Saturday, January 13, 2007

Do I Upgrade Or Replace?

by Lockergnome on January 12, 2007 at 12:44 pm · Comments
Categorized by Gnewbie Gnook / Related Information

Q: My two-year-old computer has become extremely slow and I am trying to decide whether to upgrade it or buy a new computer. - Denny

A:Any computer that is connected to the Internet is bound to build up the “grime” associated with cruising on the “Information Superhighway” and cleaning out that grime should be the first step for anyone that is experiencing slow performance from their computer.

The longer it has been since you have thoroughly cleaned up or reloaded the operating system, the more likely it will have a dramatic improvement on the performance.

Many users assume it’s time to buy a new computer when it becomes very slow and make the additional mistake of overlooking the pain involved when starting with a new computer.

A new computer will likely be faster than your old one, but you will have to install all of your old programs, re-establish your network connections, reinstall your printer drivers, scanner drivers, digital camera software and restore your backups (if you even have them).

What about your e-mail messages, address book, pictures, music, videos and favorites? Will you know how to transfer those items? If you are tech savvy, these kinds of details may not be that difficult, but for most novices getting the new computer to work like the old one can takes weeks if not months.

If you have to hire someone to transfer all of your data and programs as well as get you back on your home or business network, it may be substantially cheaper to cleanup and upgrade your existing system.

If your computer is taking a lot longer to boot-up than it did when you first got it, this is the first indication that a cleanup may be in order.

The quickest way to determine if you have excessive grime clogging up your computer is to check to see how many processes are running in the background. To do this, close any open programs, click on the Start button then on Run and type “taskmgr.”

This will open the Task Manager which has a number of tabs across the top, but you want to look at the bottom left corner for the Processes. If the number is above 35-38 for desktops and 38-42 for laptops, you will likely benefit from a cleanup of your computer.

The higher that number is the more valuable a cleanup will be as these processes rob your computers ability to perform your desired tasks.

Cleaning up your operating system, while leaving all your programs and settings in tact and adding additional RAM can generally bring a two to three year old computer back to a life and be substantially cheaper than buying a new computer, especially if your primary use is the Internet and e-mail.

Having had to perform both tasks for hundreds of users, it is without question, a lot less stressful for the user to get an existing computer back to health than it is to start over, provided the computer is not too old.

You don’t have to learn anything new or go track down your original disks or try to figure out where all the critical files reside on your hard drive - contrary to popular belief, everything does not reside in the My Documents folder!

Each situation is unique, so take some time to really think both scenarios through and do the math in both time and money before you make your decision. The advertised price on a new computer is just the beginning, not the end!

Ken Colburn
President of Data Doctors Computer Services
Host of the award-winning Computer Corner radio show
Author of Computer Q&A in the East Valley Tribune newspapers

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