Demystifying Your PC

So you finally bought that beautiful new embroidery machine. And although there are endless resources for designs, and design cards that you can utilize without using a computer, most will eventually want to take that step up to stand alone lettering & editing software. I'll talk about the software itself in the next article, but for now let's talk about the PC where the software will reside. Click "Read more" to continue.

Most of the lettering/editing/digitizing software available requires a PC with the Windows operating system. If you currently have an Apple computer, you may already have the add-on to run programs that require the Window OS (operating system), or you may be able to purchase a utility that will allow you to run Windows software on your Apple computer. It's worth a little time to check into that before purchasing a new computer.

Most of my students have just the most basic knowledge of computers, and it's served them well up to this point. But to get the full benefit of embroidery software, it helps to be aware of how it's set up.

Think of your PC as a file cabinet. Those short-cuts, and file folders you have on your desktop are those things that are sitting on top of the cabinet. The "tray" that runs across the bottom of your screen are the labels on the file cabinet drawers. When you click on Start Computer from the tray, you are presented with a screen that shows something likc "Local Disk: (C), DVD Drive (E)", etc. Think of those as the drawers in your file cabinet.

In a real file cabinet you would have several hanging folders, each containing several file folders. The file folders would contain your individual documents. So if you open the file drawer labaled "Local Disk: (C)", you'll see all of your folders. Some of those may be "hanging folders" -- which is to say that they may contain other folders, and some may be just file folders that contain documents.

This is where you would create folders for your embroidery designs. You may want to create a hanging folder for "Embroidery", and then file folders within that for your various categories of designs. Creating your own folders on your C: drive will help you organize, and locate your designs. When you install your software, accept the file locations that the installation program suggests. The file folders I just talked about are just for your work.

Check the system requirements of the software you are purchasing. For the most part, you will want a computer that meets those requirements. However, if you are not sure of your current computer specs, go ahead an try installing, and using your new software on your computer before running out an purchasing a new one. Many will recommend that your monitor be the larger 17" -- understand that this is not necessary, but rather a suggestion (and an expensive one at that). Also, many of the software programs provide the option for adjusting your video card to accomodate the graphics...look for that in the "Options & Preferences" of your software before deciding you need a newer computer.

I want to add a few words about "memory". This is the area where most novice users get confused, and consequently end up spending money without any benefit.

1. Memory is not the same as Hard Drive space. Your hard drive is where all of your programs, and files reside (the file cabinet). Memory (RAM) is where the current processes, and programs you are running reside (those things that are out of the file cabinet, sitting on your table or desk).

2. Unless you have a really old computer, or an inordinate amount of programs, or documents, you probably not out of hard disk space. Learn how to check the availability before you let someone sell you a new hard drive. And then weigh the cost of a new hard drive against the cost of a new computer.

3. Unless you are running some large, graphic intensive programs, you're probably not "out of memory". If your computer slows up when you have several programs open, close some of them. It's the equivalent of having all those files out on your desk, cluttering up y our office. Just put some of them don't need them all right now anyhow.

4. McAfee and Norton anti-virus software are both notorious RAM hogs. They will slow your system up like no body's business. Get rid of them. Uninstall, and remove all traces. I use the free version of Avast anti-virus.

5. This one is really important. Your computer will take only so much "memory" (RAM), and it probably has the maximum it will use already installed. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen, or heard of people spending hundreds of dollars on "more memory", that they don't need, can't use, and don't know how to install. NEVER, EVER, EVER let anyone sell you "more memory". Again, your problem is much more likely the result of McAfee or Norton.

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