Byte Me Article 88 – Best to replace ‘snail’

1 September, 2012

Does the average Joe really appreciate the pace of technology?  I found myself in Mackay early this week installing a new server.  While there the customer also asked me to take a look at one of their computers that was running slow – which turned out to be the understatement of the year!  As a 5 year old machine with only 1GB of ram and Windows Vista installed it was taking 25 minutes just to start up each morning.

This PC also had all manner of software installed – three virus scanners, multiple Internet toolbars, multiple Internet search engines, 4 versions of MYOB accounting software.  It had been a budget PC when they had purchased it and it had a CPU power rating of only about 300 (  I suggested to the customer that the PC had passed its ‘use by’ date and needed replacing.  Unfortunately they insisted that it wasn’t used for too much in the business and still wanted me to speed it up and put a modern virus scanner on it.

2012-09-01 Byte Me Article 88 - Replace Replace Replace

Can you imagine how frustrating it is to work on a computer that is this slow?  Having to sit and wait for it to uninstall junk software, install necessary software / updates and occasionally reboot was just as entertaining as watching paint dry.  So 4 hours later I left it to run overnight exporting all of its emails to a file that I could put on a newer computer (again to lessen what it was used for).  The next morning it had completed this task so I transferred them across the network to another PC.  Then upon another restart it failed to boot – with Windows start-up errors.  A quick investigation revealed that the hard drive was now failing and replacement was necessary anyway.

In the end they were happy that I had already transferred all of the data and emails from this PC but the 4 hours of wasted labour in trying to speed it up could have gone a long way towards a new PC.  Keep in mind that a car from 5 years ago isn’t going to drive that different to a new one today but a replacement for this particular PC with a CPU power rating of 300 will be a PC with a power rating of around 6000 to 10000.  This is not a typing mistake!  Simply – a modern PC will be around 20 to 30 times as powerful.  It is the magnitude of these rapid advances in technology that the average Joe does not appreciate.

So why do computers need to change at this rate?  Well software vendors are recognising these increases in power and are writing applications which actually need a modern PC to be able to run at an acceptable speed.  In the example above I also installed a retail version of Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010 (before the PC crashed) which took around 50 minutes to install.  On a modern PC it will normally take around 3 minutes.  Even a modern virus scanner will bog down an old PC due to its complexity and the power needed to run in the background.  It has become a fact of our modern era – if you want a reliable efficient PC then you need to budget for a replacement approximately every 3 years. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 07 49 222 400.

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