Old systems support

One of the facilities I support still uses Windows XP for door controls. It never has to see the Internet, so there is not much danger in that approach. However, the hardware is old. And new computers won’t necessarily be able to run XP. Even if I can migrate the OS, the hardware simply didn’t exist when XP SP3 was the rage.

So, I do what I can to keep some old IDE drives around, and a few old PCs of the type they have been using for nearly 20 years. I clean out the dust, and occasionally get called because one is acting up. I was recently working on one where I used some command-line code, and the worker commented “Did you just CODE?! Wow. I think our techs have to be great to support such ancient equipment.” I’m always surprised when techs don’t know the old DOS commands and keyboard shortcuts.

Here are just a few that I use even on all Windows systems:

chkdsk /f c: (makes the system check the current quality of the C: drive, and fix anything it thinks is wrong. This often requires a reboot since C: is in use.)

defrag c: (checks the fragmentation level of the drive and defragments it, if needed)

ipconfig /all (show the IP address, MAC, and other networking information)

Some basic ones for getting around in a command window:
dir (lists the files in the current folder, which used to be called a directory)
cd (change directory, change folder)
del (delete filename)
exit (closes the command window)

Another Windows based tool I use is Disk Cleanup. Occasionally, even after that I’m fighting for every bit of disk space I can free-up. I’ve found that the CBS log file can get to be several gigs, and so I delete that if I’m running out of room.
From the command console,
1. net stop trustedinstaller
2. net stop wuauserv
3. delete the CBS.log file (and other files in that folder)
4. net start wuauserv
5. net start trustedinstaller

Modern Windows is getting better at taking care of itself. But on these old systems, knowing some old commands can keep a facility operating and my customers happy.

On Linux systems, one of the best tools that a tech can have (and know how to use WELL) is “vi”. It is an editor that will function when all of the higher level editors will not. It can save your bacon to know it, and can give you an extra paycheck as a consultant when a company sysadmin doesn’t know it and is in a panic to fix a system he/she just hosed. Take time to learn and use it so that it is simple for you.

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