ECN-Supported PC Benefits

When ECN's User and Desktop Services (UDS) group provides pricing and specifications for new computer purchases, some faculty and staff ask about using laptop computers instead of desktop computers and/or how ECN handles administrative privileges on computers in our environment.

Of paramount importance to us is the preservation and accessibility of your files -- the original data you create during your work and research. ECN has created a support scheme designed to preserve your data. So our answer focuses on whether you'll be using an "ECN-supported" computer.

In the ECN UDS support scheme, an "ECN-supported" computer is one for which we have sole administrative privileges and which is always connected to the Purdue network. ECN-supported PCs typically offer these benefits:

  • Data files you create within your home directory are stored on your ECN server; backups are scheduled daily.
     
  • Spare desktop PCs are available if your desktop hardware fails;  when logging into an ECN spare, your data and environment are automatically available, allowing you to resume work and to minimize downtime.
     
  • Access to hundreds of licensed software packages, installed to your ECN-supported PC on request.
     
  • With only a few mouse clicks in some operating systems, you can perform self-installation of driver software for nearby network printers.
     
  • ECN maintains the operating system and all ECN-installed application software -- and, in some instances, ECN might be able to install individually licensed and/or other unsupported software.
     
  • After you contact us to report a problem, ECN has many ways to assist, including screen-sharing software for over-the-phone help.

Although the benefits provided by ECN support vary in different operating systems, none of the above advantages are available to people who solely use a "self-supported" computer -- that is, a computer which works in the absence of a Purdue network connection (such as a laptop) and/or a computer to which you or your graduate assistants require administrative privileges.

For most faculty and staff, we recommend using an ECN-supported computer as your primary computer. A laptop and/or other "self-supported" computer (described below), of course, remain valid choices when the need exists. (Please note that special policies apply for those who handle sensitive or restricted information and/or intellectual property.)

A laptop might serve as a good supplementary computer when you're away from your office. It works especially well to remotely access an ECN-supported desktop PC.

 


Our laptop support scheme

When you use a laptop, its very mobility means that you need the ability to manage its software -- to change network settings for a conference site's wireless network, for example, or to install additional applications. When you purchase a laptop through ECN's User and Desktop Services group, you are provided with administrator privileges, and the laptop is considered to be "self-supported."

Because the operating system on a Windows-based laptop sees lots of unknown networks, is typically updated infrequently, and is fully exposed to malware (via administrator privileges in daily use), it is more prone to problems. So, our software troubleshooting service for laptops purchased through us is frequently (and necessarily) limited to erasing the laptop's hard drive and reinstalling the Windows operating system and applications.

We strongly recommend that you store no data locally on a laptop (except perhaps the limited files you might need for a particular trip) and use a laptop mostly as a tool for remotely accessing an ECN-supported desktop PC. This limits your exposure if the laptop were to be lost, stolen, or broken (either its software or hardware).

For laptops purchased through ECN, we do provide hardware troubleshooting service. We will contact the manufacturer, arranging for replacement parts and/or on-site parts installation services, as needed. We offer this service only for the specific laptop models which ECN recommends.

 


"Self-supported" computers

When having administrative privileges on a computer is essential to your work, faculty and staff do have the option of using what ECN calls a "self-supported" computer. When you purchase a recommended desktop computer model, we offer to install certain versions of the Windows operating system and a basic suite of applications -- or to deliver it to you unopened so that you may handle your own installations.

For these specific recommended models, we will also provide hardware troubleshooting service. During its warranty coverage period (typically 4 years for computers purchased through April 2013 and 5 years for computers purchased after May 2013), we will contact the manufacturer and make arrangements for replacement parts and/or on-site parts installation services, as needed.

ECN does not provide installation services for any Linux-based operating system on "self-supported" computers. If your work requires administrative privileges on a Linux PC, you will be responsible for downloading and installing the Linux distribution which you prefer.

Please carefully consider these aspects of using a "self-supported" computer:
  • The data files you create are not automatically backed up; ECN will not be able to assist with data recovery in the event of data loss, whether through hardware failure, human error, or any other cause.  ECN strongly recommends that you store essential data in a location which is backed up automatically. (If you choose to save data on a self-supported computer, please ask us for ideas on how to safeguard it. One option is to manually connect to an ECN network server to store your data.)
     
  • Due to licensing terms and/or other limitations, you'll have access only to a subset of our site-licensed software.
     
  • You will be responsible for software updates as well as operating system maintenance and security.
     
  • As in our laptop support scheme, ECN's software troubleshooting services may be limited to erasing the computer's hard drive and reinstalling a Windows operating system and a basic suite of applications. (As noted above, these services are available only for ECN-recommended models.)
     
  • ECN will provide a registered hostname and IP address for using the computer on Purdue's network.
     
  • ECN reserves the right to disconnect rogue computers and devices from the network.
     

Contact us to discuss your specific needs.

 

Last modified: 2013/08/01 18:01:18.349067 GMT-4 by john.a.omalley.1
Created: 2010/09/14 14:31:5.921000 GMT-4 by john.a.omalley.1.

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