Every three years or so, your computer will die, or it will become so slow and buggy you'll want to kill it. Starting over with a new computer can be a painful, costly, time-consuming headache. Here are three ways to save yourself money and time.
You'll need to transfer between 10 gigs and 80 gigs worth of documents, photos, and program data (like your Quicken backup) from your old computer to your new computer. Afraid you'll lose an important document? Consider buying a 16Gb Flash drive ($65.99 at BestBuy) or 1 TB extrernal harddrive ($99 at BestBuy) as a half-way house for precious archives.
Before purchasing Microsoft Office for your new computer for US$300, consider OpenOffice -- an open source (free) alternative to Microsoft Office. Simply download the "installer package" at OpenOffice.org and install it. OpenOffice's compatibility with Microsoft Word is almost seamless. You can save any OpenOffice text document as a ".doc" file and open any ".doc" files in OpenOffice. We've been testing it for two months, it's been a satisfactory substitute for Microsoft Office, though we've noticed three pesky issues:
- When a Word user (your colleague) opens a ".doc" file created with OpenOffice, its formatting doesn't always render as you intended.
- We still can't locate the "Track Changes" function.
- When opening Word doc inside Open Office, sometimes bullets are altered into an unrecognizable character. It's easy to fix, but tedious.
- Consider upgrading to a new computer before you absolutely have to. In other words, don't wait until your hard drive crashes to figure out what computer you're buying next, how you're going to transfer your files, and what software you'll need. By thinking ahead, you'll have luxury of running two computers simultaneously, finding the best software deals and moving files over at your own pace.