When it comes to updating a computer system, most people seem to fall into two camps: those that want to update but don’t know what to get and those who are quite happy with what they have and see no need to change. Both of these ideas have their pluses and minuses.
If you have been using the same computer system for over five years, I would strongly urge you to look at upgrading. It may be working fine for now but hard drives are notorious for failing after five years. If you are running Windows on this machine, it is probably Windows XP which Microsoft will stop supporting next April. As the programs that you are using will invariably require updates, you will find over time that on these older machines the programs will either start to run slower or not install at all. By not updating and running older versions, you run the risk to experiencing bugs or security compromises that have been fixed in later versions. By doing nothing you risk a potential major problem down the road.
So if you want to upgrade, what do you need? It’s like buying a car or house. What extras must you have? However, based on the information I have received from churches around the diocese on their computer and software setup and based on what we use here at Diocesan House, this is the minimum you will need for the next couple of years. Note: This is a Windows based solution. Not being a Mac person I do not know what would be comparable.
- Windows 7 Professional (64-bit version) If you want to use Windows 8 I would wait until 8.1 is released.
- 4 GB of RAM
- Core 2 Processor – 2.7 GHZ or higher processor
- 250 GB hard drive (Preferably solid state, which will increase the life of your disk and allow you to use your computer system longer before replacing)
- A video card that will support videoconferencing
- Webcam, either built-in or external
- Broadband Internet connection with a recommended bandwidth of 768kbps upload and download. You need about 1.2Mbps upload and download for 720p HD video calls.
- Google Docs or Microsoft Office 2010
- CD-ROM Drive – this can be internal or external
With this system configuration you should be able to run most applications easily and be able to do videoconferencing which is becoming more and more common for web conferences and support calls. While this is the minimum configuration, make sure before you buy the system that it has the ability to upgrade components. You may want to speed up the machine by adding more RAM or putting in a second drive, so make sure you will have the ability to do that.
Lastly, technology is constantly changing and improving, so when you create your church budgets, put in a few hundred dollars a year into a fund for your computer system. It will make life easier for you when you are ready for the next upgrade which, like death and taxes, will be inevitable.