FARMERS may not always put as much thought into choosing their farm computer as they do on their heavy machinery – so Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service is offering help to businesses that might need an upgrade in the digital department.

FAS has created guidance to help farmers with either choosing a new computer or updating the operating system on their existing machine. Titled 'Is your farm computer fit for purpose', the guide outlines the different versions of Microsoft Windows – the most popular operating system – and how to install a newer version, or of that isn't possible, looks at what type of new computer to buy, the considerations to take into account, and the benefits of having both a laptop and separate monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Chloe McCulloch from SAC Consulting, which delivers the FAS programme, said: “While it might be obvious that a new computer is overdue, some farmers would benefit from upgrading or replacing their computer, even if it still works, because their operating system is no longer supported, which is a security risk.

“Farmers use many specialist software products but relatively few of these will require more than a fairly basic modern computer. You are more likely to exceed a basic entry level spec if you want to use the computer for personal use also, such as watching movies, editing photographs or gaming," said Ms McCulloch.

“A few hundred pounds is a relatively small investment in farming terms for something that is vitally important for farm security.”

A separate piece of FAS guidance, 'Protecting your personal information', provides advice on how to stay safe in the digital age. With hacking and malicious attacks becoming more numerous and sophisticated, computer users are advised to use a two tier security system when accessing online systems. This requires inputting a password or PIN, followed by a code sent to a separate device.

The guidance also suggests setting up a Password Manager, which generates and remembers passwords for logging into secure websites.

Both documents can be read at

For more information or advice, call the FAS advice line on 0300 323 0161 or visit