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How to Buy a Computer

I generally recommend that you purchase Dell computers although their reliability is generally no better than other manufacturers. You can see reliability ratings for desktop computers here or for laptop computers.   Additional information is also available.  If you are shopping for a printer, you can see consumer reliability ratings here and business reliability ratings here.  PCMag has an excellent article with lots of information about buying monitors.
 
If you own a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free.  Details are available here and here.

All computers and monitors should be protected by a surge protector.  This article offers ratings of various surge protectors.

Some Chromebook models are capable of running Microsoft Office Apps. 

You can learn about the differences between Windows 10 Home and Professional.  Windows 10 comes in 32 bit and 64 bit versions.  You can learn more about the differences between 32 bit and 64 bit

You can download 3 different web browsers: Firefox (made by Mozilla) or Google Chrome or Opera

Some computers are coming with Solid State Drives (SSD) rather than hard disk drives (HDD).  An SSD is much faster than the old HDD, although the former are several times more expensive.  You can read an article that compares the pros and cons of each type of drive. You can read about other highly rated SSDs.

You will want to get word processing software (and perhaps spreadsheet software) for your computer.  If you want to buy Microsoft Office, the least expensive way to do that is to buy the MS Office Home and Student Edition, which is widely available at Office Depot, Microcenter, and Staples for $149, or even less when it is on sale, which is frequently.  MS Office Home and Student edition is also available on some, but not all Dell computers.  Home and Student edition contains Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  There are 2 other versions of MS Office known as Office 365 Home and Personal, which you can compare to the Home and Student version. Additional information comparing all of these versions is available.

Microsoft Office Online is a free version of Microsoft Office.  As it's name implies, it includes free online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  The online version is available here, and you can also read a detailed review of the product.   Microsoft Office is also available for your iPad, iPhone, and Android phone, in addition to the Desktop and online versions.  Each of these versions have different features which are described here.

You can also get a product that is very comparable to MS Office called Open Office here.  It is free of charge and has received excellent reviews.  Other alternatives to MS Office are Google Docs and Libre Office.

I strongly recommend that you obtain antispyware software.  I give you recommendations on the best packages for your computer here.

If you need additional email software, Thunderbird is an excellent choice and it is free.