Purchasing a Computer for the New School Year

As the summer is winding down and the beginning of a school year is rapidly approaching, we are receiving a lot of questions about purchasing new computers. For 4H Roundup, I put together a presentation, which covered what to look for in a new computer, and I thought it might be useful to share some of these concepts in a short blog post. I hope these ideas help!

Buying a new computer can be overwhelming! With so many options on the market, it’s hard to narrow down what will be best for your individual needs. The first thing you should consider is what the computer is going to be used. For this purpose, let’s stick with a computer that you will use for school. Most likely, this will narrow us down to a portable laptop.

One would think this would narrow down the possibilities, but alas, the next decision you have to make is what KIND of laptop. Considerations here include, weight, size, functionality. If you are “tossing” your laptop into your bag every day to take notes in class, you may want to consider a lightweight, smaller option. Perhaps an 11” or 13” laptop would be a nice option for you. The primary drawback with a small laptop is the screen size. A small screen size can make writing large papers, doing extensive research or major projects difficult. If a small portable laptop is still a priority and you find yourself needing a larger screen, a great solution is to purchase a secondary monitor for your home workstation. A docking station may allow for flexibility for attaching your laptop to the monitor as well.

If a tablet is something you are interested in but you also want a device with a little more power, a 2-in-1 is another great option. A 2-in-1 gives you the flexibility of a tablet as the screen folds over into a flat device but also the functionality of a laptop with a full keyboard. There a several 2-in-1 options ranging from the Dell Inspiron and XPS lines to the Windows Surface Pro.

Once you’ve figured out what to buy, make sure to consider specs. Often we will see “great sales” on laptops this time of year, but in many cases, there is a reason the device is so cheap. If you are aiming for a laptop to last several years, make sure you get a minimum of an Intel i5 processor, 8 to 16 GB of memory (RAM) and a hard drive with plenty of storage OR a solid state hard drive. *Note, a solid state hard drive (SSD) do not offer a large amount of storage space and can cost a good deal more compared to a 1TB SATA drive. Your speed or storage needs will affect the decision of what kind of hard drive you should purchase.

I hope some of this information helps you make a successful purchase for the upcoming school year!



Ensure your data is fireproof with CrashPlan

A couple weeks ago a fire was intentionally set in Ag Hall. Thankfully, someone saw it and quickly put it out. There was no major damage other than a destroyed bulletin board, some scorched ceiling tiles, and charred wall paint. This close call brought up a very important question: what in my office would I be all right without, if it were suddenly gone?

Damaged paint on wall from fire and outline of the damaged bulletin board.

Fire damage after bulletin board removed, walls cleaned, and ceiling tile replaced.

That is a very frightening question to ask, and to be honest, I hope that I (or you) never have to face that situation. I would probably survive and be able to continue my job without any of the items in my office. Would it be easy? No, it would not be easy. I would have to start over from scratch and recreate a lot of documents and information not to mention order and setup a new computer, which would take quite a bit of time. You are probably thinking, “Well do you have a backup?” I do have a backup. However, it is only a local backup. If my office were ever destroyed, the backup drive would be destroyed along with my computer and I would have none of the data that is currently on my computer or other devices.

There is a way that my data could be backed up that would guarantee I would not lose it even if the building were destroyed. If I were using CrashPlan, an offsite backup service, I would have all of my files backed up to a secured server off site. We currently have several offices that are using CrashPlan and have found it very useful. Thankfully, we have not had any office fully destroyed. However, we have seen computers fail and when the computers were backed up to CrashPlan we were able to recover all the files from those computers. CrashPlan has also enabled us to recover individual files when files are accidentally deleted or written over.

It is very important to have a backup in place because computers can fail, accidents and natural disasters can happen. Local backups are great and are very highly recommended. However, when it comes to major disasters or accidents, CrashPlan can be a huge help. We currently recommend a family plan, which will back up a maximum of 10 computers with unlimited space for each computer for $149 a year. If you are interested in Crashplan, please contact your support specialist. We would be happy to get you more information and even help set it up if you choose to purchase it.

Changes to the login process for Quicken 2015 Starter Edition

Extension offices in most Oklahoma counties have switched from Quicken 2012 to the newer Quicken 2015 Starter Edition. With this change, you might remember having to create a new Intuit ID to log into the application. There is a change in the authentication system coming that will affect all counties that made the switch. Soon you will have to create an entirely new account using the Quicken ID system to access versions of Quicken starting with Quicken 2015. Below, I’ll summarize what to expect with the change and the timeline for the process.

A little over a year ago, Intuit sold its consumer based money management software, Quicken, to private equity firm H.I.G. Capital. In an effort to move away from Intuit altogether, the company has been working on a new secure authentication system for Quicken users.

Starting now and through August, you will receive an email from Quicken about this change and what to expect. This email might look similar to the picture below. To verify, this email will come from Quicken’s verified email address, quicken@e.quicken.com.

Once the process is live, all you need to do is update your Quicken software. You will need to click the One Step Update Button and install any available update. After your product is updated, when opening Quicken, you’ll be prompted with a screen to create your Quicken ID. You’ll use your new Quicken ID to access all Quicken applications, including Quicken for Windows, Quicken for Mac, Quicken Mobile, and Quicken.com.

Don’t worry, creating this new Quicken ID doesn’t impact or change the data in your Quicken file, and, as always, your data is secure.  If you have any bank account logins or passwords, or a password vault stored in Quicken, those will remain stored locally on your computer.

If you have any questions about this change, please see the links below or contact the Support Specialist for your county.