Thursday 8 May 2008

SBS - New User Workstation Setup Checklist


Being a professional, with all of our training and/or experience, means being consistent.

Every time we setup a new user, their experience should be no different than the last user to be setup, or the previous 5 users.

Keeping that consistency across the various hardware, desktop OS, and applications encountered can be extremely difficult at times.

However, there are a number of things we can do to make sure that everything relating to their network profile, Outlook, and desktop appearance on the machine and via the network out of the gate are consistent:

  • Create the new User Account in the Add User Wizard
    • First Last (We always use FirstLast or First.Last in some cases)
    • Note the Email Alias setting: This is their FirstL@ or FLast@ etc. for outside email.
  • Setup the user's email account on the ISP if required.
  • Setup POP3Connector to pull email if required.
  • Create local user as above with password on Vista machines for UAC local Admin priviledges (where domain user not local admin)
  • Logon to the user's workstation/laptop.
  • Start Word or Excel and setup the user name and initials first.
    • In some cases where we start Outlook first, Outlook will not show that little dialogue window! It flashes by, then Outlook gets hung up waiting for input that we can no longer provide.
  • Start Outlook and confirm the user's mailbox is correct.
    • Verify their connections to Exchange
    • Send a test email to technician's test email account (reply via PDA or RWW for two way verification)
    • Connect Outlook to the required Public Folders.
    • Connect Outlook to any required SharePoint site resources.
    • Copy the existing Outlook e-mail autocomplete name list.
  • Setup the workstation properties:
    • Right click My Computer (XP) Computer (Vista) and Set the user's name into the Computer Description field under the Computer Name tab (Vista under Advanced System Settings)
    • Set the proper identifier to the C: drive name: MC-UserName (MC= My Client initials - makes for easier system identification in Explorer)
    • Existing workstation/laptop rename and reboot.
    • Verify printers - connect to printer shares on Vista x64
    • Setup Fax on Vista (Start --> fax --> start a new fax and connect to \\mysbsserver)
  • Verify My Documents (Documents on Vista) redirection
  • Copy any existing user profile data into the relevant places if required:
    • IE: Favourites and an export to OPML for feeds
    • Desktop contents
  • Verify Internet connectivity and ISA Client Firewall settings (SBS Premium)
  • IE default home page: http://companyweb/
  • Start Windows Media Player and express setup and verify Internet connectivity
  • Clear the Start Menu recent list.
  • Configure and verify any required Line of Business Applications.
  • Verify the Anti Virus product's functionality with the new profile.
  • Run any required OS and Application updates while working on the machine.
  • Run GPUpdate /force to verify Group Policy is configured correctly.
  • Check the system logs for any anomalies.
  • Arrange the desktop icons accordingly (we have a snapshot of each client's out of the box desktop).
  • Have any required Acceptable Use Policy papers ready for the user to sign.
  • Meet and training (in person or via remote).
The above list is a fairly detailed one. There may be a few other details that are required that are more specific to a given client's needs.

However, the most important element to this list from the client's perspective:

  • User's hard drive name is their name for quick identification.
  • Network Neighborhood shows the user name properly under the Description field.
  • User's first time experience is the same as any other user.
  • Their local, Outlook, and Start Menu (Vista) names are correct.
  • All profile requirements are there and no post install support phone call is required.
The above list is one of the most prominent ways we make our abilities and professionalism known to our clients. When the user experience is consistent and positive across the board this reflects very well on us as a service provider. It establishes a level of trust with our client contacts ... they know that everyone will be productive from the moment the user sits down at their workstation. They know that when they request something to be done, it will be done promptly and properly the first time.

This setup list reflects our current SBS OS: 2003. We will create a new one that better reflects the admin`s experiences setting users up on SBS 08 when the time comes for the Beta to go public.

UPDATE 2008-10-21: Added the Outlook E-mail Autocomplete Names copy to the new workstation.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.


Anonymous said...

Philip: As always, thanks for taking the time to blog and help us naive techs out there!

Loads of questions about this one:

How much time do you budget for all of this?

This is very manual and always thought there has to be a way to do some of these things via group policy. No? Adding user initials in Word? Opt out of the Office experience icon down by the clock (you don't mention that one)

Copy favorites and desktop - you are not a fan of roaming profiles (that would solve that, right?. what if they save the mission critical file on the desktop. Out of luck? Backing up their 100's of favorites?)

Setup pop3 - do you entertain tht as a viable ongoing way to deal with mail (so they'd be using an outside / email hosting service, right?) Any recommendation on which hosting company? Why not have exchange do all the mail?

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...

You are welcome.

Not being much of a coder beyond basic scripts and batches, there may be a way.

To date I have not found a way to automate much of the process.

We always setup our Group Policies to be integrated with the SBS wizards as much as we can. This helps to automate things like access and security settings.

Roaming profiles on SBS has always been a bit of a headache. At a former employer we had one client that used them for that purpose: Moving from machine to machine. But, they ended up supporting them (2 on site techs) more than they worked in my opinion.

My Docs redirection takes the bulk of it along with Exchange/Outlook intergration. Beyond that there is always enabling the full profile to redirect, SharePoint, Exchange Public Folders, Groove, and folder shares to take care of any data access needs.

As far as Office, we have integrated the ADMs for Office 2003 at pretty much all of our clients. Office GPs do give us the ability to manage a lot, but not the initial setup steps. That little name and initials prompt has to be answered by the user the first time. Yes, I missed the Office Experience one!

For critical laptops we have implemented ShadowProtect to stream a backup to the backup server during the day. For the most part it works well and gives us some grandfathering of the data.

For Exchange SMTP and POP3Connector we setup a two tiered structure where SMTP to SBS Exchange is the first MX option with the ISP's email servers being MX option two+. If SBS goes down then no email will be lost.

Hosting companies are varied. We have had success with Digital Tea and for our more global clients NetFronts.