Guidelines for system file modification

Just figure I would throw a few basic guidelines out there I use whenever I can. Not saying I always follow them as exceptions do happen and I (like many other people out there) am not perfect, but the quickest way to resolve a problem is to be able to get around it. My rules are this:

When changing a file:Always make a copy of it. Try to include something that explains its significance, such as the date or your name. Having a bunch of httpd.conf.bakN where N is the number in which they were created doesn’t really do any good to anyone

When deleting a file:Dont unless necessecary or explicitly requested. Moving a file to a new directory is a far better option. This also lets you be able to examine the files at a later date, and is quicker to perform than a raw delete in most cases I have seen.

When you’re migrating files:Don’t delete the source ones until the new ones are working properly, everything is migrated over and preferably some period of time has passed. Trust me you don’t want to be that guy who didn’t have the DNS server changed over and deleted the active site or you needed some extra files that weren’t there.

The dot:When running commands, before hitting return be sure that your commands are dotted properly. Running chown username ./* and running chown username /* are two commands that will have very different results! This is very common, there are many admins who forgot the dot! This goes for any “heavyweight” commands such as rm, chmod, chown, etc.

Remember the server is meaningless without customers who have their data on it. As a sysadmin it is ultimately YOUR responsibility to take care of ensuring data is in tact. I will cover what I believe to be “suitable” measures to safeguard your data in another blog some time down the road. Until then stay tuned.

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