While working with budgets and impending projects, your software of choice is a big player in the success of those projects. Keeping your software up to date is always a huge question—especially when you have companies like Adobe to thank for what seems like new and improved software every year or so. How can you stay up to date with the latest and greatest to ensure your quality of work is as good as it can be? Or do you even need to upgrade to stay on top? We tackle these dilemmas along with a guide to upgrading below.
Determine Your Need to Upgrade
“If it isn’t broken, why upgrade it?” I have upheld this philosophy through major and minor upgrades because I always evaluate my situation first. I’ve been able to test important Adobe upgrades because I have access to Adobe Creative Suite 3 and Adobe Creative Suite 1. Now, while most of you may think you can’t have this situation, you indeed can. Adobe offers 30 day trials on all its latest software so you can try them out. Even if you have one computer, the new software doesn’t erase your old.
While I use Adobe Creative Suite for all of my design needs, the below guide is useful for any software upgrades.
In order to evaluate the need to upgrade, I would take a project and design it entirely using CS3 and another using only CS. I would then evaluate the features that I started to love about CS3 that CS didn’t have. Next, I would determine the need for these features. Would it make my workflow more efficient to have the ability to select multiple layers at once? Yes. However, in the end while I determined that CS3 made my life easier, I didn’t find the proof for actually spending my hard earned cash on upgrading. Yes, every time I use CS and want to select multiple layers I cringe because I know newer software can do it, but I can still get the work done. That’s the key here.
Everyone’s situation is different. Some people may have the means to upgrade and some may not. For those that can’t, evaluate your situation. Just because a new upgrade comes out, doesn’t mean you have to be first to install it. Wait it out. You might be surprised how much you save. I couldn’t have been happier about this when I realized how quickly Adobe was releasing CS4 after it released CS3.
There comes a time when you will have to upgrade, and we will discuss that next.
When You Have to Upgrade
1. When you have to upgrade be prepared. Your files will always upgrade but they won’t downgrade. One of the biggest problems with upgrading is when someone sends you a file that is meant for CS3 but won’t open in your CS version. Hello, problem! This is a very good reason for upgrading and staying up to date with the latest and greatest as many others will do the same. Be aware that when you take the upgrade plunge, files you send to people may not open. CS3 allows you to save files to lower CS versions much like Microsoft Office does. Many people forget to be courteous and use this feature. Don’t agree? How many times has someone sent you a Word doc with the extension .docx instead of .doc ever since version 2007 came out? Exactly. They didn’t save it down and consider that some of us still use older versions.
2. Ensure your computer can handle the upgrade. You may be all excited to get the shiny new version, but can your computer handle it. With upgrades come bigger files sizes, more RAM and CPU usage and larger amounts of precious hard drive space needed. Do your homework before any major software upgrade or purchase. This will save you mega bucks in the long run. You can always use older versions of software just as I do on my much older computer. I get along fine. There is probably nothing worse than dropping thousands on new software only to find out upon installation that your computer will blow up because of it.
3. Look at reviews and bug alerts. New software almost always has a long list of bugs attached to it. Just ask Microsoft about Vista. While I don’t consider this a major factor in my decision making process, it is there. Everyone’s computer is configured differently so it is impossible for software companies to make their software work the same for everyone. Because of this people have adverse effects to upgrades sometimes. For example, it took a few years to get Windows XP stable and nearly perfect. Then it was upgrade time again and the process started all over. Again, if it isn’t broken why upgrade? Research customer reviews and the bug lists out there to be prepared for what might happen. You might install just fine, but at least you will be aware.
So in the end the decision is yours. If you follow the steps above you will be ahead of the upgrade race. You don’t have to upgrade to stay ahead in the design world. You can have work- a- rounds and methods to use what you have for many years to come. It all depends on what you can afford, what you need and how dire the upgrade is to your success.
Leave a comment below if you have an upgrade method you would like to share!