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Gordon College is one of the nation's premier Christian colleges, located just north of Boston in Wenham, Mass. The college offers 33 majors, 38 concentrations, and 21 interdisciplinary and pre-professional minors as well as graduate programs in education and music education. It has an enrollment of over 1,800 students.
Like most other education institutions, Gordon College transitioned to instruction online in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the campus facilities were shut down by order of the Governor of Massachusetts and the majority of faculty and staff had to work remotely. For the college’s information technology team, the shutdown had a major impact on normal PC refresh cycles.
“We purchased our Summer 2020 computers in December of 2020. So do the math,” says Steve Simmons, IT manager for Gordon College. “We’re currently trying to do our Summer 2020 upgrade now, and it’s March, 2021.”
While the timing may be off due to the pandemic, jamming through a lot of PC upgrades in a short amount of time is nothing new for the IT team at Gordon College. In most years, the work of acquiring and setting up new PCs takes place over a 2-3 month period during the summer months.
A small core team is responsible for refreshing one quarter of the institution’s desktops and laptops every year ― some 150 to 200 devices each year. This cycle ensures the college’s PCs and laptops are all covered under a manufacturer’s four-year warranty to guarantee uptime ― a top priority.
In addition to the compressed refresh cycle, the IT team must also accommodate a wide variety of software applications ranging from science and engineering to business and administrative departments. “We run a non-standard suite of applications,” relates Simmons. “The challenge can be finding ways to keep licensing together. Sometimes the software can be a decade or two old.”
Needing to upgrade a lot of PCs in a short amount of time and supporting a range of non-standard software, Gordon College faced major hurdles to keep its PC refresh efforts on track.
Given the dual challenges of needing to upgrade a lot of PCs in a short amount of time, and its support of a range of non-standard software, Gordon College faced major hurdles to keep its PC refresh efforts on track, especially with the demise of Windows Easy Transfer and COVID-related disruptions.
The need for a way to upgrade a sizeable number of PCs quickly and efficiently prompted Gordon College to look across the industry for a PC transfer solution. The team ultimately landed on Laplink’s PCmover Enterprise and hasn’t looked back.
For most upgrades, Simmons or team members will coordinate with users to bring their old devices into the office. After PCmover is installed on both devices, they are connected to each via a gigabit switch, and the files are captured and then restored.
From the outset, Simmons could see that his team had landed on the right PC transfer solution.
“I couldn't believe it the first couple we were doing when it would capture 20 gigs in eight minutes,” he recalls. “I'm like, 'That's not possible, there's something wrong.' And I would then restore, and it would take almost the same amount of time. And it was there. And I'm like, ‘This is stupid,’ that's literally the words I was saying because before we would tell people four hours minimum.”
“I couldn't believe it when the first couple of migrations we were doing would capture 20 gigs in eight minutes. ...before we would tell people four hours minimum.”
In addition to speed, PCmover also provided the flexibility to handle the many non-standard software and configuration settings found across the college’s user base. PCmover Enterprise migrates everything from the old PC to the new one, including data, applications and user profiles. It also makes it easy during the course of the migration process to decide what does not need to move over to the new PC.
In a campus setting, PCs often have multiple user profiles installed, for instance if the device is being used in a shared lab setting or by an instructor and a teaching assistant. Previously, all the profiles would simply be copied over to the new PC — a potential security risk and poor use of resources.
“I love filtering out old users. Now I can sit with a person and have that nice GUI and say ‘Hey do you need these people or not,’” Simmons explains about the flexibility PCmover offers for setting up and performing highly accurate transfer operations quickly and easily.
For a small IT team with a large user population to support, automation plays an important role and Simmons said PCmover has proven to be a step in the right direction.
“We’re trying to up our game and move away from doing everything manually because of the scale we face,” he says. “PCmover Enterprise has definitely been a leaps and bounds improvement.”
Along with speeding up the PC migration process, PCmover has also paid dividends by reducing the need for post migration support. One particular pain point solved by PCmover was getting the campus’ network of multi-function printers configured working properly on new PCs.
“It's been a huge benefit to have both the printer and the browser data come over,” Simmons adds. “We have a credentialed print system and all that comes over seamlessly now.
"From an interactive perspective, PCmover has helped minimize the back and forth, which is huge.”
“The accuracy of the upgrade lessens the touch points. We're not having repeat customers coming in, saying ‘Hey, you forgot this', or 'I don't have my printers on here, I need to come back in.’ So from an interactive perspective, PCmover has helped minimize the back and forth, which is huge.”
Briana is a lifelong storyteller passionate about authentic, inclusive content. As digital content and communications manager for Laplink, she fosters the human connection in tech through virtual content. Briana’s previous credits include content strategy and creation for Microsoft, Puget Sound Energy, Alaska Airlines, and other household brands. In her free time, she enjoys music, movies, and the performing arts.Read more about Briana Blythe...