Sunday, December 13, 2009

How Fast is Fast?

The new year is around the corner. Here is a tip to kick the year off right. I am often told by users that their PC is slow. It is a perception they have anyway and a lot of the time the squeaky wheel gets an upgrade. In times like this where you can't throw money around, it pays to be able to make informed decisions on buying and upgrading PCs.

To help me, I have everyone run a speed test quarterly. The test is simple and comes in three parts;
  1. Open AutoCAD and tell me how long it takes to get to cross hairs from double clicking the launch icon.
  2. Open a medium sized file I placed on the network and tell me how long it took.
  3. Open a large file I placed on the network and tell me how long it took.
After the initial test I found that those that complained the most had the fastest PCs. After the tests I was able to tell users where they ranked. If they ranked high, they felt way better about their speed. If they ranked low, I was able to proactively let them know when they could expect an upgrade.

There is an element of trust involved in having users submit times themselves. Another problem I have is getting results at all. This can be circumvented by running the test yourself off hours. In fact that might help keep it more fair by the removing varying network traffic from the equation. I have also seen lisps out there to gather data like open times, although I have not run any.

How ever you do it, knowing the facts vs. someone's perception is a much better place to be in.
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