Here in the Bat Cave,we're gearing up for another PC rollout, continuing with our three-year replacement cycle. Part of my responsibility in this rollout is to perform inventories of PCs so the appropriate software is installed when the new PC is rolled out. Although it's not "technically" my responsibility to do so, I usually try to grab any saved wallpapers and screensavers in addition to those things which absolutely cannot be lost (an ini file or two, and of course, the user's Normal template). Invariably, when we do a rollout, someone complains that her picture of Fifi in that adorable bunny costume from two Easters ago was not transferred. Which brings to mind the things I appreciate from a user who enjoys a bit of customization.
First, if you want to customize your desktop or PC environment, please do so within reason. Some things are okay to change – like:
- Your desktop wallpaper
- Your screensaver (within reason!)
- Your Windows theme
- Your Windows "appearance" – pretty much anything you can find on the Appearance tab in the Display Properties dialog box
- Your Quick Launch and other desktop toolbars
Second, if you customize something, please remember how you did it. Better yet, write it down somewhere! Most people will write down a password but won't write down exactly what they changed to get their display perfect in their eyes. I do not get that – but I digress.
Think about the number of possible combinations of settings you can have in your Windows computing environment. Then think about how much time it might take me, making educated guesses at what might have made your display look the way you describe it, to set it back to your preferences on your new computer (or even on your old but reimaged computer). Not such a pretty prospect, right? So create a log of changes you make to your computer. Here's a tip: "made it pretty" is almost as bad as if you had written nothing at all.
So there, a brief guideline of what you can do. Now for a brief guideline of what you shouldn't do:
- Don't download any executable files without clearing the download with IT first. The biggest threats in this arena? Games and screensavers. If you insist on disregarding your network or individual PC security and download them anyway, please at least scan what you've downloaded for viruses before executing the files.
- Don't install that neat little toolbar you found which gives you your horoscope every day, or the weather application that will tell you the same thing as if you looked out the window or left the building. Lots of "neat littles" are or contain spyware, another security threat.
- Don't install that old program you copied from 5 ¼" floppies on your computer. In fact, please don't install ANY software that hasn't been cleared by IT first. At best, there might be compatibility issues. At worst? Well, let's just not go there.
- Don't expect your IT guys to restore every little tweak as they found it – because in most cases, they're not responsible for those little tweaks.
Bear in mind that your IT staff may be more flexible than I am, and may very well be responsible for keeping your desktop environment identical, regardless of the other changes made to your system. In most cases, these guidelines are a good starting point. Your mileage may vary!