Ways to preserve student data on laptops

imageVillanova University in Pennsylvania have created a case study with us on their use of Windows 7 right across their campus - for 10,000 students and nearly 2,000 staff. So far, they have migrated 7,000 computers, with just 3,000 left to do before August.

The case study has some great 'sound bite information' in it, including the fact that those 10,000 computers are supported by a team of just 16 people in Technology Support Services! In addition, they run a walk-in help desk centre called TechZone, staffed by 25 paid students.

How to reimage a computer without losing students' data

The driver for migration from Windows XP was to make their network more manageable and speed up their processes. In 2009 there was a noticeable increase in students bringing malware infected laptops in for repair, caused by online sites. If they couldn't clean up the computer, they'd resort to reimage them - which took up to a day and wiped off the user data. As Jill Morrison, the manager of the Software Support Services team said:


Students place tremendous value on their digital lives and it’s not unusual for them for have about 100 gigabytes of data on their computers. Although the university backs up all faculty and staff data, we can’t provide backup services for all that student data—and students often don’t do their own backups. Our students were understandably upset when they discovered that the process of fixing their computers could delete all of their personal and academic information, and that they would have to recreate or reload all their documents, pictures, songs, and videos.


By moving to Windows 7, not only have they got a more secure and reliable environment, but when things do go wrong, they are easier to fix. Villanova IT staff now can fix corrupted student computers without deleting their data. As Ben Alfonsi, the Technical Support Manager, says:

  Windows 7 is architected in a way that allows us to do file-based imaging instead of sector-based imaging. This is really important. With Windows 7, we can restore an image rather than replace it and keep all the files and data intact. Now we can repair students’ computers while preserving their digital lives. Needless to say, our students are much more satisfied with Villanova TechZone services.  

Reducing Windows 7 migration time

The migration itself was rapid - 85% of their applications worked immediately in Windows 7, and for the rest remediation was easy. And they used Windows Easy Transfer to migrate staff data using USB flash drives as part of the upgrade - transferring data in under an hour, compared to 12 hours with network-based migrations.

And the other benefit for the small IT team is that they have reduced from creating and maintaining 35 different Windows installation images to just 2 - one for 32-bit and one for 64-bit.

I've met education customers who have told me that they 'don't have time to think about upgrading from Windows XP' - and then you read case studies like this Villanova University one, and it shows how a small amount of up-front time investment can be a real time-saver in the long run.

Learn MoreRead the full Villanova University case study

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