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Getting the Right Technology Match

In talking about preparing for the end of the Microsoft Windows XP operating system, we’re counseling clients and prospects more and more about the need for a systematic approach. Remember, Windows XP support ends next April, and we strongly recommend upgrading to Windows 7. As we’ve pointed out many times, Windows 8 is difficult for most business users to get used to. And because it’s such a departure from the look and feel most users like, anyone who needs to shuttle between the two platforms will want to tear his or her hair out.

However, upgrading one part of your technology system may have unintended consequences for an entire operation. We can perform a lot of magic on systems, but even the best IT support company can’t give you more rabbits if you don’t have a hat. You can supply the hat by following this tech system checklist.

  1. Don’t buy retail. Price aside, every retailer we’ve looked at does not sell computers with Windows 7. You’ll need to go directly through a manufacturer that offers you the Windows 7 option, but even then, you need to consider a number of factors. Every manufacturer’s website will have enough options and feature packages to make your head spin.
  2. Have the right computer. In all likelihood, if you have a computer running XP, it likely won’t handle Windows 7. Many old machines have 32-bit processing, and the newer operating system works best with 64-bit processing. The performance difference between the two is like night and day.
  3. Get the right processor in your computer. Many Windows-based computers come with either Intel or AMD processors. Each of those has a variety of processing speeds. The fastest isn’t necessarily the best for you. Higher-speed chips are required for doing a lot complex calculations, gaming and working with graphics (which, to a computer are complex calculations).
  4. Right-size your RAM. RAM (random access memory) is where your computer does its thinking. Generally speaking, the more RAM you have, the more information your computer can process faster. As with selecting the right chip, the amount of RAM you need depends on the application you’re running. In some cases, you can add RAM by adding and/or upgrading the RAM chips, but every computer has a finite RAM limit.
  5. Consider your peripherals. If you are a small business or have a home office and are hanging in with an older computer, you likely will need to upgrade peripherals, such as your printer and monitor. An older printer may not be able to handle a newer, faster computer. As with everything else, printer manufacturers reach a point where it doesn’t pay them to develop drivers (the software that connects the computer and your network to the printer) to support obsolete printers. And, if your old printers slow down computer and network performance, you won’t get full value. While older CRT monitors may still work, they’ll be so slow and fuzzy that you’ll strain your patience and your eyes. Flat-screen monitors will give you a bigger viewing area with higher resolution, and they’ll use much less power, too.  If you do wind up with a Windows 8 computer and want to use it like a tablet with a touchscreen, you’ll need a touchscreen monitor.
  6. Upgrade your software. When you go from a 32-bit to a 64-bit computer, you’ll need to upgrade your software. Older applications won’t run efficiently on the new computer, and you’ll lose time or capability or both. Again, software publishers reach a financial tipping point when supporting old software, so just roll this into your budget to get the best ROI on technology.
  7. Maintain enough network capacity. Businesses and homes depend on wireless networks with sufficient capacity to meet business, entertainment and education needs. For all the money you spend computers, devices and big TVs (including cable and satellite fees), it makes sense to have a network to handle everything. We’re seeing a lot of homeowners with under-powered networks, either because the routers are not robust enough or because they don’t have a good system of boosters to relay signals. Boosters can improve network performance substantially, but you need to locate them in the right places. In some newer, bigger buildings with a lot more concrete and rebar steel, you need to be especially careful about your installation.

Let’s talk about the technology you have and what you want technology to do. Then we can help you source and set up the right systems to give you a faster ROI and longer, less expensive service life. Drop us an email or call us – 973-433-6676

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.