Waisman Computing Services

FAQ 510Imaging

What is imaging and why should I have my new PC imaged?
Imaging is an industry standard practice of loading a PC hard drive with a complete installation of all basic software along with useful default settings in one operation. This is done by copying the contents of a master "image" to the PC's hard drive. Other terms for this are: pre-installing software, hard drive cloning or or ghosting. Any organization with a large number of networked PC's does this to be able to support them with the minimum number of staff.
Why do I need to have a new PC imaged?
PC's come with pre-loaded software ready to run. However these pre-loaded configurations must be targeted at a very broad audience in order to function in the most common setting - home use. They also have the purpose of promoting the business interests of the PC vendor and their partners and not surprisingly have numerous free trials and offers competing for your attention in all sorts of places just like products on supermarket shelves.
Other risks of this one-size-fits-all marketing directed pre-loaded configuration include:
Poor Security. Security related settings are configured for ease of use instead of participating in a large network of related systems that may contain confidential data. In fact, every Dell PC has a large security hole that will allow any user on the PC to gain administrator access by placing a file in a certain folder. We've reported this to Dell and Microsoft. Microsoft has acknowledged the bug but Dell continues to ship PC's with this vulnerability.

Unknown, untrusted and unnecessary software that includes spyware, adware and backdoors. This can mean potentially sensitive information will be reported back to marketing firms. Or that a latent backdoor may exist for someone to take remote control of the PC at a later time (there have been numerous cases of this).

  • "We have evidence that this software (spyware) is at least partially responsible for at approximately half of the application crashes our customers report to us. It has become a multi-million dollar support issue for computer manufactures, ISP's and companies like Microsoft."

    --Jeffery Freidberg, Microsoft Director of Windows Privacy
Patches out of date. While most vendors include the "latest" security patches they are typically several weeks old by the time you receive the PC. If a virus breaks out during that lag time you are wide open to it.

HIPAA compliance not possible. With the previously mentioned security issues, it would not be possible to use the PC in a HIPAA covered environment

What does imaging do for me?
After imaging, your PC includes the same basic set of software and useful default settings that work well for most people in the Waisman Center. That provides a common starting point and a consistency with your colleagues. This results in:

Faster solutions to problems. It takes much less time to diagnose a problem with a common software configuration than one-of-a-kind setups. It's also likely that the problem can be duplicated on another PC so yours isn't required for diagnosis or testing.

Easy to describe changes. We can detail how to make some required change when we already know what's there. It's also easier to get help from a colleague.

Automatic software updates. With a known software configuration we can periodically push out important updates to software that may prevent a problem (or virus attack) from occurring at all.

Remote diagnosis and installations. We can diagnose a problem or install needed software without physically being in front of your PC.
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