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What are important things every new windows system administrators should know?

What does your network setup look like?

What are some valuable programs for admins? (e.g. Nagios, Firewalls, etc..)

What is a good backup plan? And how to implement it.

What are must know security best practices?

Any valuable resources, links, books, or any other information provided would be most appreciated.

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closed as not a real question by Mark Henderson, Zypher, John Gardeniers, Sam, splattne Feb 24 '10 at 12:56

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Part of me wants to make some obscure references to learning about detecting good coffee, pager rotations, proper beard cultivation, and on rare occasion the proper technique for using "user attitude adjustment tools", but I think those cultural references would somehow be lost, so, meh, why bother... @Farseeker, nice list, +1. :) –  Avery Payne Feb 24 '10 at 2:27
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@Avery Payne, beard cultivation is only required if you're a *nix admin. –  3dinfluence Feb 24 '10 at 4:53
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@3d - or VAX herder .... –  mfinni Feb 24 '10 at 5:15
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The correct technical term for the tool is a LART. ;) Use of quicklime and halon are also mandatory. –  Jimmy Shelter Feb 24 '10 at 10:22
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2 Answers

  1. The practice of system and network administration, Second Edition. This is a great book for anyone, not just beginners. It broadly covers every topic that you should address.

  2. This is kind of a useless question because we don't know what you know. If you're a beginner, someone's VLAN-heavy core/distribution/access diagram will leave your head spinning. Ask a more specific question and get a better answer, maybe starting with a problem or question you're dealing with.

  3. There's plenty of threads on Ars Technica forums about useful utilities that most admins should have. But when you say Nagios and Firewalls, those are pieces of infrastructure (and one is a product and one is a class of software and/or device.) So, again, kind of a useless question as you have phrased it. Yes, Nagios is valuable. It might not be the best for your systems. Yes, firewalls are valuable - a little Cisco ASA might be just fine for you, or you might need some monster.

  4. The book from item 1 will cover a lot of that. Backup everything that's valuable. If you have important info on laptops and desktops, either get that stuff onto a server that can be backed up, or buy user-agent software like Connected (disclaimer I work for Iron Mountain) to get those things backed up. Back up as frequently as you need to - weekly fulls and nightly incrementals or differentials are common schemes. Get your tapes off-site (again, I work for Iron Mountain) - you can take 'em to your house, but when your customer's SSN are on the tape stolen from your car while you got coffee, CNN will want to talk to you or your boss about it. And very important - maintaining backups are just a waste of time if you don't have a plan for restoration of service. That you have tested successfully.

  5. The book from item 1 will cover a lot of that in general terms - specifics will depend on your business and any regulations your business falls under.

One specific item (that the book covers but I will emphasize) is documentation. What will the business do if you get hit by a bus? Do you want the business calling you when you're on vacation because you forgot to tell them how to swap tapes or how to restart that finicky CRM application?

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Easy one - know a bit about how Windows actually works behind the scenes. You'd be surprised by how many people actually skip that step, and how useful it is for diagnosing problems and getting configurations correct.

Otherwise nothing to add to mfinni's list.

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