The death of a laptop is now an almost universal rite of passage: Infuriating load up times, a testy relationship with Task Manager and the flickering screen of doom have become all too familiar.
But while replacing a home computer can be a costly affair, at least you’re only buying one.
Not so for Gloucestershire County Council whose decrepit IT system has prompted Shire Hall to fork out for 700 new laptops.
The county council is in the process of a major overhaul of its IT, mainly because the Government has imposed a tough set of new rules and regulations which all authorities must meet if they want access to a critical computer network.
Any council which is not compliant risks being kicked off of the Public Services Network (PSN) which authorities rely on to process things like benefit claims.
One of the key changes brought about by the new PSN standards is that county council staff and councillors can no longer use their own personal computers to access the network.
Combine that with the fact that 80 per cent of Shire Hall’s computers are more than four years old and that the council’s operating system, Windows XP, will no longer be supported by Microsoft as of this April necessitating an upgrade, and the authority has had no choice but to invest in some shiny new computers.
The council will not say how much the laptops have cost because the details are “commercially sensitive”.
Meanwhile, the county council is also facing a bill of close to £4,000 to background check all of its staff who will be using the network – another new PSN rule.
Approximately 100 employees will be subjected to the Independent Unspent Criminal Conviction Status check in 2014 at a cost of £31 plus VAT per person.
In its efforts to tick all of the Government’s computer security boxes the county council has also banned the use of all run-of-the-mill USB memory sticks to move data and it is now requiring staff and councillors to plug in their council-issued laptops into the council’s network for important software updates every two weeks.
Andrew McCartney, director at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Our thorough recruitment process includes enhanced checks for staff working with vulnerable people.
“In addition, we have identified about 100 members of staff who, in line with the new requirements, will need an Independent Unspent Criminal Conviction Status check.
“As part of our regular ICT replacement and future ICT strategy we’ve purchased 700 modern laptops to be compliant with Microsoft’s newer operating system Windows 7.”