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Friday, July 22, 2011

Is it cheaper to buy a new system or should I fix it?

The question on whether to purchase a new computer system or fix the old one is a question that I hear and see a lot.  Though most of the answers appear to address the question, none has thoroughly given focus to the client base of those posing the question.  I have read recommendations about a 3 year life cycle because, the government uses it or majority of fortune 1000 companies deploy a 3 year lifecycle on average on computer systems.  To really address this topic, one must define and group those posing this question.  For governments, big businesses and other organizations with internal IT department, processes and procedures to answer this question are already in-place.  This article is for home users and mom and pop businesses without internal IT or someone in-house able to offer sound answer to this particular question.
I have to digress a little bit before moving forward.  My recommendation on computer system acquisitions is to purchase the most powerful system that your money can afford.  In this instance, the most powerful means the most memory, most powerful processor and all the features that you need now and maybe for the next six months.   Having said this and assuming that you purchased the most powerful system that you could afford.  When do I replace it or better yet when do I stop spending money on fixing it?  Is it cheaper to buy a new system or should I fix it?
The idea that a 3-year hardware and software lifecycle is a standard for home, mom and pop establishment is a fallacy.  Even big corporations, the government do not adhere to a strict 3-year deployment lifecycle.  Here are the questions that move big organizations to replace aging systems.  Can the new hardware or software address a critical need for example, could the new system address a security flaw in the currently deployed system?   Are there features in the new system that may help increase productivity?
So for these big organizations, the mantra is security, productivity, clients’ satisfaction and finally their end user experience.  As an individual, your decision to replace an existing system must be based on consideration of those reasons.  Buying a computer system with all the bells and whistles is great but if the bells and whistles are unused of what benefit is it to you.   Here is another question to ask.  What is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) suggested lifecycle for their products?  This means, how long will the makers of the hardware and software address issues related to their products, vis-à-vis, product updates, and warranty and out of warranty support.
On average the support lifecycle for hardware and software is between 4 to 5 yrs.  Microsoft supported XP for 7 years and major commercial establishments have zillions of XP deployed today.  Have you been to any major venue for entertainment, those teller machines, cash registers are more than likely running on Windows XP.   Have you called your wireless phone company, to hear hold on please my computer is still booting up or hold on this system is slow today.  These companies are not super –fitting their systems with the newest systems available.  It must make business sense to them to replace systems.  As an individual, it has to make sense (user ability-wise and financially) to lock oneself into replacement lifecycle timetable.   
When do I stop spending money on fixing it?  This is a great question.  It is a difficult question to answer because of many variables.  I will start by giving recommendations on how to reduce, frequent visits to a computer repair facility, thereby reducing fixing expenses in general.  Ben Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  This is true with computers.  After purchasing the most powerful system that you can afford, take these preventive measures to ensure a long and enjoyable experience.  A properly configured anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-malware, anti-rootkit product is a must.  The key here is properly configured; simply installing antivirus software is not sufficient.  You must configure the individual protection modules of the software to suit your way of using your computer.  It is critical to have a backup of your critical data either on a thumb drive (external drives) and if possible subscribe to online backup services.  The cost is minimal.  Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is necessary.  UPS can help with assuring a clean power supply to your computer, which may help extend the life of electronic components in your system.  You may configure it to allow you sufficient time to gracefully end open programs during times of power failure.  Eco-friendly systems could save you money by reducing electric supply to inactive systems.  Firewall is a good investment for computers.  Most operating systems come equipped with sufficient firewall for home users.  The key is to configure it properly.  Automatic update services for all your installed software and operating system is essential. 
I will include under preventive maintenance, periodic manual scanning for malware using different software than one currently installed on your system.  What do I mean; periodically you may use online anti-malware scanners from reputable companies to scan your system.  Let us be clear here, reputable companies are (CA, Norton, AVG, Avast, Panda, McAffe etc).  Please beware of all those PC scan ads popping on every page.  I do recommend periodic PC Optimization; the time interval for this optimization varies based on usage and age of the system.   Your initial PC setup should include optimization. 
I have used properly configured many times in the last paragraph.  It is very crucial that you have those preventive measures properly configured.  If you know how to great, otherwise a reputable computer repair company may prove invaluable in this instance.  May I plug the fact that Univirtek Technology in Columbia, Maryland can help.  Univirtek Technology is an IT company that offers computer repair, virus removal, network design and support, data recovery and IT administration for home and businesses in Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia. 
So far, I have listed what I consider essential preventive items for your computer but have not answered the question “When should I stop spending money on fixing my computer and buy a new one”.  The answer is unique to each and every situation.  Are you replacing major system component such as motherboard?  Has your warranty expired?  How critical is the data in your old computer?  Do you need data recovery service to recover your data?  If data recovery is involved, you alone know the value of the data and you alone can assign the proper price for the data.  Is it priceless?   Memory upgrades if it is possible is a good return on investment.  Your PC optimization consult must include recommendations on whether memory upgrade is possible and cost.  Virus removal is a service; you will need rarely if you follow my preventive recommendations.  On that rare occasion that you are infected, a cleaning service is necessary if you need data from your PC.   My recommendation is to be careful about motherboard replacement for a system over 3 years old for a basic computer for general use.  The hardware cost plus the labor cost may be high enough to justify moving to a new PC.  There may also be compatibility issues with hardware already installed in your PC.  If you need further assistance with your decision on whether to fix or buy new, please contact a reputable computer repair shop for guidance.  Univirtek Technology skilled and knowledgeable techies will be glad to assist you. 

Univirtek Technology | Computer Repair | Virus Removal |PC Optimization | Data Recovery |Outsourced IT |Columbia, Maryland

Monday, October 11, 2010

Community Involvement

One of my goals with Univirtek Technology is to be active in the community.  Most of my friends and associates from my days in corporate america were aware of this.  As such one ex co-worker asked if I could help a residential retirement community with their computer development project for seniors.  I agreed because I wanted to give back as much as possible.  I started my research on how to introduce computer and associated technologies to seniors with little or no computer knowledge.  I was amazed on how much power, potential and independence that this project brought to the residents of this facility.  The residents became my students and were passionate about the possibilities of computing technology.  Most of the students reconnected with families and friends far away.  One of the residents worked on her genealogy.  I gained profound joy to see the excitement in their eyes and eagerness to learn more.  At Univirtek Technology we continue to look for ways to enhance the lives of people in our community.  Share with us what you are doing to enhance the community that you live in.