LAN administration guide

Kara Gattine, managing editor

LAN administration is an arduous task. The administrator's responsibilities often involve many different aspects and may include such tasks as planning for network capacity, technology and capabilities, maintenance, backup and storage, technical documentation, troubleshooting, security and virus prevention as well as managing users.

While the specific job description for LAN administrators will be slightly different for each organization, common responsibilities include:

(Clicking on the hyperlinks below will take you to a separate page where you'll find tips, advice and help for each particular task.)

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 Task 1: Install and configure servers and user workstations
 Task 2: Perform and manage regular backups
 Task 3: Provide technical documentation
 Task 4: Manage users and provide user support
 Task 5: Provide LAN management and troubleshooting assistance
 Task 6: Manage and assist with network security and virus prevention strategy

This guide will help you with each step and responsibility. Refer back to it often when you have questions or need advice in each specific area.


Immediate to-do's: Do these before completing any other step in this guide

  1. Backups and recovery disks, RAID and images (Veritas, ArcServe, ghost, imagecast)
    1. Are operating system recovery disks requited (server or workstation)? Have they been created recently, copies and placed in a safe location?
    2. Are backup recovery disks needed?
    3. Is a full backup being made on a routine basis? Have you placed a verified, full backup in a safe, offsite location?
    4. Are daily, incremental backups being made? (They should be!)
    5. Do any other software packages require or allow recovery diskettes? Have they been created and stored in a safe location? (Antivirus, operating system, applications, etc.)?
    6. Is RAID and/or disk mirroring enabled and verified that it is functioning correctly?
  2. Service packs, critical updates, security updates: Are the latest of these installed? Is there a schedule for updating these items? (Weekly or monthly)
  3. Antivirus installed and updated? Recovery disks required? Is automated scan enabled and running? Are automatic download updates or push downs of updated DAT files available and configured? Is there a schedule for updating these items? (Weekly or monthly)
  4. Complete steps 1, 2 and 3 and then perform a full backup and store in a safe location.
  5. Secure physical access to the servers, enable BIOS passwords, lock server room, ensure battery backups are installed and operating properly. Is the power supply adequare for the number of devices you have plugged in?
  6. Verify and record all software licenses in possession. Are additional licenses required? Remember you could be liable for this!

Use your PDA and/or calendar feature in your mail program to schedule and remind you of these critical items.


Additional checklist – Critical items that may require steps 1-5


Antivirus protection Mail servers
Backups and data redundancy Monitoring network traffic
Documentation Network routers
Fax machines Network security
File servers Network switches/hubs
File sharing Printer servers and printers
Help desk /Work order tracking Software licenses
Internet connectivity SQL servers
Internet security Time clock servers
Internet servers User accounts
inventory of hardware and software

This was first published in November 2006

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