Lets say I buy a lifetime subscription the game doesn't work on my computer for some reason or something drastic goes wrong with their server. i meet the system requirements but you never know with computers Does cryptic have a refund policy
If the game fails to do what is promised, I'm pretty sure Cryptic will give you a refund. But their official position has to be (for technical reasons involving GAAPs, primarily SOP 97-2) that they have 100% earned your lifetime subscription money as soon as they enable your account for lifetime access and give you your playable Borg and extra character slots.
You could preorder without getting a lifetime sub, and use the preorder key to try out the head start period, but as it's basically Feb 2nd now, that's out of the question. Only real choice without buying a copy of the game and using the free month of play as a trial is to have someone send you one of the friend passes, if that's a possibility for you.
Might be a good idea to ask for the release of a benchmark utility. Benchmarks aren't completely accurate but they're okay for a rough idea. As it happens, System Requirements Lab have STO on their list of games which they can analyze your system for.
Again, SR Lab isn't completely accurate, but it's always been fairly close for me. It'll work well enough as a guide, at any rate.
Since you're already too late to play for free, I'd suggest waiting a month. By that time, you may be able to get a trial code from a friend and the game will be closer to what it will ultimately be. At some point, I expect Atari will be giving away trials that are at least a week long. (It just makes sense.)