Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Professional Purchase Advice

Professional help in choosing the right hardware and software.

Help Selecting Software & Hardware

Lost in the rush for high tech is the reason why the technology exists in the first place. Information. All the technology in the world is useless if it cannot collect, store, retrieve, and manipulate information efficiently. The Information in any IT system should have equal or greater value than the technology used in that system.
George Andrews

Need a New Computer?

I don't build or sell computer systems or software, but I can help you make the right choices. I can also put everything together in your home or office so that you are up and running quickly and smoothly.

I maintain relationships with various vendors to ensure prompt resolution of any problems you may encounter.

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Many users with current systems have very stable systems not requiring replacement. However, there may be other reasons to do so.

  • Your productivity has decreased or you're experiencing problems with current hardware or software.
  • Newer technology like USB 3 or USB-C ports for rapid backups or transfers, HDMI for high-definition digital video and improved wireless connectivity are compelling reasons to upgrade.
  • Touch screens, solid-state drives (SSDs) for quicker access to your data and compatibility with mobile devices can improve productivity.

Business Users Affected Most

Home users don't need to consider lost productivity or downtime the same way that businesses do. While annoying, slow computers don't affect personal revenue like it does for a professional user.

The Texas Department of Information Resource noted the following hidden costs associated with keeping PCs older than 4 to 4.5 years:

  • They cost 59 percent more to support.
  • They take up to 50 percent longer to perform some tasks. Today's desktops have two times the performance of a three-year-old desktop.
  • There are 53 percent more security breaches.
  • Older PCs use 50 percent more energy.
  • Older PCs are seldom under warranty. Recent studies estimate the failure rate in year four is about 24 percent, twice the rate in year one.

An Intel document, How Much is it Costing Your Business to Run Old PCs?, concurs. Old PCs often cost more to repair than replace and hinder employee productivity.

Even if your computer is no longer fast enough or cannot run the current software, there are alternatives to purchasing a new system:

  • Upgrading hardware and software to improve performance.
  • Installing a newer version of Windows (some XP and Vista machines can be upgraded).
  • Linux provides additional upgrade possibilities for older hardware.

Considered Upgrading Your Current Computer

Perhaps a new video card or more RAM will improve performance. A larger monitor or faster hard drive with more capacity may be all you need. Keep in mind that desktop computers are much easier to upgrade than laptops and not all new technologies can be purchased as add-ons.

Upgrading Windows

I've generally recommended Windows 7 rather than moving to Windows 10 for most people, but it depends upon your requirements and how important privacy is to you.

Newer versions of Windows will probably require new hardware so it is recommended that you look at alternatives if you wish to continue to use legacy hardware.

Windows 10 provides access to the newest technologies like holographic computing, biometric login, 3D printing and the ability to stop working on one device and resume on another. However, you should be aware of some of the privacy issues.

Purchasing a New Computer

Don't be fooled by the rows of shiny new Windows 10 computers at the store. Adoption has been much slower than anticipated, and for good reason.

Windows 10

Windows 10 is a “mobile-first, cloud-first” hybrid of Windows 7 and 8 as well as mobile and desktop. It is an improvement over Windows 8.1 but there is a significant learning curve if you're upgrading from Windows 7 or earlier.

Microsoft claims that Windows 10 is more secure. That's true, but you need to understand what that means.

  • Older computers and Windows versions have legacy components that aren't as well maintained (or obsolete) making staying safe harder.
  • Windows 10 will be continually updated for the life of the device. Users have already experienced flawed updates.
  • Windows 10 achieves much of its improved security by monitoring the files on your computer, the sites you visit. This has huge privacy issues, particularly as you can't be sure who has access to such files.
  • Microsoft is a business that has placed its future success on advertising more than on selling a new operating system every few years.

Windows 7

Windows 7 computers can still be obtained (desktop systems are easier to obtain than laptops). The interface is familiar and it is supported until early 2020.

Other Alternatives

Many Windows users have moved to the Mac based upon their experience with iPhones and iPads. Linux is an attractive option for those with a smaller budget or with concerns about privacy. See the sidebar for more.

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Staying "Green"

One of the ways to help reduce waste is to purchase computer hardware with a longer lifespan. Cheaper computers seldom save you money in the long term and tend to become obsolete sooner whereas investing in better hardware can allow more latitude in less expensive future upgrade options.

There's more information about recycling options for your older computer and electronic equipment.

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Options & Alternatives

You'll want products that enable you to accomplish your goals today while maintaining flexibility for future expansion.

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows has been the primary choice for both consumers and business for many years.

However, the emergence of mobile devices like smart phones and tablets have weakened the dominance of Windows because they have a minimal presence in that market.

Windows 10 attempts to change that, but many are concerned about privacy issues and are concerned with the drastic change from a familiar Windows interface.

Windows Life-cycle of Support

Microsoft has a stated support life-cycle policy which means they will cease to support a particular version of Windows or software within a predictable time period after its release. Learn more.

Apple Mac

Apple Macintosh computers have become much more popular over the last couple of years. Folks using iPhones and iPads are getting used to the ergonomics of good design.

Apple products are more expensive but can present fewer problems since Apple controls both the hardware and the software.

Potential Learning Curve

There is a learning curve and you'll want to be sure that you can run any specialized software as well as the cost of reinvesting in expensive software such as Adobe Photoshop if you already own the Windows version and that works for you.

The lifespan may also be shorter than you've been used to with Windows systems because Apple won't allow older devices to upgrade to the newest Mac OS or iOS.

This allows Apple to move past obsolete technologies faster than Windows, but can mean you must either upgrade more frequently or live with aging software.


Linux runs on the same hardware as Windows. You can generally get Linux to run well, even on a legacy computer. Newer systems will be faster and support most modern hardware.

Linux is tops for stability and security — features that are particularly weak in Windows. Two versions of Linux are now number three (Ubuntu) and four (Mint) after Windows and Mac in popularity for home operating systems.

Linux can also breathe new life into an older computer if you're only using it for surfing the Web, email and other less-demanding tasks.

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to discuss your options!
Updated: December 23, 2016