To Upgrade or Not To Upgrade?
Published April 2001

In this age of ever increasing technical advancement and inbuilt obsolescence we get bombarded by advertising messages extolling the virtues of the latest and greatest software release, the technological improvements in the latest PC, Macs or Laptops, and often implying that if we don't upgrade we'll be left behind with a system that will cease to function or keep up.

There are however a number of factors that need to be taken into account when you are making the decision to upgrade or not.

First and foremost consider your needs. What do you use your computer for? Do you use it for email, internet surfing, doing your accounts, study assignments, or do you primarily use it for your work or for playing multimedia games.

Next consider how well your computer performs these tasks. If it works fine and does everything you need it to do then it is unlikely that you need to upgrade. But on the other hand if the programs you are running are limiting your usage, because it doesn't allow you to do all the things you want to do, then you may well need to upgrade your software.

If the programs you use does do everything you need but the systems is slow or continually crashing you may need to increase your hardware capability such as adding more RAM (the memory that allows your system to multi-task) or upgrading your CPU (the brain of your system), rather than changing the operating system or upgrading software.

If you are considering upgrading your operating system, (e.g. from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 or Windows 2000, NT or ME) then always consider your hardware. The newer operating systems and programs are very resource hungry, meaning they need a lot grunt to run well.

As a general rule it is a good idea to match your software to your hardware. For example if your computer is a 486 or Pentium 100 you will get better performance if you run Windows 3.1 or 3.11 as your operating system, and use Word 6.0, or Word Perfect 5.1 as your word processing software. It is wise to avoid trying to run Windows ME or Windows 2000 on such machines as they lack sufficient grunt to run these operating systems.

If you want a software package that gives you an accounts and word processing package do remember Microsoft Works. It is much less resource hungry than Word and allows you to do most things, letters, reports, resumes, with the facility to do charts, spreadsheets and pictures, form letters, labels, financial spreadsheets, essays, articles, adressbook, accounts, flyers and brochures. It doesn't look as fancy as word but has a wide range of functionality (things it can do) and is on the whole a reliable program.

What happens if I don't upgrade? Not upgrading may mean that your system won't run some of the new programs that come out, particularly the multimedia type applications, like games, or you may not be able to run later versions of software that you are already using. If, for your work, you have to use a particular version of a program then you may have to upgrade but if you share document files most Windows based and Linux systems will accept Rich Text Format files (.rtf). As with all appliances there will come a time when you won't be able obtain parts to fix your computer if you have a hardware failure without upgrading but until then the above considerations apply.

This page last updated on 18/04/2001 13:03

© Glynne MacLean 1999-2003

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