Domestic Diversions

Law Office Computer Problems? Don’t Upgrade, Replace!

The sad truth is that computers running the Windows 95, 98 and ME operating systems are no longer suitable for use in a law office (or most other businesses). Because of the way these now ancient (in computer years) operating systems manage memory and resources, they are slower and much more prone to lockups and crashes than Windows 2000 or XP. Think of 95, 98, and ME as a bucket of water with a hole in the bottom . You fill it up with each reboot, but then as the day wears on, water leaks out and soon your are running on empty, causing a crash, freeze, or lockup. When that happens, any unsaved work is lost.
If you are lucky, your system will run for several days at a time before this happens. But if your computer is more than two years old, you probably experience these problems daily or several times per day. Rebooting first thing in the morning and then again when you break for lunch can help get you through the day, but it doesn’t really solve the problem. By contrast, because NT(new technology)-based operating systems like Windows 2000 and XP manage memory and resources much more efficiently, they are faster, more reliable and are like a bucket of water without a hole in the bottom. A properly configured Windows 2000 or XP machine can run for weeks or months without needing a reboot.
Also, all three of the earlier operating systems suffer from what is known as “operating system rot.” Any 95, 98, or ME machine that is used regularly will after the first year or two suffer degradations in performance and reliability that can only be fully resolved by backing up your data, reformatting your hard drive, reinstalling the operating system, reinstalling all of your programs, then restoring your data. This is very time consuming.
Sure, you could add Windows XP (a great operating system) to your old computer. But XP (get the Pro version, not Home, for your office due to its better networking and security features) costs $200 just for the operating system. You will probably want more RAM too. I wouldn’t run XP with less than 256 MB, and I recommend at least 512 MB. By the time you buy XP and the additional RAM, then factor in your time (or pay a consultant) to backup your data, reformat your hard drive (always do a clean install, not an upgrade, when you switch to XP), install the operating system, and restore your applications and data, you have spent nearly what a new fast computer with XP pre-installed would cost.
I have gone into small law firms still using Windows 98 and ME computers and replaced those with new machines running XP. The increased productivity and reduced frustration level is immediately noticeable. Suddenly everything works the way it is supposed to. No more wasted time redoing work lost when the computer crashed or waiting for the 5th reboot of the day. Do yourselves a favor and dump any remaining Windows 95, 98, or ME computers in your office. Go with XP. Your staff will thank you.


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