If you've ever purchased a computer, your eyes probably glossed over the computer specifications. Maybe you called up your tech savvy friend for advice to interpret just what all that means!
Computer manufacturers have not simplified the purchasing process, but we will help by giving you two specifications that you need to know. If you understand just two specifications, you'll be able to purchase a computer with confidence.
But first, you need to answer this:
How are you going to use your computer? If you are a gamer, for example, you will need a different set up than someone who is using their computer to access accounting software. A videographer will need something different than a distance-learning first grader. You get the idea.
Understanding HOW you use your computer helps you narrow down the right brand, screen size, whether you need a laptop or a desktop, and the memory and storage, which we discuss next.
1. RAM - Memory
When you're shopping for a computer you will have a choice to keep the standard RAM or upgrade. RAM is your computer's memory, and it is usually 4 GB, 8 GB or 16 GB. It's always in multiples of 4. By the way, "GB" stands for gigabyte, and it's about eight billion bits of memory. Memory is different than storage though, which is also measured in gigabytes (or terabytes, which is 100 GB).
Memory is your computer's ability to multi-task. Similar to our own brains, we are limited on how many tasks we can simultaneously complete. Imagine you have a pot of rice cooking on the stove when your neighbor knocks on the door. While you're talking to your neighbor, the phone rings and you answer it. Your neighbor waits at the door, you're still on the phone, and now your children are asking for help with their math homework. Then the dog starts barking. Consequently, you forget to check the rice and it burns. You can only do so much at one time!
Your computer is the same way. Think about on average how many browser tabs you have opened, while at the same time, you're streaming a podcast, reviewing a document, and creating a presentation. You also have several applications open in the background that even though you aren't actively using it, your computer is thinking about. How many applications can you have opened before your computer's "brain" can't handle it anymore and crashes?
It's like a juggling act. With RAM, you add more hands and more brains, so your computer can handle all of the balls in the air.
It's best to get this right the first time. Maxing out your RAM when you purchase a computer is much better (and more affordable) than retrofitting it later on.
How much RAM is right for me?
For most people, 8 GB is sufficient. However, if you're a gamer, videographer, graphic designer, or another specialized category where you use large software, upgrade your RAM to 16 GB or more.
Storage is like your longterm memory in your brain. In a computer, this is all your files - documents, pictures, videos, and more. Anything you click File > Save.
If it looks like your computer is low on storage, don't panic. Storage can be added at any time. Just like in life, it's easy and affordable to add storage solutions. After all, you can always build a storage shed in your backyard.
What happens to your files if your storage shed burns down?
We recommend saving files to cloud-based platforms, like Protech Business, and then even if you can't access your computer, your files aren't lost due to a fires, floods, or theft.
If you need assistance finding the right computer for you, our Tech Team is happy to help.
What do you want to know?
Tune in on KSDM 104.1 FM, KGHS 1230 AM, KGHS 95.3 FM on Wednesday at 8:40 am for the next episode of Tech Talk.
Send your tech questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We know technology can be confusing. That's why Small Town Tech is committed to making it easier to understand.
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