I’m not down for the count, just working like crazy!

I believe that every few years every operation should do a complete system audit. Well, we've been overdue and have been working diligently for the last two weeks to get our network where it needs to be. It has been a lot of hard work but it is starting to come together.

Here are some things I think every technical support specialist in a windows environment should know how to do:

1 – Remote Desktop — You can dial into your server from any workstation — no more running to the server to reset a password. Learn how to use this tool and save your life! (Probably everyone but me knew this!)

2 – Add printers to the active directory and users — If you're spending a lot of time setting up printers for all of your users, you are wasting your time. Set up the printer and put it in active directory — then, give access to groups of users that you've set up. (All teachers have access to this particular printer or that one.)

3 – Groups – If you're not using groups to administer things, then you need to start. Group policies are really the way to go. If you're like me, you started off small and created a small tidy network, but when you start adding students and wireless and other complexities, you need to be able to control things on a more global scale.

4 – Student logins – we are setting up students with their own logins and so that my documents is stored on the server. This way, they can log into computer on campus and have their files and printers,etc. We are also adding card catalog lookup to all of their computers.

Have you checked on your backup? Have you run a system audit? What shape is your server in? Is it going to last? Do you have proper ventilation?

Are you defragmenting your server frequently? Are you running desktop cleanup?

In small schools like ours, these are things that we haven't done as much as we needed to. That is changing. I promise you, taking time to maintain is going to save you time and money in the long run. I strongly suggest a full system checkup at least every four years. However, we are to the size where we are going to have to do this every year. (87 computers and 3 servers).

We do not have a full time person to maintain the network (its me!) so, do you have reliable people to help you?

And to those of you who only want to complain about the IT department — I wish you could sit a moment in the shoes of someone who has to work on computers. It is very different and not so easy.

Most people think because they have a computer at home that was easy to set up that it is just as simple to set up a standalone workstation in a networked environment. Let me tell you, it is NOT easy to make sure things are consistent and to handle all the nuances of moving files from an old computer to a new one. It takes hours and it is tough. Some IT people clone hard drives but even that takes time and has challenges.

And when teachers install their own programs (as I let them do) and then have problems with a free program that no one has ever heard of — don't expect your IT person to know the answer. If it is a strange program they probably won't and you may just need to uninstall it!

So, here are my thoughts on IT for the day!

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