In recent years, computers and their parts have gotten cheaper and cheaper. That’s great for when you’re looking to buy a completely new system. But what about your computer when it breaks? Sometimes, they’re just not worth the money to repair, and you might as well buy a brand new one. There are quite a few factors when considering fixing your computer.
First of all, is your system a desktop or a laptop? Desktops have a separate tower and monitor. They’re usually easier to fix because their parts are larger and more inexpensive. Laptops, on the other hand, have components buried behind other components and there are tons of screws holding each part in place. Computer repair stores will normally charge more to fix a laptop than to fix a desktop due to the increased difficulty and expense.
Next, do you know what the problem is and are you capable of fixing it yourself? Identifying the problem is an easy way for computer repair stores or Best Buy’s geek squad to lure you in. Then they give you a price and let you know you can pick up your machine in 48 hours. Before you do that, however, try Google. No matter what your level of skill, it doesn’t hurt to google your problem and see if someone else out there came across the same issue and knows how to fix it.
For example, the problem could be software instead of hardware. That’s easy enough to remedy. A new install of the operating system might be all it takes. Many computer manufacturers even pack restore disks with each computer they sell so that if the software becomes corrupted or unusable, you can wipe the system clean and start over fresh. Even if your computer didn’t come with this disk, calling the company’s toll-free number and asking for one usually only requires you to pay for shipping.
Hardware problems are usually indicated by a computer suddenly displaying a blue screen with an error message or refusing to start up. One of the most common hardware problems are fan failures. You can tell if your computer’s fan is dying when it begins to make a noticeable noise. In laptops, the keyboard will feel burning hot even if you’re not running any labor-intensive programs. The good news is that fans are easy to fix, even in laptops. There are many help guides to walk you through this simple hardware replacement process online.
Other hardware options may be more expensive. Hard drives in desktop systems are relatively cheap, but motherboards are not. Newegg lists motherboards between $100 to $300, with some upper end variations, and hard drives for as little as $84.
The biggest thing to consider, of course, is whether or not you want to waste money on an old machine when the opportunity presents for a new one. Computers are usually outdated in about three years, five years maximum. The average computer user can get away with the five year limit, but if you enjoy playing games or using intensive programs, you need a new rig at the three year minimum. A gaming computer can cost anywhere from $800 to $1500, while a gaming laptop can easily hit $2000. Someone who uses only the Internet and few other programs can buy a system between $300 and $500 and be happy. A laptop for casual users could be between $500 and $800.
Now that you have some more information, all you need to check is your budget. How much are you willing to invest in your old system? How much of that money could be put toward a new laptop or desktop? Quality hardware and software is worth saving up for and comes with protection to ensure your next computer is protected from software to hardware.
=== About the Author ===
Tom Demers is a tech blogger who writes about prevention of advanced persistent threat.