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Users, purpose, support key to computer choices

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by Ann Bucy

SBJ Contributing Writer

Whether you're purchasing computer equipment for a large or small company or you're buying a computer for your personal use, there are a number of things to keep in mind. For example: What will you be using the computer or software for specifically? What happens when there's a problem is there someone to call?

"The key is to decide which software you'll be using," said John LaFoe, a senior network consultant at Focus Tech. "That information will determine what kind of computer you want. Ask yourself, 'What do I want to do with this computer?'"

When deciding what software to purchase, think about how many people will be using it, LaFoe said. "If you're going to purchase a software program to be used for accounting, and you only have one accountant, don't purchase a program that can be used by multiple users."

Should a company purchase used computers? "With the year 2000 coming up, companies should be purchasing computers that are year 2000 ready. Most of the older computers don't have that option. Also, new personal computers are so low (in price) right now and come with a three-year warranty."

However, Doug Pitt, co-owner of ServiceWorld, said that buyers should beware of buying systems just because they're cheap. "Many of these are too inefficient. We've tried to step up to the plate and offer a higher-end system. It may cost more, but it's efficient and works.

"I also think it's important to go with an experienced staff," he said. "We (Pitt and his 20 employees) all have our own specialties. Information is moving too fast for one person to keep up with it all."

He said that's the advantage his company brings to the marketplace: having so many consultants.

"The key word in purchasing a computer network is optimization," he said. "Consider a lot of issues users, demands on software and other performance issues."

Pitt said he believes you can never ask enough questions, and you shouldn't take the answers of one person at face value. "Do some research," he said. "Verify what you're being told."

ServiceWorld has a weekly radio show where callers can have their computer-related questions answered. The program, "Computer Talk," is on KTWO, 560 AM, 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Thursday.

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