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Tech Tips      

Purchasing a new PC can be very intimidating.  Computer specifications are very confusing. No two PCs have the same configuration ... what features are the most important?  Whether you hope to find a new PC under the Christmas tree or you want to take advantage of December PC sales to augment your office machines, this month's Roadmap attempts to help cut through the confusion so that your purchase will meet your needs for at least the next 3 years. 
If your computer is running S-L-O-W, but you cannot afford to replace it right now, this month's tech tip discusses how to increase Random Access Memory (RAM).  This is the one easy step that you can take to make your daily life much more pleasant by increasing the speed of your computer.
Liz and I have appreciated working with all of you in 2008 and are looking forward to a continued relationship in 2009.  We hope that each of you has a safe, relaxing and joyous holiday season and a wonderful New Year!! 
RoadMap: Buying a Computer
Take your time and do your research when looking for a new personal computer. If you want to get the best value for your money, don't be in a rush to purchase the first deal that looks interesting!  
Here are some things to consider when you are trying to decide which PC to buy:
1 -- By far, the most important feature of a new PC is the amount of Random Access Memory (RAM) it contains.  RAM memory is important because it eliminates the need for the PC to swap programs in and out.  You need to have adequate RAM memory to handle all of the programs that you tend to work on simultaneously.  How much is enough?  I recommend that you purchase a PC with at least 2 gigabytes of RAM to ensure that the machine will keep up with the advances in technology during the life of your computer. If you can afford it, 4 gigabytes is even better.
2 -- Another important feature is a dual-core chip.  Dual-core processing increases PC performance by using more than one processing stream for computer tasks.  Dual-core processors allow multiple tasks to run at the same time.  This keeps your computer running faster.  It also keeps your computer running cooler than it would using a larger single processor, which will help the computer last longer. 
3 -- New software takes up a lot of space and storage is relatively cheap.  Make your life easy and get  at least a 300 gigabytes hard drive to store all of the programs that you will install on your computer.
4 -- Upgrade to a separate video card if at all possible.  Integrated video is cheaper, but a separate card with at least 128 megabytes of memory will give you a more satisfactory experience running Microsoft Vista, which uses a lot of video memory.
5 -- Try to get some of the expensive software that you want for your new computer included in the computer package you purchase.  All software is not available this way, but you can at least ask -- if the software you want can be included in your purchase, you could save hundreds of dollars.
6 -- Buy only the components you need.  If your monitor is still working, there is not reason to replace it just because you are purchasing a PC and the retailer is including it in the bundle.  Wait to replace the monitor until you need one.  It will save you money and help save the environment as well.
7 -- Make sure that your new computer has at least 6 USB 2.0 ports (8 is even better).  You will use these ports to connect devices such as printers, cameras, MP3 players and thumb drives.  Make sure that at least a few of these ports are on the front of the computer where they are easier to reach.
8 -- Consider purchasing a dial-up modem as a cheap emergency back-up even if you plan to use high speed service on a daily basis.  The dial-up modem is inexpensive insurance that you will appreciate if you only have to use it even one time.
If you follow these recommendations, you will not buy the cheapest computer, but the one that you do buy will perform better and won't become obsolete as quickly as less expensive models.
SmartSite Technology serves as a virtual IT Department for small and medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations.  We provide all of the information technology services that a business needs to compete in today's marketplace.
Our goal at SmartSite Technology is to help each of our clients to be a success!! We know that technology is not a core competency for many small business owners and non-profit professionals. We believe that every organization benefits when they automate their business processes. We work closely with all of our clients, even those who are uncomfortable with computers and technology, to help them introduce automated processes into their operations. 
Contact us today to discuss your technology needs.
Dixie Groutt
SmartSite Technology 
December 2008
In This Issue
RoadMap: Buying a Computer
Your Tech Tutor Says...
How to increase the RAM in your computer
tutor pic number 1
The easiest way to make your desktop or laptop more responsive is to make sure that you have enough RAM installed.
Follow the steps below to determine how much RAM your machine can accommodate, what type of RAM to buy and where to buy it.
How much RAM can you add to your computer?  Each computer can hold only so much RAM. Check on the manufacturer's website or in your owner's manual to determine the maximum RAM you can install in your PC or laptop. 
Then, go to the System folder in your control panel to see how much RAM is currently installed in your machine. If there is room to install more RAM, you can purchase additional RAM from any one of a number of online vendors at a very reasonable cost.
If you Google "upgrade computer memory", pages of links to vendors will be returned. I particularly like OEMPCWorld because of the easy search on their website which helps you identify the correct RAM module for your system. They also quickly ship the memory to you free via the USPS.  Once ordered, your new RAM memory  shows up in your mailbox in just a few days.
The only thing you have left to do at this point is to install the module in your computer.  It is a very easy operation.  Just follow the directions in your owner's manual.  If you do not have a copy of the owner's manual, it is usually available on your computer manufacturer's website.   
This one simple upgrade will make a tremendous difference.  Your computer will be faster making your work much less tedious.
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