For the many years that I have worked in IT, I have been asked “I’m looking to buy a computer but I don’t know what to get?” or something along those lines.  The first thing I tend to ask is “What do you want it for?” This is an important question as this will help to identify some of the key components that could be required.

Back in April 2008 I purchased a Dell Vostro E4500 base unit to replace an existing Dell Dimension, which I had for over 9 years. The Dell Vostro came with Windows Vista Home Premium with a 1TB hard drive, 3Gb of RAM, a Core 2 duo processor 2.20GHz, 2 x DVD drives one to read only and one write, a 19 in 1 Media card reader, 128Mb graphics card, and an Internal wireless PCI card.  (Refer to the Glossary below which explains what these specifications mean). When I purchased this machine, it was for all the family to use and therefore this was the most appropriate specification base unit that I needed, which would last me for at least 5 years.  This cost £527.00 inclusive of VAT and delivery directly from Dell.  You know what, we are still using this machine and the performance is not as fast as it was when we first got it but is not bad enough for anyone in the house to complain.

So what do I do that keeps my computer performing at an acceptable standard? 

  1. I carry out regular housekeeping on the documents that are stored on the machine.  Regular defragging of the hard drives ensures that the system can retrieve files quicker. The 1TB hard drive is split into 2 partitions, the C drive being 455GB and the D drive being 465GB, with 148GB and 122GB free respectively on each drive.  With this amount of free space and 3GB of RAM, the system processor does not have any problems with the performance
  2. At least once every 6 months I carry out some housekeeping by deleting all the ‘Temp’ files that are created and stored when various applications are installed on the computer.  This also includes clearing out temporary internet files, you will be surprised as to how much these can accumulate over a period of time.  The internet files are not big in size, however failing to delete them could consume several megabytes (MB) of valuable space on your computer.
  3. I use the Control Panel, to remove programs that I no longer use or want to use, some of these programs can take up so much storage which you can free up if you are not going to be using them.

Carrying out regular maintenance is not that difficult and I would strongly recommend that you do this at regular intervals.  If you’re not sure what to do or feel frightened about accidentally deleting any important files, then contact Kam at KITT Consultancy for advice.  These steps are simple and any user should be able to do some basic housekeeping.

Common complaints about computers 

Recently a number of people I met at networking meetings have been complaining about their computers, one of the main issues being that the performance is very slow, and that they are looking to buy a new computer.  When asked how old the system is, of the response I most get is less than 5 years.

With most of them the main problem is file storage, the hard drive is almost full, which basically means that the computer processor is struggling to find storage space to carry out the instructions.  When asked to delete or move files off the hard drive, I’m told that they need them for their business.  I totally understand that, however, we all want to have things that are easily accessible, for that ‘just in case’ moment.  Why not store those files on a USB flash drive, the largest that is available on the current market is 128GB and if you get one with Encryption, these files can be kept secure should you worried about losing the drive.

Average cost of one of these drives can be around £45.  Although you can get larger portable storage hard drives at slightly higher costs and they can be as small as a smartphone in size. A 1TB portable hard drive could cost anything from £40 or more.

In many cases it is about working differently and smarter.

Call Kam at KITT Consultancy 0800 999 5488 for free advice on how to work differently and smarter, without the need to invest in a new computer, unless your computer is over 5 years old in which case an upgrade may well be necessary.

Glossary – A quick guide to specifications

Core 2 Duo processor This is the main Central Processing Unit (CPU).  It is part of Intel brand and is where all the instructions processed.

Random Access Memory (RAM) These come in module form and the CPU uses this to help with the processing of information.

GigaHertz (GHz) This is a unit of frequency, 1Ghz represents 1 billon cycles per second.  So the speed of the Core 2 Duo processor is 2.2 billion cycles per second.

Gigabyte (GB) This is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information.

Terabyte (TB) See table below.

Media Card Reader This a device that will allow you to read various different types of portable storage cards, such SD cards, Memory cards, MicroSD cards etc.

Graphics Card This is required in order for you to be able to see the information on a screen.

Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Card Is a piece of hardware that can be added to the computer motherboard to connect additional hardware, such as a scanner or network connections.

Universal Serial Bus (USB) This is industry standard connector. Many electronic devices have a USB port to charge up the device or to connect with another device.

Flash Drive Is a data storage type device and come in different forms

Size

Abbreviation

 

Capacity

Bit

b

1 or 0 (on or off)

Byte

B

8b = 1B

Kilobyte

KB

1024B = 1KB

Megabyte

MB

1024KB = 1MB

Approx. 870 pages of plain text

Gigabyte

GB

1024MB = 1GB

Approx. 895,000 pages of plain text

Terabyte

TB

1024GB = 1TB

Approx. 916,260,000 pages of plain text

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