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First of all, I'm pretty computer illiterate. I'm not sure if I'm out of HD space or RAM (is that what I need when I actually open programs?). I have an e-machine with Windows-ME. Lately, I have been getting messages that I am out of space and that I should delete programs I don't use. I've been deleting programs and one I deleted, Adobe, I could have used to check out the .pdf file that was sent to someone asking for advice on buying a first computer.

Anyway, my C drive indicates I have used 6.87 GB with capacity of 6.97 (eek!), and I have 96.7 MB free.

I'm going to purchase a new PC or laptop and would like some help in deciding what to buy. I use my computer to download music, download transcription files (Olympus), upload photos from digital camera, word processing using MS Word. I'd also like to be able download and watch movies from the internet, and to hook up a web cam to communicate with friends.

If I purchase a laptop, what would you suggest as far as wireless hardware? Each notebook has something a little different (i.e., Dell has a 1350 EXTERNAL with 802.11 b/g, 54 Mbps; Compaq has a 802.11 g (NOT b/g) INTEGRATED; Intel has a 2200 INTERNAL Wireless, 802.11 b/g). What's best - external, integrated or internal and is b or b/g better?

If I purchase a PC, which would you suggest as far as specifications on processor, etc.

One other thing, how can I move from files to a new computer? I bought a 512 MB SanDisk Cruzer USB Flash Drive. I was able to upload some of my files, but not sure about the download (I tried to move it to my computer at work - perhaps there's a firewall there that prohibited it) but in any case I think it would take a long time to transfer files using it. Any easy way to do that?

I really appreciate any help any of you could offer. As you can see, I'm not very computer literate (i.e., e-Machine user). THANKS MUCH!
 

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Welcome to TSF.

You're out of disk space on your C drive. Lots of things go wrong when you have very little extra disk space. It's not necessary to get a new computer to solve you disk space problem. Of course, if you feel the urge to get a new computer anyway then there are lots of possible choices. It would be better if someone else weighed in on that option because I don't have any recent experience with pre-made computers. I've built my own for years. If you're willing to keep using your existing computer then there are either software or hardware solutions to your problem.

Lots of computer manufacturers configure their computers with a C drive and a D drive which both actually live on a single hard disk. Some of the hard disk is allocated for the C drive and the rest is used for the D drive. Does your computer have a D drive which has lots of free space on it? You can tell by looking in the My Computer window. If you have a D drive with lots of extra space then you can solve your problem by installing new software on the D drive. When you install a program you are usually asked to pick a directory in which to install the program. That directory defaults to the C drive but you can also store programs on the D drive so you don't run out of space on C. You can also uninstall programs from the C drive and then reinstall them on the D drive. You can also run partition management programs like Partition Commander to take free space away from your D drive and add the space to your C drive. If there are Fry's in your area then you can get Partition Commander for $10 until Tuesday.

If you don't have a D drive with empty space then you could also solve your problem by upgrading the hard disk. Upgrading to a new hard drive is a relatively simple upgrade if you can follow instructions and it's way cheaper than a new computer. Stores like CompUSA and Best Buy usually have hard disks for $50 after rebate. New Maxtor, Seagate, or Western Digital hard disks (three of the biggest brands) come with a program which will copy the contents of your old hard disk to your new hard disk. It will work exactly as before except you'll have lots of free space. This does require that you open the machine up and fiddle with some cables but it's relatively simple to do.
 

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I don't want to be rude, Uncle Macro, but given how computer illiterate she is, I don't think upgrading drives or the "Partition Commander" suggestion is very practical. (I eat and breathe computers and my knees shake at the thought of playing Ginzu-Chef with my partitions.)

Penelope:

Windows ME, multiple partitions, drive upgrades, yadda yadda yadda, those are all tedious denizens of the Dark Ages of computing. If you can afford it, you ought to get a new Windows XP computer. (If you're used to Windows, stay with it. If you have a lot of friends who all have Macs, however, you may want to consider getting a Mac because they're a little friendlier.)

Get a pre-made Dell or HP. Don't bother with Gateway. Don't get a CompUSA warranty. Get an extended warranty from Dell or a mfgrs warranty from HP (regardless of whether you buy the HP online from HP, from a retailer, or from mail order).

If you want to get a laptop for portability but plan to mainly use it at a desk when you run it, you'll save money by getting a heavier one (8 lbs) and less battery life (2 hrs) rather than a light one (4 lbs) with long battery life (3-4 hrs). If you get a laptop, you'll want to get wireless networking built-in (internal or integrated mean the same thing). You'll want b/g type (wireless "b" is the slow standard, while wireless "g" is the new, fast standard, but you'll always get "b" with "g" because it's like a "subset" of "g"). It should also have a "wired Ethernet" port for those times when you have to plug in to network. They almost all have it now.

Note: If you get a laptop and it has wireless networking built in and you want to use your Internet connection wirelessly in your house, you'll need to get a "wireless access point" gizmo ($20-$100) which would connect to your Cable Modem or DSL Modem via Ethernet wires. If you use a regular modem and phone line for Internet, you won't be able to use wireless networking right now, but it'll come in handy at work, at friends houses, and/or in the future when you get faster Internet.

Note: Dell and HP have pretty good laptops, as well as desktops. I prefer Toshiba laptops for various reasons, "habit" being the main one. I can't say whether one is better than the other. But they're all better than Gateway or most off-brands. Now I know some people out there like Gateway and may be tempted to argue with me. Unfortunately, they're just wrong. :wink:

Compaqs are OK, they're all made by HP now, but I've owned a couple of Compaqs in my time and serviced numerous others, and they all irritated me to no end with little nagging incompatiblities. So I don't like Compaqs. But there are some people who like them, I'm afraid.

If you get a desktop machine, you don't really need wireless networking, unless you're going to have it located quite a distance from your modem/DSL modem/Cable modem or whatever you use to connect to the internet. All desktops come with Ethernet cards which have a socket for Ethernet cables, which is what you use to connect it to a DSL modem or Cable modem for Internet. If you use a dial-up Internet connection, you'll just need a regular modem in your new computer and a phone line (although your computer will probably come with an Ethernet card anyway which you'll need in the future when you do get a faster Internet connection).

You should be able to use your USB Flash drive to transfer files. Firewalls don't interfere with this; your problems had to be caused by something else. Get someone to help you hands-on.

The quickest and easiest way to transfer files is to network the old and new computers together and share a drive on one of them. However, this requires a lot of instructions or assistance from someone who knows how to do it, and assumes that you have an Ethernet card in the old computer, and an "Ethernet Hub" or "Ethernet Switch" to connect the two computers' Ethernet wires together.

Other things you'll need in it: 512MB of RAM will work, but if you edit a lot of pictures, consider 1GB or RAM if you can afford it.

If you're saving lots of pictures from cameras and downloading lots of music, an 80GB hard disk is the bare minimum, 100GB or 120GB is better, and 160GB or 200GB would probably last you the lifetime of the computer. You can upgrade the hard disk later, but it's a pain in the butt and almost inconceivable unless you're a computer Geek (like me, like Uncle Marco, etc.)

DVD-writers are essential today for storing and sharing photos, movies, backups, etc. You can choose whether to get a single-layer or dual-layer (twice the capacity, 5-10 times cost of the disks!). Dual-layer drives will happily write single-layer DVD's. Get a drive that does all the standards: DVD +R, -R, +RW, and -RW. Just look at it as enhancing your flexibility to buy whatever type of disk is on sale at the moment. (Forget about DVD-RAM; nobody uses this and it's just a pain in the butt.)

By the way, your DVD writer will also write CD's, and will happily read CD's and DVD's. However, in a desktop machine, I like to get a separate DVD-ROM drive (this means it's a reader only, not a writer). They're usually faster and you'll put less wear and tear on the sensitive mechanics of the writer.

I hope this helps give you some ideas. Feel free to post more quesitons about these points or anything else.

- The Inspector
 

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but given how computer illiterate she is, I don't think upgrading drives or the "Partition Commander" suggestion is very practical. (I eat and breathe computers and my knees shake at the thought of playing Ginzu-Chef with my partitions.)
If you use the installation program which comes bundled with new hard disks you'll find that they hand-hold the user through the entire process so that anyone with a screwdriver and an ability to follow instructions can do it. Even non computer experts can usually follow instructions. That's one of a number of options which can be used to solve this problem. Getting a new computer is no walk in the park either. Transferring their existing software to a new machine is at least as much trouble as installing a new hard disk if not more. Upgrading to a new hard disk automatically transfers their entire installation so their software is exactly as before.

The point of this forum is to help people who are having problems. I'm just here to list all the possibilities and then let the person with the problem decide which way to go. It is important to inform non computer experts when they can solve their problem without buying a new computer. Quite often they think they have to get a new computer when really they don't. You just give them the various choices and let them decide which way to go.
 

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hey, if your designing or editing and downloading stuff from the internet you would really need to get something maybe a workstation and it needs to have a decent graphics card to see all those movies and decent amount or ram and a big hard-drive.
i recommend alienware, and hp or sony.. but they dont really have much in them.

nVidea graphics card 7700 maybe . theres more on there sitenvidia
1.5 gb or ram or 2gb
100 or 200gb hard drive
decent processor 2 - 4 Ghz.

depends on your budget. if you have quite a bit of money i recommend
alienware. they may have a price but you can customise and get gd machines.alienware
 

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Alienware... A waste of money in every possible way.

If I were you'd I'd look into having someone build you a custom system. They're cheaper, more reliable, and worlds easier to upgrade later.

I can't recommend Dell or HP for laptops or desktops as all my experiences with those brands are NEGATIVE. For desktops I only build them, no prebuilt has impressed me yet. For laptops I like Toshiba and Acer.

Specs to look for:

AMD Athlon XP or Athlon 64 3000+
512-1GB of DDR RAM.
80+GB Hard Drive.
10/100/1000 network port
802.11a/b/g Wireless (notebooks especially, most of the time this is built in.)
Windows XP Pro.
 

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AN E Machine with Windows ME must be getting up in years. If you can afford it, consider a a new set up. Building is probaly out of the question for you and you need followon support. I'd recommed you consider Dell with 2.8 to 3.2 ghz processor, 1 gb memory and 160gb hard drive. Two opticak drives, one with DVD- CD RW and the oth CD ROM. For the rest of your wants you can talk to a Dell rep, ask for a proposal in writting so you can talk it over with a knowledgeable friend. You'll probaly want to consider a media set up rather than a work station type. Home builts by a friend are okay sometimes but a lot of times these need a lot of follow on support and ypu are literate in computers it could be a big problem. Good luck in waht ever you decide to do.
 

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Actually, every home brew I've built for people has worked flawlessly. All I've ever done was upgrades like more RAM or a secondary HDD. They're cheaper and far higher quality than prebuilts.

As for Dell, I can't recommend them. And their support has REALLY gone down the crapper.
 

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I, too have my computers custom built by mom-and-pop shops in the Bay Area. But I think the people who are technically savvy enough to take advantage of these resources amount to about 5% of the computer-buying population. The rest get Dells, HPs, Gateways, Compaqs, EMachines, or off-the-shelf generics. I realize it may offend your sense of sophistication and economy (it does mine), but it's very accessible to them.

Mods, you're all really smart, but I get the feeling you're not paying attention to context. She has an ancient machine, has outgrown it, and is prepared to buy a new one. Do you really think going through the torment of hard-disk shuffling and sticking to Windows ME is good for her? I, for one, do not think so. Many of the new software applications do not work properly on ME (some won't even install). Flash drives have problems with ME.

I'm not criticizing your statements of the alternatives; I believe people should be well informed. That's the purpose of these boards. I'm just trying to put it in context and reflect my understanding of the situation.

Do any of you still use Windows ME?

By the way, the last time I tried to use one of those hard-disk transfer utilities (Max-Blast from Maxtor 1 year ago), it corrupted my data and crosslinked half the drive. When I called my friends at Maxtor they laughed and said I should never use the vendor-supplied software -- it was trash that they hired outside consultants to crank out so they could have "me-too" capabilities.

In my opinion, the best way to upgrade drives and systems is:

1. Start out with a clean-installed new system on one big drive.

2. Reinstall your apps from the installation CDs.

3. Transfer your old drive's data over by one of three methods (in order of increasing complexity):

3.a. Have someone put the old drive in a USB drive case and you can just plug it in.

3.b. Have someone install it in the case as a second drive.

3.c. Network the old computer to the new one and share the drive over the network.

Then you explore the old drive with Windows Explorer or My Computer and copy any interesting files over to the new drive.

Uncle Macro, I've taken my computer-illiterate mother, brother, and in-laws through this process several times. Believe me, a new system and data transfer is MUCH easier than fiddling with hard drives. Even touching a hard drive would be unthinkable for the relatives I've helped. I got the feeling that Penelope was in a similar situation. Context is everything.

- The Inspector
 

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We're just giving her some possible alternatives to buying a new PC for what is otherwise a VERY easy problem to fix. Maybe she likes Me. I know plenty of people who do. I don't know why, but they do. If she were to get a new drive and install an OS on that then she could keep the old Me drive and her old documents and have a good (as good as an eMachine can get at least) computer.
 
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