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.

Stopping Power Surges Before They Reach Your Equipment

Ron Cochran is Help Desk supervisor for Tech Experts.

We all have some sort of electronic device that we plug into the wall, either to charge the battery or power the device. While these devices are connected to the power source in your home or office, they are being subjected to power surges on a regular basis. Some of these surges can damage your electronic devices.

The main source of a power surge is inclement weather. A surge protector or suppressor will keep your devices safe from inconsistencies in power delivery.

Most people will use power strips to connect more than one device to an outlet and these are OK to use, but they do not offer any surge suppression attributes.

A legitimate surge protector or suppressor will have a rating that is measured in joules, which represents how much of a power surge it can mitigate without damaging your electronic devices. There are several manufacturers of surge protectors for home use, whole-home use, and even industrial applications.

Depending on your needs and budget, you could install a whole-home surge protection system which would protect all of the devices in your house from a surge.

If you are budget-minded, then picking up a couple brand-name, surge-protecting power strips for your entertainment system or electronics charging station would be sufficient.

The one thing you have to keep in mind is if you are not protecting your computers, printers, and display devices from power surges, then you are taking the risk of losing valuable data on your storage devices.

You are also opening yourself up to the potential need to replace faulty equipment due to the power surge.

These repairs are not cheap and the data that you lost due to the power surge is most likely irreplaceable, unless you have a backup solution implemented.

Now, once you have decided to purchase a surge protector, you will need to decide how many and what devices you want plugged into it, keeping in mind the total power draw of all of the devices.

You do not want to use a lot of high-power equipment on one single surge protector because they are rated for a certain power draw; if you are consuming more power than they are rated for, they might not be able to do their job properly.

On top of an overloaded surge protector having issues operating and protecting your devices, it poses a fire hazard due to wires being overheated.

Winter is over and we are entering the stormy season of spring. Power surges will be happening in our area before you know it.

If you are concerned about protecting your home or office equipment from a power surge, then now is the time to evaluate your needs for a surge protector.

We’d be more than happy to conduct a site survey, then recommend and install surge protectors for your business needs.

Eleven Benefits Of Having Managed IT Support

Chris Myers is a field service technician for Tech Experts.

There are many perks to enlisting a managed service provider to handle all of your technology needs. Here are just a few:

Knowledge Base
You get access to a whole team of experienced professionals who spend all day every day fixing the same problems you are running into. When an issue pops up, chances are we have seen it before and know how to quickly resolve it.

Proactive Support
With our advanced monitoring software, we are immediately alerted to a variety of issues. Often, by the time you notice a problem, we’re already working to resolve it. Detecting and fixing issues early prevents them from escalating into major outages with long down times and expensive repairs. [Read more…]

Mobile Efficiency: Laptop Versus Tablet

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

We are an increasingly mobile society. Whether for work or personal, you’d be hard-pressed to find too many people without an Internet-connected device somewhere nearby. Smart phones are everywhere and basic Internet usage is at your fingertips.

When you need to work on the go or work while actually moving, there are device options that can help you really increase your productivity.

There are obviously many factors that can come into play when talking about meeting your mobile and professional needs.

What kind of tasks do you need to perform? What sort of software do you need access to? Are you going to be switching between applications and run multiple tasks at once? How frequently and how far are you moving?

I know, so many questions! So where can we even begin?

Just like any other job in the world, having the right tools can make things so much easier. If you work at a restaurant as a server for instance, using a laptop is very impractical. Carrying it around typing orders on a keyboard would prove to be difficult, just as writing a novel on a tablet touchscreen keyboard would be. These are some clear-cut scenarios, but most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

So let’s talk about some of those questions.

What kind of tasks do you need to run? If you are just replying to email, stick to your smart phone. That is where you’ll end up anyway.

For everyone else? What kind of programs and applications are you using? The first thing you should check, if you don’t already know, is if there are mobile versions of the programs you use. Some programs may not be user friendly on a touchscreen if you use the standard version.

Use your smartphone to see if these applications are user friendly in a new setting. The app may not perform as well as it would on a tablet, but maybe you can decide if it’s something you can work with. If the programs are available and you are comfortable using them with a touchscreen interface, you may be ready to use a tablet for work.

When it comes to laptops specifically, the first thing I would consider is how much you’ll be moving around. If you travel from place to place, but typically sit to work at different locations, a laptop is always going to be an option.

The difference is the limitations of the device. A laptop has more capability when compared to a tablet. After all, it is a computer.

If you are switching between many programs and applications frequently and use multiple programs at one time, then a laptop will have more capable processing power to allow you to work unbothered by slow system response time.

The best summary I can give is, if you move around while working, get a tablet. If you sit, just in different locations, you’ll be happier with a laptop.

If you can’t find yourself leaning one way or another, the third option would be a Surface type of machine. With the processing power and speed of a laptop but the mobility of a tablet, you will spend more money for the ultimate solution in mobile versatility and efficiency, but won’t feel the constraints of either other option.

It’s all about you and how you want to get your work done.

Wiperware: New Malware That Shouldn’t Be Taken Lightly

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Any business can be a target for hackers who use ransomware. However, in recent months, a major new threat has emerged. The recent Petya attack was initially perceived to be another form of ransomware.

However, as the firms involved took stock in the aftermath of the events, it became apparent that the attack took the form of “wipeware,” code that is designed to completely destroy the files stored on any system.

What is wiperware?

Wiperware is designed with one goal in mind: total destruction. The malware asks users to install a software update and then it immediately takes control of the device. Once it has gained admin access, it completely overwrites all files on the device and in some cases the entire network. Any attached storage is also vulnerable, included USB external drives, memory sticks and network shared drives.

While the motivations behind Petya remain unknown, what is abundantly clear is that wiperware is a threat that needs to be taken very seriously. Here are a couple of things you can do right now. [Read more…]

What Are The Signs Of A Failing Hard Drive?

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

As a network engineer by day, I can say that have seen a lot of hard drive problems and, if they’re not taken care of properly, they can cause a severe technical headache. It is important to notice the signs that are present to you and, fortunately, there’s several to note.

Sluggish performance of your workstation is one of the main issues. This can occur without warning and it can even seem like a virus or cause a blue screen of death (BSOD).

Another sign is your PC or workstation making clicking or grinding noises. This can cause a read failure to occur and cause the drive to be inaccessible, which in turn causes data loss. [Read more…]

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.

Backups: Don’t Wait Until It Breaks

Accidents happen. Eventually, something will go wrong and when it does, you are going to want to be protected. Having a backup means more than just having an extra file on hand. It means being able to rest easy knowing that, if the worst should happen, it would not be the end of your business. It means that in the event of a total collapse of your systems, you have a fallback plan. It means knowing that you have already taken care of the largest problem in the event of a crash: recovering files and getting back up to date.

The most common way data is lost is due to a workstation failing due to user error or the occasional spilled drink. If the workstation is not backed up, the files may all be lost. A growing way to lose data is due to viruses and infections that spread throughout the computer and delete, steal, or corrupt the data.

The question people begin to become puzzled with is, “What can/should I backup?” The easy answer is everything. With technology being what it is today, space is cheap. You can sometimes back up an entire business for a few hundred dollars. On the other hand, you can wait for everything to go wrong, replace a dozen devices then try to start recovering all the data lost in the tragedy.

If space does become tight, start to look at things your business cannot function without, such as client information (phone numbers, email addresses, notes about the client), sales and product receipts, Internet bookmarks, anything that cannot be replaced, and anything that takes time to replace.

Backing up the data can be as simple as storing a copy of your important files on an external hard drive that you bring up to date every week. If the worst should happen after a backup is kept, you need only to plug in the backup drive to the repaired or replacement computer, copy the contents over, and continue on with your work. Instead of losing years of data, you only lose a few days.

What should you use to back up your data? In the example above, using a small flash drive or external hard drive, they can usually be damaged or lost quite easily. If the memory device is lost, it poses a problem in that it is unsecured data and can be accessed by anyone that plugs it into their computer. While these devices can be a cheap solution to backing up data, they are far from perfect.

One of the most popular solutions for any business – smaller businesses especially – is online backup. The perk of online backup is there is no hardware or software on site that can be damaged, lost, or stolen. A monthly fee based on how much storage you require is all it takes. Choose the data you want to backup and it will be securely sent to a data center where it is stored. Generally, this can be done automatically which can remove accidental user error from the equation.

In a perfect world, we would all have a backup for our data and a backup for our backup, but even having one backup can sometimes be enough to keep a problematic crash or error from becoming a monumental crisis. If you do not already have a backup in place, you have to ask yourself one thing: if all your systems crashed tomorrow, would you recover?

Technology Considerations When Moving To A New Office

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

Moving your office is never an easy task. You have to move furniture, personal objects, and above all else, your technology infrastructure. There’s nothing simple about moving your office’s technology, but it’s still nothing to get worried about. That’s why we’re here to help – from suggesting the optimal network cabling, to the proper deployment of new and improved technology solutions.

For example, let’s take a look at your office. You have a certain number of workstations, one for each of your employees. These workstations need to be connected via cable to your business’s network. Otherwise, your team could go without required software, data, and other important resources. Your cabling infrastructure could quickly grow to be uncontrollable, especially if you don’t approach your cabling procedures correctly.

[Read more…]