Cost Saving Tech Tips

Tech on a Budget

Many families right now are trying to do everything they can to manage their budget. I wanted to pass on some ideas to save a little on the tech side of things. What happens when the families computer has died? (Or has it?) What happens when you can’t afford that home high speed internet and cable any more?  The kids need to do homework, but don’t have Microsoft Office?  Here are some tips in no particular order.

My personal business, along with my “on-duty” time revolves around computers now days.  I am constantly either managing websites, recovering data, or preparing digital evidence for presentation in court.  So, I definitely deal with the ongoing issues of a tech budget.  Here are some ideas and solutions I have found.

1.  Is that old computer really dead?  Most people who come to me complaining about their old computer, aren’t actually complaining about the hardware.  They are complaining about it being ridiculously slow and acting “weird.”  Well this is a complaint about the software and OS (operating system).  Especially if you are running Microsoft Windows this is an inevitable fact of life for most people.  Is it possible to “clean-up” that old computer? Sure.  But, the more time effective thing, and what you will be happier with in the end, is backing up your data, then re-installing the OS.  (Notice I said “back-up.”  Yes, you should be able to do a repair install and not lose your data, but do you want to chance your wife being mad at you forever for losing all of the kids baby pictures?   Unfortunately, many people end up choosing the wrong options and trashing their data.)

Often times now, your manufacturer has a recovery partition that will do the whole reinstall for you, but again, back-up your data first.  To find out how to access the recovery partition, go to your manufacturer’s website.

Another option, if you are running old hardware and want to make it sing, is to install a a compact Linux distribution like Puppy Linux.  That is whole different article though.

2.  I can’t afford or don’t want to spend the money to have cable and high-speed internet any more.  Well, I faced that choice when I recently moved.  I knew there was this thing called digital TV out there now, and I remembered over the air TV when I was a kid with an analog TV—trying to pull in the signal from 70 miles away with rabbit ears and aluminum foil.  Well, I decided to give it a try anyway.  So, I cut the cable when I moved.

Going without cable was a bit of a withdrawal at first.  But, in a short time we adapted to watching all the broadcast digital TV, when we took the time.  The picture is crystal clear and there can be multiple channels “embedded” in what use to be one channel.  For instance there are three PBS channels.

Can’t stand to lose that show you love that is only on cable.  Well, you can download most of those shows through your high speed internet now.  Go check out “hulu.com” or “surfthechannel.com”  (SurftheChannel is a bunch of links to commercial-free TV that I am sure are copyright violations… for anyone who wants to go to China and look into it 🙂 )

3.  If you need another computer in the house, buy it the smart way.  That is probably not running out to your local retailer.  Although, you might find a good deal on sale or clearance that way.  I would encourage you to check out “newegg.com” and “tigerdirect.com.”  With “newegg.com” especially look out for computers with the free shipping special.  That will save you around $50 dollars on the shipping.

When choosing the computer, be careful to choose one that meet the needs of what you really do with your computer.  If you are playing the latest games on your PC, then sure you need a pretty high end computer.  If you are like most of the population and you surf the internet, check email, and visit web pages… absolutely any PC you buy now will do that very well!!  Also, for a basic computer check out the one with the new Intel Atom processor that uses much less electricity.  After all, most of you already own the Xbox, Wii, or Playstation for games.

Be careful of the Microsoft add-on expenses though.  Getting Microsoft Office can set you back over half the cost of the computer.  There is this thing called “Open Office.” It is open source and completely free.  It will read and write in the Microsoft document formats.  They just released version three, which seems to be very comparable to Microsoft Office 2000.  A lot of people who have Office don’t like the new format anyways (Just ask my wife!).

4.  Depending on what you do on the internet, also consider if you need high-speed internet.  If you just occasionally check your email, or read a news story… good ole’ dial-up still exists and might work for you.  It is less than $10 dollars per month.

Stay tuned for more tech tips.  Hope they give you some ideas or help.

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