Sysadmin shut down the wrong server, and with it all European operations

Hey Dad, why does your old boss call you ‘The Powerdown Kid’?

Who, me? Welcome to Monday morning, dear readers. We’ll try to make it bearable for you by offering you a new instalment of “Who, me?”, The Register’s column in which readers share stories of having screwed things up.

This week meet “Bruce” who told us that “Many years ago I was a junior sysadmin for a large battery manufacturer and I looked after the AS/400 servers for their European headquarters.”

One day Bruce’s office hosted a training course that ran on a small portable server. As the course wound up, and Bruce’s brain wound down, he was asked to shut down the training server.

Bruce rather hoped this chore would be his last for the day, so “promptly went into the server room and walked up to the server with its console perched on top. I logged in and, without checking, I entered the shutdown command.”

Sysadmin wiped two servers, left the country to escape the shame


As the training server should have had only the very lightest of workloads, Bruce expected it to shut down swiftly. So when it still hadn’t shut down after a few minutes, he used the command that forced a shutdown.

And when that didn’t have the desired effect Bruce “looked at all of the running processes and noticed a whole bunch of people logged in.” And then, just as his error dawned on him, he realised it had finally switched off.

And with it, all of the company’s European operations had turned off too.

“I dashed outside and rang my boss in the hope he might be able to avert the disaster but, unsurprisingly, his number was busy,” Bruce recalled. “I hung up and sat down knowing that he would call me soon enough.”

Not many minutes later, all of the company’s team wanted a word with Bruce.

“I was promptly sent home in a taxi,” he told us, and later received a reprimand.

Commendably, however, Bruce’s boss “carried the can for the incident for 'leaving the junior in charge' and I continued to work for him for several years afterwards.”

“I am still friends with my old boss today but, to him, I will forever be known as the 'Powerdown Kid'.”

How did you earn your less-than-kind nickname? Click here to share your story with Who, me? We promise to be kind if we use a story about how you earned a nasty name. And as we do in every edition of this column, we’ll anonymise your name. ®

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