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True IT blooper #125: Bringing down the house

Read how Judy Wall, accounting systems administrator, single handedly took down the accounting server at her large company during (EGADS!) payroll week. Learn from Judy's mistake!

Judy Wall, accounting systems administrator for a large company, had a rather stressful work experience. It was payroll week, critical in and by itself, but this time she also had to test a live terminal server called LandMas. LandMas hosted a critical accounting application, and it's twin, the testing server.

On this particular day, Judy was on the phone with a programmer who had recently made extensive modifications to the program. He asked that Judy make a few changes on the test terminal server. As he wished, Judy brought up the terminal services client, logged in to the test server and got started.

"As I browsed the C: drive it occurred to me that I may have left some files on the drive in a 'temp' folder," Judy remembers. "But I just figured my brain was just a little fried after all that testing."

The programmer had Judy delete some files for him, register some dlls and install an additional application on the server. No big deal. When Judy was finished and it was time to reboot, she told the programmer that she would call him back when the server was back up and running. Judy watched the pings to the test server die on her command prompt and patiently waited for them to come back.

Problem was, they didn't. Suddenly one of her coworkers came flying into her office yelling about something being wrong with the LandMas terminal server. "Everyone's calling up and screaming at me!" he said with a hint of desperation in his voice.

Judy ran back to the command prompt. She pinged LandMas and got a reply back from... The wrong IP address!As the cloud of doom descended upon her, she pinged the test server and got back "request timed out" from, you guessed it, the LandMas server's IP address. Judy's DNS cache was obviously the culprit.

Judy now looks back and says "If I had only taken the hint when I saw that my files were missing from the hard drive... But, I didn't."

Judy made a mental note to herself to rename the label on the "My Computer" icon on all terminal servers to the server's actual name... Just as soon as she explained how she managed to take down the company's most critical server on a payroll week... Ouch... hard way to learn that one.
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