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IT blooper #29: Team irk

The IT manager's procedure is about 80 percent completed. Then, out on the VPN, a colleague throws a wrench in the works.

There are many good things about being on a network administration team: having a backup, sharing the workload,...

getting tips from peers, and more. On the other hand, as this "true IT blooper" shows, being on a team means that others can suffer from your mistakes.

Every "true IT blooper" comes directly from a SearchWindowsManageability user. Like Enron executives, some contributors choose to plead the Fifth Amendment. Matt Wilkinson, the contributor of this tale, is made of sterner stuff. He goofed, and he's not afraid to tell his story.

In Wilkinson's IT shop, scheduled server maintenance occurs every two weeks on a Wednesday evening. On one particular Wednesday, Wilkinson and a colleague planned to make some changes in their Exchange 2000 system's SMTP connector. They also planned to take the Information Store offline and compress/defrag it.

They started the process, and things were going smoothly. So, Wilkinson had no qualms about taking off to pick up his spouse after her yoga class.

"About four hours later that evening, I VPNed into our network from home and tried to synch my Outlook," said Wilkinson. "I got an error that the Exchange Server wasn't responding."

So, Wilkinson pinged the server in question, and it responded. "I then fired up Terminal Services Client, and connected to it, and it seemed to be up and running," he said.

But all was not well. "A quick look at the Exchange System Manager revealed that the Information Store wasn't mounted, which would explain why I couldn't do e-mail," Wilkinson said. He tried mounting it, but got an error. "So being a brave soul," he said, "I thought I would try a remote reboot and see if the server came up clean, which it did."

All's well that ends well, Wilkinson thought. "I was so proud of myself for restoring e-mail," he said.

Then a message popped up on Wilkinson's screen. It was from his co-worker, asking Wilkinson if he had restarted the server. "Little did I know that my colleague was still in the server room and had taken the Information Store offline to perform the defrag," he said. That's why the e-mail didn't work when Wilkinson logged in.

It turned out that a hitch had slowed down the SMTP change process, which Wilkinson had left to his colleague to complete. So, the co-worker had started the defrag procedure much later than they had planned. The defrag was about 80% complete when Wilkinson's colleague saw the server reboot before his eyes. The reboot wiped out the 80 percent of the defragmentation that had been done until then. So, the defrag had to be restarted from scratch.

"Oops," said Wilkinson. "Well, needless to say, I had my hands in the cookie jar and got caught."


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This was last published in May 2002

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