Is now the time to purchase a new computer?
Whether individuals or large organizations, folks frequently question whether it's time to buy new computers. The old machines are dusty, scratched and stained. But besides looking better, what other benefits would a new machine provide?
In the "old days" of the 1990s, the rule was to buy a new computer every three years, regardless of whether it was doing its job or not. More frugal folks were able to stretch this out to five years. This was pretty much the maximum useful life of all but a handful of systems. Advances in personal computing were simply coming too fast to go much longer. The advent of the Internet had much to do with this phenomenon.
Nowadays, however, it's not unheard of for folks to be humming right along with computers that are six or seven years old. While processing power continues to increase as described by Moore's Law, processors manufactured in the early part of the decade are still very capable of running current versions of software.
Computers made at that time also had enough room for expansion to get up to a gig or more of memory, which is sufficient today. Sure, wireless networking has improved from 11mb per second to 54mb per second, but bottlenecks beyond the wireless hub render this upgrade less than necessary. As such, we believe that the simple gain of more horsepower is not reason enough to justify a new acquisition.
Does old software dictate a new purchase? Sometimes it does, at least when it comes to your operating system. For example, old releases of Windows, such as Windows 98, might seem to be running just fine. But such versions are susceptible to security breaches since Microsoft no longer provides updates or patches. Even though hacking of old operating systems is rarely heard of, prudent folks might want to upgrade just in case.
As far as software applications are concerned, it's a simple analysis. Can you do everything you want with your programs? Typically for office productivity software, newer versions don't provide a whole lot of new features. Further, software application upgrades usually don't necessitate buying a whole new computer.
So what would be a good reason to buy new gear? If your computer begins to behave abnormally, with frequent crashes or stalls, it might be overtaxed. Furthermore, if you find yourself sitting around and waiting for things to happen, a new box might be the most efficient way of solving this problem.
We believe that non-technical rules should be applied when considering a new purchase. Do you have to make accommodations with respect to the use of your computer to make your life easier or more productive? For example, are you forced to take a coffee break or make phone calls when the sales report is being generated? If so, this is the key indication that a new machine is probably warranted.
John Agsalud is president of ISDI Technologies Inc., a Honolulu-based IT consultancy. Call him at 944-8742 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org