How the old pro does it

Flashback to the 1990s, when this IT pilot fish at a manufacturing plant has suddenly had server administration added to his job of setting up workstations and servers.

"I had been dropped into the server admin position without formal training, and at that point I hadn't set storage quotas," says fish. "I found that one of our servers that held a community folder, one that everyone could dump files into, was nearly out of drive space.

"Another server that held user personal items was also nearly out of drive space."

Fortunately, one of fish's co-workers is Barney, a well-liked older IT guy who's been with the company for 25 years. Barney knows the tech, but he also knows employees at all levels -- and he's the plant's go-to guy to get company rumors verified.

Fish tells Barney that he's pretty sure the technicians in the plant's lab have copied over lots of files to the servers, and he suspects they're games and music, along with other files that wouldn't pass corporate HR's policies.

But without sifting through a huge number of files, there's no practical way either of them can deal with the problem easily.

"One day, some executives from corporate HR arrived at the plant wearing suits," fish says. "Barney knew one of the guys, and found out they were just touring the plants as part of a feel-good 'get to know the workers' campaign -- nothing more."

But as soon as Barney gets back to the IT area, he turns on the speakerphone and calls the tech lab.

Tech: Hello?

Barney: This is Barney. Did you see those guys walking around in suits?

Tech: Yeah?

Barney: All I can say is that if you have anything on your computer or on a network share you wouldn't want your grandmother to see, you better get rid of it now -- and pass the word!

Tech: Are they firing people? What's going on?!?

Barney: You didn't hear me say the words surprise inspection, and I'm hanging up.

Reports fish, "Within minutes, my drives were suddenly less than halfway full."

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