Last week, as I was gathering material for this article, my wife found a quote in the newspaper she thought I would appreciate. It said: "I just bought a new computer and I'm going to brag about it for the next two weeks, until it becomes totally obsolete." We all know the computer and information technology train is on the fast track, and its engine just keeps on accelerating. That's good if you're about to purchase a new system. You can get tremendous computing power for your money. Processor speeds have nearly doubled within the last year. For example, at the time of this writing, a new system with a 233MHz MMXTM enhanced processor, 32MB RAM, 20X CD-ROM, 56K modem, and a 3.2GB hard drive was priced at under $1000. What's bad is that after you buy that new system, the technology train races on, and you're left standing at the station with your no-longer new PC. If you work for a large company, university, or government agency, your main concern is that your system does what your job demands. As for upgrading the software and hardware, that's your computer support staff and MIS department's problem. That's a demanding part of their job. When they're not tied up fixing what's broken, they're learning new systems and trying to complete a never-ending list of computer system hardware and software upgrade tasks. So where does that leave the rest of us who don't have the luxury of a computer support stall? Even if you have computer support, your access to that support may be severely restricted if, for example, you're a telecommuter working out of your home. If you work for a small company, operate your own consulting business, or just operate your own home based computer, you're pretty much on your own when it comes to keeping up with the technology. If you just let well enough alone after buying that brand new computer, in a year or two that state of the art system may no longer be able to run the latest software. If that "I must have it" application comes your way,you're tuck. You must either upgrade your system or pitch it out and buy a new one. Costs being what they are these days, if your system is over 3 years old and you have failed to keep it upgraded, buying new may be your best option. However, starting over with a new system is not necessarily a painless process either. Transferring your favorite old applications and data files to a new PC and making it all work smoothly with a newer operating system can be a very frustrating and time-consuming experience. Even if you have a new system, in the long run you need to set aside some time for upgrading.