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Introducing Firewire November 99
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Storage Junky October 2000
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Building a Basic Office Feb/March 2001
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Digital Age June - July 2001
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Reflections  October 2001
Seeing Is Believing  May 2002
Why is my Modem Slow?  June 2002
Status Code Definitions  November 2002
A Year in Review  December 2002
 No I Know Monitors  April 2003
 Upgrade: Yes or No  June 2003

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updated for June 25, 2003

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Should "You" Upgrade Your Aging Computer

Last week a friend told me that she had tried to upgrade her aging computer. She had a laptop that was to slow for the internet and would not comply with the new USB standards. Her computer was a laptop computer with a small hard drive, with limited RAM and almost no memory on a video card. So it was understandable as to why access to the internet or use of have graphic programs would slow the computer down to a snails pace. I went through trying to upgrade a computer for another friend a couple of years ago and we were not so lucky than

This article has been written in the hope that if you are thinking of upgrading a computer more than five years - think again. Technology as we have witness is an everyday changing occurrence. Manufactures wanted a way to incorporate there technology to be used by both the PC user and the Macintosh user. In stead of two products USB version 1 was developed and than later version 2. Older computer either used SCSI or parallel ports. But for computers using Microsoft Windows 95 or macintosh OS 8.6 an USB PCI based card could be installed. Not all companies had drivers to match older operating systems but it was worth the trouble and at the same time your computer was given a few years more of usefulness.

A laptop is going to be harder  to upgrade because PCI cards will not fit in them. You could use a Type Two expansion card, but the operating system might be out dated. USB is not a very expensive upgrade. For a desk top you can buy USB PCI cards for under ten dollars and Type Two cards for around thirty dollars. Now with this upgrade you can add USB to your computer.

Is there a right way and a wrong way to an upgrade? Let us say for example that your computer has been handed to you from a pass family member and you want to pass it on to your kids. Now you want to upgrade this computer because your kids want to play video games but your computer is way to slow and has little memory and almost no hard drive space to fill with game software .

I would suggest that you take it to a licensed company that has a good reputation and is going to stand behind their work. You might spend a little more money on the project but after the upgrade you will likely have less troubles. If you think your going to save money by using a back yard computer "Geek" take a second look at my story. It sounded like a good thing at the time, but I would never do it again. I was thinking too that I was helping this starving home base business person out. In the end he was not interested in the job just the money.


My horror story started with wanting to upgrading a computer for a friend, while saving him some money too. Luckily for me my friend would be very understanding later in the deal gone wrong. I had been taking some computer upgrading classes and met another student who just happened to upgrade old computers for a living. He seemed all right, even had a chance to visit his house and office where he was presently working on upgrading a computer.

At that time my belief was to help the little guy rather than the certified license person. I put my trust in this one person. A problem here is that if the person wants to he can walk off with your computer and cash never to be seen again. Most of these fly by night hot shots will ask for the money up front. We did that and regretted every moment after that. So I would suggest holding on to your money at least until you have had a chance to test the upgrades in your computer for yourself.

We brought the computer  tower 486 over to mister upgrade man. He took a quick look and told us,"No problems, all have it back to you in a week. he said as he gladly took my friends money up front and the computer. We told what we wanted he told us what he could do and he even showed us a list of what he could do and how much it would cost us. It all sounded great but, talk is cheep and we got parts that were older than the computer itself. We also had to fight to get the computer back. When we finally had the computer back in our possession it did not look right. The so called new parts were dirty and the lettering that we could visibly see on the CD player told us that it was not what we had ordered. The CD player was not even bolted in properly and rattled when the drawer opened. Luckily we had only paid the guy about a hundred dollars and if he would have done the job as he had intended he would have made a lot more plus maybe even a tip. However, we believe that the day that we had given this guy an advance that the money was spent on other things. He had those older parts lying around and what we could not see he did not do. We took the computer back and after checking it out took our loses and that computer sat in one of his corners at home.

Coming back to my friend from last week, she went though a lesser situation but a similar story. A friend said that they could do it but in the long run could not. This time I hope no money had been exchange but I am not sure. I just had wished that this person would have come to me first- since they had been around when the first incident took place.

My Solution to you is if can not afford a new computer have your computer checked over by either a licensed certified computer upgrading outfit. If you do decide to venture into the black hole and use a back yard geek keep your money until the job is done. If they want money up front say good bye and take your computer elsewhere. As around if you can about this out fit that your taking your computer to. Check with the Better Business Office or Consumers Affair for any complains. Take your computer to at least two different Mister upgrade places to get there opinion. And if you can go with a friend who knows the difference between video RAM and regular RAM. However going with a friend is always a good idea any ways.

Our story end by eventually have a computer custom built to specifications made by my friend. We took it to a licensed and certified computer specialist who had a store front and a reputation too. If the same thing were to take place today we likely would have bought a new computer from our favorite computer store. Today you would likely find a computer fast enough to do what you need it to do in your price range.


If you are thinking about upgrading your computer but your not sure if you should. Send me an email of the kind and roughly how old it is. Also tell me what upgrades you have in mind to do. My only hope here is that I will have saved you from getting ripped off and in return you get the best value for your hard earned cash.

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