We often get asked for our recommendation of how to best configure a computer for a long term standalone installation.
We've created the guide below based upon our teams collaborative experience installing computer based control systems.
Given the diverse and varying requirements each installation type and software used, we always recommend checking with the creators of the software for any specific configuration requirements. This guide should act as a good starting point to begin configuring your installation.
Operating System Selection
For Windows users, When specifying a computer for your installation, if the option is available always ensure you select an operating system best suited to unattended use. i.e. Windows 10 IoT Enterprise or Windows 10 Pro. - More consumer focused operating system versions such as Windows 10 Home are not recommended due to restriction of advanced functionality (i.e. long term service, remote desktop, trusted boot, desktop analytics)and are often pre-installed with bloatware (i.e. games, free software trials ect). After your operating system is installed check for updates to ensure it is running the latest version before continuing.
Start On Power
This setting ensures that once power is restored to your system (after a power cut or similar), your computer will start up without a user having to press the computer power button.
- For MacOS devices this setting can be found under System Preferences > Energy Saver.
- For Windows devices this option is located within the BIOS. If your computer is required to be on 24/7 you may want to look into purchasing Uninteruptable Power Supply (UPS). To protect your computer against unreliable power in fault scenarios.
Create a user account that logs in upon computer startup. - This account should not be linked to any online or cloud services (i.e. Microsoft 365 account) related to the operating system to minimise the chance of login prompts that could block the load process following boot up.
Disable Welcome / Home Screens Following Updates
Some operating systems show welcome screens following a reboot that stop software from loading as intended, ensure that these and all similar options are turned off.
Disable Sleep, Hibernation or Screensaver Settings
In these modes, network bandwidth and processing capacity is often heavily throttled by the opperating system to put devices into low power consumption state. This could severely impact the output of your installation. To be safe always disable these options and set sleep settings to Never.
Remove any unnecessary programs that are irrelevant to your installation from your computer. This will reduce the load on your processor and save on storage space.
Where your computer has acess to an internet connection ON LX reccomend that you install a remote acess software on your computer (i.e. Teamviewer, VNC ect). This will allow you to remotely access the computer to modify your software settings, update programs or manage other devices on the network without having to be there in person.
Security Settings, Firewalls & Updates
When configuring a computer for a standalone installation, it's important to factor in network security and a method of delivering critical operating system security updates, especially if your computer is connected to the internet. ON LX strongly reccomends keeping security updates enabled and setting your device to only only install critical updates for minimal disruption. Ensure your device is set to update out of hours and you have set these hours to a timeframe when your installation will not be being used. Software based firewalls and some form of Antivirus are reccomended on your computer (note that you may need to make exceptions to allow your software to communicate through the firwarall with devices on your wider installation).
As a precautionary measure to ensure everything is running as expected, scheduling a restart out of hours on a schedule is a key way to ensure your computer is running as expected as well as providing time for any security updates to the operating system you are running to be applied. (this can be found under Energy Saver within MacOS, or through Task Scheduler on a PC). The end users of your installation should be made aware of this and the reasoning to ensure everyone is on the same page. Usually a window of 15 minutes should be factored in for updates to be applied and for the full system to restart.
Set Applications to Run Upon Startup
Set all applications you require to run upon startup:
- In MacOS, navigate to the lower dock panel - Right click on your selected application, Options -> Open at Login
- In Windows, simply copy a software shortcut to the PC's startup folder.
When configuring network settings it's reccomended that a Static IP address is used for each network adaptor as opposed to DHCP. This ensures your network is more predictable, other software and devices on the network can direct commands to your PC and you will not be reliant on a DHCP server to receive an IP and begin communication over the network. The major exception to this is if you do not have control over the network port you are connected to in order to receive internet connection. In this scenario DHCP is reccomended to ensure your device has the greatest chance of staying connected to an external network if settings are changed. To find out more about specifying a reliable network setup for installations in addition to reccomended hardware see our other guides.
Clean the Disk
Final stage for machine configuration is to run a disk cleanup to remove any old OS versions or downloads followed by a defragmenting or trimming drives to ensure that the information on your computer can be accesed as quickly as possible. Following this, restart your computer to ensure everything boots as intended.
Upon completion, test that everything is working as expected by shutting down your computer and physically removing power for 30 secconds. Once you return power to your computer again it should start up, log into an account and run all software you require for your installation.