Time for a Hardware Refresh

Windows 7 is long gone, and Windows 10 is scheduled to leave our technology world in October 2025. If you haven’t installed Windows 11 yet on all your desktops and laptops, now is the time. If your computer cannot accommodate Windows 11, it’s because it lacks a security chip that’s designed to work in the AI (artificial intelligence) environment. The longer you wait, the longer you keep that 244-day window open for someone to hide in your system. Start planning your upgrade now.

One of my secret indulgences is watching shows on air disasters on the Smithsonian Channel. One thing I’ve learned is that many disasters don’t happen because of one thing. Many small things happen over a period of time, and then the disaster happens. It’s no different with your technology systems.

Windows 11 has built-in security systems based on its NPU or Neural Processing Unit. NPUs are optimized for data-driven parallel computing, making them highly efficient at processing massive multimedia data like videos and images and processing data for neural networks. They are particularly adept at handling AI-related tasks, such as speech recognition, background blurring in video calls, and photo or video editing processes like object detection.

Video and photos are a key part of new security measures. We’re familiar with them through facial recognition. But, they require massive amounts of data and encryption to be effective. For securing NPUs, a key performance challenge is in the encryption and integrity protection for external memory. NPUs will be able to handle AI applications, from voice recognition in virtual assistants to real-time language translation and facial recognition. Facial recognition is a rapidly growing security feature that you probably use a lot to replace entering passwords when using your cell phone. Newer, higher-end cell phones have NPUs.

The bottom line for security is that the better your computer can verify a face or a voice, the more confident you can be with security. Facial recognition is widely used in 2FA (two-factor authentication), which you, your employees, and your family members should be using for every website that offers it. All of this keeps that 244-day clock from starting by preventing an intrusion.

For business applications, the speed of NPUs is just as important as security. With Windows 11, your business will be able to process more data faster – and more securely – because the software will be able to send smaller packets of data through the internet and have them reassembled at cloud servers. That aids encryption, which helps security. You can’t have it without Windows 11.

Oh, and one more thing. When old, slow Windows 10 goes away, so will all those bug fixes and security patches from Microsoft. You will be easier prey for the bad actors who will use your system to tunnel into other, larger systems and just wait there – for 244 days or whenever – to make a huge cyberattack with a big haul.

If you haven’t made the switch to Windows 11, we urge you to do it now. If you need to buy new computers to run Windows 11, don’t wait until October 2025 or even 244 days from now. Start the hardware refresh process now. We can install and configure Windows 11 to maximize its benefits for you. If you need new computers, we can help you select the ones that best meet your needs and transfer all your data and reinstall your apps. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to talk about it.

Don’t Speculate on Computer Specs

When one of our clients merged with another company, they adopted the other company’s desktop computer specifications. They differ from ours, but the conversation sparked a good discussion about guessing how much computing power you need. There are some rules of thumb, but it’s easy to avoid problems down the line when you understand what you’re buying with a computer.

We consider these to be the three key specifications: 1.) RAM (random access memory), 2.) the processor chipset, and 3.) hard drive capacity. Some people use the term memory for RAM and hard drive capacity interchangeably. Those of us in the computer business know they are separate, and you can order the right computer more effectively if you keep them separate, too.

RAM is – in a sense – temporary memory capacity. It’s the memory that’s used to perform functions, i.e., spreadsheet calculations, word processing, internet searches, etc. Once you save whatever you were working on, it goes to “permanent” storage, i.e., your hard drive or the cloud. The more RAM you have, the faster you can work because it can hold more data.

In our discussions during the merger, the other company specified 32 MB (megabytes) of RAM for desktop computers. We thought that was on the high side. But on the other hand, too many companies try to save money by requiring only 8 MB or 16 MB RAM. If you don’t have a lot of RAM, you’ll generally need more patience. The more complex your computing needs, the faster you’ll be able to work.

Yes, you can upgrade RAM in a desktop, but it’s not always possible in a laptop – or it’s limited. You may be caught short if you blindly speculate that less RAM will be sufficient. From our experience, 16 MB has worked well in almost all cases. Typically, extra RAM can cost $100 or $200 more in a new computer. That’s much less money than replacing a computer just to get more RAM.

The latest processing chips in our commercial-grade computers are Intel Core i7 chipsets. The latest generation is the 13th. Without going geek on anyone, the latest and greatest chipsets give you faster processing power. You can have a lot of RAM, but you won’t be able to take full advantage of it with old, slow chipsets.

Finally, there’s hard drive capacity. The merged organization’s specification is 512 GB (gigabytes). As SSD (solid state drive) hard drives have become commonplace, the industry has gone to smaller drives, typically 256 GB capacity, because the drives need less room to manipulate data as you work on files – and because more files and apps are stored in the cloud. You have more margin for error with a larger hard drive – 512 GB or even a terabyte or two – but you can easily work around the 256 GB spec with good hard drive management. Microsoft OneDrive, for example, allows you to free up space with a few keystrokes. Simply open File Explorer and your directory of top-level file folders, such as Documents. Right-click within your (Documents) directory and click “Free up space.” This will transfer files physically from your hard drive to the cloud.

We can help you develop specifications for the computers you need based on the work each computer will do. Some definitely need higher performance levels, but others can operate more cost-effectively when matched to their tasks. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your needs.