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Volume 32, Issue 1

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Corporate IT departments are tasked with many duties battling computer downtime, repairing configuration problems and retrieving lost data for the hundreds and thousands of PCs they manage. Until recently, no automated solutions have existed that address these pervasive problem areas. The result has been an issue that continues to raise the total cost of ownership for the corporate PC while lowering the productivity of the PC user.
According to both GartnerGroup and META Group - PC configuration problems consistently rate in the top-five of the most common help desk calls. Given the reliance placed on PCs by users, preventing computer downtime for executives, high-powered professionals, salespeople and other knowledge workers is mission-critical to small, medium, and enterprise businesses.

While businesses have invested billions of dollars in their computing infrastructure, to date, companies have invested lightly in 'PC Health' solutions, resulting in a sizable support gap. The need for a convenient and dependable repair, recovery and data protection solution for mobile and desktop PCs - and the multi-terabytes of corporate data residing on them - is now critical path.

Migrating from One PC to Another

A significant drain on both the IT staff and the end user is the transition between the old PC that needs to be retired and the new PC. The challenge that both constituents face is the need to get data and personality settings such as browser bookmarks and cookies from the old PC to the new one. Traditionally, this has been ignored by IT staff or left up to the users to copy everything to a server before they turn in their old machine. The result is a new PC that requires users to spend many hours and sometimes weeks recreating the operating environment with which they are accustomed. New technologies are assisting in this process to automate the once manual task of migration.

Computer Downtime is a  Significant Drain on Your Company's Productivity

IT and Help Desk departments are faced with numerous challenges to maintain 'healthy' company PCs on a daily basis including:

  • Downloading files and applications from the Internet or via e-mail that cause other applications to stop working;
  • Getting infected from viruses, such as the recent LoveBug, resulting in corrupting files on the user's PC;
  • Accidentally deleting or misplacing important files that need to be recovered; and
  • Removing critically needed data from the PC when they leave their job.

malfunctioning PC or lost data translates into lost revenue and productivity for all knowledge workers; therefore, automatic protection for mission-critical data files, painless deployment, and management of users has become critical to the bottom-line.

On average, configuration problems can take anywhere from three hours to three days to fix. In the event of whole system loss, due to theft, disk failure or accidents, it can take an IT or Help Desk staff even longer to get a user up and running again. Most businesses have scarce IT staff resources to fight these problems. In many cases, knowledge workers are left to fend for themselves and seek assistance with the customer service departments of their PC's manufacturer.

For mobile or remote workers without physical access to their IT or Help Desk departments, the productivity loss due to downtime is magnified. Technologies exist today to help lessen the burden placed on IT and help desk staff due to system loss, data loss or configuration problems.

Productivity Protection - Help the Help Desk

An organization's Help Desk plays a crucial role in supporting mobile and desktop PCs. On average the number of requests to assist with lost data or PC configuration problems 'overloads' Help Desks to the point that organizations suffer from being unable to attend to the other common help desk calls such as lost passwords or user training. By using technologies that keep PCs 'healthy,' the burden users place on a Help Desk is drastically reduced, and IT will be able to focus on other pressing IT issues.

Today many companies offer services or products that offset the majority of the costs the Help Desk encounters with the task of keeping PCs running effectively. Forward-looking small, medium and enterprise businesses are outsourcing these frequent Help Desk problems. Another option, which many large organizations have chosen to pursue, is to purchase the software and manage these automated solutions in-house - enabling them even greater control of their corporate data assets.

John Rossi, manager of information technology at GE Investments, has brought a 'healthy' PC solution in-house and testifies to the importance of keeping PCs up and running. 'Unless we can restore a trader's system to its full working state, including look and feel, in a few hours - that person may lose a day's productivity,' he says. 'That could mean a cost to the company of hundreds of thousands of dollars.'

Diane Wimmer, IT Manager at PeopleSoft, has also internally managed an automated 'PC Health' system in-house. 'Almost everybody at PeopleSoft has a laptop computer and we do everything online, so if you don't have your computer, you can't work,' Wimmer illustrates. 'Because we have a lot of people who are mobile, backup becomes an even more important issue.'

She adds, 'That'll be huge [savings], everybody having the ability to restore their own files will certainly be a big help. Currently our backup teams spend a lot of time trying to restore files for other people, time that they probably should be spending on other things.'

Many users do not have the luxury of being able to walk down the hall and ask to help fix their PC. Being able to 'fix it yourself' empowers users and lessens burden on IT staff and the Help Desk of any organization, large or small. Technologies that allow lost or damaged files to be repaired and recovered quickly and easily by users - without much, if any assistance from the Help Desk - increases knowledge workers' productivity and frees additional IT Department resources for larger projects. Keeping PCs 'healthy' with intelligent repair and data restore capabilities increases workers' and IT's ability to get their job done.

David Cane is the Founder and Chairman of Connected Corporation. Connected Corporation provides eSupport solutions for PCs, including application healing, migration, disaster recovery and backup.