Over the next several weeks, AU’s Information Technology Services department (ITS) will begin moving all university owned computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10. The change came after Microsoft ended their support on the old program. Without a change in programming, this could leave Windows 7 users exposed to a wide variety of security issues, including hacking.
ITS worker Travis Fivecoate explained the potential breach of security.
“Microsoft has officially ended support for Windows 7,” said Fivecoate. “This means that new security patches will no longer be made. If a hacker finds an exploit within the operating system it can essentially be used forever without fear of being fixed. To ensure our users are protected, all systems must be moved over to a newer, supported operating system,”
The problems associated with this change mostly have to do with time and volume. Each update requires a re-imaging of the system, the backing-up of any files hosted locally on the original machine, the syncing of web-browser material and the downloading of any special programming the user may have had previously. This is a tedious process that can take upwards of a couple hours to complete, according to ITS Help Desk Manager Kami Deckard.
“One problem that we have is that there were more users in W7 than we anticipated,” said Deckard. “We also ran into problems with the amount of time it has been taking to do a single upgrade. What we expected to take an hour is sometimes taking 2-3 hours, so it’s slowing down our progress. While we are working on getting upgrades done, we also have normal issues that are coming in, so it can be difficult to get everything done.”
Another issue with the update is the age of the machines themselves.
“Many of them are in the 6-8 year old range,” said Fivecoate. “The Windows 10 image we use has some extra features built in such as Sophos Anti-Virus. This is a great benefit but, unfortunately, requires higher horsepower to run smoothly. The older machines just can’t keep up which results in a negative user experience.”
These older machines can bog down the amount of time it takes for users to sign in, open programs and access network drives. Despite all of these issues, the ITS department is working vigorously to complete the university-wide upgrade in a timely manner.
“We are working hard to upgrade as many people per day as possible,” said Deckard. “We purchased new towers and that is helping to speed up the process for many users. We can have the software installed on the new machine and only take up around 30 minutes of their time to transfer their documents.”
Fivecoate said, “We’ve recently started dispatching those out to users that still have outdated equipment.”
Some variables that can slow down or speed up the process are the amount of data that needs to be transferred as well as the type of hardware it’s being moved from. Larger amounts of data mean a longer wait-time on the actual transfer of files from one machine to another. Not one computer is like another. Especially on this campus, where machines have been worked on and re-tooled over the last decade to accommodate previous issues.
Fivecoate also noted issues on the amount of Windows updates that still need to be completed.
“We received 47 requests so far for machine upgrades,” said Fivecoate.
That number is expected to grow as not all departments have submitted tickets to begin the updating process. Given the amount of computers that need to be updated, the timetable for completion on this task isn’t quite clear. After all, this is no small assignment. The issue is university-wide and the ITS department is operating with a relatively small staff of mostly part-time, student-workers.
“I would estimate that we’ll have the upgrades completed in the next few weeks,” said Fivecoate.
For faculty workers still looking to submit a ticket, look no further than the ITS webpage. To find it, simply visit anderson.teamdynamix.com and submit a request.
Although there have been some bumps in the road, the ITS department is still trying to make the move as painless and easy as possible. Although it may take some time to become scheduled for the update, the sooner a ticket is submitted the better.
“We’re doing everything we can to make the adjustment as seamless as possible for those still on 7,” said Fivecoate.