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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The Rise of Soft Skills in the Digital Age

I’m not going to waste your time talking about how ingrained technology is in all our lives. You may be reading this on your smartphone while killing time at work, where you stare at a separate screen for hours, only to drive home and turn on another screen to relax.

Or maybe you’re rewarding yourself with a little down time after seeing your Fitbit has recorded an extra 1,000 steps today.  Or your kid is using the computer, so you’re tethered to the wall by the tablet charging cable, looking for a well-written blog post.  Or maybe you’re not, but the point is that you could see yourself, or anyone, in that situation.

This obsession with technology has led to an explosion of never-conceived businesses and jobs. Social media, IT departments, software development, data security, the list goes on, and we’re only going to become more dependent as time goes on.

Organizations estimate that one-third of their human resources budgets are delegated for hiring IT talent; computer science majors experience a 76% increase in their salary in just the first three years. Clearly, the stats all say that hard tech skills are what job seekers should be focusing on. Except that’s not the whole story.

With connectivity comes complexity

As technology becomes more and more ingrained in our lives, so does its complexity.  No one outside of a calculus classroom carries a phone and a calculator. Some of us rarely turn on a PC anymore, since our smartphones are sufficient for quick browsing.  Our cars come enabled with Bluetooth.

Soon, every household appliance will be connected to a singular device, which we will also use to send messages, pay for groceries, tell our car where to take us, open our front door, monitor our daily steps, and automatically remind us of appointments- and it already does most of that.

But as the interconnectivity and complexity of technology rises, our ability to understand it decreases. We can’t keep up with the constant stream of our own inventions. While specialists might be able to fully utilize every software update, most of us can’t be bothered to learn all the nuances every time.

That’s why IT is such an emerging field, but even they won’t be able to keep up with the coming technological evolutions. As Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner, says, “Our best hope may be that computers eventually will become smart enough to maintain themselves.”

Importance of soft skills

Where does that leave business now? While you certainly can’t forego employees with the technical skills that you need, you need soft skills now more than ever. According to an Adecco Staffing survey, there are twice as many business executives concerned with the soft skill gap than those worried about hard skills.

Traits like communication and critical thinking are becoming more highly valued than straight computer skills. Some businesses that require their employees to have technical know-how, like engineering firms, have tried to ignore soft skills in favor of some desperately sought-after experience, but this is no longer possible.

In fact, it’s commercial acumen, communication skills, and adaptability that employers should be prioritizing. Adaptability is especially useful in a world where technology is constantly evolving, and, realistically, malfunctioning.  Sometimes things do not go to plan, and employees need to take that in stride.

Similarly, it won’t matter how well you understand CSS or can fix a pipe if no one can relate to you. Google provides consumers with ten options on just the first page, and they will reject your business if they can’t communicate with your employees.  Additionally, your business will also suffer if your employees can effectively communicate with each other.

Moving forward

It’s important to provide employees with both soft and hard skill training. This can be expensive and time-consuming, so you will have to strike a balance particular to you. If you work in an industry that the hard skills can be learned on the job or fairly quickly, make sure you’re searching for candidates with appropriate soft skills.

However, if your employees must have hard skills before they walk through the door, that doesn’t give you an excuse to ignore soft skills entirely. Offer soft skill training and assessments, because while soft skills are more difficult to measure, they are just as important.

That holds true even in this technological age. We may cling to our iEverythings, but only because they allow us to tap into humanity. Your business needs to utilize this underlying need.

People may pay for your product or service if you can deliver, but using the human element gives you that much more leverage.  In a world where your competitors are accessible at the click of a mouse, you’ll need all the soft skills you can get.

Author: Dayton socializes for a living and writes for fun. She will forever be a prisoner of her family’s business, doomed to inherit responsibility despite frequent existential protests. 

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