10 points to increase troubleshooting skills and become a good Server Admin
1) Be clear with the concepts
You will be learning lot of things in random in your day-to-day work, but essentially what you need to remember are the basic concepts of each technology you have come across, starting from basic commands, services associated, the applications related, tools etc. Before you enter the system admin scenario, join the popular discussion boards, mailing lists relating to your domain. Believe me, a lot of quick tips can be gathered just by reading what others in the business have to say.
2) Build your knowledgebase
Its always good habit to write down somewhere whatever you have learned new in your days work. It would definitely come in handy in the future, cos you might have got it after rigorous research and you need not do it a second time. My notes that I always keep have saved me plenty of time for many of the issues that creep up. Also be willing to ask your peers or seniors or in the forums when you find yourself stuck, cos experience is one thing you can never garner in a little time. Remember, you can revert the favor when they look for you.
3) Try to relate with the technologies
In my early days I have wasted plenty of hours trying to find a fix without understanding the cause, but that has changed. You have to keep in mind that there will be some relation with services or applications you are working with. So if something not working it might be that of some other service that is related to it. Knowing which is causing the problem is the measure of your troubleshooting skill. So think cleverly and identify the possible causes.
4) Troubleshooting skill
Nobody can train you to become a good admin. Its just like any other skill – hardwork, persistence, experience and your methodical approach towards the issues that you encounter makes you what you become. At first you may take up hours to fix the same issue that your peers with a bit of experience do in a few mins, but do not let that deter you. You have to think in different directions really quick and tap your knowledge base at the right moment.
You might wonder why I have mentioned it here, but think of a situation when you have to say there is no backup for the data lost ! Your client would not definitely want to hear such an excuse. Make it a point to let the client know about the importance of doing backups and introduce backup process into your administration life cycle though it may seek additional operating costs and time.
6) Be cordial with customers
If you have to deal with the end customers, please update them constantly about the status in critical or major issues like server down, migration, network down etc. If you have to manage a huge customer base, its always wise to have forum outside your network or datacentre where your customers can view the status for any work being done. Trust me, you do not want the heated up customers calling you up while the issue is upon your head and also the customers would be half relieved to know that we are working on to fix the issue.
7) Communication with your boss
Your boss wants quick results but he might not be willing to understand the technical difficulties involved. So you will have to be patient and accept your boss’s apprehensions even though he might be jumping the gun most of the time. If you are still unhappy then try this – go to a empty room, imagine your boss is tied to a chair there, shout at him all you want, and feel content that you have given him your piece of mind. You will find this tip weird but its effective, at least it works for me. There are many other situations that I have imagination, but considering the wider audience, I find it unsuitable to describe here…! 😉
8 ) Write articles
You will see lot of ways to do an install or configuration of an application or a service. But when you get time sit down and write an article about it in your own words. I gurantee that it will give you a lot of satisfaction at the same time will boost your confidence. You can put them on your blog or discussion boards where you are active. The feedbacks from readers will definitely help you improve and also it earns your repute as an admin.
9) Learn something new
You shouldn’t be tied down with a monotonous routine, be innovative whenever you have free time and try to learn something new. Remember in this industry, your knowledge is your wealth. By keeping yourself updated and familiarized on every aspect like the new issues and its fixes, latest tools and apps, best practices and security standards are of great importance. Even though I can confidently say that am a successful admin, I still learn things everyday. I consider this an imperative trait for my success.
10) Be a good team player avoid ego clash
Always be ready to help your team members when they need it. Assist them on issues, give then clues and pointers, guide them but not fix the issue they are facing, if you do so you are preventing them from learning. You should be always ready to share and sharing makes you more authoritative about the concepts. Well if you hav ego, then I tell you one thing, keep it to yourself before you sit before the machine, cos I do the same…! 🙂
Hope these steps will help you to improve in your day to day work.