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Who wants easy access PC cases anyway??

By cawiddis ·
I manage several customer contact centers that have around 1500 workstations in each. Recently as the major vendors were bidding for our PC refresh business they were all eager to point out how their cases included "Easy Access" thumb screws (gone are the 3-4 phillips head screws); easy to remove components (nice big green clips that flick with one thumb); all of which would make replacing parts fast and simple.

That's true... but it also makes it fast & simple to steal components. Especially RAM and HDDs that are no longer (in the case of HDDs) fastened to the chassis with screws.

When I asked the vendors if their focus on easy access & remove was in recognition that their PCs had to be regularly serviced and components replaced... they quickly backed away. So if routine failure and replacement was not a driver, then what...?? Well.. You see.. We listened.. We thought..

Aside from my home PC (which is opened up probably every other month), I never want to see the PCs in our centers opened up. We don't upgrade the HDDs regularly. We aren't always installing additional RAM or higher spec CPUs.

So it leaves me to conclude that this easy access feature is just and attempt to 'show value' (that isn't provided.

True, most Cases now have a standard case-lock ring. After the loss of >10 HDDs, >15 RAM sticks & 5 CPUs (in one month) we've now installed combination padlocks. We're now looking at replacing this with a single master key lock as the (evil) staff quickly worked out how to pick the combination on these simple combo locks (and we lost more hardware).

So to all the people out there responsible for PC purhcases... if you don't tend to be opening and removing equipment from your PC's every other day... help fight back against the vendors. At least 3 screws used to take a minute or two to open a case. I can get ours opened and closed (SANS a RAM stick) in under 45 seconds. Yikes!!

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Focusing on the wrong problem

by JamesRL In reply to Who wants easy access PC ...

Last night I watched a short news item about police using bait cars to catch car theives. They interview one gentleman in jail who had three strikes and therefor a 35 year sentance for car theft. He argued that the police were putting out too tempting a target.

I used to work in a building with 700 PCs. We had a team of 5 of us who did software issues, and another guy, from our hardware vendor who did nothing but hardware repairs. I am sure he would have preferred easy open cases since he spent all day doing it.

And another few minutes wont deter a thief. We had some RAM go missing (back when a RAM upgrade was 400$) and we install security screws with two holes in the screwhead indtead of a slot or star. Someone found a common tool that had the same size hold with the same spacing and our $2 each security screws were suddenly all junk.

You need the locks whether the case is easy access or not. And you need to somehow catch the thieves. Blaming the case is like blaming car manufacturers for making tempting cars to steal.


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People matter

by blarman In reply to Focusing on the wrong pro ...

It seems that the problem is even more basic than that - employees. Where there is a will, there is a way (we're techies, right?) so the real problem is getting the right people and instilling the right motivation.

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try clearcube blades

by Dr Dij In reply to Who wants easy access PC ...

something like clearcube blades
there is NO PC at the desktop
only monitor, kb to a small interface box.

with keyboard you connect to a PC in server room.
these can be re-imaged in minutes if needed.

If they steal the clear cube I/F they won't be able to do anything with it. Theyd' still be able to steal the monitor but you said not a problem at your site.

Is kind of like Citrix but without a local PC.
you could also put video cameras to watch the PCs tho extra expense.

There's neat SW like ISpy that captuers video ONLY when things in frame change, and has adjustments for gradual lighting changes so won't record sunset thru window to empty office.

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Our hardware is so old...

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Who wants easy access PC ...

I go to the employees' houses and steal upgrades from them.

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by Wildcat0695 In reply to Our hardware is so old...
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You're kidding, right?

by gem In reply to Who wants easy access PC ...

With today's thin margins, the first time you have to fix a system is the first time you loose money on it. As a manufacturer, you can lessen the pain with fast access to system internals.

If you are really concerned, buy a system with intrusion warning and then lock down the BIOS.

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by PSK_ In reply to Who wants easy access PC ...

That is a lot of equipment to loose in a month. Sounds like your outfit needs to re-look at their hiring and screening policy and possibly look in to some temporary surveillance equipment in the "Hot" areas where most of the loss is. You will probably find out that you do not have a large amount of thieves but rather 1 or 2 very active people that may include night cleaning staff or other outside/contracted staff. Any way you look at it, the culprit or culprits NEED to be identified and prosecuted. A few extra screws will not deter a motivate criminal.

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Well ya never know who!

by PCW In reply to Ouch!

I worked at a computer company that was losing ram left and right, as well as occasional laptop or monitor. Turned out it was the security guards.

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I want easy access pc cases

by UncleRob In reply to Who wants easy access PC ...

- not every work environment has top notch air control systems in place, alot of systems accumulate dirt, dust, filth & every other form of pestilence known to man (bugs, hair, nail clips, dead skin, etc.)
- give you an example, my workplace has both an office & warehouse/distribution center. The whse is extremely dirty but it has a decent sized army of workstations operating in that environment and I routinely have to open up the cases on a majority if not all of the workstations and dust out the interiors and wipe down the case exteriors. A few seconds to remove/reattach the cases vs. a minute or two per workstation makes a big difference. Plus tiny screws are easy to drop & lose which means you have to replace them with different screws. A tool-less chassis is definitely preferable by myself and lots of other professionals in this industry. Work smarter not harder is not just a nice catch phrase.

Theft of pc components can't be blamed on the easy access pc, it can however be blamed on the thief or thieves as it were. Why isn't security involved on this issue, especially in larger size companies, theft of company assets has to be an issue where some form of security is in place to prevent this: hidden camera, security personnel, restricted hours to accessing the building, etc. etc. etc.

Also, what kind of asset mgmt is in place, do monthly inventories get taken, do you know which pc's have which components, how long does it take for you to find out if something has been stolen?

Bottom line, you wouldn't blame the red corvette (just another example, insert car or item of your choice) that was stolen by some miscreant, you would blame the thief who commits the crime, why is that situation any different from this one. You shouldn't blame the property itself - next you'll be blaming the rain for falling or the wind for blowing, the house for being broken into, etc.

Place the onus of responsibility where it should lie, squarely on the shoulders of the person(s) who perform(s) guilty actions.

- just my 0.02 cents cdn, feel free to agree/disagree

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Don't even THINK about it!

by Htos1 In reply to Who wants easy access PC ...

There is no way I would accept ez-access in the workstation environment.Period!Thatis all! Dismissed!

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