Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Professional Purchase Advice

Professional help in choosing the right hardware and software.

Need a New Computer?

I don't build or sell computer systems or software, but I can help you make the right choices.

Because I maintain relationships with various vendors, you're ensured prompt resolution of any problems you may encounter and will enjoy great after-purchase service.

Help Selecting Software & Hardware

I can make recommendations for software and hardware to meet your specific requirements and budget.

Customization Services

I offer additional services like software installations, customization and setup in your home or office so that you are up and running quickly and smoothly.

Don't Get Lost in the Technology

Technology can greatly improve your productivity, but not if you don't know what you're buying. I can ensure that your purchase is appropriate and usable.

Lost in the rush for high tech is the reason why the technology exists in the first place. Information.

All the technology in the world is useless if it cannot collect, store, retrieve, and manipulate information efficiently.

The Information in any IT system should have equal or greater value than the technology used in that system.
George Andrews

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Upgrading Legacy Computers

Many users with have very stable systems not requiring replacement. However, there may be other reasons to consider upgrading.

  • Your productivity has decreased or you're experiencing problems with current hardware or software.
  • You want to move away from a desktop to a laptop or another option.
  • Touch screens and solid-state drives (SSDs) offer quicker access to your data.
  • Newer technology like USB 3 or USB-C ports offer rapid backups or transfers.
  • HDMI for high-definition digital video and improved wireless connectivity are compelling reasons to upgrade.
  • Compatibility with mobile devices can improve productivity.

Improve Productivity

The most compelling reason to upgrade is to improve productivity. If your computer is slow or unsuitable to the tasks you're performing we can assess whether upgrading a legacy system is the best option or if purchasing a new system will benefit you the most and provide the best rate-of-return on your investment.

Business Users Affected Most

Home users often don't need to consider lost productivity or downtime. While annoying, slow computers don't affect home users to the same degree.

Businesses need to consider lost productivity or downtime due to outdated hardware or software. Legacy computers can affect business revenue, especially for a professional users of demanding applications.

Hidden Costs

Old PCs often cost more to repair than to replace and hinder productivity.

There are hidden costs associated with keeping PCs older than 4 to 4.5 years:
  • They cost 59 percent more to support.
  • They take up to 50 percent longer to perform some tasks. Today's desktops have two times the performance of a three-year-old desktop.
  • There are 53 percent more security breaches.
  • Older PCs use 50 percent more energy.
  • Older PCs are seldom under warranty. Recent studies estimate the failure rate in year four is about 24 percent, twice the rate in year one.
Texas Department of Information Resource

See Intel's How Much is it Costing Your Business to Run Old PCs?

However, you may have other considerations including a reluctance to move into Windows 10, the need to run legacy applications or budget considerations. We can assess these requirements in reviewing your options.

Avoid Misplaced Priorities

Computer equipment should be purchased based upon its suitability to the tasks the users are required to perform with it.

Too often employees have to hobble along on legacy hardware running demanding software like AutoCAD, graphic design, database management, etc. while managers enjoy top-of-the-line hardware for minimal tasks like email and word processing.

If you purchase equipment as a status symbol while employee productivity is hampered, you're hurting your company's bottom line.

Extending the Lifespan of Current Hardware

If your budget won't allow you to purchase a new system, upgrading your current system with key upgrades can allow you to delay the expense of a full upgrade until it is practical.

Even if your computer is no longer fast enough or cannot run the current software, there are alternatives to purchasing a new system:

  • Upgrading some replaceable hardware and software to improve performance.
  • Installing a newer version of Windows (depends upon ).
  • Linux provides additional upgrade possibilities for older hardware.

Perhaps a new video card or more RAM will improve performance. A larger monitor or faster hard drive with more capacity may be all you need.

Keep in mind that desktop computers are much easier to upgrade than laptops and not all new technologies can be purchased economically as add-ons.

Upgrading Windows

Up to now I've generally recommended people stay with Windows 7 rather than moving to Windows 10, particularly on older systems for the following reasons:

  • Unless you have the touch screens and require the ability to start work on one Windows device and continue it on another, Windows 10 may not improve your productivity.
  • Windows 10 was not yet mature and has suffered a number of serious issues with botched updates.
  • Windows 7 is better suited to a keyboard and mouse environment.
  • Some legacy hardware is not supported by Windows 10.

However, now that support for Windows 7 expires soon (January 14, 2020) you now need to reassess that choice.

Ultimately the solution depends upon your requirements and how important Windows is to you.

Upgrade Criteria

Newer versions of Windows will probably require new hardware so it is recommended that you look at alternatives if you wish to continue to use legacy hardware.

Windows 10 provides access to the newest technologies like holographic computing, biometric login, 3D printing and the ability to stop working on one device and resume on another. Not all hardware is capable of taking advantage of this technology.

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Purchasing a New Computer

Windows 10 is about the only option for you if you have critical hardware or software that only runs on Windows. Alternatives may be available to you if you are more flexible or are willing to invest in new hardware and software.

Windows 10

Windows 10 is a “mobile-first, cloud-first” hybrid of Windows 7 and 8 as well as mobile and desktop. It is an improvement over Windows 8.1 but there is a significant learning curve if you're upgrading from Windows 7 or earlier.

Microsoft claims that Windows 10 is more secure. That's true, but you need to understand what that means.

  • Older computers and Windows versions have legacy components that may no longer be maintained (they're considered obsolete by the manufacturer) making staying safe harder.
  • Windows 10 will be continually updated for the life of the device. However, users have already experienced flawed updates.
  • Windows 10 achieves much of its improved security by monitoring the files on your computer and the sites you visit with default configurations. This has huge privacy issues because you can't be sure who has access to such files.
  • Microsoft has placed its future success on advertising more than on selling a new operating system to you every few years.

Windows 7

Windows 7 computers may still be obtained (desktop systems are easier to obtain than laptops). The interface is familiar and it is supported until January 14, 2020 which is fast approaching.

Other Alternatives

Many Windows users have moved to the Mac based upon their experience with iPhones and iPads. Linux is an attractive option for those with a smaller budget or with concerns about privacy. See Alternatives to Windows for more.

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Staying "Green"

One of the ways to help reduce waste is to purchase computer hardware with a longer lifespan. Cheaper computers seldom save you money in the long term and tend to become obsolete sooner whereas investing in better hardware can allow more latitude in less expensive future upgrade options.

There's more information about recycling options for your older computers and other electronic equipment.

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Options & Alternatives

You'll want products that enable you to accomplish your goals today while maintaining flexibility for future expansion.

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows has been the primary choice for both consumers and business for many years.

However, the emergence of mobile devices like smart phones and tablets have weakened the dominance of Windows because they have a minimal presence in that market.

Windows 10 was designed to change the traditional experience users have come to expect from Windows.

  • Many are concerned with the drastic change from a familiar Windows interface and the potential productivity loss.
  • Many of the protocols and practices we've been familiar with since Windows 3.1 have been abandoned.
  • Windows 10 is software-as-a-service rather than a traditional operating system.
  • The lines between mobile device and computer have begun to blur. Most features of mobile devices are found in Windows 10, including the preferential treatment of touch navigation.
  • Constant and forced updates help to improve security, but a faulty update could take down your office until Microsoft fixes the issues.
  • Windows 10 runs some processes in the cloud and OneDrive is the default location for your documents unless you tell Windows to save everything on your computer.

Windows Life-cycle of Support

Microsoft has a stated support lifecycle policy which means they will cease to support a particular version of Windows or software within a predictable time period after its release. The traditional 10-year Mainstream/Extended support policy has been replaced with the Modern Lifecycle Policy. Learn more.

Apple Mac

Apple Macintosh computers have become much more popular over the last few years. Folks using iPhones and iPads are getting used to the ergonomics of good design.

Apple products are more expensive but can present fewer problems since Apple controls both the hardware and the software (and the hardware lasts longer).

Potential Learning Curve

There is a learning curve and you'll want to be sure that you can run any specialized software you require.

You may have to purchase a Mac license for software even if you already own the Windows version.

The lifespan may also be shorter than you've been used to with Windows systems. Apple may not allow older devices to upgrade to the newest macOS or iOS.

This allows Apple to move past obsolete technologies faster than Windows, but can mean you must either upgrade more frequently or live with aging software.


Linux runs on the same hardware as Windows. You can generally get Linux to run well, even on a legacy computer. Newer systems will be faster and support most modern hardware.

Linux is tops for stability and security — features that are particularly weak in Windows. Two versions of Linux are now number three (Ubuntu) and four (Mint) after Windows and Mac in popularity for home operating systems.

Linux can also breathe new life into an older computer if you're using it for less-demanding tasks like surfing the Web, email and word processing while keeping your software current.

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to discuss your options!
Updated: July 13, 2019