Computing News That You Can Use – February 2021
To Repair or Replace Your Computer? – That is the Question
Quote of the Month:
“Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.”
– Lau Tzu
Computers (and networking equipment) have a useful lifespan which is much shorter than the other major things we own and use, such as houses, cars and appliances. Given that computers wear out and become outdated so fast, the question becomes: Do we upgrade them, making incremental improvements, or replace them altogether? I have faced this question many times and I’ll bet that you have, too.
The general rule that I use when working on someone else’s computer: If the cost to repair / upgrade is MORE THAN ½ OF WHAT IT WOULD COST TO REPLACE, it’s time to replace. In addition, this repair or upgrade should buy them at least a year or two additional years before replacement becomes necessary.
In general, desktop computers can be expected to last for up to 5 years, while laptops are good for 3 or 4 years. The cost, in terms of lost productivity and increased frustration, of not replacing a system that is older is going to increase exponentially over time. So, if your system is for business purposes, do consider what you are giving up by continuing to use an old system.
Most older computer systems are being considered for replacement when one of more of the following happens:
- The system becomes slow
- Storage (hard drive) is slow or there is not enough storage capacity to handle any more data (or applications)
- The operating system is outdated and less secure
While replacing a computer outright may seem like the easiest option, there are possibilities to increase memory (RAM) and hard drive capacity which will extend the life of an existing system and increase performance. RAM affects performance.
Increasing RAM is the easiest way to increase performance. To see what the max capacity for your system is, a good place to check is on the crucial.com website. If you have a PC or laptop, the existing RAM (and other hardware information is found in PC Properties).
If your system has a mechanical hard drive (the kind that has been around for decades), consider purchasing an SSD hard drive of the same or greater capacity to replace it. Using Acronis (which Grundig IT uses for backup but can also be used for cloning) is possible and relatively painless. We can help you with this decision and also with the hard drive replacement, if necessary.
PCs with older operating systems that are no longer supported by Microsoft, such as Window 7 (or even XP or Vista, which we still see occasionally) should be replaced immediately. They are old, slow, likely to break and insecure. Continuing to use a system like this is a liability in multiple ways.
For Macs, the same criteria applies for PCs. However the software that should be used for cloning a Mac hard drive is Carbon Copy Cloner. There is a free 30-day trial which will be good for the cloning procedure.
What about for servers and other IT equipment? When should I replace them?
Anything to do with servers is a much bigger and important decision than for any desktop and laptop. Your IT outfit should be monitoring and maintaining servers and planning well in advance for their eventual replacement. Memory upgrades (RAM) and storage upgrades on servers are possible but will not work for you in all cases. It depends on how they were configured initially and what applications are running on them, among other things.
Networking equipment like routers, switches and access points can last a long time but will eventually fail or underperform. This type of equipment should be assessed periodically, too, and replaced, if necessary.
What stories do you have regarding fixing or replacing one of your systems. Did it work? Was it worth it? Would you do the same thing again? Contact us and let us know!
Tom Grundig – 925.528.9081