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Decoding the Sysadmin

  • Children often answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with occupations such as: firefighter, ballerina, doctor, or princess. Why, we all wonder, does systems administrator rarely make the cut? Sysadmins are critical members of the organization they support, and a career as a sysadmin can be highly rewarding.

    While sysadmins know how exciting, versatile, and important their jobs truly are, do the people closest to them understand? If a sysadmin receives a text message from his or her remote monitoring system during a soccer game or dance recital, what do their kids think? When breaking from analyzing system logs to enjoy a family dinner, do eyes glaze over when the tech pro explains that a log is more than a chopped-up tree trunk? Even with all their tireless explaining, sysadmins are apt to hear a version of this phrase: “My mom does something with computers…I think?”

    In honor of Systems Administrator Appreciation Day this year, SolarWinds asked its THWACK community of technology professionals what their family and friends think they do 24/7, rain or shine, day or night. The responses point to what we’ve known all along: sysadmins are expert computer wizards that deserve to be celebrated! Check out the funny -- and slightly painful -- responses the THWACK community members shared.

    (Image: Anucha Cheechang/Shutterstock)

  • The superhero

    "I tell friends that I am an 'Internet Stress Tester,' but my daughter is convinced that I run the internet and have the ability to shut it down—long may she think that."

    "My son says that I am a 'Fixer.' He's 4 years old; that’s good enough."

    (Image: michaeljung/iStockphoto)

  • Free helpdesk

    “Professional Button Pusher.”

    "My family thinks I’m a 24/7, free-of-charge computer wizard. When I tell them I am actually a systems administrator, they visibly lose consciousness and wake up only to ask me why their computer is so slow, and to ask me to take a look at it. Always before dinner, of course."

    (Image: Murat Gocmen/iStockphoto)

  • The expert

    "Everyone seems to think that I’m an 'Expert Computer Troubleshooter,' so I constantly have to explain that, just because I work inside the IT bracket, doesn’t mean I do everything with PC and laptop hardware. I mean, I can fix PCs and laptops, but that’s beside the point."

    "My dad constantly tells people I’m a computer scientist, and I constantly correct him since that's not even close to what I do."

    (Image: baranozdemir/iStockphoto)

  • Problem solver

    "My kids tell people I 'work in computers somewhere' and they don't understand it (and they really don't), but they do appreciate that I can solve any of their problems (they have a lot)."

    "My mom thinks I’m an 'Everything Electronic Fixer,' repairing everything from computers to tablets to even her meat slicer!"

    (Image: iStockphoto)


  • The magician

    "My extended family thinks that I work in a weird underground building, in the dark, plugging things into the internet with the Matrix code consistently flowing through my screens—they’re not entirely wrong."

    "Since few people know what a 'Systems Engineer' is, I just say I work in IT.  My parents, however, think I’m a magician. From removing viruses, setting up a new printer, setting up WiFi, wiring the home stereo to the receiver, or replacing the system board in their refrigerator—to them I perform pure magic!"

    (Image: Filograph/iStockphoto)