ComTech: IT Support Stirling

Upgrade or buy new? Choices, choices….

It is the age old question. When is the right time to change my computer, whether it be a laptop, PC or tablet? The answer as always is there is no right answer as it all depends on the systems in question and what they are been using for.

Lets take an example.

I was asked to quote a client a while back to migrate them from Windows XP to Windows 7.  On inspection of their systems it was clear that two of them needed replacing (calling the systems ancient would be polite) but two could very easily run Windows 7 with a memory upgrade.  The client was shocked at this.  In their mind because the two systems were 5 years old they must be past it and they needed new ones.  I pointed out that they were only accessing files on a local server, word processing, a couple of spreadsheets, emails and some internet browsing so they weren’t exactly getting taxed.  In this scenario it made more sense to spend a relatively little amount of money upgrading the two systems in question than purchase two new ones.

It is the same with Windows Vista machines.  Most systems running Vista could easily run Windows 7 with a memory upgrade rather than purchasing new systems.  You would probably be running 32 bit software but unless you are a power user you are unlikely to notice the difference in performance. The reason I am saying Windows 7 and not Windows 8 is that for all the advertising Windows 8 still confuses a lot of users (personally I like it).

The flip side of this of course are the businesses that refuse to change their systems when it is blindingly obvious they are not fit for purpose.  I have known clients in the past who wanted to upgrade systems rather than purchase systems thinking this would be the cheaper option.  I did try and point out that I would be very happy maintaining their systems but they would end up seeing me more than my wife does (and with me would come the bill).

As you can see there is no right or wrong answer to the question as it does depend on the state of the existing systems and what they are being used for.  When you start to think you need new systems ask yourself one question – what exactly do I need the system to do?

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter



Why your tablet is just a toaster

I love PC’s I really do.  They are generally well built and seam to last for ever and have one significant advantage over tablets in that they are upgradeable.  You buy a PC (or laptop to a lesser extent) knowing that if you require more RAM, bigger hard drive or your power supply suddenly goes pop you can swap the part out for a new one and off you go.

But, people are turning to tablets and smartphones for their daily tasks (home users especially) and these units are sealed.  Whatever spec of phone or tablet you buy is what you are stuck with forever with no chance of upgrading the parts.  This means that every two or three years when the user requires more processing power, bigger hard drive etc they get binned.  Tablets and smartphones have become an appliance just like the toaster in your kitchen.  You switch the toaster on every day and make toast. You do this for as long as the toaster works and when you decide you want a new one, or it breaks, it gets binned (have you ever tried getting parts for a toaster?).

The price of tablet parts is also pushing the tablet upgrade cycle.  When parts are available, and they aren’t always available for every model, the price is ridiculous.  For instance the screen on an average tablet costs approx 70% of the tablet price.  Add in labour on top and fixing a tablet suddenly becomes an expensive business.  Users instead throw away their existing tablet and buy a new one.

For techs like me who generally fix both hardware and software issues this is becoming an issue. To stay in business we will have to adapt to be more software centric rather than the nuts and bolts stuff which is a pity as I tend to love getting my hands dirty pulling out the insides of a PC.

Over to you guys (and girls). What do you think is your tablet just a toaster?

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter


Is Windows XP dead? Not by a long shot!!

April 8th 2014. Put that date in your diary as it is the date all support for Windows XP ends. You must be thinking “so what consumers and businesses will have upgraded to either Windows 7 or 8 by then surely”. Or will they?

Current statistics show that Windows XP is currently the second most used operating system on the planet with 37.17% share. Yes its share is dropping month on month but at the current rate it could still be the second or third most used operating system when support ends next year (depends on if Windows 8 finally starts making inroads). So why is that?

In most peoples minds XP “just works”.  They have become so used to it that they don’t want to upgrade unless their hardware dies and they have no choice.  I regularly see PC’s with XP installed which are 6-8 years old which the customer would rather clean up and keep working rather than upgrade to a new one and lose XP.

In the business environment things are much different.  Here applications have been written specifically for XP and businesses are very loathe to upgrade and possibly lose them.  At present Windows 8 is no goer for a lot of businesses so Windows 7 is their only upgrade option.  Even though they have an upgrade option a lot of businesses will still turn to running Windows XP inside virtual machines just to keep their old software running.

A lot of this problem is down to Microsoft themselves.  When Vista turned out to be a complete disaster they extended Windows XP’s lifecycle to counteract the possibly of consumers and businesses turning to OS X and Linux. It worked but it also had the side effect of making people reluctant to upgrade when Windows 7 came out.  If Microsoft has any sense it wont make them same mistake with Windows 8 (even if it turns out to be a dog like Vista).

About the Author


Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!





Should you upgrade to Windows 8?

Last week saw the release of Windows 8 the biggest change to to the Windows operating system since Windows 95.  If you listen to all the marketing blurb it is faster, leaner and full of new features but after all the dust has settled one question still remains.  Should you upgrade to Windows 8?  Lets take a look.


1. New touch screen enabled interface looks bang up to date.  If you do a lot of work using a tablet or smartphone then you are going to love the new interface.

2. New features like Windows To Go and Boot speed are nice inclusions.

3. You now have the same interface across multiple platforms (smartphone, tablet and PC).  If you use Microsoft technologies a lot for your daily tasks this could be a huge bonus as the interface will look the same no matter what device you are using.

4. Sync all your data with the cloud.  Windows 8 has been designed with the cloud in mind and Windows 8 makes it very easy to store all your data online.  No more data loss when your hard drive dies (if you use it of course).

5. You can upgrade directly from Windows XP.


1. There is a steep learning curve.  The interface is completely different so you will have to re-learn how to use the system.  For a lot of users this will prove to much of an inconvenience.

2. Without touch screen the new interface doesn’t really work.  Should work well on a tablet though.

3. Windows 8 will require new hardware to really shine.

The new interface has completely split opinion.  Personally I don’t think it will work very well on a traditional laptop or PC as using a mouse seams ‘wrong’.  Windows 8 has been designed for touch screens and on a system with touch screen technology it should work fine. Saying that you would have to forget most of what you already know about Windows and learn the new interface.  On your Windows XP system with 1 Gb of RAM and a mouse? Um…………………………..

As for business adoption I think Microsoft is going to have problems convincing companies to upgrade to Windows 8.  Companies would have to retrain users and this takes time and money which could be spent elsewhere.

So to conclude if you ‘need’ the latest Windows operating system I would go out and buy a touchscreen enabled laptop or tablet as this will bring out the best of Windows 8.  If you already have a Windows 7 system which is fully functional with no issues I wouldn’t bother upgrading and if you have XP go for Windows 7 instead.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.




How to refresh your PC

We have all been there. Your computer is slowing down, is old(ish) and you are thinking about changing it for a new model. Do you really need to spend hundred of pounds on a new shiny model or is there a cheaper way to reclaim your computers lost performance?

So before you go spending all that money lets try to refresh your PC.  Because most people run some form of Windows we will concentrate on that.

1. Run a complete virus and spyware scan. I can recommend Avast Free (antivirus) and Spybot -Search and Destroy (spyware) for this. This area is of course personal choice but I would recommend these to any of my clients.

2. Get rid of any old programs you have installed but hardly use. Word of warning here – only get rid of programs that you have installed and you know what they do. If you don’t know what a specific program does then my advice is to leave it alone or you could mess up your system.

3. Use disk clean up. This is a tool within Windows that helps you to free up hard disk space by deleting unnecessary files. It can be found by right clicking on the icon for your computers hard disk. The tool itself is safe but there are three items you need to be wary of – Office Setup files, compress old files and Hibernation File Cleaner. Personally I would leave these items well alone just incase.

4. Defragmentation. Your windows hard disk is like a filing cabinet in the way it stores data. Over time some files will be moved into other locations or worse, files will get split up and stored in diffent locations. When this happens it takes the operating system longer to retrieve all the parts of a file and therefore slows down your system. When you run the defrag program it basically orders your files allowing the operating system to locate the files quicker. It can be run by locating your hard drive in Computer and right clicking. Choose the tools tab and click the “Defragment now” button.

5. Reinstalling your operating system. At some point you may have so much “junk” on your system that it is quicker and easier to reinstall the operating system from scratch. For this you will need a windows installation disk and your activation code. However if your PC / laptop came with Windows pre-installed after 2001 there is a good chance that you should be able to go back to factory settings- usually by accessing your BIOS. You can access your BIOS by checking your screen prior to windows loading and pressing the appropriate buttons; something like F2 or Delete.

I would advise you to try to refresh your PC before buying a new one. If however you still require more performance we will discuss hardware upgrades next time.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, laptop repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

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