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What does a LAN Administrator do?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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The LAN administrator provides support and management of the local area network within a company or non-profit organization. This management involves a number of functions that have to do with regular maintenance of the network, overseeing enhancements and upgrades to the local area network, or LAN, and implementing and maintaining backup systems that can be pressed into service in the event of a network failure.

As part of regular maintenance, the administrator will monitor the daily activity on the network, ensuring that the resources of the company are used in ways that are within the standards set for employee usage. Often, the network administrator for a local area network will conduct random testing of various programs and protocols on the network, to ensure that all the components are working within reasonable limits. As part of the ongoing maintenance of the network, he or she will also track the status of software and equipment licensing agreements, ensuring that the every license is renewed at the proper time.

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Taking care of upgrades to existing software or installing new software is also part of the responsibilities of a LAN administrator. Upgrades may include the installation of new versions of existing software, or managing the installation of any fixes that the manufacturer of the software may release periodically. Administrators for local area networks generally download the fix or new version onto a desktop and then run scenarios on the new release. This makes it possible to identify and fix many issues before deploying the fix or version across the network. Once there is a reasonable degree of certainty that the upgrade will work well on the network, the administrator makes the necessary changes to the servers and other equipment, as well as modifying the files on desktops that access the network, if necessary.

An important part of the work of a LAN administrator is to create and manage a means of redundancy for the network. This means creating a plan or series of plans that will allow the company to continue to function with little or no down time in the event of a network failure, which often requires creating a backup server and arranging for both the main server and the backup to update on a daily basis. The network administrator will run diagnostics on the backup server, just as he or she conducts diagnostics on the main server. Along with a backup server, he or she often arranges for and regularly tests a secondary power supply that can power the network if necessary. Implementing and maintaining a redundant network that can take over functions within less than a minute ensures that employees can continue to work with a minimum amount of delay.

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David09
Post 3

@everetra - They do both have the same frame of mind for programming. However in my experience, a windows administrator prefers small scale, limited programming, such as is needed for creating scripts or batch files. He likes mucking around with security, and enjoys the thrill of figuring out how networks work.

A computer programmer, by contrast, just enjoys code--and the more code the better. He prefers to leave the network and security related stuff up to the admins. It's a matter of degree I think. One prefers a little code to get his job done, while the other prefers lots and lots of coding. That's just my opinion based on what I've seen.

everetra
Post 2

@Charred - My observation has been the most network administrators do have MIS degrees. But since you say that they have the same degrees as computer programmers, then let me ask a very obvious question.

What makes one college graduate choose to be a programmer while another college graduate chooses to go into network administration, given that they have the same degree? Please don't tell me that one likes to program and the other one does not. I think we agree that they both have the same frame of mind for programming.

Charred
Post 1

At first glance, the LAN administrator job description does not seem to be as technical as that of a regular computer programmer since it’s mainly network related. However many employers require or prefer computer science degrees over general MIS degrees when looking for a LAN administrator.

At the company that I work at our LAN administrator has a background in computer science and engineering. He has done software development and also has several certifications under his belt.

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