Is Your Computer on its Last Leg? (Hypertext student newsletter)

This article first appeared in the weekly "Bits & Bytes" column in The California Aggie. "Bits & Bytes" provides tech tips and info about student tech culture. Look for these columns in the Aggie or view past columns online at the Student Computing Guide. This article has been reprinted in the Fall 2004 issue of Hypertext, which can be found online at

Although your computer may seem slow beside newer, faster ones, do you really need a new one? If so, do you know what to do with your old one?

Do You Need a New Computer?
? Your computer runs slowly, but you only use it for word processing, Web browsing and solitaire: No.
? You can't install programs you need or want: Yes.
? It exhibits a danger sign, like a grinding hard drive: Maybe; you might be able to replace the part.

UC Davis Recommends
If you plan to buy a new computer, it's best to follow the recommended specifications for UC Davis computer users listed at Here are a few up-to-date recommendations:
? CPU: For desktop and laptop PCs, an AMD or Intel processor at 2.6GHz or faster (Pentium 4 is all right for laptops). For desktop Macs, a PowerPC G4 at 1.2GHz or faster; for laptop Macs, a PowerPC G4 at 800MHz or faster.
? Hard Drive: 20 GB or larger for all systems.
? Wireless: In addition to a Ethernet card, an 802.11b/g wireless card is recommended for PC and Mac laptops.
? Printer: UC Davis recommends that students purchase a color printer, although you are allowed 100 sheets of printing per quarter free at all computer labs.

Recycling the Old Computer
Computers contain hazardous materials and shouldn't be thrown away, but before you do anything with it, you should wipe your info from its hard drive. Macintosh users should visit for more instructions. PC users can download free programs that will overwrite the hard disk, such as PC Inspector e-maxx and Eraser. Once your computer is secure, you can:
? Donate: Non-profit organizations like the National Cristina Foundation will search for a charity who will gladly take your computer.
? Trade: Most companies discount your next purchase.
? Recycle: Yolo County will take your CPU and keyboard for free. Computer companies can recycle your machine for a fee; recycling monitors costs $12-18, according to