First-Time Computer Replacement: How Long? Day of the Week? MLS Login?

Discussions around the setup, operation, replacement, and disposal of clerk computers, not to include using MLS
robyoungberg
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First-Time Computer Replacement: How Long? Day of the Week? MLS Login?

Postby robyoungberg » Sun Apr 25, 2021 2:51 pm

Hi, is there anyone out there who has replaced computers before who can help me? (And am I posting this in the correct section of the site/forum?)

I'm a stake technology specialist in Utah. It's time to replace some clerk computers. I have very little experience with PCs/Windows. I'm not a computer whiz.

I know where to find the instructions (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/help/support/setting-up-a-new-clerk-computer?lang=eng), that's not a problem.

Here is why it's extremely difficult for me to even begin:
    - I know if I don't set it up right I'm going to have some clerks and bishopric members blowing up my phone on Sunday. I want to avoid inconveniencing them.
    - I don't know how much time to set aside for this task. I don't want to run out of time and have a halfway-setup computer on my hands for the coming Sunday.
    - It looks like one of the steps is to call Church HQ about a security token, and I'm guessing they're closed evenings and Saturdays, is that right? What day of the week and time do the rest of you usually do this?
    - I finally got around to trying a few weeks ago and my assistant and I got stuck on literally the first step, for backing up MLS: "open MLS and log in". As far as I know, I don't have a way to log into all of the wards' MLS accounts, do I? What is this all about? They list that step in the instructions like it's something I'd be familiar with.

Can anyone please address my concerns? Thanks in advance.

drepouille
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Re: First-Time Computer Replacement: How Long? Day of the Week? MLS Login?

Postby drepouille » Sun Apr 25, 2021 4:03 pm

When I was the STS, I made sure I had an "out of unit administrator" MLS account on every clerk computer in the stake. I also created a stake Windows administrator account on every clerk computer, in case anyone needed a password reset.

When I received a load of new computers from the FM, I setup and configured all of them in the stake FHC (my wife was the director at the time). I installed all the software and all the updates there, except for MLS. I knew I could not install MLS and restore the MLS backup until the very last step, when I was actually swapping out computers.

When it was time to swap computers, I backed up all the files I could find on the old computer's hard drive to a flash drive, including a current MLS backup. I kept the old computer's hard drive in storage for a few weeks, just in case I needed to recover a file I missed in the backup process.

If I swapped computers on Sunday, I did it after all ward business had been completed, and I left a note to remind everyone that they could not transmit/receive until I had called to reset the token.
Dana Repouille, Plattsmouth, Nebraska

lajackson
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Re: First-Time Computer Replacement: How Long? Day of the Week? MLS Login?

Postby lajackson » Sun Apr 25, 2021 9:09 pm

In the last few months I swapped out eight administrative computers. I provisioned them at home, made sure Windows was up to date, and also loaded the latest version of MLS and set it up with the correct unit name, but did not do a Send/Receive.

Then I made an appointment with the ward clerk or one of his assistants. I told the clerk to make a current MLS backup just prior to our appointment, to copy anything off of the existing computer they wanted to keep, and to put it all on a flash drive.

At the appointed time we met, I made sure the backup had been made, and we swapped out the equipment.

While we swapped out the equipment, I called for a security reset. They are open in the evening on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. (You can look up the exact hours at the Help Center.)

We fired up the new computer, set up and tested a printer, started MLS, restored the backup (which forces a new log in by someone who was on the backup), and did a Send/Receive to make sure everything was working. I saved the old computer for a few weeks before I wiped the drive and sent it to recycling.

The visit took between 30 minutes and an hour. In meetinghouses with multiple units, I usually was able to do two units or more in an evening. Some preferred activity night, others preferred a more quiet Thursday evening.

Having the clerk or an assistant there solved all of the access problems, including the fact that I have no keys to any of the clerks offices in other buildings in our stake. I do have an out of unit login on most of the stake administrative computer MLS programs, but with the clerk or assistant there, I did not need it. And because he was there, the clerk was able to let the other clerks and leaders know of the change and fend off any "I didn't know about it" difficulties. In reality, the change was transparent to most of them since they were already using MLS and Windows 10.

The Church provisioning tool loads Chrome. I sometimes helped clerks load Firefox if that was their preference. Most of them did that on their own. The FM Group sent me a couple of computers with an older provisioning tool, so I downloaded the current provisioning tool from the Church website and used it in those cases. You may wish to check this, because Sophos has gone away. There is no need to let an older provisioning tool load it. Hopefully a newer provisioning tool does not.

The longest part of the process was bringing Windows 10 up to date after the computer was provisioned. I did this at home. I intentionally went in and asked for Windows updates. The process usually took a day or longer. I ran most of the computers overnight at one point. Windows did a lot of restarts and I did a lot of restarts.

I used the same keyboard, mouse, power supply, and a spare monitor to set up all eight computers. That way, I only had to pull the CPU out, get it ready, and then put it back in the box. (Be sure to clearly label the box with the correct unit. You will do this anyway to update your inventory.) After they were all ready to go, I delivered them all.

russellhltn
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Re: First-Time Computer Replacement: How Long? Day of the Week? MLS Login?

Postby russellhltn » Sun Apr 25, 2021 11:47 pm

I also set up the computer well ahead of time, provision it, run Windows updates, load optional programs (like Libre Office), all long before I go to install on-site. Don't knock yourself out thinking you have to get the computer installed by the following Sunday. As long as their current computer is functional, there's no rush.

All of the computers I've received come with a USB flash drive. I use that to copy data from the old computer to the new one.

I copy:
  • C:\mls-data (but only the files 3 years plus current year. Anything older is not needed - at least by US retention standards)
  • C:\ProgramData\LDS Church
  • Documents
  • Downloads
  • Desktop
  • Music (probably empty)
  • Photos
  • A screen shot of the desktop (so I can duplicate the layout)

I am assuming only one ward uses this computer and that the ward does all of their work under the one login. If there is more than one ward on the computer, or the ward uses more than onw account, then you'll need to copy all but the first two items for each account.

I'd still set aside a couple of hours at the meetinghouse to copy everything over and test it out. You may not need that much, but better to have the time and not need it. Most of the time will be spent copying the files to USB and copying it back.
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