When the productivity of your staff and/or cyber security of your computing equipment becomes vulnerable, impacting production to meet objectives, it’s time to consider refreshing your computing hardware and the software it runs on. However, which hardware build meets your computing needs, and which cybersecurity architecture will protect and defend it? Light to heavy computer users have different hardware needs. The content they generate and distribute implies the information security they need to maintain data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Four hardware basics should be kept in mind: chipset, RAM, storage, and endpoint protection. Always invest in chipset and RAM to ensure a robust computing experience.
Chipset. The chipset you select should match the computing needs of the user. Computing done from apps, calculations, content from a network and Internet, streaming content, etc. will need a faster chip in megahertz (MHz) of speed and multiple cores (e.g. one core is likened to a car engine). For example, an executive assistant to a CXO may need an Intel multicore i7 chip with 16GB of RAM, 1TB SATA SSD hard drive, Windows 10 Professional, a TPM to encrypt the hard drive when not in use, and a NextGen endpoint agent; this build will offer speed, availability, and information security. In contrast, a contract worker using a hoteled machine to process documents and email may only need an Intel i3 chip with 4GB RAM, a 250GB IDE hard drive, and basic endpoint agent. Savings gets into multiple $100s per machine; smart planning of network infrastructure can save under $1K per computing device for a hardware and software refresh; the aggregate savings are noticeable.
RAM. This is memory requiring live power to compute with (e.g. Operating System, Apps, Endpoint scanning agent, network connectivity, Internet); the more the computer does per use session, the more RAM it needs to operate with. 4GB of RAM is the minimum amount recommended to run Windows 10 plus applications and Internet connectivity. RAM sticks for the computer often runs $10 per 1GB and is sold in block pairs; RAM for computers are different than laptops. If your computing is more active (e.g. engineering, architecture, media) you’ll need more sophisticated RAM sticks that are more expensive.
Storage. This is the hard drive to store your operating system, drivers, applications, and copy of files you use most often. As cloud storage and computing becomes more common (i.e. Google Docs, DropBox, and Microsoft OneDrive), you’re better off investing in chipset, RAM and endpoint protection vs. storage. Code volume is increasing for applications, requiring more RAM to run them and storage to install them to. Storage is migrating from moving parts (e.g. spinning IDE hard drives that are larger; common on PCs’ and are affordable) to non-moving parts (e.g. solid-state drives (SATA SSD)) that are thinner, use less power, yet are more expensive up-front. Laptops have migrated to using SSD drives vs. IDE. A recommendation is 500GB to accommodate code-heavy apps, and the monthly patches provided by the manufacturer.
For independent users, you’ll want a complete app that provides a scanning engine with digital dashboard to display scanning results. You’ll want a NextGen app that learns trends of normal machine operation, looking for Indicators of Compromise (IoCs) that the scanning engine will evaluate or cleanse. Scans based on signature-based apps are in the past because they’re too easy to identify and remove because signatures are updated to the scanning engine every few days. Windows Defender (bundled into the Windows Operating System) has become more sophisticated; it’s sufficient for basic scanning. Internet-based scanning apps install a lightweight scanning engine onto your machine, gathers files to scan in RAM, then passes those files through a scanner in the cloud via an encrypted tunnel, threats are cleansed or quarantined; a digital dashboard shows results. Explain to your computer salesperson the kind of computing you do; they will recommend the right endpoint protection for your machine. Expect to spend +/- $50 that includes free updates to the scanning engine; an annual subscription runs about $50 per year.
If you’re considering to refresh your computer, consider buying a business-class PC or laptop returned from lease that is refurbished professionally. These are workhorse machines designed for consistent productivity at low maintenance cost; expect 3.5-4 years of consistent use from them. You can save $250-450 off a new machine to get the build features you need to compute with. Those savings are welcome. Businesses often lease machines new, then exchange them for new machines when the lease is up. If you count on your machine for productivity (e.g. school, business, consulting), consider buying the refurb business machine vs. a consumer-oriented or gaming machine sold in stores.
Thank you for giving this topic your time, attention and consideration; I trust there are takeaways for you to use. If you’re interested in refreshing your computer, please click Request a Consultation at the base of this page, fill out “Computer Refresh” in the subject line, include your email signature or of your office manager in the message body; I reply within 24hours to arrange an exploratory conference call. ###