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This is a guest post by Marcos Garza
Your computer, be it a desktop or laptop, has an average lifespan of three to five years. With money being tight for everyone, you need to determine if you really need to replace your computer or if an upgrade will suffice. Since many people are not as computer savvy as they would like to be, the average computer user quickly becomes overwhelmed when it comes to determining whether to replace or upgrade their current computer.
This is where you need to sit back and ask yourself some important questions in order to determine if you should simply upgrade your existing computer or take the plunge and replace your computer. To make an informed decision, ask yourself the following questions:
# Does my current computer still work well and run the programs I need it to run or have my needs dramatically changed?
# Do I really need to be running the latest version of my software, such as Windows or my word processing or are my current versions adequate for my needs?
# Are the low, advertised prices for new computers influencing my decisions?
# Do I really want to go through all of the hassle of reloading all of my software and documents onto another computer?
# Will my existing printer and other hardware work with the new computer?
# Is my existing computer even upgradeable?
# Can I afford a new computer?
# How old is my existing computer?
There are things that you can do without purchasing a new computer. Such as:
# You can upgrade the CD/DVD drive or add an external unit.
# You can add another hard drive, replacing the existing one with a unit with more capacity, or adding an external hard drive. You can easily find external hard drives with 300-500 GB capacity for under $100. With an external drive, you can easily transfer your data from one computer to another.
# You can add more RAM. Check the Internet or your computer manufacturer’s website to determine what kind of RAM your computer takes and how much RAM it can handle. Upgrading your RAM is an easy and relatively inexpensive thing to do.
# More and more programs and games require the latest video card in order to run. This is another easy, relatively inexpensive upgrade.
# You can replace or upgrade your laptop battery in order to provide you with a better battery or more battery time.
# On desktop models, you should be able to upgrade your motherboard and CPU.
If doing some or all of these upgrades will solve your problems, then upgrading is the answer. However, you still need to determine if upgrading is the most economical solution for you. You will need to add up the total cost of the upgrades. If you are not comfortable doing the upgrades yourself, then you will also need to factor in the labor costs. Computer repair shops charge either by the hour or by the job. You will need to locate one near you that has a good reputation and visit with them to determine if you feel comfortable turning your computer over to them. Even if upgrading is the more economical solution, you need to honestly access just how much longer your current computer will be viable. With an average lifespan of three to five years, the last thing you want to do is spend money on a computer that might be close to dying on you. In that case, buy a new computer, but keep your old one as a back up. After you ask yourself these questions, you still might not know which way to go. Many laptops have limited capacity for upgrades. If you have already installed as much RAM as the laptop will hold, you have the best graphics card that the motherboard can handle, and the processor is not upgradeable, then you most likely are looking at buying a new computer. If you have a desktop, then you have more options. You are more likely to be able to upgrade the motherboard, the processor, and the CPU, however, many of these upgrades are much more expensive. As with any upgrades, you will need to determine if your existing computer components (hard drive, CD/DVD unit, graphics card, etc.) will be compatible with the new hardware. If not, then your upgrade will only get more expensive. Until the first Service Pack is available, many computer repair shops do not advise upgrading to the latest version of Windows. This is because they have seen first hand the problems that any new release has and they know that the first Service Pack will fix most if not all of these problems. If you wish to know if your current computer can run Windows 7, then follow this link to the Windows website and download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. This download will examine your system and let you know if your computer is capable of running Windows 7, what upgrades you might need in order to run it, and which versions of Windows 7 your system can handle. You have one final option. You can buy a refurbished, used computer from a computer repair shop. Refurbished either by the manufacturer or by Microsoft, these used computers come with new hard drives installed in them. Most of them will come pre-loaded with the latest Windows Software. They usually come with a limited 30-day warranty.
About the Author: Marcos Garza is the owner of Global 1 Resources, a retailer of brand name server racks & equipment. In addition to server cabinets, he also sells networking hardware and accessories for IT departments.