Recap of a recent job

It’s always nice to cap off a special period of time with an exclamation point! My final appointment during the promo blitz of the past two weeks was extremely special. We took a Lenovo Thinkpad T4xx series laptop that was nearly 3 years old and gave it a complete overhaul. (As you probably recall from past updates, I always try to steer clients toward the Thinkpad T4xx or Dell Latitude 64xx if they want a Windows laptop. They are the best in the business and VERY serviceable.) Keep in mind that the laptop we were working on would cost about $1400 to replace with a current model. If it was a $600 "special" from a big box store, I would have been setting up a new computer for this client yesterday.

This is what we did. The laptop originally came with a paltry 2 GB of RAM. It may have made the grade in 2009, but is not ideal given the needs of a Windows 7 or 8 system today. We upgraded it to 8 GB of RAM for a mere $38.00. RAM is cyclical just like many stocks and the prices are extremely cheap these days. However, certain versions of Windows cannot recognize more than 3 GB of RAM. What did we do? It shouldn’t be this confusing for customers — but there are 32-bit versions of Windows and 64-bit versions of Windows. Simply put, think of it as running your software through a 4 lane highway vs. an 8 lane highway. Which will allow more traffic? The 8 lane (64 bit version of Windows). A lot of Windows 7 computers were sold with the 64-bit version, some were not, and a few people with special I.T. needs still choose the 32-bit intentionally. For Windows 8 Microsoft will offer both flavors, 32 and 64. Unless someone tells you not to, go with the 64 bit. (FYI, all Macs are 64-bit these days).

Microsoft is really egging on Windows XP and 7 customers to upgrade to Windows 8. Pricing is $40 if you want to download the software and $70 if you want to buy the disc. We chose the disc and did a clean install of Windows 8 64-bit. Now the computer could fully utilize the 8 GB of RAM. The client and I were not done building the fortress. Finally, we upgraded the hard drive. Solid state drives are becoming the standard in higher end laptops these days. SSD’s have no moving parts and allow for much faster startup and shut down times. I selected a Crucial SSD with data transfer kit. In about 45 minutes, old hard drive was cloned to new hard drive. I then turned everything off, removed the old hard drive and put the new one in. My client’s computer was running at Olympic sprint speed!!! I knew the results would be good; I just didn’t think they would be this good. Preemptive maintenance on a computer is so much better than trying to fix after a failure. As Dr. Stephen Sinatra says, "prevention is easier than cure."

There is a little frosting to the cupcake for this for this story. Many potential buyers of Windows 8 or a new PC with Win 8 are terrified that there is NO TRADITIONAL START MENU. Yes it’s true! Microsoft has replaced the traditional start menu with a new interface of tiles across your screen when you first turn the computer on. I don’t think it’s that bad, but then again I’ve been playing around with the preview editions of Windows 8 since Nov. 2011. Fear not! A really neat software company called Stardock makes a $5 program (five dollars) called Start8 which adds the start menu back to Windows 8. Have a look. There is no need to fear Windows 8 anymore. When you buy a new Windows computer, you don’t have to dig around in the dust bin for a Windows 7 machine. Get Start8 and you won’t skip a beat.