System Requirements

For its operating foundation, ServiceDesk requires Windows. Any Windows version, XP or later, should work. For sterling (and maximally reliable) performance, we recommend at least a Pentium level processor, the higher the clock speed (and more cores) the better, with at least 4 gig of ram. Hard drive space is not an issue, as ServiceDesk and all its data will hardly dent even the smallest drive you can buy today (the actual installation will consume less than 20Mbs; and over time even the data is unlikely to exceed a 1Gb).

As a general proposition, you do not need a high-end machine, especially if you do not load it down with tons of garbage.* We think mid-level is generally a good way to go. Regardless, if you’re looking for machines on the economy side (or wanting to use an older unit), our biggest recommendation is don’t skimp on ram.

On connecting to clients’ machines, we are frequently appalled to see horrendous levels of performance. On many, for almost every operation there’s a lag, and you have to wait, sometimes for seconds. It’s stupid. Computers are our servants; they should have to wait for us, not vice versa. For my own use, I refuse to accept such lags, and so should you. Significantly, I’ve often found these laggard machines have higher raw performance specs than my own systems, and yet run dramatically slower. The reason: they are laden with a plethora of installs that bog the systems down. Don’t do that to your business computers. Install only serious and professional business applications that you truly need. Keep it clean. Implement good virus protection and invoke regular system maintenance. It
really matters.

We believe in snappy performance, and aside from a machine loaded with garbage, the second most common factor causing slow performance is insufficient ram. It can easily be added, and at moderate expense. We think 2 gigs is the bare minimum for decent performance. If you tend to run lots applications simultaneously, you’ll want more, perhaps significantly more.

About your video display

In recent years, the monitor world has changed dramatically. Superb LCD monitors are cheap and plentiful, to such an extent we recommend going big—either with a very large monitor at each station, or with multiple smaller ones. More display space enhances the efficiency of your work.

We highly recommend a monitor with a minimum size of 24 inches, and 1080p resolution.

Virus protection

The first thing to know about virus protection is, be sure you have it. The second thing to know is, be sure it is

To be very candid, we have grown to loathe those two programs. We have seen them cause trouble and frustration in system after system. Such problems have cost us huge amounts of time, and our clients too (even when not causing direct operational faults, they slow systems down). It’s reached the point where we consider those two programs viruses in and of themselves!

It’s true, they are extremely prominent in the marketplace—but we don’t think it’s related in the least to superior quality. Our conclusion is the two underlying companies are good at one thing. It is creating relationships with other large entities (especially computer manufacturers) via which they get themselves installed on the majority of machines without any regard to quality.

To add insult to injury, those two programs are also expensive.

If you’re using Windows 7 or above, a much better option is to use Microsoft Security Essentials. It works well, does not cause trouble, and has an excellent price (free).

If you’re dealing with a pre-Win7 platform, our present suggestion is to use AVG. It’s also free (at least for the basic version), and has traditionally been trouble-free. Just Google “avg free” and it will take you to the website where you can download and install. You’ll encounter an interaction that attempts to “sell you up” to a paid level of service, but we have encountered nothing to suggest the base level is not adequate for most applications.

Using multiple computers

If you’re using only a single computer, there’s no need to read this section. But, if your office has more than one person (like at least a boss and secretary), there's little doubt you'll want a separate ServiceDesk station for each person that's actively involved in taking calls—and for the boss too, whether he or she takes calls or not. After all, ServiceDesk will be your window into the realities of managing your operation, and in communicating each element of information throughout your office and between your office and its techs.

If you do not presently have each office person equipped with a computer, install ServiceDesk on whatever you do have. As you begin witnessing its utility, you'll soon want to expand. Don't be alarmed over the costs of such modernization. You're already licensed to use ServiceDesk on as many stations (as connected to one business) as desired, and adequate systems can be found at less than $400 a piece. The investment will pay for itself quickly.

Obviously, if your various stations are going to drive the same ServiceDesk system, they must have a means of sharing information. This is where networking comes in. Many users are already familiar with networking. If you are not, be assured it’s generally very simple. If you’re networking just two computers, they can be connected with a single cable (called a crossover cable), and no other hardware is required. If you’re connecting more, you’ll need an added piece of hardware (alternatively called a hub, switch or router). Each computer connects to that hub, allowing each to share information, printers and internet connection, with others. You can make this system either wired (conventional) or wireless. Wired is generally cheaper and
produces better performance, but if your situation makes it difficult to run wires, wireless may be an easier solution.

Once your network is physically setup, you’ll need to configure Windows to properly talk (i.e., one computer to another). This is done differently depending on the Windows system. XP and Vista have Wizards to walk you through the setup, and usually that works fine. If it does not, this is one place where (if you do encounter trouble) you may want to call in the geek squad. Someone who’s adept can solve most problems quickly. For the rest of us, network inoperability can lead to hari kari.

Even when Windows is talking, one computer to another, there’s still one more Windows step, to make such talking accessible to ServiceDesk. You need to decide which computer is going to be the effective “server” (i.e., the particular one whose drive will contain the data that all will read and write their ServiceDesk data to).* At that computer, you need tell Windows you want to make it’s drive (or at least the ServiceDesk folder on its drive) accessible to other computers on the network (this is called “sharing”). Then, you need to go to the other computers (we’ll call these the “stations”) and tell each you want it to “see” the first computer’s drive via a particular drive letter (this is called “mapping”).

This does not need to be a special computer. It can be any ordinary computer, even one that does double duty, acting both as the effective sever and as an ordinary work station. You can buy computers that are specially configured for use as servers, but for ServiceDesk , at least (and for ordinary size operations), we don’t think this is either necessary or needed.

From the perspective of ServiceDesk, running in a networked environment is all but automatic. You'll find that every station provides an equally convenient window into every facet of operation, and in communicating between stations.

If you're not ready to setup on a network yet, don't worry. As stated, ServiceDesk is sufficiently happy running from just one station.

Most of all, please do not make the mistake we witnessed with one new user. We were connected to their system, helping with an issue, and discovered they had three computers. Each had ServiceDesk installed and running. However, they were not configured to share data at a common source. Instead, eachwas writing and reading data to and from its own unique C drive. So, they were each dealing with totally unique data. We don’t know how they even pretended to function in this fashion.

Positively, this is NOT how it should be. Emphatically, each ServiceDesk station should be a window—into precisely the same data set—as every other. If yours is not working that way, please fix it.