How Your Old PC Is Costing You Money

Ron Cochran is Help Desk supervisor for Tech Experts.

We all know that electronics become outdated almost as fast as you can purchase them, but what if I told you that holding onto that six to ten-year-old machine could be costing you just as much money as upgrading to a newer model?

Just like with any technology, the parts get smaller, more efficient, cheaper to buy, and cheaper to run. It could cost you real money in several ways: machine downtime, a sudden replacement when it crashes, paying an employee to redo their work after a failure.

Additionally, if a machine is extremely slow, tasks can be unnecessarily drawn out while employees wait for the computer to respond.

Then consider energy efficiency. That computer from 2008 could be using a 300w power supply that isn’t very energy efficient. Add an older, larger processor that is power-hungry to the mix and that 300w power supply is working at half capacity at 60% efficiency.

The use of other hardware – like your DVD ROM drive, USB, and video cards – can pull more power too, raising electricity costs.

Most computer manufacturers today plan on customers upgrading their technology within 3-6 years to keep up pace with the ever-changing software industry. Let’s say that, six years ago, you built your own machine with an almost top of the line CPU, more RAM than you needed, and a nice, fast hard drive.

That same machine will now have trouble keeping up with a machine of lesser quality.

This is partly due to the way software coding has changed, but also how electronic architecture has improved. The processors have gotten smaller and take less power, but work harder, faster, and more efficiently.

This shift in technology efficiency directly translates into more money left in your business account due to your employees being able to work more efficiently.

You also have to factor in data security once computers stop accepting essential critical operating system updates due to the lack of storage space.

Or how about that new graphic design software or CAD software you need to run that you can’t install because you don’t have enough RAM or a 64 bit operating system?

Once you need the 64-bit operating system, your RAM should be upgraded to run the operating system more efficiently.

The upgrades needed for older machines can pile up quickly.

The above principles apply to your company servers as well. Maybe even more so because of the amount of work they do and the data they store. In a server, the hard drives never stop spinning, the processors never stop processing.

You may have purchased an $8,000 server for your business, but if it was 12 years ago, it’s probably doing you more harm than good now. That server could be costing you more money in service calls for the issues that pop up or frequent, disruptive power cycles.

When buying IT equipment for your business or personal use, you should never buy something that is “just enough.” Not because it can’t do it, but because it will work harder to do the work, using more power to do it.

Think of it like a truck: a small truck CAN pull that new camper you bought, but a bigger truck will pull it more safely while costing you less money in fuel in the long run.

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.


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.

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…]

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.

Should You Upgrade To A Solid State Drive?

Luke Gruden is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

Solid state drives (SSD) are a relatively recent piece of technology that is slowly becoming more standard in the computer market, replacing hard disk drives.

SSDs are a very fast piece of technology that changes what we can do with computers, especially with mobile devices like tablets and laptops.

To understand the significance of an SSD, it’s important to understand the older hard disk drives (HDD) that most computers still use today.

HDDs are inexpensive and provide a large amount of space in a single drive. The speed of an HDD varies, but is very slow when compared to an SSD.

Since HDDs are cheaper, it is more reasonable to have large RAID of drives connecting to one another for backup purposes.

HDD are mechanical in nature in that it is a rotating disk spinning very fast with a single needle reading the information off of the disk.

Anything mechanical like this breaks down over time with wear and tear. If a laptop with an HDD gets hit or tilted at the wrong time, this can cause the HDD to break. For more portable and on the go devices, SSDs will not break nearly as easily as HDDs.

The biggest “pro” for SSD over HDD is the speed of an SSD in reading information.

For most computers, loading up Windows will take about a minute or much longer. With an SSD installed, Windows can load up in seconds. SSDs are about 10X faster than HDDs, possibly more depending on your set-up.

Having programs like Word and Excel open up instantly can drastically change your workflow and productivity. Having a faster drive means nearly everything you load from your computer will run faster as an SSD does not need to search for information like an HDD.

SSDs are still expensive when compared to HDDs, but are becoming cheaper with time. Currently, I can find a 500GB SSD for about $230 while a good HDD for the same space is about $100, so SSDs are little over twice as expensive as HDDs. Additionally, most HDDs will not fit into a laptop while all SSDs can fit into laptops.

If you wanted to upgrade to an SSD from an HDD, there is a cloning process where you can directly copy your drive information over to the new SSD as though nothing was ever changed other than the drive. This process would keep all of your programs and information and gain all the speed that comes with having a SSD.

If you want faster load times on your computer, have a laptop that moves around often, or you want Windows and Windows programs to start up almost instantly, then you want to upgrade your device to an SSD.

If you want a lot of storage with less expense but you can handle having slower speeds, keep your HDD. If you are interested in upgrading your computer but aren’t too sure yet, give us a call at Tech Experts and we can help.

Why Technology Is Important For Your Small Business

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

In modern computing, it is very important that you have a technological solution in place to allow smooth function at your small business. Here are 5 reasons why it’s important to do so.

Business Growth
As your business grows, you’re going to need a plan for expansion if you expect to grow. Technology changes every day and it’s important to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest tech in order to move forward in the growth direction. In today’s tech, there are even data growth solutions that will grow with your business automatically.

This not only saves time with expansion, but allows your business to save money in the long run. Technology is very important and should not be taken for granted in order for your business to thrive effectively.

On-The-Move Tech
As your business grows and you begin to move forward, you will need to be able to run your business from several locations. Technology allows you to do this from one central location. Utilizing tech makes certain that you’re not only monitoring your business at all locations, but that it’s more secure than ever.

From mobile devices to laptops to networking equipment, an IT professional will provide you with the best care needed to keep your business with you at all times.

Fewer Headaches With A Managed Plan
With a managed plan (such as the ones Tech Experts offer), your computer problems are monitored and are taken care of by a tech professional.

This cleans your hands of computer problems and allows you to run your business more effectively — minus the technology headache — and keeps your business running much more efficiently.

All workstations will be managed and up-to-date, along with programs that normally would fall behind due to user awareness.

Our tech team can and will make sure that your workstations servers and network equipment will have the latest firmware and software updates available.

Automate Computation
In today’s tech there are many ways to automate normally manual tasks. Such as automated password or online form completion.

Technology is designed to complete tasks for you while you sit back and save time and save money. Take advantage of a solution that is going to improve your everyday small business life on a colossal scale. Automation is domination in the computer world and should not be taken lightly.

Reduce Redundancy
Your data is a vital component to your business and it is very important that your data does not get overlooked.

When functioning in a business environment, the best practice is to not only have a backup of your data but prevent your data from being lost to begin with. This is when redundancy comes in.

Your server for your business should be monitored, verified, and managed by an IT professional. This will allow you to function throughout the day without worrying about your data being safe and secure, keep an increased outlook on productivity, and allow for a guaranteed solution for data retrieval.

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.

Four Tips For Next Year’s IT Budget

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

As the year winds down, you’re undoubtedly working out plans for 2016, and preparing your IT budget is top on that list. Every year presents unique network, server, and technology challenges that need to be addressed.

The increasing ubiquity of cloud services is something small business owners need to consider, but working out the basic budget items should take priority. Here are four tips to give your business a little bit of breathing room when it comes to planning next year’s IT expenses.

Think in the long term
When planning your IT budget, it’s important to consider both short-term and long-term investments that you’ll be making for the sake of your business.

[Read more…]

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.

Strategically Upgrading Your Computer Systems

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

With technology growing faster than most businesses can keep up with, organizations have to continuously upgrade their solutions in order to maintain a semblance of modernity. The only issue with this is that many businesses can’t keep up, simply because they don’t have a team that’s dedicated to this important task.

What technology upgrades should be made a top priority and why?

Naturally, the first thing you need to know about workstation and technology updates is that you need to integrate them periodically in order to ensure optimal security for your organization.

Most viruses and malware will attempt to take advantage of weaknesses in your infrastructure in order to infiltrate it.

These weaknesses in your software and operating systems’ source code will ultimately allow these threats to force their way into your network, putting any contained information at risk.

These flaws are often addressed in software patches and system updates issued by the software developer, but tackling the updates in a timely fashion is a whole other monster.

Managing all software updates is easier said than done, especially without a dedicated IT department watching over your technology. Regular maintenance is often pushed to the back burner and dangerously close to being forgotten about.

Therefore, the best way to make sure that your systems are prepared to handle the threats that are found in today’s computing environment is to make upgrading your technology a priority for your organization.

Software Updates
There are several programs that your organization needs in order to stay functional, so your software updates aren’t limited to just your workstations’ operating systems.

The fewer unnecessary security flaws that can be found in your IT infrastructure, the safer your information will be.

Furthermore, users who are working with top-notch, optimized technology will be far more productive than they would be if they were using sluggish, bogged down computers.

It doesn’t make any sense to let your employees use machines that hold them back from achieving their maximum productivity.

In fact, sometimes you might encounter a situation where using a different software will be better for your business strategy.

It’s always recommended that you consult with a professional technician before making drastic changes to your business’s software infrastructure.

Antivirus Updates
Your antivirus solution is often a software solution, but virus and malware definitions are continuously being updated.

If your antivirus and other security software solutions aren’t properly maintained, it’s like you’re “leaving your keys in the front door,” so to speak.

Your antivirus solution needs to be managed on all workstations – or, better yet, centrally controlled from the server to ensure that all users are protected and up to date at all times.

Hardware Updates
Older hardware that’s been around the block a time or two might have proven reliable, but it will eventually start to show signs of its old age. Hardware failure becomes more likely and you run the risk of losing information due to the degradation of your technology.

This is why monitoring your systems for faulty tech and periodically upgrading to more recent models is preferable, if not necessary.

Granted, all of these software and hardware upgrades may feel overwhelming. This is why Tech Experts offers a remote monitoring and maintenance solution that’s designed to administer patches to your mission-critical systems remotely.

This helps your organization ensure that your systems are always up-to-date. We can also monitor your infrastructure for any irregularities that might be caused by hardware malfunctions, hackers, and much more. Call us at (734) 457-5000, or email to learn more.