This past weekend, we hosted a youth conference at our church. Right before the conference started, we clicked on a message to update to the latest version of Adobe Flash Player on our main computer. Did I mention this was right before the conference started 🙂 Since it was a windows computer, you can guess what happened. Constant crashing and serious stress. For the first fifteen minutes of the conference, Tyler and I were frantically doing a system restore to get the computer back up and running. Luckily our worship band was able to keep playing and we got everything running smoothly by the time the teaching started. Since one purpose of this blog is to share lessons learned, so I want to share some new policies that we will be implementing for our windows computers.
From now on, automatic updates are officially turned off on our main computers. All software updates will be performed on Mondays or Tuesdays so that we have time to troubleshoot and keep things running smoothly for Sunday mornings. Even updates that seem unrelated to the programs you use may render the computer unusable. Just last week, a family member had a windows update cause their Windows XP computer to Blue Screen during reboot. For your health and sanity, don’t do an update right before a service, wait until you have plenty of time to fix things when they go wrong. And it will happen eventually. Remember we are talking about Windows.
I’m locking down the computer to prevent people from installing any programs or updates. I hate to do this, but with any computer that is used by multiple people, you have to protect it. I already use OpenDNS to filter the internet and Microsoft Security Essentials for Antivirus protection, but it is still too easy to install malware and viruses. And you need to check the computer regularly to ensure that the software and media installed are legally owned by the church.
Take advantage of the System Restore tool in Windows. It has saved me numerous times. I also backup the computer weekly, but System Restore works for most problems. Just choose a date and time when the computer was working smoothly and Windows will roll back your files to that date.
And Finally, Get a Mac
Make plans for switching over to a mac. Seriously, if we could afford it, I would put in a mac pro this week and make the switch. I use a MacBook Pro and have been spoiled by the ease of keeping things running smoothly. Macs are not without problems, but they have greatly simplified the user experience.
What else do you recommend? Leave a comment with your thoughts.
Just wanted to mention that a recent Windows update has been exposing a rootkit that doesn't get noticed by most virus programs. The update changed a file that the rootkit depended on, which caused the blue screen. Rolling back to a system restore point in this situation is very bad because it will restore the system file the rootkit depended on and allow it to keep collecting data and/or serving files. I recently found some malware due to a blue screen on a computer I use. I would recommend anyone who gets a blue screen do a deep scan using software that also checks for rootkits. Avira makes a good (and free) product that you can run from a boot disk, which ensures that the rootkit won't be running.
On this particular computer the problem was the Adobe Flash upgrade. It didn't cause a blue screen, instead the computer just froze up.
However, I had another computer that blue-screened at bootup that possibly did have the problem you mentioned. In fixing the computer, I ran across several sites that mentioned this, but I did see some conflicting accounts. I ran several scans through Norton on the aforementioned computer, but I think I'll go back and try Avira on it now that you mentioned this. Thanks for the tip.
The main problem with the blue screen was that it prevented the computer from booting in safe mode as well. The only way to login was by booting off the Windows CD. The frustrating part of this is that you have to be an expert to fix any windows computer. And even then, most experts won't spend the time to fix it correctly. Most shops will just format the drive and reinstall windows. The joys of working on computers 🙂
I don't think your problem is as much Windows as it multiple users on the computer that install who knows what. I've been a happy Windows user for almost 2 decades now and have never had any issues on my personal computers. That said, I know people that have Macs that have tons of problems on them (crashes, freeze-ups, virus, etc) When it comes to computers, the user is the danger, for sure. I think installing updates only on Monday and Tuesday is a great idea and limiting users is the key.
Multiple users is definitely a problem. I've already changed admin rights to prevent anyone else from installing anything. I wish I could say the same thing about my windows experience. I haven't had too many problems on my own computer, but I have sure fixed tons of other peoples problems. Most can be traced back to viruses/malware, or driver and registry problems. With so many hardware combinations, inevitably you will run into driver issues. For example, the church computer has a video capture card, a high-end graphics card and is hooked up through firewire to the sound board for recording. There are lots of variables that can cause potential problems.
The software you use also makes a difference. At my former job, the high end CAD packages were constantly crashing and locking up the high end windows workstations we were using. It seems that the harder you push the computers, the more problems you have. More complexity=greater problems
I used to be a huge windows fan, until I got a mac. While macs do still have problems, they do tend to protect the user a little from their own stupidity. Windows gives you easy access to many things that can cause problems. The closed hardware architecture on a mac prevents competition, but it does give them the ability to better test their software. The biggest need I see for windows is to protect the system from being so easily hijacked by malware and viruses.
Theres a really good program called Deep Freeze its made by Faronics corp. It resets the specified drive every time the computer is turned off and if you needed to update it you can disable it with a password.
Thanks Cody for the recommendation. I’ll check it out