Upgrade or replace?

How Often Should You Upgrade or Replace your Computer?

I get this question a lot, Especially when folks purchase new computers…..“So…how long is this thing going to last?”

In my experience, on average, desktop computers last around five years before they need replaced. Laptop computers have an even shorter lifespan, mainly due to their portability and the way they’re built. It’s much harder to cool a laptop, and heat is the main enemy of electronics. Also, because you carry them around, they are much more susceptible to physical damage – getting dropped, leaving them in a frozen or way-too-hot car, etc. The lifespan is maybe three to four years on average for a laptop.

You’ll also notice I said “average.” Sometimes hardware fails early for no apparent reason (but probably because of a bad part installed at the factory). Conversely, sometimes it lasts way longer than you might expect – also for no apparent reason.  When you buy a computer, you always hope you will be in the latter group, but it’s a roll of the dice.

Sometimes, you can “upgrade” a desktop or laptop computer to help get more time before replacing it. This was much more common in the earlier days of computing, but there are still a couple of easy upgrades you can do. Upgrading generally involves swapping out older pieces of computer hardware with newer ones, which helps bring the system up-to-date while improving its intrinsic performance.

Older desktop and laptop computers are prone to slow performance, especially if their internal components can no longer keep up with the technological standards used to produce today’s software.

The most common hardware upgrade involves replacing the desktop graphics card and memory, hard drives, DVD or BlueRay drives, and other peripherals, such as adding an internal USB card (for additional USB ports). For laptops, you can replace the hard drive and add additional memory.

One thing to keep in mind: installing an upgrade an older desktop or laptop may not be enough to completely remedy its performance issues especially if it’s running a newer and more demanding software. For example, Quickbooks 2014 is never going to be fast on a 2007 computer. In this case, a total replacement would be a better approach.

Cost is perhaps the most important factor when considering a computer upgrade. Buying a new computer may make more sense, if the price of the upgraded hardware reaches and/or exceeds the new computer price. If a new computer would cost $700, it doesn’t make much sense to spend $400 upgrading an old one.

We can help you decide if an upgrade is right for you, or help you pick out a shiny, new computer if that is the best option.  Give us a call!