If your pickup truck started sputtering or pulling to the right, you wouldn't automatically trade it for a new one, would you? You wouldn't be in business long if you did. Instead, you'd tune it up, do a little maintenance, and maybe add some after-market accessories so it stayed reliable and ready to roll when you were. Take your cue from the big "corporate" home builders who have real "IT" (information technology) budgets and trained staff. They only buy new equipment every three to four years, and they focus on squeezing every bit of value they can out of their existing computer inventory.

Most of us are tool junkies, so that dual-processor 3.0 GHz Pentium IV with a gigabyte of RAM and mirrored 120GB hard drives sure looks like fun, but the fact is, you probably don't need anything even close to that for everyday use. While it's definitely time to put your Windows 95 computers out to pasture, the majority of contractor-related...

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