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Replacing An Old Tower

Wendall from WI writes: 

I will have to soon replace my 6 year old Dell computer tower as I can’t add any more memory and can’t update from Windows XP (checked it out on website).  I have a newer Dell monitor and new HP printer.  My problem is I’m stuck with dial-up,  which I don’t mind.  I use it for some banking/email, Facebook etc. However, I would like to be able to see some YouTube. Right now I can’t, and get a lot of red x’s instead of pictures.  Besides lots of memory, what else should I look for? Thank you.

Hi, Wendall – thanks for the great question.

What you have here is a classic good news/bad news situation. 

The good news is that you don’t really need lots of memory.  You should be able to get a machine with 2+ gigs of RAM, at least a 500 gig hard drive, a decent processor and a video card good enough to handle what you do for a few hundred dollars. 

The bad news is the dial-up.  Dial-up internet connections simply can’t handle streaming video.  Even low-range DSL has a hard time with video.  Your only real option with dial-up is to wait for the entire video to load, or, using a video capture program to load it, saving it to your hard drive to watch later.

Have you considered satellite internet?  This wireless option can provide mid-range DSL speeds.  If you have Dish or DirecTV, they may be able to provide you with a bundle that will give you your satellite option.  There are also stand-alone outfits like Hughes Net that can provide you the same service.  You can also talk to your cell phone company to see if you can use your cell phone as a wireless “hotspot”.  The downside to this is that you’ll want a good 3G or 4G connection to your area and a phone that can handle it. 

Sorry that I don’t have better news, but I hope that this helps.

~Randal Schaffer