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We interrupt this silence

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Last week was a very frustrating week. I lost not one, not two, but THREE computers in one week! I am hoping and praying that these losses were not permanent.

(In case you are wondering, they were all three "e-machines" (read really cheap) and they were bought in 1999, 2001, and 2003 and were running Win 98, ME and XP). The newer one is the one that really hurts, as it had a lot of pictures on it that had not been burned to CD yet as well as a bunch of sermons and a bunch of other things that it will take me a long time to replace/re-do. Two of the computers and the hard drive from the newer one are at a computer repair place. Best case scenario: He is able to get one good computer out of the three. Worst case scenario: My wife murders me because of loosing all the pictures :). Minimally hoped for scenario: He is at least able to recover the hard drive from the new one.

I was wondering about other people's philosophy of computer buying. Do you go and get the nice $1000 - $1500 desktop system that has all of the newest bells and whistles when you buy a new computer reasoning that it has all you need for awhile and it is better built or do you get the cheap little e-machines (or HP, etc.) that is still a generation or so behind on the bells and whistles but costs under $500?

My thinking (up to now) has been to buy the cheap machine for the less money and then buy the next generation up in a couple of years, etc. For instance, I bought the newest of the ones that just died at Christmas time of 2003 for around $150 (after rebates, etc.). Even though it died, I figure that I had a computer that would do what I needed it to do for about 2 1/2 years at a rate of about $60 a year. At that rate, the $1000 computer would have to last me until 2019 to have been as cost-effective. By that time, anything that the $1000 computer could do better than the $150 computer would have been obsolete long ago.

So, from a cost analysis, the cheaper computers seem to be the way to go, but what are the arguments on the other side? After an incident like this last week, I am sure that I am missing some good arguments on the other side.

(FWIW, I don't blame the dead computer on my picture and data loss - if it ends up being lost - that is simply my own stupidity for not using the CD-R/RW for what it is designed.)

I will likely be buying a new desktop in the relatively new future, so I would actually like to hear some input on this question if you have thought about it much.

On another note, I do plan on returning to more regularly scheduled blogging soon. (And, oh yeah, GO SUNS!)

Just my thoughts,



Don said...

Hey Frank, I feel your pain!! One of our supporting churches gave my wife a laptop where all the digital pictures ended up. Alas, the hard drive died a horrible, cruel death and all was lost. We got a newer bigger hard drive, but all the cute pictures of the dog are gone.

My philosophy has been to buy more of the middle of the road stuff, not the really cheapo stuff. I have also built a couple of computers where I selected fairly good rated parts, but not top end stuff.

But... the number one thing to buy and work with is a good back up strategy. I always have at least two hard drives in my computers. (other than laptops) I have a program called SecondCopy that regularly backs up critical files: all of my sermons, all of my e-mail, all of any other files I have created that I don't want to lose - configuration files for certain programs, etc. I back up my Quicken files every time I use them.

Having two hard drives is not absolutely fail safe, but the odds on both drives failing at the same time are pretty high. And CDs don't last forever either, so...

But I have learned by bitter experience, ALWAYS BACKUP, if you ever might want to see that file again.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Scott said...

For desktops I like to go with a nice piece of pine or oak, but but I usually have to suffer with the contact-paper covered pressboard. :-D

In all seriousness, I have had a couple of computers, one a refurbished model after High School graduation which lasted me a few years of college on Windows 95.

When that one became more of a hassel than a help, I picked up a used one to finish out college with.

After college graduation, I bought an unused/fairly new HP w/Windows XP and am managing to survive. Basically, that's what was in my price range.

Andy Rupert said...

After losing data several times, I decided to partition my future hard drives into two sections. The C: drive has windows and all the programs. The D: drive has all my files. That way it is possible to recover the files even if Windows becomes unbootable. I've been able to recover the files by transplanting the hard drive into another system.

As to buying computers, I have always bought used or been donated computers. With twelve computers at the house, I have found that at least two are working at all times. And if not, I can always piece part something together.

To each his own.


Don said...

Hey, Andy, partitioning will not help you with a hard drive failure. HD failure doesn't just mean windows is corrupted and unbootable. It means the heads are crashing into the disks and the mechanics don't work any more.

So... Two HDs are a must and a back up system of some kind. You can do the two HDs over a network, they don't have to be in the same box.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Andy Rupert said...

You are correct, Don. But as many times the problem is Windows, partitioning has been helpful to me.

Another option is uploading files to an internet site. I have used for the past 7 years. They offer an online email, calendar, tasks, files service similar to Outlook. Because they backup their files I have not been overly worried about losing files on my hard drive.

By the way, I saw a $299 desktop on DELL yesterday. It might be worth looking at.

Jay C said...

When I bought my desktop a few years ago, I bought the most processor I could get for my buck, and skimped on stuff that I could upgrade later. That seems to have worked out nicely for me, since the system is 6 years old - going on 7 this October - and it still handles everything well and does it quickly.

You can always upgrade the Hard Drive, Video or Audio Card, RAM, drives, or whatever. But once you commit to a processor, you're more or less stuck with it. So it only makes sense to spend the most $ there.

Also, don't forget to look at PC World's Power Rankings or Consumer Reports - which your local library should have. They usually do a good job of evaluating stuff.

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