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New Sys Admin job…Where do I begin?

My job just changed. Instead of being a just developer I'm now in charge of small (4 box) production server environment as well. So... what to I need to know?

I have a feeling this is going to be a long road... where does one start?

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marked as duplicate by Zoredache, jscott, sybreon, splattne Nov 2 '10 at 16:37

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6 Answers 6

I'm not going to list everything you need to know, because that list will become apparent to you as you administer the servers and their respective users.

The single most important thing you need to know is the following: backup often, backup to an off-site location, and test your backups by restoring them completely.

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First you should find out the role of each server.

Database, Mail, Web, etc... Create a spreadsheet or visio if you need, some sort of documentation with each, it should include their servername, ip address and role.

secondly find out their disk configurations, raid 0, 1, 5, standalone, etc...

lastly find out the backup schedule and what scheduled tasks are setup on the system.

this should be a good starting point, let us know how it works out, good luck.

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This is very untechnical, but reading "Mastering Windows Server 2008 R2" by Mark Minasi is a brilliant introduction to the whole Windows ecosystem from DNS, Active Directory and the rest of Windows Server.

A lot of the background info in each chapter is an overview of how x works and then goes on to show how x works in Windows.

The web has more and deeper information on each topic, but this book just has a really well-written and cohesive articles on Windows Server. A good start.

After that, you just need to make loads of mistakes, learn from them and hope that your natural caution keeps the mistakes from being catastrophic.

Also, treat the servers like a software project - keep a buglist. Did you make an awkward hack on a Friday afternoon to get something to work? Note it as a bug, so that next month when you have some time you can find a permanent solution.

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What are you serving? Where are you serving intranet or internet? Details are good.

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Oh, not much. Just everything in "TPOSANA". And a few other tomes. HTH, HAND!

PS: I'd start with security, where all the Really Scary problems live. After your mind recovers from the abject horror of what you've discovered about how poorly things were managed before, and the risk it posed to the company, nothing will seem as difficult or urgent.

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I'd say start out by familiarizing yourself with the machines. Document the hardware and software on the boxes. Create a folder per machine on your own computer and save documents relevant to each as you move along. Request any available documentation from the previous admin, if there was one.

I would also suggest documenting every change you make, especially solutions for problems you come across that work in your environment. Most likely you will go back to them again and again and of course learn in the process. The added advantage is that you will slowly build a history for yourself that you can later refer to.

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