Office Computer Replacement

The four-year cycle

Most desktop Mac and Windows computers in offices and labs are upgraded every four years. We track all replacement-eligible computers so we are able to identify those machines due for replacement.

Each year we configure an Apple desktop and laptop, and a Dell/Windows desktop and laptop, and individuals may choose which one they want to replace their old computer. The standard configuration is designed to be sufficient for most users, for the coming four years, although individuals and departments may fine-tune the equipment in order to meet their specific needs if necessary.

New computers may be added to the replacement inventory with a permanent/annual transfer of funds into the replacements budget of 25% of the cost of that year's base model. In 2010/2011, this was $300. This covers hardware plus a small fraction of the productivity and security software.

Before the purchase

At the beginning of each spring semester, ITS staff review the current inventory of machines in offices and labs and contact department chairs and supervisors to plan the next steps. On occasion, departments choose to reallocate equipment. In this situation, we rely on the department head to coordinate with the recipients of the new hardware.

In mid-spring we confirm the specifications for the base model Dell and Apple computers for the summer order. The models are selected to ensure that they will have the features necessary to remain useful throughout their lifetime while staying within the per-unit cost which has been budgeted. We attempt to ensure that the Apple and Dell models are very comparable.

Recipients are contacted during March and April and asked to make their selections. Faculty or departments may elect to contribute additional funds to upgrade the system they receive. ITS needs a department charge code to cover the difference in cost between the base system and the desired system.

Q and A

May I upgrade only the monitor on my new machine?
Yes. In a similar fashion, you can also install more memory or select a larger hard drive on your system. The Help Desk or the academic coordinators can advise you on the costs of standard upgrades.

How do I know if my computer is on the replacement cycle?
In general, every full-time employee's office computer is on the replacment cycle. Other computers are less predictable. The Help Desk or an academic coordinator can review the inventory for you.

Mac or PC?
The College is committed to fully supporting both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. You should pick your computer based on your own needs and preferences.

If I want to downgrade from the base model to something cheaper, will I or my department get cash back?
Since the computers designated as base models are those believed to be the minimum necessary to endure at least four years of use, we do not place orders for downgraded equipment.

What about buying a different brand of computer?
Apple and Dell are the only approved vendors for hardware purchased with replacement cycle funds.

Installing the new computer

The equipment order is timed so that the new computers can be installed between the beginning of June and the first week of August. A group of professional IT staff and student technicians install several hundred computers each summer.

The installation team notifies recipients shortly in advance of the planned installation and we attempt to schedule the installation at your convenience. You do not need to be present in your office while the upgrade is taking place.

The first step of every computer upgrade is to back up the contents of the old hard drive. The old files and applications are transferred to the new computer. Applications for which we have licensed upgrades will be upgraded to their most recent versions. If you have applications which are known not to run on the new system, these applications will be moved to an isolated location on the new hard drive and you will be notified of the problem.

Assuming there are no special issues with your computer, a typical upgrade takes a few hours to complete. Unusual or complicated systems can take more time to get working.

Q and A

May I purchase my old computer from ITS?

No, sorry. All used computers are sold in bulk to a reseller in a single transaction. This sale partially funds our purchase, while reducing the excessive labor demands of preparing each individual machine for resale. Furthermore, one of the goals of the replacement cycle is to make sure that old equipment no longer requires support from Help Desk staff and hardware repair technicians.

What happens to the files on my old machine?

Our technicians will make sure they are copied to your new machine. Later, before your old machine is sold, we erase the internal hard drive completely.

I ordered my computer with the standard monitor, but now I want a bigger one. How do I get one?

Since the replacement cycle has already purchased one monitor for your system, you will need to find funding for the full cost of the new monitor. (ITS may be able to purchase the smaller one back from you if we can identify another use for it, but our need for additional equipment like this is sporadic and should not be counted on.)

My machine is locked down to the desk. How do I unlock it to move it?

Contact the help desk. The locking kits not only help to prevent theft, they help us to manage inventory. Since the inventory database must be updated with every change, we will provide the service of moving your computer.