As a Microsoft Office user, you will know that regular updates are part and parcel of the service.
Applications are refreshed and improved – often based on customer feedback.
It’s reassuring to know the software is up to the job.
But what about your computer?
If you’ve recently bought one, that should be fine. It should serve you well for a good few years.
But what if your laptop, desktop or business tablet is getting on in years? Are you confident it is going to last the distance?
I know people who have an ‘ancient’ MacBook just about on its last legs. Solid and stylish ‘workhorse’ machines that have been hammered very hard, week in week, out for many years.
The laptops take longer to start. The hard drive grumbles or crashes. They re-start without warning because of an “issue”.
And it’s no different with Windows machines that have also given great service over the long years.
They start to feel the strain, too.
Or you may have started out with one of those cheaper computers to keep initial costs down. That was probably a sensible move at the time. But somewhere along the line, the machine may not have the power or speed to match your professional needs.
At some point, you are going to have to consider investing in a replacement, either new or refurbished.
And naturally, ensure you keep or add the latest version of Microsoft Office with it.
When looking at what computer to buy it’s best to think about how you will use it – now and as your VA business grows.
You might want to consider the following.
If you are doing a lot of design work – for example, graphics, logos, infographics, simple video editing, e-books or PDF guides – you may want a desktop or laptop with a larger screen. Typically that screen is 15 inches or more.
If you love the versatility and portability of a smaller laptop or tablet, you could connect it to a large screen monitor instead. It makes detailed design work so much easier on the eye.
This is an area where you might want to get some advice, from a computer store, online or from a friend who’s into their tech.
In simple terms, the more you need your computer to do, the more ‘power’ you want it to have. This is made up of the RAM, storage capacity and processor speed.
The higher the numbers, the more powerful (and therefore pricier) the machine.
Take into account that if you use more cloud-based storage you may need less physical hard drive space.
Best to go for the most power you can afford. There’s nothing worse than having your professional efficiency held up by the hardware dragging its heels.
If you are a touch typist, you will appreciate a good quality keyboard. It can make the difference between smooth, efficient and seemingly effortless typing – and slow or clunky operation.
If possible, pop into a store and try out a few keyboards so you can feel the difference and get to know which brands suit your style.
Some cheaper set-ups can look and feel very plasticky. You have to wonder if they will last the distance.
If you work almost entirely from home or have an office desk space, you may be happy with a Windows desktop or iMac.
You may find you work a bit from home, a bit using hotdesking and maybe even a bit in cafes. If that’s the case, you may be more likely to prefer a laptop or a serious tablet.
Size and weight may be factors for you but also remember you want a machine that can handle the tasks you do (or are likely to do) with ease.
And if you love compact style for carrying around but want a larger screen for working at home, you can always invest in a computer monitor to link to your laptop.
New Versus Refurbished
Years ago there would only have been one choice. Replace the old with the new.
But today you have another option – go the refurbished route.
Whether you are Apple or Windows, you will be able to find a computer with great specs at a reduced price.
You choose what level of ‘used’ machine you want. Some will have dents or scratches. Some will look like they have just come out of the box.
The important thing is to trust that the computer will be reliable and work as good as new.
As with any other important purchase, it’s a case of buyer beware.
Do your research.
Check out the company’s credibility.
See what others are saying about the refurb retailer.
Ask questions if you’re unsure about anything.
Compare prices – if something seems like it’s ‘too good to be true’, it probably is. There are many legitimate retailers out there but it pays to be careful.
That advice applies when you are buying new, too, of course.
If you know your price range and you know you’re going to replace your current computer in five years, you can work out a ‘saving-up-for-it’ plan.
Alternatively, you could look into leasing and monthly repayment options to spread the cost.
And with a new computer, it’s always a good time to review your Microsoft Office skills.
If you want help with that, you can explore my range of online training courses.
To your VA success.
P.S. If you want the best value deal with lifetime access to ALL my online courses, do take a look at Tomorrow’s VA Hub… also known as ‘The Full Monty’.