How To Keep Your Computer Speedy As It Gets Older

Evan Schendel is a help desk specialist for Tech Experts.

As a computer ages, it inevitably becomes slower. Applications and files can slow down a PC as quickly as dated hardware or too much heat or dust can. Preventive maintenance is the first and most important step to keeping a computer running as swiftly as it did on day one.

Extraneous Files

A computer’s storage can only hold so much and leaving it to sit and rot – especially if you browse the Internet frequently – can slow the system down to a snail’s pace.

Simply by using the programs on a machine, a computer can amass files that, if not removed, can add up to multiple gigabytes of unused and unneeded data. These do, however, tend to clean themselves up in time.

Unused applications, however, can take up space and slow down a system. Keeping in mind what applications you do and don’t use, and deleting the latter, can really help a workstation run much faster.

Dated Hardware

Bar none, the hardware parts of a PC are the most important pieces of a system. After all, it’s the system itself.

So, what do you do when hard drives begin failing and other mechanical nightmares begin plaguing your workstation? Replacing a system is easier than upgrading pieces of it at a time, but what are the benefits of replacing over upgrading and vice versa?

A PC tends to last five to seven years if well-maintained, or three to four if left in disrepair. Replacing a computer every five years may be easier in the short term, but computers aren’t free and the costs can add up if you are replacing more than one system.

Upgrading pieces of the computer cost only the part, but you would end up having to replace it yourself or have another person do it for you.

Additionally, you may run into limitations on how much you can upgrade based on your other hardware’s or software’s compatibility.

Upkeep of these parts is also important, so keeping the hardware installed cool and free of dust will extend the lifespan of the workstation quite noticeably.

Viruses

Malicious files are an obvious culprit when a computer is running slowly and, most of the time, it’s a fair assumption. There are any number of viruses that could slow a computer down drastically, but in turn, there are many programs that help defend against them too.

Suspicious links and files received in emails or from sites you should be dubious of can, and likely will, infect your computer. Steer clear of these sites and ensure all links you click on are trustworthy.

Certain applications also may contain trojans, which lurk in your system for an extended period of time, only to reveal themselves when a certain application or service runs. Other applications can help spot and remove these before they even have a chance to set in.

Many things can slow a computer down, but proper maintenance can keep it running like new for years. If you haven’t kept decent care of your computer and it’s running slowly, some of these causes, or even all, may be the reason, giving a starting base in fixing the issues at hand.

A Few Reasons Why Desktops Are Better

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

With all this talk about mobile devices like tablets, smart phones, and ultra-portable laptops, you’d begin to think that traditional desktop PCs are going to seem archaic.

Depending on your needs, that can be the case, but desktops aren’t going away anytime soon – and for good reason.

More Powerful Hardware
This has been the case from the very beginning – desktop PCs are capable of more powerful hardware.

Desktops don’t need to worry about electricity consumption the same way portable devices do and components don’t need to be shrunk down into a tiny lap-sized chassis.

This also allows better heat dispersion. All three factors give desktops the flexibility to utilize the most complex, cutting edge components that aren’t designed for mobility (yet).

In other words, computer hardware manufacturers build new components, then work on shrinking those components into mobile sizes.

This reason alone will keep the desktop alive – PC gamers, graphic artists, and multimedia buffs will always want high-end desktops.

Cost Effectiveness
Of course, you don’t need the newest, cutting edge components to have a blazing-fast PC. You can easily get by with cheaper, previous generation components.

Remember a decade ago when a desktop PC could cost thousands of dollars? It’s still possible (and easy for some) to spec out a high-end PC with that kind of price tag, but each additional dollar spent isn’t worth it unless you have VERY specific needs.

Also, comparable hardware for a PC is significantly cheaper than similar laptop hardware. If you don’t need the mobility, you can save a pretty decent chunk of money just by sticking with a desktop.

Desktops are Easier to Fix and Maintain
Let’s share a real-world tech scenario. Replacing a part on a desktop is a pretty simple task for a technician. In fact, with a little hand-holding, almost anybody could figure it out. Replacing the motherboard on a laptop, however, is an extremely cumbersome process. Depending on the model, it can involve over two dozen screws and a lot of time.

Replacement parts aren’t as affordable as they are for desktops either. For smart phones and tablets, expect to ship those out to the manufacturer.

You Probably Won’t Leave your Desktop at the Airport/Coffee Shop/Hotel
It’s true! If you are lugging around a big PC case, a monitor or two, a keyboard, mouse, and power cables, it’s pretty likely you won’t accidentally forget it when you realize how light your luggage has become.

All joking aside, because your desktop lives a pretty uneventful life without much movement, it doesn’t endure the little bumps, drops, and spills that laptops, tablets and other mobile devices take.

It’s harder to steal too, so there is a little essence of security knowing your data is locked inside a great big aluminum box tethered to your desk with a web of cables.

Have you moved on from the desktop PC completely or are you still holding on? Do you even want to go strictly mobile? Let us know and let us answer any questions you have.

Replacement Equipment And Workstation Data Storage

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a huge project or in the height of your busy season, then suddenly, a key piece of equipment breaks? You have orders that need processed. Deadlines to meet. Stress starts to roll in. You start to wonder how long the downtime is going to last or what this is going to cost your business.

One way to reduce the stress levels and temporarily resolve the situation is to maintain a stock of replacement workstations and essential equipment.

Being able to switch out a workstation or any other critical piece of equipment and be back up and running sooner not only reduces stress levels, but also saves your business countless dollars in lost revenue.

Example: your company designs and prints graphics for billboards. An employee says their workstation has crashed while they were working on a project for your largest client that’s due in two days. What do you do?

You try to contact the manufacturer of the workstation, only to find out your warranty does not cover on-site service and the soonest they could be on location is in two to four days. That’s not the answer you wanted to hear.

If you had a replacement workstation on hand, you could reduce your downtime dramatically. But let’s say you do have one. So you switch out the workstations and your employees is back to work…

Until they realize all of their work is stored on the crashed workstation. Stress levels start to climb once again.

One easy way to avoid losing data would be to migrate the user’s data to a storage device located on your network. Network attached storage is much more reliable than the storage within your workstation. They can also be configured for redundancy.

This entire migration will be transparent to the user as the workstations libraries will still remain intact, just relocated to a different device. As far as the user is concerned, all of their data is saved to the workstation.

The general rule of thumb is to maintain a 10% replacement stock level of workstations or essential pieces of equipment (and always have at least 1). Replacement switches, as well as firewalls, should always be on hand or able to be purchased locally. Being able to replace a switch or firewall to bring your VOIP phone system back online or restore network connectivity to your entire business in minutes is critical.

If your business is unable to maintain replacement inventory, make sure you have (and fully understand) support contracts either from equipment manufacturers or from a local network support company.

Depending on the manufacturer or support company, support contracts can range from 24×7 to 8×5 to “whenever we can get there.” That’s why it’s very important to understand your support agreements. Never get taken by surprise.

Manufactures, depending on the piece of equipment, will offer warranties or support contracts. Be warned the contract may not include next day equipment replacement, data recovery, or installation of the equipment.

They may be able to offer remote assistance, but in most cases, you end up in a long call that does nothing to resolve your issue.

The best option, if available to your business, is to have a managed service plan with a local network support company. Most local support companies will offer same day service including weekends.

Local service companies can act as your business IT support department and/or work with your existing IT department to maintain your business equipment and resolve any issues that arise.

Most local service companies will have replacement equipment and repair parts on hand, thus reducing downtime.

A local service company will also be able to assist your business in less stressful times by offering remote support services and preventive maintenance visits to spot any potential issues before they become larger problems.

They will also work to ensure your business’ network is safe and secure and offer suggestions for upgrades to your infrastructure.

While no one can predict when a workstation may go down or a firewall will fail, the best thing you can do is be prepared.

Consider These Great PC Upgrades

If you are in the market for a new PC, check out these tips on how to upgrade your PC and get more value for your dollars before you pull out your credit card.

A solid state drive
Nothing like an SSD to give you a more practical and noticeable performance increase. With more capacity and more chips and channels, you are guaranteed faster performance.

A faster CPU
You may want to add a new CPU if your computer is old and if the before-mentioned SSD does not entirely fulfill your needs.

Get more memory
With more memory, your operating system will spend less time moving data to disk and you will be able work with more open apps and large files.

Choose a larger display
While a touch screen might blow up your budget, you can opt for a 23-, 24-, 27-inch 1080p model for an affordable price and it will offer you a much better and productive computing experience.

Better gear: keyboard and mouse
Explore the world of wireless, wired, touch and ergonomic keyboard and mouse models and choose one that makes sitting at your computer a breeze.

After all, all our work is done with a keyboard and a mouse, and they need to be as much comfortable as possible.

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend… Would A New Workstation Boost Your Productivity?

Many people find it hard to let go of that old workstation that seems to be “working just fine.” But, ask yourself: Is it really?

Most people recognize that, as their machine ages, it seems to get slower and slower.

A fresh install of Windows generally makes the computer speed back up to it’s “like new” speed.

But as we rely more and more on our computers, laptops, phones, and tablets to be productive in our work, does working at that original speed still make sense?

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it?
Why is it a bad idea to have the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality when it comes to your computer?

For starters, you’re wasting your money doing so. If a computer is past its normal lifecycle then it really doesn’t make any sense spending the money to continuously bring it back to a like new state as far as the software goes because the hardware is still very outdated.

In general a desktop computer’s useful life span is roughly three to five years providing you purchased a mid-range computer and not the bottom of the line model.

For laptops you get slightly less useful life span out of them due to the fact that a mid-range laptop is generally not as good of hardware as a mid-range desktop.

The other reason a laptop doesn’t tend to last as long is the fact that it is constantly being moved around.

This constant movement, shaking, vibrating, dropping, etc. causes a lot more stress on the hardware in comparison to a desktop.

Due to the different factors involved in a laptop’s life cycle, a laptop’s useful life is roughly two to three years – perhaps slightly longer if it is well cared for.

Software updates may require PC upgrades
Another reason to think about workstation replacement has to do with the software you run on your machine.

Many different software companies offer updates to their software.

Some updates offer fixes to problems or security issues, but many updates also offer new features or updates to old features.

These updates sometimes include a better graphical interface that makes a program easier to use.

Generally, these types of updates have higher computing and speed requirements. Many industry specific software companies put out these types of updates, and they’re great!

Who wouldn’t want a more attractive user interface that functions better and offers more options?

The problem: Updating/upgrading software requires more system resources almost one hundred percent of the time.

If you’re the kind of person that likes to hold on to your workstation forever and never update it, but wants those nice software updates, you might see performance problems.

While your software is updating it needs more RAM, more CPU power, and in some cases, more graphical capacity to run to the new software properly. A lot of times, users don’t realize that with new features come new requirements.

In short, if your computer is over five years old, consider replacing it, particularly if it’s a laptop. A faster workstation will help you with updated software, and keep up with your busy workload.

Feature article written by: Tech Experts

5 Things You Need To Know If You Buy A New PC

Great Tips To Keep In Mind When Shopping For Your Next Computer

When you are ready to buy a new computer, one of the first questions you may ask yourself is, “Where can I get the best deal?”

Obviously you don’t want to pay more than you have to, price shouldn’t be the only thing you consider before making your decision.

If you shop the local electronics superstores for weekly specials, you can easily get a standard machine at an ok price. This option would work best for you if you’re not too picky or if you don’t have any special requirements for gaming, graphics, or your special business software.

If you buy over the Internet from a major manufacturer, you’ll get more choice and customization on the components, chip speed, RAM, hard drive size, and video components, but you’ll pay a slightly higher price. But, the biggest downside to buying online is that you’ll have a hard time getting technical support if something goes wrong.

Not a week goes by where we don’t get a client who wants to pay us to fix a warranty-covered machine simply because the manufacturer is making it next to impossible to get the problem taken care of. In many cases, these companies have help desks located outside of the US, which means you might have a hard time communicating with them.

Sometimes only a component (like the hard drive) will go bad. When this happens, you’ll have to ship the entire machine back wait a couple of weeks for them to repair it and ship it back. You also run the risk of losing all your data and configurations.

If you have special requirements, need help in selecting a machine, or if service before, during, and AFTER the sale is important, then you’ll want to buy from a local shop like Tech Experts.

Here Are 5 Big Reasons To Buy Your Next PC From Tech Experts:
1. You’ll get a senior technician who will take time to explain your options, answer your questions, and help you make a good buying decision based on what YOU need, not what we have to clear off the store shelves. At an electronics superstore, there’s a good chance you’ll end up talking to a teenager working on commission who doesn’t have any real technical expertise.

If you buy online, you’ll get very little or no help in selecting the right combination of components and options, so this works best ONLY for those individuals who really know what they are buying.

2. Superior technical support and service after the sale. If you’ve ever dealt with a manufacturer’s technical support in the past, you know how frustrating it can be. After waiting on hold for days, you’ll end up speaking with a “technician” who doesn’t have a clue. Most ofthe time they’re just reading from a script and taking you through a series of system checks that won’t help.

Whenever you have a problem with a machine that you purchased from us, we’ll troubleshoot it for free. Plus, you won’t have to wait on hold when you call, which brings me to another point…

3. If you need technical support on a computer that you bought from us, you won’t go through voice mail jail or be transferred to another country. You actually get to speak to a friendly, local technician.

4. We’ll set up your e-mail account, Internet access, check your virus protection, set up your firewall, and upother preferences and settings. When you buy from a superstore or online, it’s up to you to configure your new machine.

5. We’ll custom build or upgrade your PC here in our office. Maybe you just need more memory and a video card added. If you simply want to “upgrade” your PC to save a few dollars, we will gladly do it for you.

The bottom line is this: if you are shopping solely on price and aren’t too picky, then watch the weekend papers for sales at your local electronic superstore. They can offer a great price on a standard machine. Usually you can save anywhere from $100—$200 this way.

For semi-customization at a decent price, check the Internet. There are hundreds of online resellers offering PCs at competitive prices.

For the best customization, service, and support after the sale, buy from Tech Experts. You’ll pay a little bit more but we’ll make sure you get exactly what you need without any hassle or problems. Give us a call today at (734) 457-5000.

 

Desktop or Laptop? What To Consider When Choosing

Are you out shopping for a new computer, but are unsure of what to buy as far as a laptop or a desktop? If so, here are some simple factors to keep in mind to make that decision.

Price
Because of the higher cost of computer components and assembling them, a laptop computer will be more expensive than a desktop model with the same specifications.

If you are only going to be using the computer for basic tasks such as word processing and surfing the Internet, a laptop would be perfect for you.

If you are more into playing video games or running video editing software, a desktop computer would be suited more towards your needs.

It will have the memory to run those programs and the hard drive space to store everything.

Space
It may seem like a contradiction, but while desktop computers are getting smaller, laptops are going in the other direction because of the greater number of functions they are being asked to perform.

A laptop is still more easily stored out of the way than a desktop. The laptop is the obvious choice if space is an issue.

The real question to ask is whether the space which the computer will be occupied can be permanently sacrificed for housing information.

Portability
If you are looking for portability then there is only one obvious winner here. However, it should be asked whether a computer is likely to get the most use out of it being placed in one spot or when it is moved around for use in different rooms.

If you are going to use your PC at home, at work, and on business trips, then a laptop would definitely be the better value.

Ergonomics
The most important thing is being comfortable while using your computer; especially if you are going to be using it for long periods at a time.

So a big question that you must ask yourself is “Can the existing area where my laptop will be used be made comfortable if I’m going to be using it for long periods of time?”

This can be a vital consideration in the choice between a laptop and desktop model. Their very lightness and portability work against people adopting a suitable posture when using a laptop.

The name suggests they are more suited to being used sitting anywhere other than at a desk, which is not true.

A bad case of hand, wrist, back, neck, or eye strain is too high a price to pay for portability and style.

Upgrade/Repair Cost
Laptops are less robust and more difficult to upgrade than their desktop equivalents. In general, your upgrade options for a laptop are limited to increasing the memory or replacing the hard drive for more storage.

Desktop computers, on the other hand, offer almost unlimited upgrade options.

An important thing to remember is damage to a laptop keyboard or screen will be much more serious than to a desktop because the vital working and moving parts have far less protection.

Laptop Or Desktop? It Depends On Your Application

I have noticed an interesting trend lately in our service department at Tech Experts.

We have been seeing an increase in the number of laptop or notebook style computers in for service. While this may be due to the holiday season and students returning home from school to visit family, I also feel that the falling prices have lead to laptops being much more affordable then in the past.

This got me to thinking about the comparison of laptops versus desktop and the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Many times I have been asked “Which one is better laptop or desktop?” The short answer is “It depends.” It basically boils down to what you plan to do with the unit.

Laptops are obviously an advantage for students who must travel not only back home and to school, but they also travel between classes and dorm rooms and restaurants. This portability is also an advantage for business travelers and mobile offices. It is hard to carry a desktop with you in your travels.

And with the popularity of wireless “hotspots” in almost every public place, laptops will continue to grow in popularity.

Some of the disadvantages I have seen with laptops are the ease at which the power jack on the unit can become loose and the power adapter cannot charge the battery, because the connector is broken and separates from the board – meaning no power is getting to the computer.

This is typically caused by applying some type of force to the plug when it is plugged into the jack. Tipping the laptop so the weight of the unit rests on the plug will cause this problem and care should always be taken not to do this.

While I am on the subject of power adapters, this is another disadvantage of a laptop. We had a call just the other day from a couple travelling from their home in Louisiana that forgot to pack their power adapter.

No power adapter means you cannot charge the battery which means a useless laptop after a few hours of operation. In this case the couple purchased a couple of extra adapters from EBay and discovered it still did not work. After coming into our service department it was quickly discovered that their power jack in the laptop had broken.

Another disadvantage to laptops is the ease at which careless operators can spill liquid onto the keyboard. If you do this on your desktop computer it is really not that big of a deal to purchase a new keyboard at the local computer shop, plug it in and off you go.

Laptop keyboard replacement is much more difficult and can be a costly repair. You can’t just rinse the liquid out. Often the liquid that is still in the keyboard will dry and cause the keys to stick. Care should always be taken to keep all liquids away from laptops.

Desktop computers, although they are not so portable seem to have longer lifespan then laptops. This is mainly due to the fact that they do not get moved very often. If you are going to move your desktop take extra care to treat it very gently as they do not take jolting and jarring well.

I have had people mention to me they don’t like to type on a laptop. I prefer the feel of a laptop keyboard to a traditional keyboard, and all laptops can accept USB keyboards if you prefer.

So it “depends” on your situation and requirements for your computing needs. Call us at Tech Experts and we can provide you with the expert guidance needed to make the right decision.