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7 steps for choosing Computers and software

After many years as a Business and IT consultant, I still find many businesses that are reluctant to invest in IT (information technology). One of the main barriers apart from cost, is that choosing computers is something of a minefield…however there is a way through, and in response to some common queries, here are a few simple steps that may help.

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    Step 1. Decide what you want your computer (s) for.

    This is a typical list of uses for home users and businesses.


    Internet access


    Word processing





    Online chat and social networking such as facebook


    Essentials for internet users!

    Firewalls are designed to prevent  uninvited visitors accessing your information, whilst Anti-virus solutions reduce the risk of your systems becoming infected. Virus’s can cause anything from minor disruption that can be easily fixed to serious issues such as identity theft.

    Don’t take chances, make sure you use a firewall and Anti-virus solution. If you are unsure , ask your supplier.


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    If you are not sure what you want the computer for, then do some research before you buy.

    Step 2.  Decide how many computers you want to share information with, and what this information is.

    For example in a business you might have a database with details of your suppliers and customers. Sales staff may need access to this for recording orders, or preparing quotes. Finance staff may need access to send invoices, purchasing staff may need access to buy stock.

    If you are self employed or a home user this may all be on a single computer.


    Step 3. Decide whether you need to access information remotely, from home, another office , or abroad for example.

    Step 4. Decide what do you want to connect e.g. cameras, TV, printer, Scanner.  

    Step 5. Consider backup solutions.

    You should make regular backups (copies) of your important information whether this is your accounts system, or you collection of photographs. Computers do fail so be prepared. Backup hard drives and memory sticks, write-able DVD’s and other solutions are relatively inexpensive but worth their weight in gold when you need to recover your valuable data!


    Step 6. Consider what kind of technical support you want.

    If you are a business, a failure can be catastrophic, however  with good backup routines, and use of anti-virus solutions, the effects  can be minimised.

    Step 7. Consider alternative computer solutions.

    Once we have answers to these basic questions, the computer suppliers you speak to will have a better understanding of the software application(s)  you want the system for, and the technical hardware specifications required are easier to determine.





    Tips on Testing. Over many years I have come across a number of situations where what was actually backed up was not the information intended…so test your system.

    Tips on Contact management systems (CMS).  I have seen many businesses using word processors, email systems , and spreadsheets to list and store details of customers and suppliers. This can sometimes work well if dealing with small numbers of contacts. A powerful and relatively inexpensive database solution can have a dramatic effect on the hidden value of the information you hold. These databases are commonly referred to as ‘CMS’ or contact management systems ,  and they can underpin your ‘CRM’ or customer relationship management’ approach. A powerful solution whether you are a sole trader or employ hundreds of people.

    info: Computer Hardware components. In general , you have to consider the following : Ram (memory), processor, hard disk storage, display adapter and video memory. Most equipment now comes with wireless connectivity for internet access, some with bluetooth. Physical ports (or sockets) typically include external keyboard, mouse, monitor, HDMI, and ethernet( for cabled network  connections).

    Cheaper equipment generally has less RAM, and slower processors. This is rarely a problem if you will only be doing work processing, however any kind of multimedia, video , graphics , games, etc. can suffer, so always keep the suggestions in step 1 in mind.

    Info: Computer Software. Keep in mind that the computer is a means to an end, and for most people this means software over and above the programs that come with the computer. There are vast numbers of programs around including freeware (free to download and use) shareware (where you pay a license fee) and of course commercially available software. My advice here is research the available options and ensure the programs you choose do the job you want.


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    For independent advice and consultancy on choosing computer systems contact vision4business.


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