Here are a few simple tips to follow before purchasing a new laptop computer for yourself or for your college bound son or daughter.

Getty Images/Sean Gallup

Sometimes the options are overwhelming when you're shopping for that new computer.  I'll try to simplify the process for you.

There are a lot of "bells and whistles" that you may not need.  It's very easy to overspend on options that you won't need.

Don't go crazy on the processor.  A high end processor can get expensive.  If the computer will ,be used mostly for email, word processing, and the Web, a dual core processor with 2 to 4 GB of Ram will generally suffice.  If you'll be storing lots of video or audio, you may want to bump up the RAM.

There are a couple of extras you may want to consider.

It's a good idea to invest in an extended battery with five or six hours of run time.

Look into internet security software.  There are millions of viruses on the web that can damage or ruin your computer.

Here's my final suggestion.

Several years ago my computer crashed.  I lost all my files and programs.  They were gone forever.

To avoid this catastrophe, purchase an external hard drive.

Externals are available in different capacities, usually ranging from 500 MB to 3 TB.  To backup (save) your files all you have to do is connect the external hard drive to the computer with a USB cable.

They are very easy to use and you'll have peace of mind that your files are safe.

There are also on-line backup systems that are available.

I hope this helps you out.

Please, feel free to add your comments and suggestions.