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Computer Life Span: Fix It or Replace It

Wondering if your computer is too old for today’s world? Consider this, most computers these days only last about 4-6 years. If your computer is older than that it’s a dinosaur and probably running really slow. 

Seems pretty obvious it’s time for an update right? Some people resist updating because learning new things can sometimes be uncomfortable.  The problem is that when you wait for too long to update, you end up with a bigger learning curve when you finally do.  Computers get faster and memory gets bigger as time goes on. For example, if you still have an old Windows XP computer, you’ll find that searching the internet painfully slow even if you have a fast connection.

This is because the web pages are getting bigger, so the computer has to work harder to show you the pages. 

If your computer is less than 4-6 years old and under performing, it could be a lemon or it may just need a clean up to get it back into shape. Also, you may find that the computer you bought is less than what you really needed so you have to upgrade early.

Should I Fix It?

Do you want to fix it or is it time for a new computer? Here are some tips to help you decide.

If it’s over 5 years old, replace it. Technology ages faster now than ever so unless it’s an easy fix, you’ll probably want to put your money towards a new computer. 

Will it cost more to repair than to upgrade? Look at the numbers. Maybe you just need a clean up or new component that costs around $100. In that case, you can generally use the computer for another year or so. 

But for a pricier fix, like a hard drive or motherboard replacement, you’re looking at $300 and up to repair.  In this instance, you should just buy a new computer.

Simple Fixes You Should Probably Do

The following simple fixes can help you postpone replacement:

As mentioned above some repairs cost more in the long run than just a new computer. These include:

  • Hard drive upgrade or replacement
  • Motherboard replacement
  • Screen repair
  • Glitch troubleshooting – this can take hours of tracing the problem
  • Processor upgrade

If any of these sound familiar, it’s time to move on and move up. Still not convinced? Consider the cost of data recovery when your old machine finally goes kaput (because it will).

Getting information from an old hard drive that won’t spin anymore requires special equipment and a clean room. These services START at $500 with no guarantee of success.

And that’s before you spend anything on a new computer. To be clear, you will need a new computer at that point too; once a drive is corrupted it’s done. Trying to resurrect your old dinosaur isn’t an option. Parts for older machines are hard to find and expensive if they exist at all.

Upgrading is Easier than You Think

When your computer has reached the end of its life span, upgrading can be a daunting prospect. It’s really not that bad especially if you follow these tips.

What to Look For When Buying a New Computer

So you’re ready to take the plunge. Now what?  Here’s what you need to look for when you are buying a new computer.

PC or Mac

This is a personal preference. It’s best to go with whichever operating system you prefer or feel comfortable with. Either one will surf the internet, play games and write documents. 

If you’re used to one over the other, it’s easiest stick with what you’ve got because PC’s and Macs operate very differently.  If you try to switch from one to the other, you’re in for a big learning curve. 

I personally prefer the Windows operating system because it’s more customizable, and it’s what I have the most experience with. I use both PC and Mac depending on what I need, but prefer Windows. I can also get a better PC computer than a Mac for the same price.

What are you going to do with it?

Do you just surf the internet and play games?

If this is the case, you can look for computers on sale. Pretty much any computer you find on the market will do these things.  You’ll be looking for computers in the $300-$500 price range. There’s no need to spend more than that on such a basic machine. You can also get good deals at Costco or Sam’s and even on Amazon.com.

Do you do more word processing and business or school related things? 

You’ll want to look for a good mid range processor and good RAM (random access memory). The processor, RAM and hard drive are what keep the computer fast. This is where you want to spend money on a computer. 

As of this writing, I would suggest at least an Intel i5 processor from the 8th generation or newer and 8GB of RAM. A larger processor or more RAM is better but remember this computer will only last about 4-6 years so don’t go crazy. 

Don’t get more than 16GB of RAM in this category because you won’t see the benefit of it. You’re looking in the $500-$1,000 price range.

Do you do graphic design? 

This is the category geared toward Macs. Macs are built for graphic design and work great at it. You can get a Windows computer that will work fine, but Macs are made for this industry. 

Your new computer will need at least an Intel i5 processor but will probably like the i7 instead. You’ll also want to have the 16GB of RAM so your software will have enough memory to run smoothly. In this category you’re looking at the $1,000-$2,500 price range.

Are you a Gamer? 

For the serious gamers out there, you’ll have to do some research or call me for help. The computer you buy will be dictated largely by the specs of the games you play. Buying less than what your preferred game requires is a waste of money.

The price range for a gaming computer is $700 and up, sometimes to $4,000 or more. It’s easy to spend thousands of dollars on a good gaming computer. Keep in mind though that you want a new computer that will run the games you want to play for the next 4-6 years, realistically closer to 4. 

Sometimes less is more. You will have to keep more up to date technology if you’re playing the latest games. If you like older games, however, you may be able to keep you existing computer for a while longer.

Where to shop

When you start looking for a computer, you’re looking for the best deals. In the Denver-Metro area, I send people to Microcenter or microcenter.com. It’s in the DTC and has a huge selection and better prices than Best Buy. 

But if you’d prefer a closer store, Best Buy still has good deals just not a large selection. Other places to shop are Amazon.com, and Apple.com if you are looking for Macs. If you want to build your own computer, you can look at Microcenter, newegg.com, ibuypower.com or purchasing parts from each of the manufacturers that you want to put into your computer.

Keep in mind bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes buying the ‘best,’ most expensive machine on the market is a waste of money. It’s far better to look at your individual use and buy a new computer to meet those needs, not whatever the salesman at the store is trying to sell you.

If you have questions or need help you can always contact me. I can help you find the right computer for you, transfer data and set it up seamlessly to make the entire computer buying process easier for you.

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