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Extension Technology and
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University of Missouri-Columbia   Extension Technology and Computer Services—ETCS

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Work Computer and
"Other" Software

By John Myers

It's almost impossible to think about doing our jobs nowadays without a computer. It feels like it was just yesterday that we were distributing our first IBM dual floppy PCs. Times really have changed since then. Before we got connected to the internet, we didn't have access to software other than the "standard supported software". We now have many choices when it comes to the hardware and software that we use.

Having more software choices is both good and bad; good in that we can do more things and bad in that it can cause many problems. With the explosion of the internet, we are tempted to install more and more software that we find at various sites on the web. As seen in the "Spyware & Adware" article, this installation of software can do more than we bargained for. It can also cause our computers to crash or worse - not boot.

Here at ETCS, we find ourselves having to rebuild more and more machines. When the machines come in, we find a lot of non-standard software on them. It's an impossible task to keep track of all the software one can find on the internet and document what software package will or will not work with another software package.

We have tested what we call the "standard software" on our computers and have found it to be very stable. We believe that the additional software being loaded on the machines can cause instability. Some non-standard software interferes with the normal functioning of our standard software. Some departments on campus have gone as far as producing a "banned" software list. If the "banned" software is found on their machine, it can be reported to their supervisor.

WebShots and HotBar are two software packages that top my list of undesirable software. Besides using up bandwidth, when WebShots fails it causes your computer to hang. The dreaded on/off power cycle is the only way to bring life back to your computer. HotBar has been found to corrupt files that Outlook uses. This corruption will either stop Outlook from starting or crash whenever you try to create a new message.

We understand that the "standard software" might not have everything you need to do your job. In this case, it is acceptable to install additional software. If you don't need the software for your job, please don't install it. Your machine will be more stable the less software you install on it. Also, installing and then uninstalling software does not bring the computer back to where it was before the initial installation. I have yet to find an uninstall program that removes everything that the installation program installs. Files, directories and registry entries are left behind after the uninstall process. These items can cause your computer to be unstable.

If while you're surfing the web you find new and interesting software that you need for your job, please contact us and we'll help to make sure it won't cause you any problems. But if the software is not needed for work, please avoid causing potential problems by refraining from installing it. Use your own personal computer for testing.



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