As many people are looking for ways to save money, they may be putting off the purchase of a new computer. Other people would like to get a new computer and pass along their current computer to their kids. Either way, many people would like to keep their current computers running a few years longer. The problem is their computer may be working quite slowly or experiencing other problems. Often people think they must purchase a new PC when their older computer reaches a certain age or starts experiencing problems. The reality is that many older computers, with a few minor upgrades and some minor maintenance, can be spruced up to work well again and last a few more years.
The first item that can greatly improve an older computer’s performance is additional RAM. Without getting too “techy”, the bare minimum I recommend for most computers (Mac or PC) is 512 MB of RAM. Less than this and I guarantee your computer is not running at maximum efficiency. Even 512 MB of RAM is on the borderline, so I really recommend at least 1 GB for average users, 2 GB if you are more of a “power user”. If your computer runs Windows Vista, you may even want to consider 3 or 4 GB of RAM. With a few exceptions, RAM is really not very expensive anymore, so I highly recommend you consider this upgrade.
The next item to consider if you’d like your computer to last a few more years is a hard drive replacement. As it is one of the few moving parts in a computer, your hard drive is the part most likely to fail. Unfortunately, this is also the part that contains all your data and software, so it is potentially the most catastrophic and traumatizing problem to encounter! Unless you have a full system backup, recovering from a hard drive crash can be expensive and very time-consuming. In my experience, hard drives begin to fail after about 3 to 5 years of normal use. So the smart thing to do is replace the hard drive BEFORE it fails, preserving your data and software settings. Additionally, you will usually get a much bigger and often faster hard drive than your old one.
Finally, most people neglect the general maintenance and upkeep of their computers. Others “overprotect” their computers with cumbersome and intrusive utilities that really do nothing except hamper their computer’s performance. Imagine if you did nothing to maintain your car. It would eventually begin to perform poorly, eventually completely giving out. Similarly, neglected computers don’t perform their best and oftentimes may fail sooner than they would have if properly maintained. While it is possible for people to perform maintenance tasks themselves, the reason most people don’t do them is they don’t have the time or inclination to do so. For this reason, I recommend that people let a technology professional perform the routine maintenance on their computers. Most qualified technology service companies will have some sort of routine maintenance plan available.
Of course, I provide these services as well. I recommend starting with my Computer Tune-Up, which provides the general maintenance tasks your computer needs, along with providing you an assessment of what your computer needs to perform at its best.
If you have any questions regarding this article, please let me know.