How much hardware knowledge does a system administrator need.

CyberguyCyberguy Member Posts: 8 ■□□□□□□□□□

I am an IT student hoping to become a system administrator specializing in Linux/Unix and security.

So far I have done an Advanced Diploma of Network Security and am currently on the fourth part of Cisco CNAP for CCNA.

I consider myself stronger in the software side of computing.

I can research computer parts to buy for new builds but have never performed any hardware upgrades or built a computer by myself.

How much hardware does a system administrator need to know and will my lack of practical experience with hardware hold me back ?


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    BGravesBGraves Member Posts: 339
    I can't say that it would "hold you back" unless you found yourself in a position where your employer (or a potential one) wanted someone who did have those skills...however I would highly recommend improving that aspect of your IT knowledge, as it is very useful to have! Cracking open an old pc laying around if you have one and learning what everything inside it does, attempting the A+ exam if you have the time/$, etc. It certainly never hurts to invest in yourself! :)
    (Some businesses have dedicated "Help desk" teams that handle desktop support and etc and some also have service contracts with hardware vendors that ensure hardware is maintained and working via their own staff. If you end up as an admin at this kind of place, you'll probably never touch the innards of a pc/server.....)
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    clouderclouder Member Posts: 84 ■■□□□□□□□□
    It really depends on the job because "system administrator" is a very generic title. I had a previous admin job where I was never in the datacenter with hardware, and now I'm in there every day. With that said, hardware is the easy part.
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    blargoeblargoe Member Posts: 4,174 ■■■■■■■■■□
    You should at a bare minimum be able to identify hardware components in a computer and be able to swap out common components such as memory modules, disk drives, and I/O cards (network interface cards, for example).

    Depending on the envrionment in which you work, there may be a vendor/partner who handles warranty hardware swap, or it might be all performed in house.
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    lsud00dlsud00d Member Posts: 1,571
    clouder wrote: »
    It really depends on the job because "system administrator" is a very generic title. I had a previous admin job where I was never in the datacenter with hardware, and now I'm in there every day. With that said, hardware is the easy part.

    I'm in the same boat...was previously focusing on web application/linux system administration, now I work in the datacenter and do the whole IT stack from top to bottom.

    It's good to know how to troubleshoot hardware because after all, it's layer 1 for everything.
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    QordQord Member Posts: 632 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Can you look at the back of a desktop computer and know what all those holes are? If you pop the side panel off of it, can you identify most of the parts inside, like scsi cars, ram, video cards, and sata ports? If so, I think you're good enough for entry level employment. You most likely won't be jumping right into a sys admin role anyway, so you'll have time and work experience to learn more advanced stuff as you go along. You can't realistically be expected to know about different rail systems, hot swappable power supplies, and server specifics without having worked with it, so as long as you've got basic knowledge you should be fine. All the rest will come with experience.
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    CyberguyCyberguy Member Posts: 8 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you for your replies.

    I've got an old PC with Core 2 Duo and 512 MB RAM I'm not using so I'll try opening it to learn more about hardware.

    I've found some good video tutorials on hardware at FREE Computer Training - Computer Repair Classes - Laptop Repair Instruction - Data Recovery Lessons - Web Design Seminars - Computer Security Counseling
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    beadsbeads Member Posts: 1,531 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Used to be more critical to know the hardware as a Systems Administrator you probably worked right next to the servers themselves in the same room. Not so much anymore but you've already identified your lack of specific language as a possible barrier.

    My suggestion to learn the hardware would be to build your next desktop. Kits can be fairly cheap but buy individual parts and put it together yourself. I mean motherboard mounting pins to the case itself. Don't bother with trying to mount a CPU unless your particularly curious. The number of pins to get just right makes this process worthwhile to let someone else blow a CPU. LOL. Pick out your GPU, memory and learn how to attach your USBs to the case etc. This doesn't have to be done in one sitting but over time and budget you'll immediately get a good handle on what is what, where components go and most importantly why those components fit into the case they do. Look at the airflow; the distance of a USB to the case port - all that good stuff.

    Nothing like a little hands on practice to solidify knowledge.

    Good luck!

    - B Eads
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    DoubleNNsDoubleNNs Member Posts: 2,015 ■■■■■□□□□□
    I agree w/ Beads' suggestion. if you plan on buying a desktop at any time int eh future (home server, gaming, labbing for certs) pick out the parts individually and build it. It'll teach you a lot about compatibility, speeds, and what's current and what's not. Then you'll start to understand how everything works together, as well as how to physically put the parts together.

    Before/after you could also look over the Professermesser.com videos, or maybe some other youtube videos.
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