Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Professional Purchase Advice

Professional help in choosing the right hardware and software.

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Special protocols remain in place for on-site and other in-person services because prolonged close contact is unsafe for me.

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.

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 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 result in a loss of income, unlike a business user.

Businesses need to consider lost productivity or downtime due to outdated hardware or software. Legacy computers can affect business revenue, especially when professional users are running demanding applications like AutoCAD, Photoshop or very large spreadsheets.

Hidden Costs

Old PCs often cost more to repair than to replace. Hindered productivity is a hidden expense.

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?

You may have mitigating considerations including the need to run legacy applications or budget considerations. We can assess such special needs in reviewing your options.

Avoid Misplaced Priorities

Computer equipment should be purchased based upon its suitability to the tasks it performs.

Too often employees have to hobble along on legacy hardware running demanding programs like AutoCAD, Photoshop, large databases, 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 (depending upon the system requirements for newer technology).
  • Linux provides additional upgrade possibilities for older hardware and often runs better than Windows on the same hardware.

Perhaps a new video card or more RAM will improve performance. A larger monitor or faster solid state 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 addons (if at all).

Upgrading Windows

Up until the middle of 2019 I generally recommended that 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 had 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 has expired (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.

The release of Windows 11 has complicated this issue because the majority of computers older than a couple of years cannot meet the requirements yet will likely be your only option with a new Windows computer.

Windows 10 provides access to 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 nor do all users require it.

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Purchasing a New Computer

Windows 11 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.

  • You can't lose with AMD or Intel: For mainstream users, so long as you're considering current-generation parts (AMD Ryzen 3000 or Intel 9th Generation Core), this debate is basically a wash….
  • Clock speed is more important than core number: Higher clock speeds translate to snappier performance in simple, common tasks such as gaming, while more cores will help you get through time-consuming workloads faster.
  • Get the latest gen: You won't save much money in the long run by going with an older, previous-generation chip unless that previous-generation chip is a Ryzen that hasn't been replaced by a current 3000-series part.
  • Budget for a full system: Don't pair a strong CPU with weak storage, RAM and graphics.
  • Overclocking isn't for everyone: For most people, it makes more sense to spend extra cash on buying a higher-end chip.
  • Tom's Hardware

As mentioned, the release of Windows 11 requires you to have more powerful hardware. Investing in a decent sized solid state drive (SSD) with at least 16 GB of RAM will serve you well for a number of years.

If you don't store a lot of data on cloud systems like OneDrive or DropBox, you'll need to ensure enough onboard storage for your active files. A decent USB removable drive can suffice for extra storage and backups.

Windows 10

Windows 10 is a “mobile-first, cloud-first” with many new features. It has now been replaced with Windows 11 which has moved further from the traditional Windows environment and has made significant changes to the Start menu and navigation.

  • 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 and some hardware that is no longer supported.
  • Microsoft has placed its future success on advertising more than on selling you a new operating system every few years.

It's More Secure

Microsoft claims that Windows 10 and 11 are more secure. That's true, but probably the most vulnerable part of Windows is the user. The hardware and software can only do so much to protect you from your curiosity or ignorance.

User Awareness is Key

Identity theft, phishing attacks and ransomware are all on the increase. That makes learning about security basics more critical than ever.

If you're an employer, you need to establish basic standards and training sessions to protect your business and its online presence.

Windows 7 Expired

Windows 7 support expired January 14, 2020 (other than expensive interim support based upon increasing annual fees). It will be increasingly insecure while online.

If you have legacy applications that cannot move to Windows 10, you may continue to use Windows 7 provided the computer is no longer connected either to the Internet or the network. Sharing files or access to wireless printers can infect the legacy computer with vulnerabilities that it is not protected from (unsupported Windows no longer has security updates).

Likewise, Windows 10 will become unsupported in October 14, 2025, so you should consider your plans for moving on to Windows 11 or an alternative before then.

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 Replacing 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 future upgrade options.

Newer computers are more energy efficient as well as being lighter and more secure.

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



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 (and later, Windows 11) were 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.
  • 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 for touch navigation and airplane mode.
  • Constant and forced updates help to improve security, but a faulty update could take down your computer until Microsoft fixes the issue.
  • 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 for security reasons.

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.

The 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 up to twice as long).

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 macOS license for some software even if you already own the Windows version (Microsoft 365 is one exception).

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.


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.

Today's Linux is much easier to learn to run and comes preinstalled with most of the common software like browser, email, office suite and more. It is weaker if you're a gamer or require specialized business software.

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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Updated: January 28, 2023