10 tech tasks to do in your sleep.

10 tech tasks you should be able to do in your sleep


1: Run chkdsk


Recently, I had a client whose two point-of-sale machines were randomly crashing. When onsite, I asked the age of the machines (I had my suspicions) and found out they were approximately four to five years old. And judging from the size of their QuickBooks data file, the machines got hammered on a daily basis. It took only a quick run of chkdsk to find out the machines’ drives had errors. This command should definitely be in your toolkit. In some instances, it will save you a great deal of time.


2: Uninstall antivirus


There’s been a rash of viruses in this area lately, and the old school antivirus just isn’t cutting it. We often prescribe AVG Pro, and as with nearly all antivirus solutions, the current antivirus must be uninstalled before installing the new. The unfortunate reality is that every antivirus has a different path to complete uninstall. The first place to look, of course, is the antivirus menu entry. Sometimes it will have its own uninstaller. If not, your best bet is to either carry with you (on a flash drive) tools that will do the trick or have Internet access so you can go to the vendor’s Web site and find out how to uninstall. After a while, you’ll have them all memorized. 


3: Map drives


This is one of the easiest tasks with one of the biggest benefits (at least in the eyes of the client). Mapping drives makes finding data on remote locations so much easier for the user. And successfully mapping drives means you won’t be called out again because the user can’t seem to locate the data on the server any longer. 


4: Join a workgroup


If a company has multiple machines that need to share files, but it isn’t big enough to require a domain, joining those networked machines to a common workgroup will make everyone’s life easier. But I am always surprised when I hear that consultants are unsure of the benefits of workgroups and/or how to join a machine to a workgroup. This is consulting 101. 


5: Join a domain


This takes the workgroup to another level. Not only can you see other computers that reside on the domain, login credentials are contained on a single machine so users can log in from any machine on the domain. The process of joining a domain is similar to that of joining a workgroup. You will, however, need to know the complete domain of the company. Is it DOMAIN or DOMAIN.local? Another basic task, yet it’s overlooked time and time again. 


6: Use the command line


It always strikes me as unbelievable when I run into IT pros who don’t know how to use the command line. I guess I have an advantage coming from a Linux background, but every consultant should know how to use the command line. Even in Windows, it’s a must-know tool. 


7: Safely restart a Linux server from the command line


You will come across this one day. And although it’s rare for a Linux server to need rebooting, you need to know the command sudo reboot and how to do it so that users have time to log out of whatever they’re doing. Just like any computer, if you don’t shut down or restart safely, there are dangers. 


8: Check for rootkits


Rootkits are nasty. And many times they go unchecked and destroy all of your hard work. Every consultant must know how to check for a rootkit or at least know of a good antivirus software that includes rootkit defenses. If your client’s machines aren’t being checked for rootkits, cross your fingers when you finally install a tool to check. If a rootkit is there, the damage might already be done. I have dealt with rootkits that rendered a machine unrecoverable. 


9: Replace any component on a machine


You never know when you will have to replace RAM, a video card, a CPU, or some other component. Although these tasks seem far too simple to even mention, there are some people who, when faced with replacing a CPU, will toss up their hands and tell their clients they have to purchase a new machine. To those consultants I have to say “Really?” Replacing hardware is done for sport by most geeks. Be it power supply, hard drives … you name it. Get your hands in that case and get them dirty! 


10: Deal with angry clients


Although this doesn’t address computer issues, it is one of those challenges you’re inevitably going to face. Either you’re dealing with a client who is generally an ugly person or you have done something they didn’t like. One way or another, you’re going to need the skills to calm those clients down and reassure them that you will do everything you can to make them happy. It may mean you take a loss on the job or it may mean you put in more time than you really want. But making that cranky client happy will go a long way in helping your reputation. Of course there are limits. Some people are simply never satisfied. The best solution for those types of clients? Fire them.