Drug testing

Upgrading Your PC for Non-experts

Intro

One of the big advantages of PCs over earlier types of computers is that they're upgradable. If you get to the point where you need a faster computer, more storage space or whatever, you don't have to buy a new PC. You can upgrade it by buying just the extra part you need. But sometimes it's better to just take the plunge and replace it? and how do you know what part to upgrade? Here's my guide:

Memory

Adding memory is one of the most popular upgrades. It makes a big difference to how fast your PC runs. When your PC runs out of memory for what it's doing, it stores information on your hard drive instead. Your hard drive is nowhere near as fast as the memory. The more memory you've got, the less often your PC will need to store things on the hard drive as it works. So the faster it will go.

How much memory is enough does depend on what version of Windows you're running. With Windows XP, 256MB is considered a bit on the low side, though it'll be just about OK. 512MB is decent and 1024MB is really good. If you have Windows 95 or 98, you can get by on 64MB though it's worth going to 128MB even if you just use your PC for basic office work. More will make it really hum along.

It also depends on what you're using your PC for - if you're just typing up the odd letter and sending emails, then 256MB will probably do you but if you're editing video or playing the latest 3D games, it'll be worth getting the full 1024MB.

If you buy memory, make sure you get the right type for your computer - the best thing to do is go to a shop and get them to pick the right type and to fit it for you. You CAN fit it yourself if you know what you're doing but be careful!

Hard Drive

Another upgrade that can be worthwhile is a bigger hard drive. If you don't have enough space for all your files and programs then it's obviously a good plan! I'd also recommend it if you have only just enough space. When your hard drive is nearly full your PC has to scamper around it trying to find empty space every time it wants to save something? and that takes time.

I'd recommend keeping your existing hard drive and adding a new one instead of actually replacing your existing one. No point in throwing it away if it's still working!

A typical hard drive nowadays is anywhere from 40GB to 160GB - if you're getting a new one it might as well be big!

With a hard drive you can either fit it yourself or get a shop to fit it? or there's a third option. You can buy an external version which plugs into your computer via a USB port. These are great for moving information from one PC to another. If it's always on one PC, I prefer the hard drive neatly tucked away inside the case? but again, it's up to you.

Bigger/flat monitor

If you've got a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitor (the type with a box sticking out the back, like a television) you might fancy one of those stylish flat ones. It's not just a fancy gadget, they also fit better on a small desk and you can have it closer to the wall than a big cumbersome CRT.

If you decide to go for it, think about whether you want one with built in speakers. It keeps you desk nice and tidy and looks more stylish. But you can get much better sound quality with separate speakers.

You also could think about what size of screen you want. It's measured in inches from one corner to the opposite one. 17inch is pretty standard for desktop PCs though the flat screen types tend to seem bigger than the CRT type even when they're the same size. For normal use, I wouldn't particularly recommend getting a big one but if you do a lot of design or gaming, it might be worth it.

Processor

I'm not a big fan of processor upgrades. People talk about the processor speed when they're saying how fast a PC is but there's a lot more to it. Upgrading the processor without upgrading the other parts doesn't tend to make much difference. And if you're going to change the other bits too, you're probably best off just buying a new PC. It'll probably be cheaper.

CD Writer/DVD player/DVD writer

This is a simple one. If you don't have a CD writer and you want to be able to write CDs, get one! As usual, I'd advise you to get it fitted at the shop you buy it at. Or you could get an external one that plugs into a USB port.

If you fancy it you could even get a DVD player or DVD writer, if you want to put your home movies on DVD. Again, you can either get it fitted or buy an external one.

Graphics Card

This is a bit of a specialist one. If you're into fast 3D games, then it might be worth getting a faster graphics card. If you aren't, it probably isn't. A standard graphics card can handle ordinary graphics pretty well. It's only when the PC throws fast 3D at it that it struggles. Then the PC itself has to do some of the work for it, leaving less time for the PC to work out whether you've been clobbered by a goblin.

Epilogue

The crucial point about upgrades is that it really does depend on what you use your PC for. If you're happy with what your PC is doing for you, don't let anyone talk you into feeling you have to upgrade.

Tim Wakeling is the Author of Computers One Step at a Time, a home course using plenty of pictures of the screen to show you how to use your PC. He also writes a free monthly newsletter about computers for non-experts. Find out about both at http://www.osaat.co.uk

? Tim Wakeling, UK 2005. You may re-publish this article online and in print as long as you leave it unchanged.

In The News:

Authorities were appalled to discover a 66-foot-long, beached blue whale along the coast of Punta Delgada, Chile, desecrated with graffiti and surrounded by dozens of tourists.
A huge dust storm turned a town in the Australian outback orange earlier this week.
The arrival of plants on Earth changed the planet and its inhabitants in big ways, and a new study suggests they arrived far earlier than thought.
SpaceX called off an attempted launch of its Falcon 9 rocket in California today (Feb. 21) due to strong high-altitude winds, according to the company's CEO, Elon Musk.
Archaeologists in the U.K. have unearthed ancient boxing gloves at the Roman fort of Vindolanda just south of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England.
The latest space-piercing concept launching from earth: A commercial, one-rocket space station that could carry astronauts to low-earth orbit, the moon and even Mars.
Though slightly lopsided, the towering, Great Pyramid of Giza is an ancient feat of engineering, and now an archaeologist has figured out how the Egyptians may have aligned the monument almost perfectly along the cardinal points, north-south-east-west — they may have used the fall equinox.
When it was first measured in the 1800s, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was an enormous four times bigger than the Earth.
Letters from Princess Diana to an AIDS victim, which show her compassionate nature, have surfaced in the U.K.
Unlike most UFO stories, this one appears to have substance.

Can Movie Theatres Compete with Home HD TV in the Future?

The battle is heating up for market share, home movie... Read More

10 Time Saving Keyboard Shortcuts

Time is money. And when you constantly have to divide... Read More

USB Drives - What to Look For in a USB Device

Those small USB drives have so many names, pocket drives,... Read More

5 Minute Guide to Video Editing for Beginners

Getting started with video editing is very simple you only... Read More

The Benefits of the New Firefox Browser

You probably heard of the new Firefox browser version 1.0... Read More

Help, I Need a New HDTV! (Part 1 of 5)

Feeling overwhelmed in selecting a new TV? With all the... Read More

Digital Cameras Ratings Abolish Camera Comparison Guesswork

Digital cameras ratings are great tools for deciding which camera... Read More

Mail-merging: The Principles

About mail-mergingMail-merging is the process of merging variable data and... Read More

Linux Power Tools - Great Tools to Make System Administration Easy

World War II - Germany decided to attack Poland. Poland... Read More

Smart Apple iPod Tips and Techniques

Are you thinking of buying an Apple iPod? Or have... Read More

Best PC Pocket GPS

Stop Getting LostOne of the greatest uses for a pocket... Read More

D2X Digital SLRCoolpix 8800 Actually Refers to Two Nikon Cameras

Addressing a D2X Digital SLRCoolpix 8800 search, this article provides... Read More

Temporary Fixes to Spyware, Ad-ware, and Virus Infections

So you've got some spyware, ad-ware, or viruses on your... Read More

Tips For Getting Technical Support Help Online

Sometimes your PC will start acting strange for no apparent... Read More

Freezing - Time To Warm Up Your PC

Freezing is also known as crashing or hanging. It's frustrating.... Read More

Basic Problem in a PC

I have a p3 500MHz PC with 128MB RAM, 10.2... Read More

Cisco Certification: What To Expect On Exam Day

Cisco Certification: Taking Your First Certification ExamYou've studied hard; you've... Read More

How Do MP3 Players Work? Digital Audio Technology Revolutionizes Music Enjoyment

Millions have enjoyed recorded music since 1877 when Thomas Edison... Read More

JVCs First Three-Layer Combo-Disc Blu-Ray / DVD

JVC developed and used a high-performance reflective film to produce... Read More

4 Computer Money-saving Tips

Tip #1 -- Rebates: A rebate is not always a... Read More

Cisco Certification: Taking Your First Certification Exam

You???ve studied hard; you???ve practiced your configurations; you???ve used your... Read More

Refurbished Computers on the Internet

What is a Refurbished Computer?Refurbished Computers. Remanufactured Computers. Reconditioned Computers.... Read More

How To Recognize The Telltale Signs Of Spyware

Spyware is the software that collects information about your online... Read More

Help, I Need a New HDTV! (Part 3 of 5)

Feeling overwhelmed in selecting a new TV? With all the... Read More

Spyware Remover

Your first step in removing dangerous infections from your computer... Read More

high power led street light 1000w hid retrofit Pete's produce ..