FAQ: Purchasing a new computer? Frequently Asked Questions about buying a computer.











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Whether this is your first computer purchase or your 50th, these frequently asked questions are good to review when purchasing a new computer.

1. Why do I need to buy a new computer?
There are many reasons for needing a computer. If you find you are begging time on friends systems, or have work you'd like to do at home instead of staying late at the office, these might be good reasons to have a system of your own. It will also allow you more quality time at home instead of working late, visiting friends, or the library to access a computer.
2. What am I going to do on the computer?
Answering this question will determine what type of system you need, and how much money you may need to spend. Buying a system to read e-mail and surf the Internet will not cost you as much money as a system gamers need, which require high end video cards, hard drives and extra RAM.
3. Who is going to use the computer?
Will you be the only person using the system? Will the system be shared by multiple users? What level of ability do the users have? Will an elderly person be using the system? If yes, then you may want to think about what size monitor to get. A bigger monitor makes it easier to see the desktop. Or maybe someone needs a trackball mouse instead of a regular one. Answering a question with questions seems circuitous, but having answers before walking into the store or buying online will be very helpful.
4. Should I look at brand names, or no name computers?
Some people will tell you all computers are the same on the inside with all the parts coming from China or Taiwan. That may be true, but a brand name computer may not be the best computer out there. It boils down to the price and the type of warranty and support that comes with the system.
5. How much should I spend on a computer?
This brings the old addage to mind - 'You get what you pay for.' If you are using the system to access email, surf the Internet, and maybe chat with friends, the red tag special price may be perfect. But, power users and gamers beware the tempting low price. PC Games (online or not) and some graphic programs, such as Adobe products are very graphic intensive, and need a powerful video card. Plan on spending your dollars on not only the video card, but extra RAM and a larger hard drive to hold the program software.
6. Should I buy a MAC or a PC (Windows) computer?

Most people don't think about alternatives to a Windows PC machine. But, there is a company out there that makes very good computers that can also run Windows if you want it. The Apple Mac is our choice when it comes to buying a computer. Read more at Why a MAC may be the best computer for you. With that being said most people will go for what they are comfortable with. Almost everyone has had exposure to the Windows computer operating system for a good chunk of their lives. If you are using Windows at work, then it only makes sense to be compatible at home with your work system. But, if you are up to a challenge to learn a new operating system, MAC's is the way to go.

7. Should I buy from a box store, computer store or online?
The real question to ask yourself is how comfortable are you in fixing your own computer? Can you install a new hard drive? Or even reinstall Windows if you need to? If the answer is anywhere close to not very comfortable, then choose a store that offers local in-house support where you can drop the system off, and let their geeks handle the problem. Even if you are comforable opening the cover to the computer, and installing hardware, or reinstalling Windows with little or no help, then you can use an online or box store to get your system. Although, it may still be smarter to get your system locally to support your community. A BIG NOTE to mention is that some companies void their warranty once the computer cover has been opened. So, be aware of what your warranty states. And if you have a piece of hardware fail while still under warranty, then let the company fix it. Having purchased from a local computer store will make it easier to drop off rather than calling support, verifying the hardware has failed, then them sending you the part, and walking you through an installation over the phone. Or better yet, telling you to send you computer back to them to fix it.
8. Should I buy a laptop or desktop?

The answer to this depends on how you are going to use it. Laptops are notoriously more expensive than desktops just because of their size and ability to be packed away in a small space. If you find yourself liking that option, or if you want to surf while relaxing at the local expresso shop with an afternoon brew, then the laptop may be the best way to go. One other reason to look at a laptop is being able to sit in your favorite overstuffed chair with your computer sitting on your lap tapped into your wireless network.

Desktops on the other hand do take up more space, cannot be taken to the local brew shop, and most will not fit in your lap while you are curled up in that overstuffed chair. But, they are less expensive.

9. I already have a computer, but want to buy one for my children. Can we setup a network for this?
Absolutely! A network can easily be setup to accommodate a second system or more for the home.
10. What about security?

Now a days security on your computer should be your number one concern. There have been many times we have had to reformat a system because it had become invested with too many viruses or spyware causing it to be unusable. Security is especially important if you have children accessing the Internet. There are many software programs that will protect your system from most viruses, worms, trojans, and spyware. Even blocking spam is a plus in today's world. See our article Do You really need an AntiVirus program?

Another thing to think about as an added barrier to your in-home network is to make sure that your router has the NAT (Network Address Translator) enabled.

11. What software should I buy on the new computer?

This question is often forgotten when purchasing a computer. You must ask yourself, what am I getting for the price I'm paying? If the price is too good to be true, more than likely there is no added software included. But, that may not be a bad thing to you. There are good programs to be had for free from the Internet, such as Open Office or Google Docs.

But, if you are wanting to bring work home from the office, then you will want to have the same compatible software.