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Computer Science

COMPUTER SYSTEM

6 Mins read
COMPUTER SYSTEM

SELECTING A COMPUTER SYSTEM.

When planning to acquire computer equipments, the individual or organization should carefully weigh the merits and demerits of the methods used to finance the equipment

The requirements analysis for selecting a computer system should cover the following:

  1. Identify all requirements of the user.
  2. Evaluate hardware requirements that will meet the user’s needs.
  3. Evaluate software requirements that will meet the user’s needs.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING A COMPUTER SYSTEM.

The various factors to be considered in selecting a computer system are categorized as follows;

  • Economic factors.
  • Cost comparisons.
    • Acquisition methods.
    • Return on investment.
  • Hardware factors.
  • Hardware performance, reliability, capacity, and price.
  • Firmness of delivery date.
  • Accessibility of back-up facilities.
  • Presence or absence of modularity.
  • Effective life of the proposed hardware.
  • Compatibility with existing systems..
  • Software factors.
  • Software performance and price.
  • Firmness of delivery date on the proposed software.
  • Availability of useful and well-documented packaged programs.
  • Ease of use and modification.
  • Service factors.
  • Maintenance terms and quality.
  • Training facilities offered and the quality of training provided.
  • Programming and conversion assistance offered.
  • Facilities provided by the manufacturer for checking new programs.
  • Reputation of a manufacturer.
  • Financial stability.
  • Clean record of keeping promises.

HARDWARE FACTORS.

Some factors considered when selecting a computer hardware are:

  • Processor Speed.

Every computer has a clock that drives its operation.  The Processor speed is the speed at which the system Clock synchronizes the operations of the CPU & can be measured in Hertz or Megahertz (1MHz = 1 million cycles per second). 

The processing power of a computer depends on its Processor speed & the amount of data it can handle at the same time

  • Memory capacity (amount of Main memory –RAM).

All computers have some amount of Random Access Memory (RAM).  RAM is a section of the Main memory, which is used for holding data & instructions required immediately by CPU to perform a task. 

  • Warranty (Service contract/ assurance/ guarantee).

A Warranty is an agreement between the buyer and the seller that spells out terms and conditions of, after selling a product in case of failure or malfunction.

A Warranty is usually the duration in which your computer is supposed to work without any problem. 

A good warranty should cover the following points:

  1. Scope of cover, such as 6 months, 1 year, etc.
  • Callout response and liability agreement.  .
  • Preventive maintenance.
  • Cost of the system.

The cost of a computer system depends on:

  1. Its Processing capability.
  2. Its Size.

The cost of a computer is directly related to the size.  Portable computers are more expensive than their desktop equivalents, because of the superior technology involved to manufacture smaller components without losing performance abilities.

  • Whether it is branded or a clone.  Branded computers are more expensive that their equivalent clones.  This is because of their reliability and good after sale services.
  • Upgradeability of the computer.

The type of the computer purchased should be upgradeable, i.e., it should allow upgrading of the Processor & the Hard disk to make it suit your needs.  The RAM memory can also be upgraded/ increased by simply adding new memory modules into the memory slots on your Motherboard.

  • Compatibility of the system.

The hardware facilities of the computer should relate well with the different kind of devices available.  It must also support Plug-and-Play facilities. 

This ensures that the computer system operates in a systematic, reliable, & efficient manner as required by the user.

  • Portability.

The size of the computer should be small so as to enhance portability.  In other words, it should be sufficiently light & hence easily transportable.

  • User needs.

The computer hardware selected should be able to accommodate the user programs as well as any other device which might be added; both hardware and software.

User needs also determine the type of data that will be processed.  Therefore, the type of hardware chosen should be the most appropriate to satisfy the needs.  For example, in a Supermarket, a special device called a Point of Sale (POS) Terminal is most suitable to record transactions.

  • Popularity of the computer manufacturer.

The computer must be from a well-known manufacturer.  This can only be detected by use of the brand names such as Compaq, Dell, IBM, and Hp.

  • Availability of hardware spare parts.

The computer spare parts, i.e., Input and output devices, should be readily available.

  • Monitor.

Depending on preference, your choice for a monitor may depend on Size, resolution, and the technology used to make it.

Currently, Flat panel displays have become a new market standard quickly replacing the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT).

  • Multimedia capability.

Multimedia is the combination of video, audio, text, and images to provide an interactive, creative, and effective way of producing and communicating information.

A multimedia system should have Speakers, CD/DVD drive, Sound card, and a SVGA monitor.  It should also have software that supports multimedia capability.

SOFTWARE FACTORS.

The following factors should be considered when selecting software:

  • Authenticity of the software.

The term Authenticity refers to genuineness, validity or legitimacy of an item.

When acquiring software from the vendor, make sure it is the original copy that is accompanied by the license and certificate of authenticity of the developer. 

You should only use software of the major Software houses. 

  • Documentation of the programs.

Documentation refers to the manuals prepared by the developer having details on how to install, use and maintain the software.

These include; Installation guide, Maintenance guide, User guide, a Reference manual, etc.

This documentation enables the user to work with the software with minimum guidance.

  • User needs (requirements) of the software.

The needs of the user determine the type of operating system and application programs that should be purchased..

  • Reliability and security.

People are more comfortable with software that offers good security to confidential and private information.

  • User friendliness of the software.

The software purchased is expected to be “User-friendly”.  User-friendliness is a measure of how easily the user can be able to operate the computer. 

Features/characteristics of User-friendly software.

  • It should be easy to learn & use and also suit people with little or no computing knowledge.
  • The programs should enable the end-user to perform many of the routine functions & operations such as, manage computer files, diagnose & repair computer problems that enable the computer to run more smoothly & efficiently. 
  • The software should be self-contained, so that the user is not forced into accessing manuals.
  • The amount of effort & the information required for the user to get the software complete required tasks should be minimal.
  • The user should be made to feel in control of what is going on.
  • The software should behave in a logical & consistent manner, enabling the user to reason about what is going on and apply what has been learned.
  • Cost of the Software.

The software purchased should be relatively cheap, and should be able to meet one’s needs.

Note.  One cannot just buy a program because it is cheap.  There are many other factors that may force a person to buy far much more expensive software even with cheaper alternatives available.

In case the off-the-shelf software does not fit the needs of the users, it would be advisable to develop in-house software, even though they may be a bit more expensive.

  • Compatibility and System requirements of the software.

Software compatibility refers to the ability of the computer to run depending on the system setup (configuration). 

Different programs will be loaded to different types of hardware.  For example, some software may only run on a computer that has 32MB or RAM and above.  Any computer, whose configuration is lower than this, is said to be incompatible.

Therefore, the programs selected should relate (fit) well with/within the existing computer resources, e.g., hardware facilities and ensure that the computer system operates in a systematic, reliable & efficient manner as intended by the user.

Some software are not compatible (well suited), e.g. Apple Programs.  Otherwise, it is important that one reads the installation guide and system requirements that comes with the software in order to avoid disappointment.

  • Portability of the software.

Portability refers to whether a program can be copied or installed in more than one computer.

The software should be Portable, i.e. it should also be able to run on several different types of computers with very little or no modification (without re-writing the code).

Note.  Although, most software in the market today are portable, some developers produce software which can be installed on one machine only.  This means that, if one has, say 20 computers, he/she should buy a license for each.

  • Standards of the software.

The software should be standardized, i.e. the version of the program should not be too low or too high.

  • Popularity of the software.

Before buying particular software, its current users should be interviewed to find out whether the software is successful and famous in the market.

Exercise (a).

  1. Identify and describe 8 hardware and 8 software factors that can be considered when selecting a computer.
  2. State and discuss four factors one would consider when purchasing computer software.
  3. What hardware issues would one consider when buying a computer?

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