Posts Tagged ‘hardware’

FutureProof: End-of-Year Purchases

End of year purchasing is coming around for many institutions in our nation’s capitol. Budgets are being constrained, and clients are curious about how to purchase a computer that will last them into the future.

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Investing in a reliable high-end machine, rather than multiple cheaper or used machines will get the most life out of our budgets and dollars.  This investment in a nicer machine now will mean that your users will maintain their productivity over the years. They’ll also be happier with their computers, and without complaints of slow computers, everyone is much more productive.

The optimum PC purchased today should last for at least three years. It should be running Windows 7 (64 bit), with a core i5 or i7 processor. The machine should also have at least 8 GB of RAM, and if you’re serious about future-proofing your technology, the computer should contain a solid state drive.

Now that may sound like gibberish and understandable only to the techno-priests, but let us quickly break it down for you and show prove how these will be the fastest, most secure computers you can buy today for use into tomorrow.


Windows 7 brings many enhancements to both security and ease of use over its predecessors Windows Vista and XP. Connecting to wireless networks is simpler than ever allowing users to spend more time working than calling tech support.  Window management, Internet browsing, word processing, and a host of other improvements have been made in Windows 7 making it the ideal operating system.


The i5 and i7 processor line that intel produces are some of the fastest yet power-efficient computer brains on the market. These processors are top of the line and will be competitive in speed tests as the years march on, while still saving your office on electric bills.  Regardless of the exact speed the i5 or i7 processor winner and worth the money.


More RAM allows users to multitask more applications without their computer slowing down. Programs increase in system resource requirements with each year and lets face it, we like to leave our programs running all the time instead of closing Outlook, Word, or the seventeen tabs we have open in Firefox to speed things up.  An investment in RAM now means more speed and less hassle later.


The hard drive is the file cabinet of the computer.  All files are stored on it and must be acquired from it when the computer is running.  Until recently hard drives were made only of spinning disks which were prone to wearing out and were limited by the speed the disks spin (think very tiny, ultra fast record player).  Solid state drives don’t have any moving parts thus decreasing we are and tear and increasing speeds.  A solid state drive provides near instant boot time, and instant access to user files.  The current downside is their price.  They become exponentially more expensive the larger their storage capacity is.  However, local drive space is of less importance these days, as saving things locally to your computer is discouraged in a server based environment.  The server is backed up regularly and provides data redundancy while individual computers are not.  If a users computer crashes most likely all of their data will be gone unless they saved it to the server.  To compliment the reduced size of hard drives, offices can store their precious documents in shared storage on a device such as a Network Attached Storage drive, file server or other cloud services.  Hence you can buy smaller solid state drives and get the benefit of their increased speed while not sacrificing total storage capacity for your office.

As you plan for end of year purchasing make sure to talk with your HouseCall systems administrator.  They can provide you with a detailed layout of your current technical situation and provide recommendations on how to save money, become more efficient, and get the biggest bang for your buck.  If you aren’t a HouseCall client give us a call and see how we can help you.

The Insides of Your Computer

Have you ever seen someone open up a computer? HouseCall System Administrators are known to do this from time to time in order to replace a part, clean out the dust, or just make sure everything is where it belongs. Perhaps you’ve wondered what those pieces of metal and wires are for. Here is a basic explanation of a few of the pieces inside most personal computers. Together they run the programs you use to work every day.



The motherboard ties all the components of the computer together. It looks like a large flat piece of metal that is usually green and has lots of circuits, wires, and other components sticking out. Everything is connected to the motherboard in one way or another, and the motherboard makes sure that all the parts of your PC receive power and can communicate with one another. In this way the motherboard acts like a mother, bringing all the members of the family together. The motherboard also determines what upgrades are available for a machine. If an upgrade is not compatible with the motherboard, you will not be able to use it to upgrade your PC.



CPU stands for Central Processing Unit and is often simply called a “processor”. CPUs are usually very small and square and fit right into the motherboard. The CPU is the “brain” of the computer. It is constantly receiving information, deciding what to do with it, and relaying it to other parts of the computer. Recently many computers have dual or multi-core processors. These allow PCs to do more things at once. If you’re the type of person who likes to have Outlook, Word, and 12 tabs in Firefox open while listening to music in iTunes all at the same time a dual-core processor would be a smart choice.



There are two main types of memory on your computer. The first is Random Access Memory (pictured above in green), which is abbreviated as RAM. It’s “random” because you can access the memory in any order. It is used to run programs on your PC. While new data is being continually stored in the RAM, the computer’s Read-Only Memory (ROM) remains unchanged. It is used for running processes on your machine that you don’t usually think about but are essential: such as the software that makes the hardware on your computer work.

Power Supply


All the components in your computer need electricity to run. You plug the computer into the outlet, and the power from the outlet travels into the power supply. The power supply ensures that the correct amount of electricity is provided to each part of your computer.

CD and DVD ROM Drive


Most computers today have DVD ROM drives (shown above) that play both DVDs and CDs, although there are still a few with CD-only drives. The drive is where you insert the CD or DVD. The drive reads the CD or DVD gathers the data so you can access it on your computer.

Graphics Card


When you look at what’s on your computer screen it usually makes sense, or at the very least, you can recognize images and text. The graphics card (also known as a video card) is responsible for taking all the data from your computer and displaying it on the screen in a way that you can understand. Some graphics cards are separate components and some are built right into the motherboard.

Cooling System


All the electricity running inside your computer can get hot very quickly. If your computer has no way of cooling itself down it can easily become overheated and stop working properly. The heat sync is made of a type of metal with high thermal conductivity and works to draw heat away from other parts of the PC that could otherwise become damaged. The fan (shown above) is a smaller version of one you might use inside your house. It draws cool air from outside the PC and moves hot air to a heat sink to keep the computer cool. Fans get dusty easily and can slow down your computer, so they should be cleaned with compressed air on a regular basis.

Hard Drive


The hard drive is like the long term memory of your computer. When you save a file to your computer’s desktop or in your my documents folder you are saving the file to your hard drive. The design of the hard drive allows a lot of information to be stored and accessed quickly. It also saves information in such a way that when you shut down your PC, everything is still stored on the hard drive and you can access it next time you start up your machine.

Like a human body, a computer needs all of its components to run smoothly and efficiently. For more information on what’s inside your computer, visit the Computer section of