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Vol. 1 issue #144 May 02, 2005                    


Consider Your Actual Needs
©2005 by Bob Osgoodby


Most of the computers sold in retail stores are a compromise,
designed to appeal to the widest number of potential purchasers.
Depending on what you want to use it for, usually it is not what
you need, as they are what are referred to as “middle of the
road” systems.

There are several things that you should take into consideration.

If your primary use will be basically email and word processing,
if you buy one of these “middle of the road” systems, you will be
paying for a lot of “bells and whistles” you don’t really need
and will never use. You really don’t need the “blinding speed” of
the upper end processors as you will never be able to use it in
the applications you use.

While a CD is required to install software, you may not need a
Floppy Disk. If the only thing you will use them for is loading
programs when you first get the system or acquire new software,
the high end devices are simply “overkill” and unnecessarily add
to the cost of the system you buy.

If however, you use the computer for entertainment purposes,
rather than getting a CD read only device, consider one that can
read and write – in other words a CD Burner. That way, if you
download something from the web, you can create your own CDs. You
might also consider a second unit so that if you want to copy
particular songs from several CDs you already have for your own
use, you can. In this case I would recommend a DVD reader as the
second unit as that can read both DVDs as well as CDs. You can
also make copies of your software, and if you have downloaded
programs from the web, you can archive them as well.

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The actual processor you select is the most expensive part of the
computer you choose. If your processing needs are minimal, such
as email and/or word processing, you should consider the lower
end – about a gigahertz in speed. It makes no sense to pay for
something you don’t need. On the flip side however, if you
intend to do high end graphics, you will be disappointed if you
select a slower speed. If you are a game buff, definitely
consider a 2+ gigahertz speed, as most games are graphic

Your hard drive is your next consideration. Be sure it is at
least 40 to 60 gigabytes and runs at 7,200 RPM. These should
provide adequate storage for most people. This is a case where
bigger is not better. Larger drives are available but run at a
slower speed, which degrades your access time. If you are doing
work that is critical in nature, and you would have a difficult
time recovering from a disk crash, consider two hard drives.

That way you can easily back up your data files and programs to a
second drive. Simply change the wire, reinstall Windows and
you’re back in business very quickly. This does require some
discipline on your part however, as you must periodically back up
to the second drive.

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The case you buy for your computer is also important. Unless
space is an important consideration, forget the really small ones
as they have very few expansion slots for future growth. A mid
size tower is probably your best bet. Be sure the power supply is
adequate to your needs. Most “middle of the road systems” offer
250 watt power supplies which may not be adequate – if you want
expandability, consider 400 watts.

As far as which version of Windows to get, XP is fine for casual
use. It is very friendly and suited to the novice user. If
however, you have had Windows 98 or 2000, you will most likely be
disappointed with XP, and should consider XP Pro. Be aware
however, that some of the hardware and software you had on
Windows 98 or 2000 may not work properly on XP.

So what is the best way to get your new computer? If you can
read and follow directions, consider buying the components and
building your own. The newer cases available are a lot
friendlier than they were in the past. If this is a task you
don’t want to tackle, try to find someone who can build it for
you. Be sure they are knowledgeable in all phases of the
hardware and software, and will be available to answer questions
you might have. While you will pay a little extra for this
service, it could pay big dividends in the event of problems
later on.


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It is advisable however under any circumstances, to contact
someone who has experience, as they could point you to cost
saving equipment that you may not find yourself. They can also
help you get a balanced system which better suits your needs and
the applications you will be using.

Selecting the proper components is a delicate balance between
cost and capabilities. If you consider your actual needs, you
won’t be paying for things you don’t need, and you won’t be
disappointed with the performance you expected.

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"Tip of the Day" get a Free Ad for their Business at his Web
Site? Great Business and Computer Tips – Monday. Wednesday. And
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