Have you ever done something as simple as reinstall an operating system – only to find you missed something important? What if you have to apply patches? Upgrade databases? If you forget something simple and critical…. this is definitely not something you want to do. What can we do to avoid such scenarios?

Several days ahead of time, make a checklist. Keep adding as you think of things that need to be done during the process. If it is a reinstall, do you need to copy SSH keys? Install third-party software like sudo and rsync? Reconfigure the kernel for your environment? Put all of these down on your checklist.

Break your checklist down with titles – so that you know what step you are at and so you can find it easily. For a reinstallation, you could use headings like:

  • Preparation
  • Reboot and Install
  • Postconfiguration

…and so forth.

Break the checklist down into specific tasks: an item like Configure Server is insufficient: what items need to be configured? How? Make the items specific and detailed.

Use the checklist during your maintenance, and keep notes on the sheets as you do them – and as you find things that you might have missed. Write them right on the checklist – and keep the checklist. Next time you do something similar, you can start with the original checklist.

In this way, you will miss nothing – and people who come after you will thank you profusely. Just keep the old checklists in places people can find them. A three-ring binder would be just right. Date the checklists too, put a title on them (“Reinstall of HP-UX 11i v3) and put them in some kind of order.