Another year has come and gone and the holidays are finally winding down. Time to play with all the new computer items! But there is a problem. That new computer system seems to be slower than you expected. Maybe the new application for an older computer just doesn't run very well. Perhaps you received a new peripheral such as a digital camera, MP3 player, printer or scanner but you don't have the proper port to plug it in. This guide is here to help sort out some of these problems.
Even though memory is much more affordable than it has in the past, the software requirements keep increasing. This isn't as much of a problem now even with new budget systems but older computers trying to run new software are likely to encounter such a problem. If you happen to be noticing a slowdown with software it could be that you need more memory.
The solution in both of these cases is very simple: a memory upgrade. A little work needs to be done ahead of time to make sure you are purchasing the right type and amount of memory for the computer system. Check out the Computer Memory Upgrades on how to get the proper memory for your computer. Once the memory is purchased, be sure to look at the Installing Desktop Memory or Installing Laptop Memory tutorials on how to properly install the RAM.
Old to New
Those lucky enough to receive a new computer to replace an older one may encounter one of the trickier problems: moving files from an old PC to a new one. Computer networks and external drives have greatly reduced this problem, but the size of computer files can make this a very time intensive process. Thankfully there are a number of solutions to this problem.
The easiest and least expensive of the choices is USB based flash drives. These are small keys that can store several gigabytes of data. It may take multiple transfers to move the data, but it is an inexpensive and easy solution. Another choice could be the use of an external hard drive. These function just like the flash drives except are much larger. For more information, check out the Removable Storage tips from the About.com Computer Peripherals site.
Tablets are a very hot item and for the most part can be used as stand alone devices. The problem is that there isn't really a good way to manage a device or bakcup its data without syncing it to a laptop or desktop PC. The issue here is if you have an older computer system. There are still a large number of users out there with Windows XP systems that run just fine. The problem is that some of the most popular tablets don't have very functional software support for this older OS. In these cases, an upgrade of the operating system may be in order. Be sure to check to make sure you PC can be upgraded before making any commitments. It should also be noted that if you are running Mac, some tablets do no come with compatible syncing software at this time. Instead, you have to treat your tablet as a simple storage device to backup music and movies but little else.
Another problem that crops up with many new tablets is recharging them from a PC. Most of the tablets require a higher voltage output over the USB connector to properly charge the tablet. Many new PCs can sense these devices and adjust the voltage accordingly but those with older PCs won't be able to charge their devices. The solution to this is an external power adapter for charging the tablet. The downside is that it can't charge while syncing and the manufacturer of the tablet may have not included a power adapter with the tablet to reduce the costs. This will require either the purchase of a power adapter from the manufacturer or a generic USB power adapter that supplies sufficient voltage.
3D Slide Show
The level of graphics in PC games grows dramatically each year. Of course, to produce these high quality graphics, it is also necessary to increase the performance and features of the display adapter. Older video cards attempting to play these games will quickly run into the slide show effect.
The answer to this problem for a desktop PC typically means the purchase of a new graphics card. Of course, with older computer systems, even the most powerful of the new graphics card may not help. Be sure to check that the rest of the computer components meet the recommended specifications before getting a new video card. If a new card is the answer, check out my Best 3D Budget Video Cards for solutions under $250 or the Best Performance 3D Video Cards for the best in performance regardless of the costs.
Laptop users are a bit out of luck when it comes to graphics as they are built into the system and are not upgradeable. Several companies are producing some external chassis that allow an external video card to connect into a PC via a Thunderbolt port, ExpressCard slot or USB 3.0 port. The downside is that most solutions won't generally work with consumer laptops that lack the necessary interface ports.
Most peripherals such as printers, cameras and digital audio players come with the necessary cables to connect it to your computer system but every once in a while a company decides to leave this out in order to reduce the cost on the product. Monitors are a common product now that skip the digital cables such as HDMI or DisplayPort and instead just come with VGA. If you happen to get such a product, don't worry you will be able to use it just make sure to note what type of cable it requires before you head out to the store to get it. For example, some printers use the USB A to USB B style while a camera might use a USB B to USB mini. You don't want to have to make multiple trips if you get the wrong type.
Another issue with cables is that many retailers charge much more than they should on peripheral cables. This has to do with the margins on products is very slim, so they tend to use cables and extended warranties to make up the funds. If you can't find an affordable cable at a retailer, try online with a retailer such as Monoprice for just about any cable or adapter imaginable at very reasonable prices.
Where is That Port?
Since the introduction of USB, the number of devices that rely on this simple interface has exploded. Keyboards, mice, game controllers, printers, scanners, MP3 players and external flash drives all rely on this type of interface.
So what can you do if you don't have any or have run out of these ports but have a device that needs one? Thankfully there are a wide range of expansion cards for desktop computers and for notebooks. Before purchasing one of these, make sure that your computer has one of the appropriate slots available. In addition, some older operating systems will not support these connectors. For desktop PC's there are PCI and PCI-Express based cards. Laptop PCs can use either the older Type II Cardbus or the ExpressCard adapters.
What if you do have USB ports but they are all in use? USB was designed to allow for expansion off the root ports with a device called a hub. This is generally a box with a USB A uplink port that goes to a port on the desktop or notebook and then supplies typically 4 ports. This can greatly expand the number of ports that a computer has available. When looking for a USB hub, try to look for a USB 3.0 high speed certified hub to ensure compatibility with the highest speed devices. Even if you don't have USB 3.0 ports, they are still backwards compatible with USB 2.0.