Skip to main content
Northwestern University

Computer Replacement Process

Getting a new computer is a multi-step process that usually requires a minimum of two weeks from purchase of a new computer to final setup and delivery. We encourage users to plan new computer replacements at least four weeks in advance of extended travel away from campus.

Step 1: Choosing a new computer

Before making a purchase, please review the minimum requirements for supportable computers. You can view recommended models by brand:

Northwestern IT does not need to approve each computer purchase, but minimum requirements must be met for a computer to be supported by our staff. If you would like advice or additional recommendations on a computer configuration, please email nuit-weinberg-support@northwestern.edu.

Who completes this step? Estimated Time
User and/or Departmental Purchaser Variable

Tip: Check the size of your current hard drive before purchasing a new computer. Many newer SSD (solid state drives) hard drives are faster than older fusion and hard drives, but they are often smaller. We recommend using Box for the majority of your file storage and using the smaller, but better performing SSD hard drives. Not sure how to check the size of your hard drive? Use these guides: Mac, PC. 

Step 2: Purchasing and funding a new computer

Dell, Apple, and CDWG (for Lenovo) stores are available through the iBuyNU Marketplace. When ordering, choose your standard departmental Ship To location. This will allow you to confirm that your order has arrived.

The Computer Replacement Program provides for replacement of eligible computers on an annual basis, based on a four-year lifecycle for computers. Computers that are replaced must be returned to the Dean’s office for the department to be reimbursed.

After purchase, a department or program can request reimbursement via the Computer Replacement Reimbursement Request Form. If the purchase complies with the standards in the policy, funding will be approved. Full details on eligibility and reimbursement are available here.

 

Who completes this step? Estimated Time
Departmental Purchaser 2-3 days depending on approvals

Step 3: Vendor receives and fills the order

When making your purchase, check the availability of the computer you're interested in. If the status of a Lenovo computer in CDW is listed as "Call for availability," contact the CDW representatives (angieandbrian@cdwg.com) for details. Standard configurations tend to ship more quickly than customized models.

Who completes this step? Estimated Time
Vendor 3 days to 1 month, depending on configuration

Step 4: Computer arrives at Northwestern

When the computer is purchased, submit the New Computer Setup Request Form. When submitted, this form will create a service request for a support technician. The technician will communicate with the department to arrange for pickup of the computer.

The list of software automatically installed on each computer is available here. Additional specialized software can be purchased by faculty/staff and installed by Weinberg IT. Please make note of any additions in the New Computer Setup Request Form.

 

Who completes this step? Estimated Time
User or Departmental Purchaser completes form  1 day
Northwestern IT picks up computer 1-2 days
Tip: Please do not unbox the computer when it arrives, as we will need the packaging to transfer the computer to and from our office.

Step 5: Setting up your computer

All Windows and Mac Computers are set up with a standard software image. This allows Northwestern IT to provide support for complex software problems throughout the computer's life, preserving data and minimizing the time needed for repair.

The list of software included in this image is available here. Additional specialized software can be purchased by faculty/staff and installed by Northwestern IT. Please include any special software requests when you fill out the New Computer Setup Request Form.

 

Who completes this step? Estimated Time
Northwestern IT 1-2 days

Step 6: Transferring Data

If data needs to be transferred to the new computer, Northwestern IT will contact the user to pickup the old computer. During this period, both the old and the new computers will be unavailable for use. Northwestern IT can provide a Mac or PC loaner for the user during this period.

Who completes this step? Estimated Time
Northwestern IT 1-2 days, depending on data size
Tip: Large data sets take longer to transfer. Storing your data in Box will minimize the amount of time needed to transfer your data.

Step 7: Final setup

Once the computer is imaged and any data transfer requested has been completed, Northwestern IT will contact the user for final setup. A technician will meet with the user in person to complete the setup process. For security purposes, this step can only be completed by the computer's user. This can take place at the Northwestern IT office in the basement of 1922 Sheridan or the technician can bring the computer to a convenient, on-campus location for the user.

Who completes this step? Estimated Time
Northwestern IT and User 1 day to 1 week, depending on User's availability

Step 8: What happens to my old computer?

Northwestern IT will hold old computers for 30 days as a backup to any missing data or problems with the new computer. After 30 days, if the computer is in good condition, it will be be repurposed to students or postdoctoral scholars or donated to the Student Enrichment Services Loaner Laptop Program. If the computer is unsupportable, it will be wiped and recycled.

 

Who completes this step? Estimated Time
Northwestern IT 30 days

Step 9: How does my department get reimbursed for the cost of the computer?

After purchasing a computer, a department or program can request reimbursement via the Computer Replacement Reimbursement Request Form. Reimbursement is for one computer per eligible faculty or staff member every four years. In order to qualify for reimbursement, the following conditions must be met:

  • Estimated four-year lifecycle between new computers
  • Computer must be for an eligible faculty or staff member
  • Computer must meet Weinberg College IT's required minimums

If the purchase complies with the standards in the policy, funding will be approved. The amount of funding will be the lower of:

  1. the average cost per computer * the number of eligible computers purchased in the fiscal year, or
  2. the actual cost of eligible computers purchased in the fiscal year

Transfers will occur annually during the fiscal year-end close process. Full details on eligibility and reimbursement are available here.

If you have questions about the funding program or your department’s budget, please contact

Holly Schueneman.

Who completes this step? Estimated Time
Departmental Purchaser/Financial administrator submits form 1 day
Dean's Financial Administration team processes request Funds released at fiscal year-end
Back to top