I need to reboot a server to get a certain task done. Assuming no other users are present in the system, do I need to ask permission to reboot a server? What if there is some process that needs to complete that was not initiated by a user? I am speaking specifically about a server I "do not own".

Can someone explain the finer points of rebooting a server (I.e. when it is okay to do)?

  • Since you asked in a comment why this was downvoted: I am downvoting, and voting to close, because this site is for professional systems administrators. As a professional sysadmin, you should follow your company's rules and procedures for how to do your work. This includes knowing the regulations for taking down a system.
    – Jenny D
    Nov 4, 2016 at 13:54

2 Answers 2


Generally, if you have to ask then, yes, you need permission. Just because no one is currently logged in to a server doesn't mean the server isn't running a dependency for something more important or there is a cron/scheduled task that is critical to operations.

Does this company have a change control and incident management process defined? If they do you then you should follow that process or consult with those responsible for its implementation.

What environment is this server in? PROD? UAT? QA? DEV?

You should always assume rebooting or halting a server might end up killing it. Disks love to die when they stop spinning. My last job we had some servers that were from 1999... yes seriously, because the people who wrote the code running on it lost the source code and no one works there that knew how it worked. If you rebooted them, half the disks would be dead and you wouldn't be able to rebuild the array.

Aside from dying disks... I've seen people start servers or apps one time and call it "in production" without having it set up to start automatically. You should assume someone has done something stupid like that if you like your job. I've seen people let go for less.

  • Thanks for your answer, you pretty much confirmed what I was thinking. Not sure why I am getting down voted for asking a question that is obviously important. You would be surprised to find that some people just reboot servers without first thinking Nov 3, 2016 at 16:16
  • "You would be surprised to find that some people just reboot servers without first thinking." Alas, no we wouldn't. :( Nov 3, 2016 at 22:56

Generally, what Jason Lindberg said. I just wanted to add:

Also ask the person who does "own" the server. In many places where I've worked, "messing" with someone else's server is the ultimate faux pas. Trust me, you do not want to break another sysadmin's prod box. "I decided to reboot your box while you were at lunch and [service] didn't come back and now the users are really mad! Help!" will not win friends and influence people. In fact, as Jason said, it could get you canned. But even if it doesn't, it would be... socially awkward.

If you know your coworker is unavailable for an extended amount of time (in the hospital, on a plane to India, etc.), ask their supervisor. S/he can direct you to their back-up.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .