to point to the web host’s name servers which in effect moves DNS administration over to them. This means that you need to recreate all the A, CNAME, or MX records and make sure it is also in their name servers, using the web host’s control panel. Some of the control panel tools are so limited with DNS administration that you can’t duplicate all the DNS records.

We asked technical support if they provided static IP addresses for the web hosted accounts. We could then get the A record for the external domain name to point to that static IP address. We were told it wasn’t available or that it was going to cost us extra. At this point, I was considering a move to goddaddy.com which allowed for static IP addresses, which would allow us to keep NS records at domain name registrar.

Instead of looking at other providers, this is what I did. I used the current IP address of the web host and pointed the client’s dummy domain name on my test PC. I edited my hosts file to make this test happen. That worked. Since the web hosts could potentially change without notice, I concluded that an alias (or a CNAME) record is what we needed instead. This would ensure the client’s domain name was always redirected to that web host. They use host headers to redirect each of their clients to the correct subfolders on their web servers, so this solution would work well.

After making the DNS changes thru the client’s registrar control panel, we made sure the URL was corrected within WordPress. Just go to Settings > General Settings, then change fields “WordPress address (URL)” and “Site address (URL)” accordingly.

Let me know if you need clarification on this and/or how it worked for you when you tried it out.

Changing admin-level passwords frequently and 4 things to do to get you there

We have recently updated various admin-level passwords at a client site. What I noticed about small to medium companies is the they tend to have loose or non-existent IT policies when it comes to password changes. There doesn’t appear to be a security concern, and if there is, it far outweighs the need for easy access to systems.

I understand that the culture is different at each company and find that family businesses tend to be the most security averse. They work with family and trust everyone in the workplace so why implement a password-change policy at all? However, I noticed that this is also true of corporate cultures where everyone is unrelated by blood and applies to different industries that I have supported. It seems in my opinion that the only time they find it necessary to make password changes is when an employee or subcontractor with admin-privileges is terminated or let go. This is wrong and can have dire consequences to the business if admin privileges were misused.

To provide value for the client I would highly recommend that you, (1) draft up a Password Change IT Policy that outlines frequency and scope, and get upper management buy-in. After approval, (2) produce how-to documentation that details the step-by-step instructions for changing passwords and have a (3) test plan template for each system. Finally, (4) implement the changes during scheduled systems maintenance visits.

One question I have is: Do you feel regular password changes are seen as a complete waste of time and uneccessary by senior management?