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24 Aug 2002

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We've almost finished installing the secondhand computers which arrived three weeks ago. Over the past couple of years we've found that ease and consistency are the two most important considerations when setting up PCs for a teaching environment. When we get a new machine the first thing we do is format the hard drive and partition it so that we have C and D drives. Windows and the rest of the software goes onto C whilst data goes onto D where it is safe if Windows gets corrupted and needs to be reinstalled. We used to set up each PC individually, installing all the software from CD or over the network - it took hours! Now we use a program called Ghost which makes an image of the hard drive of one PC and copies it onto any number of additional machines. Since we always wipe the hard drive clean we do this by using a special Dos Network Boot Disk which connects to our "master" computer in Dos. Now a whole training room of 20 computers can be "ghosted" in a couple of hours, and every machine is set up exactly the same as the others - much more important than having the latest whiz bang software!