New Computer – 2014 vs. 2018

Several years ago I had the opportunity to help the husband and wife team of a small business go from one computer to two new laptops. They had shared one PC for a long time, and it took hours and hours to separate what was his and what was hers (files, email contacts, applications) … and then stitch together a new PC for each of them. If I recall correctly, once done, something in the order of 20-30 hours disappeared into that project.

At the time, we deployed Box for file sharing, so that we’d never have that problem again. He had his files. She had hers. And there was a shared space for them to share. I like services that create some separation between a device and its contents; while content can be stored on a device, being authoritatively and solely stored there is a recipe for problems in the case of a failed hard drive, lost machine, or even a successful ransomware attack. Box provided this – with all files stored authoritatively in the Box service, and sync’able to each device as required.

We continued with the current IMAP based email system for the next few years, but the quality of the threat protection was such that I was growing increasingly worried that one or the other would click on something nefarious, and then we’d have a nightmare situation to resolve. I had a plan for such an eventuality (thanks Backblaze), but would always prefer to not get there in the first place.

This year I shifted the client to Office 365. The cost to do so was about the same as using Box and paying for the existing email service. With both of those cancelled, the monthly cost for Office 365 is slightly less over time. Box has gone, and is replaced with OneDrive. The email service with low quality threat protection is now replaced with Exchange Online and Exchange Online Protection (which can handle signature-based threats, not the new and emerging ones for which we’d need Advanced Threat Protection). As I now monitor the email traffic coming in, the number of nefarious emails has been greatly reduced – not to zero mind you – but much, much less than the other service.

Last week it was time for a new laptop for the husband. The previous one was on go-slow, and it was time for something faster and smaller. Unlike four years ago, this time it was turn on, sign in with the Office 365 work account, download the apps from the Office portal, set up Outlook and OneDrive for Business … and the machine was basically ready to go. After installing a few other non-Office 365 apps as well – 1Password, Backblaze, Trend Micro Internet Security, etc. – and what previously took 10-15 hours was about two.

If we’re using Microsoft 365 next time a new laptop is required – adding the device management and additional security capabilities of Enterprise Mobility + Security, along with Windows 10 licensing – I’d expect the time required to be even less.

But whatever way you cut it, this is a substantial improvement over 4 years ago. Thanks Office 365.

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