Buying a computer… again.

March 17, 2006

Time goes on, the computer gets older, slower, less productive… now what? Upgrade old? Buy new? Just deal?

Every person or business has a different set of requirements for their computer. The first step in determining what to buy (or not buy) is: Make a list.

Here’s how the list should flow:

  1. What do I do with my computer now?
    Note all the programs you use and how often you use them.
    If more than one person uses the computer, include their tasks.
  2. What would I like to do with my computer later?
    Note all the tasks you would like to perform with your computer in the future.
  3. How much money can I spend?
    This needs to be greater than zero in order to proceed, so be specific. 🙂

Once this list is defined in detail, it’s time to determine next steps. The solution is not always going to include buying a new computer, so it’s important to define the need thoroughly. From here, we compare your current and future needs with the available options.

Option 1: Upgrade Your Computer
Depending on your existing computer’s overall capability, it may be feasible to improve it and meet your needs in the process. This is usually the case with custom-built computers, as they are typically more upgradable than a pre-built/pre-packaged machine. A careful review of the specifications along with pricing research on new hardware will reveal this option’s practicality. This option saves money, usually.

Option 2: Buy a New Computer (or build one)
After determining that an upgrade is out of the question, we move on to the “new machine” category. The decision tree splits again and we have to decide on whether to buy a pre-built machine or a custom-built machine. And note: When a computer seller allows you to “customize” your computer purchase is does not necessarily mean that you are custom-building your machine. It often means you are selecting from a limited set of choices that are predetermined.

There are MANY computers out there and research is key. With any component of the machine we need to know these three things:

  1. Does it meet my requirements?
  2. Does it have an reputable warranty and service program?
  3. Is it within my budget?

The most difficult part of the research is answering question #1. A thorough understanding of how a computer works will serve you well here. An incorrect answer here will cause problems later. Especially when building a machine, the details are very important. As an example of how many details there are, just take a peek at this hardware tutorial! You may want a translator to help you decipher it.

Option 3: Just Deal
Okay, so you’re not ready for a new machine. That’s okay! There are plenty of ways to keep your machine up and running so you can continue your daily routine. Here are the big things:

  • Defragment your hard disk regularly
  • Update virus and spyware scanners and scan daily
  • Install all appropriate Windows updates
  • Back-up your data regularly

This is a lot of information to absorb, but it should give you a starting point for your computer-buying adventure. Don’t forget that you can look on the Internet for buying guides, reviews and other sources that will help you make a decision.

Note: The information above is specific to PCs with Microsoft Windows.