The Sys Admin End-of-Summer Checklist

You may have a decline of tickets in summer as employees take summer vacations, this is especially so for sys admins working in a school district or other educational setting. The number of end users you have to deal with declines, but as summer begins to wane, you realize…war is coming, and your computers are helpless.
It’s hard to tell who can do the worst damage to a machine, an innocuous fledgling student at a typing class or a teacher, who now knows how to turn on their own computer to their credit…but has found other horrific ways to wreck havoc. Here is a checklist to help cut down your overall troubleshooting time and make life a little easier.

Survival Checklist

Make Sure Your DNS is Healthy

Flush your DNS with PDQ Deploy. You can build a package to deploy to computers to flush the DNS. Add a command step and enter the following:

ipconfig /flushdns

Deploy that to your target machines (see how to create and deploy your own package) and you’ll have a clean DNS. For more tips on maintaining a healthy DNS as well as how-to’s on resolving DNS related errors, check out Lex’s blog here.

Plan and Test Out Your Deployments

Take time to think about what applications and runtimes your teachers and students might need (Java, Adobe Flash, Shockwave just to name a few). Also consider current educational applications you have installed that may not be compatible with newer versions (it’s not uncommon for some educational software to not be compatible with newer versions of Java). It may be time to talk to your administration about finally getting a newer version of Reader Rabbit.

PDQ Deploy Enterprise users can automate the process of updating computers by setting up Auto Deployments. Pick out packages from the Package Library you want to maintain up-to-date and schedule an Auto Deployment. As new versions come available PDQ Deploy will take care of the rest.

Try PDQ Deploy

Around here we often refer to a baseline applications, a small selection of musts for all computers. (We had a full webcast on this topic that you can view here. Feel free to join us at upcoming webcasts here.)

Many sys admins find it handy to have a set of packages nested within one package that they can deploy out. A word of warning about bundling packages together…if one package fails it can be more difficult to determine the cause of the failure. So test throughly and choose a good sampling of computers before sending out a mass deployment.

Manage Java Security and Exception Sites List

If you’re deploying Java 8 out, you may want to review your setting and update permitted sites and make sure you have your security set where you want it. Check out a full blog post on how to do this here.

Beware the Custodians

If you work in education: summertime is often when custodians start going through rooms for deep cleaning or floor waxing. Which means, computers and cables are being unplugged and moved. Often they are not plugged back in or plugged in wrong. This can bite you later when you are unable to properly inventory or reach computers.

It’s also good to note that computers, especially laptops, may get moved to different classrooms or buildings resulting in a computer being on a different subnet.