With all the talk about Windows 8 coming out, how do you know when it’s time to upgrade the OS versus buying a new PC with Windows 8 pre-installed?
First, let’s look at the system requirements for Windows 8 from Microsoft’s site:
Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2 (more info)
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
Additional requirements to use certain features:
To use touch, you need a tablet or a monitor that supports multitouch (more info)
To access the Windows Store and to download and run apps, you need an active Internet connection and a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768
To snap apps, you need a screen resolution of at least 1366 x 768
Internet access (ISP fees might apply)
Secure boot requires firmware that supports UEFI v2.3.1 Errata B and has the Microsoft Windows Certification Authority in the UEFI signature database
Some games and programs might require a graphics card compatible with DirectX 10 or higher for optimal performance
Microsoft account required for some features
Watching DVDs requires separate playback software (more info)
Windows Media Center license sold separately (more info)
BitLocker To Go requires a USB flash drive (Windows 8 Pro only)
BitLocker requires either Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2 or a USB flash drive (Windows 8 Pro only)
Client Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system with second level address translation (SLAT) capabilities and additional 2 GB of RAM (Windows 8 Pro only)
A TV tuner is required to play and record live TV in Windows Media Center (Windows 8 Pro Pack and Windows 8 Media Center Pack only)
Free Internet TV content varies by geography, some content might require additional fees (Windows 8 Pro Pack and Windows 8 Media Center Pack only)
OK, now you need to ask yourself a couple questions:
- How slow is my PC? Is it feeling sluggish and does it seem like it takes forever to get things done? I’m talking about even when you’ve reformatted the computer and returned it to factory-fresh condition. Time – and software – has moved on, but the hardware in your PC might not have
- Does it have the processing power I need? Sometimes the stuff you want to do with your computer can be tweaked with upgrading parts – depending on the PC we’re talking about. Upgrading the RAM and graphics are fairly easy options with desktops, for example. Darren has written a bunch of stories on the subject, including how to switch out graphics cards and tons of smart upgrading tips (whether we’re talking about desktops or laptops).
- What ports and connectivity does it have? Can I hook up to the latest devices that I’ve purchased? In the past couple years, we’ve started putting USB 3.0 ports on our computers (significantly faster than USB 2.0 ports) – if you have one, great. If not, these can be key for FAST data transfers. And that’s saying nothing of the new SpectreXT TouchSmart that comes packing a Thunderbolt port.
Here are some tips to try:
- If your PC feels sluggish, consider cleaning up and defragmenting your hard drive. This will speed up access to your data. How do you do that? Simply click on the start button in the lower left corner of your screen, then click All Programs, Accessories, System Tools. You’ll find the Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter programs there. Be sure to remove temporary files and empty your recycle bin.
- Lack of hard drive space can really slow down a PC. Check your C: drive (click the start button, then click on “computer” and then right click on the C: drive) to see how much storage you have available on your computer. It may be time to delete some old files or copy them to an external drive to free up some space. You should also use an anti-virus program to be sure that your PC is free from malware, spyware and viruses.
- To check the amount of memory you have and if there’s room for more, right click on “computer” and check the properties. Then check your product specifications and manual to see the amount of RAM that is supported on the motherboard. If you have a consumer PC and don’t have the specifications or manual anymore, you can go to a website such as www.belarc.com, download the advisor and it will tell you the motherboard type. Then you can look it up on the Internet and check the RAM capacity. If there’s room, it may be time to consider adding more RAM – If your computer came out in the past couple years, you should at least have 2GB RAM….but consider at least doubling the RAM to 4GB if you can.
- Assuming that your PC has a couple of USB ports, you can purchase various adapters for Firewire, card readers and other functionality that you may need. (And if you have a desktop, you can always look into buying internal card readers and Firewire ports, for example.)
- Check for the latest updates and drivers. Go to the manufacturer’s website and look at the support page to make sure your PC is up to date.
- Last, but not least, do a factory restore and try running a couple of your go-to programs to test the speed you need.
At this point, if your PC has enough hard drive space and RAM, and it’s defragmented and maintained but just doesn't seem to perform well, it might be time to buy a new PC. Now what do you do?
One of the biggest inhibitors to buying a new PC is the daunting task of transferring your data and any software programs you may have installed along the way. The first thing you want to do is back up your data. There are cloud services and software programs you can purchase to help you do this, or you can simply copy your files to a USB drive. If you use Internet Explorer, don’t forget to export or copy your bookmarks (Bookmark.htm file) to a disk or flash drive. Simply click on Internet Explorer “Help” and search on how to export/import your favorites.
Once your data is backed up, you can transfer it to a new PC. Check out Windows Easy Transfer to move files from an old PC to a new one. Just note that this method does not transfer software programs that you have installed. There is a fee for my husband’s favorite data migration software, but he says this one is well worth the money and it transfers your applications too. There are also data transfer cables that you can purchase to migrate your data from one PC to another.
As for which PC you should buy? Well, that’s a whole other story. One that Darren wrote last week when he put together the HP – Windows 8 Launch Guide. Check it out for some tips as to what computer might be best for you.
Have any tips or tricks to improve PC performance or transfer data to a new PC? Please share them in the comments!