Computer Technology Solutions
Providing Solutions For Your Computer or Network Needs.

CTS -- The Computer Solution Specialists
Clemmons (336) 245-2728 • (336) 945-0370 • CTS Contact/Request

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need new hardware?

This newsletter will help you determine whether you need new computerhardware equipment.

First, what is "hardware"?
Literally, it is any computer equipment that you can trip over. Any piece of yourcomputer that you can grab and toss across the room is hardware. Including theCD-ROM and/or floppy disks that your software comes on!

Now, here is my question to you:

Does your current hardware do what you want or need it to do?
No?  Then, of course you need new hardware.
Yes?  Then leave it alone!

Do your office workers need to share data, printers, faxingcapability, etc.?

No?  Then you're fine!
Yes?  Then you need a computer network.

A network is a system of two or more computers connected togethervia cables and other hardware that can give an office the ability to share data,file storage space, printers, faxing capability, Internet access, etc.

For more information about networks, see our Newsletter, Whatis a Network? Why Should I Network?.

Why do you need new hardware?
If you need to use any of the software being sold today, you need at a minimumhardware no older than four years old hardware — possibly with memory and/orhard drive upgrades — in order to keep it singing and dancing.

You can use older hardware, but can this can get to thepoint where you find yourself waiting 20 minutes for your system to start so thatyou can wait another 10-20 minutes for your software to start so that you canthen wait another 5-10 minutes to open your file so you can work… Time enoughto brew a pot of coffee and practically drink the whole pot. Don't laugh —we've replaced such systems!

For more information about software, see our Newsletter, DoI Need New Software?.

What is the difference between "clone" and "namebrand" hardware?
“Clone" hardware — hardware that is IBM compatible — comesin two flavors:

(1)  Those produced for the general public by many retailoutlets including mail-order, computer "super-stores" and small retailshops. These systems are sometimes put together with the cheapest parts that thebuilder can buy and last about as long as you'd expect for a low low price. 

(2)  Those produced by reputable systems service businessesthat have an idea of what name brand pieces work together based on their yearsof experience in the field. An advantage that clone systems have is that you canget parts for them literally anywhere.

"Name brand" hardware is hardware made by a large corporationthat numerous people know and have bought from for one reason or other. Thesecan vary from "they had the lowest price" to "well, they make greatprinters!" These companies use most of the same parts that any good manufacturerwould, sometimes along with hardware that they manufacture themselves. A disadvantagewith name brand systems is that you can usually only get parts from the manufacturer,period.

Computer Technology Solutions builds clone systems from known good componentsand we have excellent results with them.  For instance other than hard drivefailure (which has increased 600% in the last 3 years) we have a repair rate ofless than 10% on our quality systems.

When do I need new hardware?
You may need new hardware under the following circumstances:

  • Usually when you upgrade your operating and/or network system. You may needmore memory, bigger hard drives, faster video cards and/or whole new computersystems to run these items.
  • Sometimes when you add software. This can be as simple as needing a biggerhard drive to hold this software, or your computers might not be up to the jobof running that software.
  • You hire new employees.
  • Your computers are wearing out or just too slow.

As you can see, the hardware you use does make a difference! Determineyour needs and the hardware's capabilities and recommendations well before buying,or you'll be waiting a long time with your coffee…

How can Computer Technology Solutions. help my business?
We can help you find out what hardware you really need for your business. We canhelp you install it, set it up, and organize your data in a manner you would organizeyour paper data so you can find it easy to use.

If you need a network of computers, we can design a one to fityour office's needs, help you organize it, provide you with good equipment ata fair price and support it.

Do I need new software?

This newsletter will help you determine whether you need new computer software.

First, what is software?
Software, also known as "applications," is best recognized as computerprograms used to do a variety of tasks, such as word processing, email,Internet browsing, and even games.

More technically, it is a mass of computer commands,usually in a 'programming code,' that allows you to input some type ofdata in a form the commands can manipulate, and it allows you to havethat data come out in a form you want (assuming that you bought theright software).

Does your current software do what you want or need it to do?No?  Then, of course you need new software!Yes?  Then leave it alone!

Do your office workers need to share similar data?

No?  Then you're fine!
Yes? Then you need networkable software.

What is networkable software?
That is software that can be run on more than one computer systemsimultaneously.  The same data file can be opened on computers connected with cable and hardware.  Notable types of networkable software areaccounting programs and databases for such as client tracking,inventory, etc.

For more information on networks, see our newsletter entitled What is a Network?.

Why do you need the right software?
Have you ever tried to ski with a pair of flippers?  Without the righttools, you can't work, or can't work efficiently.  And if you can insome way "mickey-mouse" or "slow-poke" your way through, it probablytook you three to four times longer than it should have, or would haveif you had the right gear.

If you give your employees the right tools for the job,you can get real production and efficiency, and in a business, how muchyou or your employees produce directly affects how much your companymakes (as long as you are producing a product the public wants, ofcourse).

What is the difference between "off the shelf" and"custom software"?"Off the shelf" software is software that is mass produced for thegeneral public and you can buy these at any software retail outlet.

"Custom software" is software made for a specificpurpose that most other people and/or businesses would have no use for,but that some can use to save innumerable hours of time if they had it.  It is usually made specially for a company or individual.

What is a software "bug"?
Remember the definition of software I gave at the top of this page? Well, a "bug" is one of those commands that the programmer (the fellowthat writes software) wrote wrong.  A typo, a slip of the finger at3 a.m., a mis-understood word or unclear command, too much soda andpizza, many things can cause a programmer to write a bug, but there isalways the same reaction when one is found by the user while in themidst of his/her 30 page document …  (And the poor folks nearby bettercover and duck!)

As you can see, the software you use does make a difference! Check your needs and the software's abilities and recommendations well beforebuying — or you'll be on those slopes with a weird set of skis.

As you can see, the software you use does make adifference!  Determine your needs and your software's capabilities andrecommendations well before buying, or you may end up with the wrongsoftware.

How can Computer Technology Solutions. help my business?
We can help you find out what hardware you really need for yourbusiness.  We can help you install it, set it up, and organize your data the same manner that you would organize your paper data so you find iteasy to use.

What is a computer network?
Why should I network my computers?

Computer Networking DiagramAcomputer network is simply computers wired together in a way that lets them sharedata and/or devices such as hard drives, CD-ROMs, fax-modems, printers, etc.

Since you can share hard drives on a computer network, a smallerdrive can reside on each computer with a single large drive on the system thatshares the data area with all users.

With shared data, if one user is out, your temporary replacementcan fit right in from any computer in the network and get to work immediately.

Ease of Use and Productivity
Another advantage of computer networks is that all your files can be in one place.No need to copy a file to a floppy, run over to the computer that is connectedto a printer, insert the floppy, locate the file, and then print it. (This procedureis known as the "sneaker net".) And you can easily back up all of theyour valuable data on one system’s tape backup

With a computer network, we caneasily give groups of users rights to view and edit data pertaining to their jobs,and limit or deny access to areas of data for those who should not have it —for instance, accounting data.

If a shared file of client data is needed, a computer networkis the only way to allow multiple users to access the same data file ...as long as you are using a networkable database program. We can install and customizesuch programs for you.

How much does a computer network cost?
Computer networks come in all sizes. You can also network your existing computers,and add individual terminals to the computer network as needed.

Call us at (336) 945-0370— or use our CTS Contact/Request formto get an estimate of what it will cost.

Computers use resources too!
Addressing computer systems using Microsoft Windows

Many of you have heard the term "resource" in a conversationregarding computers.

What are your computer's resources, you might ask — andI'm glad you did because I needed an excuse to write this article...

A resource is something that your computer can use to do the workyou want it to do. The most important two on the list are memory (otherwise knownas RAM and NOT your hard disk) where most of the work you are doing (includingwhat you see at the current moment) is being done and are small pieces on themain board in your computer. Secondly you have your hard disk (which is sometimesincorrectly referred to as memory) and is a piece inside of your computer thatyou store all your data on (and backup regularly if you are wise).

First off, let me explain some terms for the newcomers:

  • Click indicates pressing the left mouse button once.
  • Double-click indicates pressing the left mouse button twice.
  • Right-click indicates pressing the right mouse button once.
  • MB is short for "Mega-byte" which means roughly, 1 millionbytes of data, with each byte being the equivalent of one letter, number, symbol,etc.

You computer has whatever memory that either you or your vendorput in it. This can be checked by right-clicking on the "My Computer"icon which is usually on the upper-left of your screen, and clicking the "Properties"menu item. Towards the bottom-right of the "General" tab, you will seea number in front of "MB RAM". If you look at the number, that is howmuch memory (or RAM) your system has.

Your computer uses memory as a work space. When you start thecomputer, parts of the operating system are copied to memory for fast access.When you load a program to do some work with, you also copy that, or parts ofthat program to memory to be able to do your work. Likewise when you open an existingdata file with that program. And when you create a new file with any program,you are creating it in memory to be later copied to the hard drive.

So, you should see that a) memory is an important resource andb) the more you have, the more work (or larger files) your computer can do comfortablyat any one time.

My minimum memory recommendations for any speed of system running Microsoft'sproducts are as follows:

Operating system.........Memory (RAM)

Windows 95 ................
Windows 98 ................
Windows NT ...............

Windows 2000 ............

Windows XP...............

48 MB

64 MB
128 MB

256 MB
1000 MB

Windows 2003 ............1000 MB
Windows VISTA ..........2000 MB
Windows 7
2000 MB
Windows 2008 ............2000 MB

What about your hard drive?
Well, because of increasingly complex (read LARGE) operating systems, programs,etc.; the storage space demands for small computers has skyrocketed in the lastthree years. For example: Microsoft's Windows v3.1, circa 1991, used 12MB of harddrive space to install fully, whereas Microsoft's Windows 98 uses 350MB for afull install — around a 2,916% increase! Luckily, the cost of that storage spacehas dropped relatively. (By the way, the quality of that storage space has droppedas well, so again, smart users backup their data! To avoid extra unnecessary work,be smart!)

To find how much hard drive space you have, and have left, double-clickon the "My Computer" icon, right-click on the drive C: icon, click onthe "Properties" menu item.

You will see a pie-chart indicating your hard drive's capacitycondition. Below the pie-chart and to the right is a number with a "MB"after it. This indicates your total hard drive capacity. Just above the pie-chartand to the right is another number with a "MB" after it, this is theavailable, or free space on your hard drive. If this number is below 100, andyou are using any of the above operating systems, you need a larger hard drive!Even if you are "only doing word-processing"!!


Because all versions of Microsoft's Windows use what is calleda "swap-file" or a "page-file". These (as they indicate) arefirst off, files. Files are stored on your hard drive. These files are necessaryto all versions of Microsoft's Windows, and used as temporary storage spaces whileyour computer is running. If your hard disk space is low, so will the space forthis file be low, and your system's performance will suffer. To be specific, ifyou are running Windows, you should have at least 100MB free foryour swap file, and if this is all you have free, it's time for a new drive!

As your memory is your work space, your hard drive is similarto your filing cabinet, in other words, it is a storage space. The larger driveyou have, the more space for files, programs, etc.

Any final words of wisdom?
Sure! Any amount of memory (RAM) below the minimum recommendations I made abovewill slow you down and over-work your hard drive (remember the swap/page-file?)to the extent that you have less than these numbers.

Ok, now you have an idea of what your computer has, and uses asit's two main system resources. Other devices will affect the speed of your system,and some dramatically, but that's a title for another newsletter.

How can Computer Technology Solutions. help my business?

We can help you find out what hardware you really need for your business. We can help you install it, set it up, and organize your data the same mannerthat you would organize your paper data so you find it easy to use.

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