Has your PC become so slow and inconvenient that you almost dread using it? If so, you’re at a crossroads where it’s time to make one of two choices: buy a brand-new PC, or put a little TLC into the one you have.

Unless you’re a regular Nelson Rockefeller, the idea of buying a costly new PC is probably a daunting one. Thankfully, you don’t have to break the bank just yet. There are several affordable yet effective upgrades that can boost not only your PC’s speed, but also your experience using it.

Three Letters: SSD

Does your internal hard drive sound like it’s hosting the Industrial Revolution, with metal clamoring away? That’s because you still have one of those hard drives that functions by putting mechanical parts to work. It might as well be a dinosaur.

The first thing you should do to upgrade your PC is install a solid state drive (or SSD). Because SSDs don’t require any moving parts, your PC can relax more when executing commands, which boosts its performance speed.

Installation of SSDs was pricey when they were first introduced, but costs have since dropped considerably. You can install an SSD yourself for under $100, or, if you’re not a DIY type with computers, a professional can usually install it for under $300.

And Three More Letters: RAM

For PC performance, there’s no greater currency than memory. The more gigabytes of memory a PC has, the smoother it will run, and the more work you’ll be able to take off your plate.

If your PC is spotty when you’re trying to multitask, consider infusing it with more random-access memory, or RAM. Keep your eyes peeled for sales, and you can usually reel in 8GB of RAM for under $70.

The Latest Home PC Upgrades That Make Life Easier

Add More Ports

You know how you can conveniently plug in a surge protector to open up more outlets next to your home entertainment system? A docking station enables you to apply that same convenience to your PC.

Docking stations come equipped with several computer ports, so you’ll never have to play musical chairs with your USB cables again. Plus, they’re really sleek, so they won’t be in your way.

Clean Out the Back

No matter how often you use your PC, the back of your hard drive is going to start looking like an abandoned garage with all the dust that accumulates over time. And when your hard drive’s fans and various parts get clogged, it overheats your PC, which results in slowdowns.

Luckily, there’s a simple solution to this. Buy a can of compressed air, and occasionally pop open the back of your hard drive and spray away.

Enhance Your Monitor

If you’ve grown tired with the visual experience of the screen staring back at you, maybe it’s time for a higher resolution monitor.

Most high-res computer monitors are reasonably priced somewhere in the ballpark of $100. And if you’re an avid PC gamer, for not much extra, you can purchase a monitor with AMD FreeSync Technology, which eliminates screen tearing from your gaming experience.

Add an External Hard Drive

Let’s say that you want to try boosting your PC’s speed by deleting files, but there aren’t any you want to delete permanently. With an external hard drive, you can have your cake and eat it too.

External hard drives are essentially like a storage unit. You can put files on it that you don’t need at the moment, and they’ll be right there waiting for you as soon as you do.

Unless you want one with mammoth storage, external hard drives are typically very light, both in weight and cost.

Give Your Fingers the Best

If you don’t have a mechanical keyboard yet, you’re missing out. Unlike clunky industry standard keyboards, mechanical keyboards:

  • Can be customized for comfort based on how hard and fast you type
  • Allow for a higher number of keys to be pressed simultaneously (which is particularly clutch for gamers)
  • Last roughly five times as long before they wear out

You can usually find a capable mechanical keyboard for around $50.

On a similar note, you can upgrade to a mouse that’s more capable and comfortable to the touch for relatively cheap as well.

Give These a Shot Before You Give up

If your PC is old, there’s a chance you’ll have to bite the bullet and replace it. But trying these steps first could help you give your PC a significant upgrade without breaking the bank.

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5 Simple Steps to Getting Started in The Cloud

All start-ups and small businesses have heard that the cloud is everywhere and can transform your business. But what is it and what can it do? Cloud-IT specialists Principal have the answers.

Confusingly, the cloud is used by providers, software sellers and businesses who want your money as a catch-all term for a variety of things. It can become quite complicated, but it doesn’t need to be.

The cloud is basically an on-demand storage or software resource that you can access immediately through the internet.

Tech giant IBM offers a handy definition of the various different types of cloud applications which is a good place to start. It’s likely that after reading that you’ll have more questions than you started with. To help, here are 5 simple steps to getting started in the cloud.

1. Pick your cloud

The first thing to clarify is, like the sky above, there isn’t one cloud – there are infinite numbers of potential clouds. As a business, you need to configure one that works for you.

As a small business you will want to focus on how the cloud can benefit you. For most, that’s likely to be moving certain data and applications to the cloud.

The first step is to analyse your data centre usage. This audit can identify your current software and storage requirements, enabling you to identify areas that could be better served in the cloud.

It’s important to recognise that to work any proposed move needs to improve efficiency and be cost-effective.

The bottom line is, if it won’t save you time or money, then think again.

2. Solid security

The cloud is as secure – if not more secure – than your own proprietary network, but you still need to be cautious.

Once you’ve identified the information and software you’d like to be hosted by the cloud then take the time to assess what this means for security.

The Data Protection Act and European Data Protection Regulation all have implications for how you manage and store data, and how you select your partners too – more on that below.

3. Simple strategy

Once you’ve done the groundwork, you can begin straight away. Microsoft, Adobe, SAP are just a couple of the huge names who have moved to providing software via the cloud. Dropbox is a leading name in cloud storage, but isn’t the only one.  All you need to do to get started in the cloud is get your credit card out and sign up.

If you do though, you could be making a mistake. According to tech bible ZDNet, what most cloud projects miss is a strategy – and we agree.

A solid cloud computing solution needs structure. This will help create a system that works for the organisation and your customer. It is also built with the future in mind, growing and developing as your business does.

4. Cloud culture

Your implementation strategy is important. Equally important is how your organisation embraces the cloud. It’s all about culture.

The cloud offers freedom to access information, work collaboratively, remotely and at all times of the day. But it comes with some new risks. These are particularly important to recognise as employees increasingly use their own devices for work.

Businesses need to develop working practices and approaches that are fit for the new world of the cloud. You’ll need to introduce new staff guidelines for document sharing and storage to help you and your employees work in a new way.

5. Provider or partner

If you’re tech minded it’s relatively easy to set-up a personal cloud, but you need to explore whether it’s the right approach for you.

Focusing solely on individual providers can leave you with a fragmented cloud system, with complex and inefficient interdependencies between different pieces of software from different providers.

In the end, you could end up paying for a system that far more complicated than the one it replaced.

One way of avoiding this is working with a partner who can help you configure a cloud solution that works for you. They can also take care of some of the security and access issues, helping you devise a strategy for success.

A successful transition to the cloud needs some thought and some planning, but genuinely does have the power to transform the way you work – increasing productivity, efficiency and profit.

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