Getting Organized

With any new administrator you need to organize the data, processes and other information you are inundated with. Within the first few months of working at a new place you will be bombarded with information so it is important you find a system of data management that will work for you. For me personally I use OneNote because it is on every laptop, desktop or workstation where I work. So I wanted to go over a few of the things I find important to track in the hopes it’ll help you begin to organize your personal notes.

Random Capture of OneNote

Absolutely track all the websites you have been given. For me I make a table with a couple columns for the name of the website, the URL and a description of what it is used for. This is important as if you are working for a large company you’ll have some sort of trouble ticketing system and personnel tracker for time cards, leave, etc. You may also have technical websites for vCenter, Splunk or other monitoring tools.

Daily Notes
I create a notebook for my daily activities which just helps me remember when I may have completed a ticket, given some insight into a problem or possibly notified a customer. In OneNote I break this down into sections, first by the year, then month then each day has its own page. While some may find this entirely unnecessary some companies may ask for weekly activity report (WAR) in which case this comes in handy. I also use this to track major issues I’ve resolved. I will create a sub-page under the day just for a particular issue. In this page I will document through screenshots and give my thought process to how I got from problem to resolution. This makes it easy for me to remember what I did while also creating a training document for both customer and other server administrators.

Each business has different paths to problem resolution or personnel actions so it is important to note those processes. These processes might not even be the businesses as they are yours but documenting how you get things done creates additional training documentation for other server administrators as well as providing you with a refresher if it is a process you haven’t done in awhile.

Whether you work in a large or small company you need to have contacts. I create a small table for this with name, phone number, email address, company name and what they do. Nothing is worse than being new to a company and not even knowing who to get ahold of when you need assistance. From the hardware rep to the front office personnel you should constantly be putting together a list so you never get stuck with no way out.

Ultimately, note taking is a personal matter. It really depends on your environment, but the list above should be a good starter for anyone looking at better organizing your information. I personally do all of this because I don’t want anyone else that comes behind me to be left to the wolves. I refuse to set anyone up for failure and taking notes, creating processes and documenting by troubleshooting processes through daily notes can help the entire organization and will help make you a standout among your fellow administrators!

Backing up Group Policy Objects

So I’ll start this website off with a little script that helps me back up all my group policies. This particular script could be run either on demand or with a scheduled task. I typically run this script on a jump server or a Domain Controller, either is fine as long as you are able to readily access them in case you do need to re-import them.

$date = Get-Date -Format yyyyMMdd
New-Item E:\Admin\GPO_Backup -ItemType Directory
New-Item E:\Admin\GPO_Backup\$date -ItemType Directory
$GPOS = Get-GPO -All | Select DisplayName
foreach ($GPO in $GPOS) {
    $directory = Get-GPO $GPO.DisplayName | Select DisplayName -ExpandProperty DisplayName
    New-Item "E:\Admin\GPO_Backup\$date\$directory" -ItemType Directory
    Backup-GPO -Name $GPO.Displayname -Path "E:\Admin\GPO_Backup\$date\$directory"

When you run the script it will create a directory under E:\Admin\GPO_Backup for the day you run the backup. Under that it’ll will export all the policies and place them in directories labeled as you’d see the GPO in GPOM.

The backup structure from the script.

As you can see from the scripts I try to write anything readily useable in multiple environments so there should not be any issue with running this in any of yours out of the box. I hope you’ll find this script as useful in your own environments as I do in all of mine!