Replace Your PC Every 4 To 5 Years To Save Thousands Of Dollars

Chris Myers is a field service technician for Tech Experts.

When it comes to replacing computers, many consumers and businesses wait as long as possible before committing to an upgrade. However, those businesses would actually be better off in almost every way if they replaced their computers as part of a standard process based on the hardware age.

There are many drawbacks to using an old computer that aren’t immediately visible. All of these result in costs to the business, whether it is due to lost employee productivity, downtime, or lost data on failed drives.

If any of the above issues are visible to a client, they can also cause loss of business purely on the perception of inadequacy or unreliability.

A major difference overall is the gradually decreasing performance that every computer suffers from as time goes on. This is due to the actual mechanical parts wearing down as well as bloat from applications and files.

Additionally, with each new software update, there is more and more of a chance of business software no longer running on older hardware or operating systems.

Computers have many moving parts that have different expected lifetimes. Past four years, it is likely that different hardware components will start failing one by one every four or five months.

Each of these failures will result in a service call to diagnose the problem and replace the part, while the employee is not working.

Hard drive failures are almost always unrecoverable. If that employee does not have a backup in place, there is little anyone can do to restore the lost data.

However, if the upgrade is done while the PC is still functional, absolutely everything can be copied over to the new computer.

This includes files, but also things that aren’t usually backed up, such as applications and user specific settings in their commonly used programs.

On a four-year cycle, each new computer will be at least one major operating system version apart. Operating systems such as Windows 7 and Windows 10 are the framework of the computer and are therefore much harder to change on a computer already in use.

The service charge and software errors for such an installation would be as much or more than buying a new hardware component.

Each new operating system also contains hundreds, if not thousands, of patches to fix security vulnerabilities.

With each passing day, an old computer becomes more and more vulnerable as new holes are found in its programming. Many 5+ year-old operating systems no longer meet the requirements for mandates such as HIPAA.

The price of a new mid-range computer is usually the same as one or two of those service calls. And a new computer would avoid all of the other costs discussed above, usually resulting in savings more than double the price of the new PC.

Enacting a company-wide policy to replace PCs by hardware age also eliminates a great deal of hassle for users, clients, and your IT department.

How Much RAM Does Your PC Really Need?

Frank DeLuca is a field technician for Tech Experts.

First off, note that how much RAM (along with the type and speed) that your system supports will depend on your motherboard.

Consult your PC/motherboard manual, or, if your PC was manufactured by an OEM, use a system checker such as the one found on Crucial.com to find out what RAM is compatible with your system.

Adding RAM to your computer is not a process that will magically make everything run faster. But it can aid your PC in multitasking and performing intensive-heavy tasks like loading 20+ browser tabs, content creation like editing videos or images, editing multiple productivity documents, and running more programs at one time.

Computers may experience significant slowdowns when running a large number of programs at once with low memory.

If all RAM space has been used when trying to open programs, the computer resorts to using virtual memory on the hard drive, which slows the computer down quite a bit.

Upgrading or adding additional memory can eliminate this problem as the computer doesn’t have to resort to using the hard drive for slower pagefile memory.

How much RAM you need in your computer depends heavily on what you use your PC for on a day-to-day basis and on how long you intend to keep the computer.

If you are thinking of investing in a new machine in the near future, waiting things out until your purchase might be the best bet.

If you already have a computer you love but want to shift gears into a different daily task that requires better performance, then upgrading your RAM as part of the process is a great idea and can breathe some extra life into your computer.

Productivity
If you use your Windows 10 computer for word processing, checking emails, browsing the Internet, and playing Solitaire, you should have no problem using 4GB of RAM. If you are performing all of these activities at once, however, you might experience a dip in performance.

Many budget PCs come with 4GB of RAM as a base option. If you plan on keeping your machine for several years, then opting for 8GB of RAM is the safer bet, even if you use it for light tasks.

Video and Photo Editing
This really depends on your workload. If you are editing quite a bit of HD video, go for 16GB or more. If you’re working mainly with photos and a bit of video thrown in, 8GB should get you through. Again, in this instance, it may behoove you to opt for 16GB to give yourself more future-proofing headroom as photo and video quality is only getting better with file sizes exponentially increasing and becoming more memory intensive. Editing will work on lower amounts of RAM, but you’ll become so frustrated with the poor performance that you’ll soon start yearning for an upgrade.

In a nutshell, here are some simple guidelines that apply to most PC devices:

  • 4GB: Entry level memory. Comes with budget notebooks. Fine for Windows.
  • 8GB: Excellent for Windows and Mac OS systems. We recommend this for most people.
  • 16GB: Ideal for professional work and the most demanding tasks.
  • 32GB and beyond: Enthusiasts and purpose-built workstations only.

Remember, buying more RAM than you need doesn’t net you any performance benefit. It’s effectively wasted money.

Buy what you need, and spend what’s left of your budget on more important components such as the CPU or faster storage space like a solid state hard drive (SSD) which can be 10 times faster than a conventional hard drive.

Double Your Screens, Double Your Productivity

Ron Cochran is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

When you think of a computer with more than one screen, you tend to think of a gaming computer or command center, but adding a second monitor can save money and improve productivity throughout the day. Having more than one monitor can save each employee several minutes to a couple hours each day, depending on the type of work.

Let’s break it down. It takes a few seconds to move the mouse and click a window or document; if you have to open that document, there is delay while waiting for it to load. Multiply that by how many times documents, programs, and windows are utilized throughout the day — then multiply that figure by the day, month, and then year. You could be saving thousands of dollars with just one employee.

You can add a second monitor to a laptop or desktop computer for a relatively cheap price. There are even monitors and stands on the market that will let you rotate into portrait mode (but don’t forget to change your display settings in your operating system as well).

There are a number of recreational and business reasons to consider getting a second monitor. One example is utilizing two or more screens for editing different types of publications, video, or still images. With dual monitors, you can edit and make changes to an image while comparing it against the original one on a separate monitor. That way, you can see in real time what you’re changing and with more workspace.

With many operating systems, you can have the monitors in a wide range of configurations. You could have: both in landscape mode (the way the typical user has a monitor — wider than it is tall), both in portrait mode (taller than it is wide), or one of each orientation (one landscape, one portrait).  You could also have one screen on top of another.

There are a couple drawbacks to adding a second monitor, but they can be lessened or resolved by getting one of several different mounting solutions. You can just set the monitors on your desk with the supplied stands or you can purchase a larger stand for both monitors. They also make a clamp style mount that would clamp or mount to the backside of your desk or desktop, which would frees up more desk space.

Some may think that having two screens may force the user to focus on too many things at once or clutter up their workspace, but the effect is typically the opposite. It has a staggering effect on productivity by making more resources readily available — to the point that some find it hard to go back to one monitor after using two or more. Utilizing more than one monitor has many benefits and a very few negative points and is something that should be seriously considered, especially for a business.

Don’t let the initial investment scare you off; you’ll immediately find yourself (or your employees) less frustrated and more productive… and dreading ever going back to one monitor again.

Five Signs That You Need A New Work Computer

Luke Gruden is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

A work computer is one of your greatest tools in the modern era. Like any other tool, you want to make sure you have the right one for the job – and that your tools are maintained and replaced if necessary.

Computers evolve and change faster than anything else and the demands of security and new software require that your computer be somewhat recent, not a museum piece.

The fastest way to tell if you need a new computer is if your computer boots up into Windows XP or to a Windows system older than 2000.

Windows XP is such old technology that Microsoft no longer provides security updates for it. This leaves XP computers vulnerable to security loopholes and hacking attempts. Even the most high-end computer from XP times would run very slow for modern programs, which often won’t even load properly.

Google Chrome, the web browser, doesn’t even run on an XP. If you boot up to a Windows XP, it is time to replace the computer. Windows Vista is your second sign that you might need to replace your computer soon.

The operating system is still receiving security updates from Microsoft, but not for much longer: April 11, 2017 is the last day of support for Vista. Windows Vista will be over 10 years old, which is about 90 years old in computer years.

In the computer world, we have Moore’s Law, which means that roughly about every 2 years we’re able to double processing power for about the same cost. After 10 years, a computer that would have cost $300 will not run at even a tenth of the speed of a modern computer of the same cost. It is about time to replace that Vista computer; if not this year, then definitely next year.

You might have noticed on different versions of Windows that it says 32-bit or 64-bit at the end of its title. This is important. A 32-bit OS cannot properly utilize newer computers. Without getting too technical: if your computer cannot support a 64-bit operating system, this is a good sign that you might need to replace your computer soon. Having a 32-bit OS is your third sign that you might need to replace your computer.

The fourth sign is if your computer came with a CRT monitor when it was new. A CRT monitor is an older monitor that is big and bulky with a square display instead of a widescreen display like all modern TVs and monitors.

If your computer came with a CRT monitor, replace this computer immediately. This computer will not run many modern applications. It may not even run basic websites that are out there today, let alone modern computer programs.

The last sign is that you’re asking this question about your current computer. Chances are, if your computer is 4 to 6 years old, it could be time to replace your computer if you need to run modern applications. If 10 years is 90 in computer years, then 6 years old is getting up there in age.

If you are still questioning if it’s a good idea to replace your computer, give Tech Experts a call. Once learn more about your particular situation, we can help you figure out if your current computer suits your work needs or if you should take the plunge to upgrade.

How To Select The Best Computer For Your Business

When shopping for an ideal business computer, it’s not the cheapest purchase but the most beneficial tech that’s going to last for the long haul.

For example, you find a local electronics ad that points out a PC that looks ideal due to the price – but beware, most budget PCs have components that are either already outdated or will be very soon.

When picking out the best computer, you need to understand your needs both currently and in the future, then purchase a PC that will accomplish that.

So what’s the best manufacturer?
There are several manufacturers that sell great PCs for the small to mid-size business owner, such as HP, Lenovo, or Acer.

The great thing about all of the manufacturers is that each one has its own ideal PC and, depending on your needs, one will fit better than the next. Remember, reviews are your friend.

Decide whether or not you need portability.
If your work involves you leaving the office or taking your work home, get a laptop.

If you are stationary in an office, get a desktop and remember to get the best processor possible for your budget. Time is money and a better processor will increase your overall speed.

Got cores?
A good processor will have multiple cores. You will need at least a dual core to get the job done at a considerable rate. Most users will not need to go higher than a quad core processor to perform everyday tasks.

However, the more cores present will make your PC not only faster but able to manage more task more effectively.

Graphic needs?
Your business will decide how much graphics power you need. For instance, if you’re a graphic designer, you would want something that is going to really process graphics for those high-resolution vectors and possibly some video-editing purposes.

You would want to get a PC with no less than a mid-range graphics. However, if you run a flower shop, video processing really wouldn’t be key to the core of your business and you would want to spend your money elsewhere, such as memory or a better CPU.

Most on-board video nowadays are sufficient enough for the small business owner and wouldn’t have difficulties with everyday computing.

How much memory?
Again, this boils down to the core attributes of your business and what your business needs to operate effectively.

Ideally, at least 4 GB of memory is a great standard for any business computer to start and most desktop or laptop PCs also offer upgradeability. So you can always add more memory later, if necessary.

Storage?
The motto is – the more space you have, the less chance you have of reaching the storage limit.

In today’s world, SSD storage is the fastest and most sought after for storage hardware.

When picking a hard drive for your system, anticipate how much space you really need so you end up with a PC that can manage the factors set for your business.

Seem like a lot to manage on your own? You can always give us a call to review your PC needs. Give us a call at (734) 457-5000, or email info@mytechexperts.com.

What’s A Good Portable Projector Under $500?

Choose the Celluon PicoPro for a reasonably priced projector that’s easy to tote. At just seven ounces with the batteries in it, it won’t weigh you down, and it is small enough to store in your purse or carry in a shirt pocket.

It retails for $399.99, which is pretty inexpensive for a projector of its caliber, and its use of laser technology for a light source creates a good picture on virtually any surface with uniform brightness. The PicoPro is also designed to stay cool without the use of a fan, so it runs quietly enough to allow viewers to focus on the displayed media without the noise distraction.

In addition, since it is small, you can’t view stored images directly from the PicoPro. You can, however, pair it with most smartphones to see any stored media without problems. It focuses automatically, taking the guesswork out of achieving a clear picture. Although the focus is a little softer than that on other projectors, it slightly affects the readability of text-based images but isn’t noticeable otherwise.

The battery lasts two to three hours, and it can also connect via USB to your computer or plug straight into the wall when you need to recharge or conserve power. The Celluon PicoPro also comes with a carrying soft case for protection when on the go and a diminutive stand that works like a small tripod for hands-free use.

Battling Bloatware, Trial Programs and Time Bomb Software

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

The day has finally come. You’ve saved money for what seems like a lifetime to purchase a new desktop or laptop. You’re all excited to get it unboxed and powered on… only to find yourself confronted with loads of bloatware, trial programs and time bomb software you will never use and never asked for. You quickly find yourself spending hours removing all the preinstalled programs instead of enjoying your new device. Why is that?

The sole intent of a vast majority of the programs you find already installed is to track your presence on the web. Some programs, such as Superfish (which Lenovo was installing on their computers), also change your search results so you see different ads than you would from normal browsing habits. This can also affect your computer’s security.

Some of the more common programs that tend to get overlooked are browser toolbars. Several of the most common toolbars you will find are Yahoo, AOL, Google and Ask. These are so common that most computer users think they are part of their browser.

The purpose of a browser toolbar is to gather information on your browsing habits such as popular search words or phrases and sites visited. This information is then sold to advertising companies or used to place custom targeted ads on the sites you visit. In most cases, you will also start to see an increase in spam messages in your email inbox. It’s recommended to properly remove all browser toolbars from your Internet device.

Just when you think you have removed everything that needs to be removed, look again. Most likely, you will find trial or time bomb software installed as well. These are programs that offer you their fully functional features for a predetermined amount of time.

Two of the most popular software programs preinstalled in this way are Microsoft Office and anti-virus programs. Office programs will give you full functionality of the Office suite for usually about 30 days, then features will become unavailable to the user after the program expires. In some cases, this has little to no effect on the user, but in other cases, it can have a severe financial impact.

Trial versions of anti-virus programs can be the most devastating to the user. A user will power on their computer, see there is an anti-virus program made by a large and well-known company already installed, and they think they are fully protected against the evils that await them. This may be true for the first 30 to 90 days. However, after the trial period ends, most users either ignore the pop-ups warning that the program is going to expire or they are not notified. This leaves the user in a state of vulnerability. After the program expires, they no longer receive regular security definition updates.

Let’s say you have taken the time to fully clean and remove all the bloatware, trial, and time bomb bloatwaresoftware from your computer. The only things you need to watch for now are third-party programs piggybacking on the installs or updates of other programs.

Two of the most common programs to pay attention to when updating or installing are Adobe Flash Player and Oracle’s Java. You need to pay close attention to the installer windows or you will end up spending more time removing unneeded security scanners, toolbars, and/or browsers. For more information about bloatware, trial programs, and time bomb software, contact Tech Experts at (734) 457-5000.

Leasing vs Buying IT Equipment: Which is Better?

When you plan to upgrade or replace computer equipment, there are two ways to do it: Either leasing or buying the necessary IT equipment. As there is no hard and fast rule as to which alternative is better; it heavily depends on your business’ unique situation and needs. Here is an overview of each alternative’s pros and cons to help you decide between the two options:

When you lease IT equipment, the upfront costs are low, which allows a business to set aside moneys for more pressing needs.

There will be a set monthly payment with no surprises, and your business can keep up with the Joneses when it comes to having the most cutting-edge technology. If some new tech system pops up in a year or two that could help your business operations, upgrading is simple to do when leasing.

There are, however, downsides to leasing. Over the long term, you may pay more for the equipment your business uses. With a lease, there’s also the issue of having a contract that usually requires the business to rent the IT equipment for a set length of time.

This means that – even if your business opts to stop using that equipment or it becomes obsolete – the payments still must be made.

When you purchase your business’ IT equipment outright, there is only a single, albeit large, hit to the budget, and there’s no complicated paperwork to fill out or built-in caveats in the contract to look out for. It belongs to the business and decisions regarding maintenance and method of use are entirely up to those within the company instead of being governed by an outside entity. The purchased equipment can even be deducted from the business’ taxes.

On the other hand, putting a lot of money at once into a company’s IT needs may draw too much money out of other divisions’ budgets, such as marketing, for example. This can negatively impact the business’ bottom line. Another consideration is how often technology equipment should be updated. With buying such equipment, it’s far harder to upgrade to the latest technologies, which could require waiting for your recently purchased items to sell before making a fresh IT equipment purchase.

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.

Considerations When Buying A Home Wireless Router

Wi-Fi Router vectorChoosing and buying a router for your wireless internet at home can be a frustrating experience; you want speed, performance and coverage as well as longevity in the life of your upgraded router.

It’s not an easy task if you add to it the complexity of all those numbers attached to the router and the knowledge required to install it.

So, here are few considerations that will help you choose your next wireless router:

What’s the end goal?
Ask yourself: why am I buying a router? If it’s simply to build a wireless network at home and have access to the Internet, you could probably get away with a router at under $200.

However, if you want extra features, such as added security, parental controls, the ability to connect USB printers, and added external storage drives for data sharing, you need to search for a higher end router.

Also, you may not even need to have a wireless router in your house, especially if you use a PC or laptop that is already connected to a cable or DSL modem and there are no other devices that need to be connected wirelessly to the internet.

Should you go for a single or dual band?
Bands are the frequencies in which wireless communications operate. A single-band is geared toward simple wireless networks and a dual-band router operates on both the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies.

Although a router that sustains the 5 GHz frequency will work great for gaming and online streaming, it is not as good as the 2.4 when it comes to distance. So, consider the distance you need to cover when choosing the required band.

Further considerations
When buying your next router, remember that soon enough the 6th version of the Internet Protocol (IPv6) will be here, so you will need a router that supports this transition.

Another consideration is extra features that a router may offer, such as SD card slots and USB ports for printers for example.

If you want to future-proof your investment, make sure you get an 802.11 AC router, which is fast becoming the standard in wireless networking.

Finally, even with home networks, the more security, the better!

(Image Source: iCLIPART)