How often should you upgrade your computers? It can be a contentious issue. Because of course, it often comes down to finances. We’d all love the latest all singing all dancing tech, well, most of us would. And let’s be honest, with the pace that technology is changing, most of the time our devices are out of date by the time we’ve got the bill. But sometimes it just isn’t feasible. So what’s realistic? How often should you upgrade your computers?
How long should they last?
As a general rule of thumb, expect your desktop to last a good two – three years. Modern computers can actually last more like five. It depends what you’re using them for. For example, if you’re doing a lot of video or photo editing, creating music – anything that’s really data heavy, then you’re going to do best to look at an upgrade or replacement within two – three years.
How do you know you need to take action?
Is your computer sluggish? Programmes taking ages to load? Does the machine take a long time to boot up to desktop? If you notice this sort of behaviour and you’re nearing the two – three year mark, you need to thinking about making some changes.
Upgrade or replace?
Some of the problems that come with the age of a computer can be rectified fairly cheaply and easily with an upgrade, which should buy you a bit more time before replacement is needed.
If your computer is slow to boot up and shut down and sluggish when performing tasks, the problem could be your hard drive. It might be full. Try uninstalling programs that you don’t use anymore, removing any unnecessary large files and try a Windows Disk Cleanup. Switching to a solid-state drive (SSD) is a good option. SSDs are based on flash memory and will give you some real speed benefit. But take note – there is no recovery if a SSD fails, so check your backup solution is viable.
Another possibility is a memory upgrade. Most computers come with at least 2GB but depending on your machine your might get away with an upgrade to 4 or 8GB. And really, you shouldn’t be looking at anything less than 4GB these days.
If your hard drive has loads of free space and the PC has a good amount of memory, yet performance is still pretty dire, it may be time to invest in a replacement.
If you’re using a laptop, then upgrade is far less likely. Laptops are more difficult to pull apart and upgrade and in most cases you’ll be looking at a straight out replacement. In this day and age, a laptop is pretty much a throw-away device.
A point to note – make sure that it’s financially viable to upgrade, rather than opting for a replacement. You’ve got the cost of the parts, plus any labour or engineering time to take into account, unless you perform the upgrade yourself (which we would not recommend without experience or training.)
And remember, sometimes the cost of maintaining old kit can run away with itself – reduced productivity, endless engineer call outs – it will all mount up so try to find a middle ground and when you run out of options, don’t put your replacements off.