Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Another Computer Upgrade


Of course, this image is just for reference. My computers have cables all over the place and are surrounded by printers, scanners, and other technical odds and ends. I view computers as a consumable product. The technology changes so rapidly that any given model of computer will be obsolete in as soon as you buy it. After having worked my way through dozens and dozens of computers over the past thirty or so years, I mostly watch for major upgrades and change computers about every three to five years. Of course, since I spend sometimes 12 to 14 hours a day on my computer, I have a higher priority on advances in speed and utility than most genealogists. 

I had my last computer, an Apple iMac for just over five years. It was starting to act up and rather than wait until it crashed and lost data, I decided to upgrade. I bought a new iMac. Over the years, I have also had a rule to buy the fastest and most advanced computer I could afford. Now, so you know that I am not that extravagant, we keep our cars until they fall apart, sometimes for more than 15 years. With the Pandemic, we have had to stay home and our spending has been curtailed so having a new computer became a priority. This is true because of the number of webinars, videos, and classes I have been producing and teaching. 

Genealogists are not known to be big spenders. I won't go so far as to say they are "tight-wads" but they do tend to be very conservative in their purchases. I am not advocating or even suggesting that genealogists buy a high-end computer. When I recommend a computer to someone, I suggest they buy a laptop beginning at about $350 to $500. Most of the laptops in that range are perfectly adequate for most genealogical work and the portability is a plus. 

The reason this is an issue is that recently, I have been helping people get on to Zoom for video conferencing. I am finding that their computers and their operating systems will not accommodate the video requirements of Zoom. They need an upgrade. I realize that many people are having an economically difficult time during the Pandemic and the people I am dealing with may be challenged in that way but just take my comments as suggestions. 


  1. I upgraded last yr to iMac w/the 2TB SSD, 27” got all the speed upgrades, 8gb Ram & added 3rd party 64gb more RAM, wireless mouse & KB. Only problems I’m having are the mouse, that reacts too quickly to left/right swipes on the mouse, so I have a wired mouse that’s more responsive... Google calendar will advance months on me unexpectedly and Catalina seems to be at the bottom of some wireless intermittancy. Super fast machine. Upgraded to Reunion 13 yesterday. Lot of little upgrades. Have fun with it.

    Bill George,

  2. James: I too just upgraded to a new iMac. My existing late 2009 build iMac suddenly refused to boot no matter what I did and all attempts and suggestions from Apple failed. So I too just bought another 27" iMac with all the speed and capacity I could afford. Unfortunately a lot of my data is trapped inside the old iMac and I have been grappling with trying to figure out how to get select apps, files, and data off the external hard drive I had Time Machine backup to. Two weeks since getting the new iMac I am still not configured and up and running as I want to be, but the wisdom of upgrading in a timely fashion is opportune advice for all genealogists --Zoom users and otherwise.

    John D. Tew

    1. You should be able to open the Time Machine file and select the files you want to preserve. You can also choose which types of files you want to restore. Another option is taking the drive out of the old iMac and putting in a drive box like an external and see if you can see the files that way. Just some ideas.