Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Repair or Replace - "My Thingamajig Done Got Slow"

 

December 1, 2017 | View PDF



“Why can’t I update my iTunes® software?” “My old Quicken® software that I’ve used for years now is no longer working?” “Where can I find this old type of cable that once connected my ancient printer?” “Hey! How on earth am I supposed to plug this new-fangled cable into my aged computer?” “What on earth is this ‘thingamajiggy’ supposed to be connected to now?”

Yep! We’ve all heard someone with an older computer system asking these questions. In fact, as the owner of a computer repair shop and as a professional technical consultant for several years now, if there is any one single question I’ve gotten with any degree of repetition, it’s this one: “I’ve used this same old software on my old computer for years – and with no problem. I intend to use it for more years without changing it. So, why do I need a new computer now?” Or even THIS as a conversation, “I’m not much into playing these new games nor do I need anything that new or fancy to play my Solitaire”.

So, you're not much of a “gamer” and you say you don’t need the top of the line equipment in your computer; but what about your cool and comfortable evenings wherein you want to simply snuggle up and relax watching some streamed media. Did you know that even streaming your Netflix in 4K needs not only a fast Internet connection, but hardware capable of playing it smoothly? Or, how about this one sir… You’re trying to watch a YouTube® video on how to fix your garage door and it becomes to jagged and sketchy to view properly. You will more than likely spend more than you want trying to get that old desktop to have a capable graphics card - not to mention the next to impossible chore of changing the graphics card inside your laptop altogether just for such an upgrade.

Maybe you feel your hardware is fine, but your software is constantly asking you to upgrade it, but you can’t because your computer says it requires a newer system to function properly. Fact is, if you’ve used the same program for a decade or more, you’ve gotten to know it well, and you no doubt feel safe and secure. Unfortunately, this feeling may be illusory. You’re playing a very dangerous game. It’s not one I recommend.

There are several problems with running old software. The most obvious is the one that concerns you: it could eventually stop working. There is also a risk that unpatched security holes could leave you vulnerable to new viruses and malware attacks.

Then, there is the danger of “Planned Obsolescence” to worry about. What’s that? I’m Glad you asked – “Planned obsolescence is when a product is deliberately designed to have a specific life span. This is usually a shortened life span. In this way, when the product fails, the customer will want to buy another, up to date version.” Planned obsolescence is, therefore, sometimes

designed into a product, in order to encourage the customer to buy the next upgrade.

If you have a basic computer system that you haven’t significantly upgraded that is more than four years old and in need of a major hardware repair (like a new motherboard or processor), it’s best to start shopping around for a new computer. The cost to bring your system up to current standards is likely to far exceed the cost to replace it.

Despite the cost consideration of a new PC, there are definitely times when it makes sense to buy new instead of repairing old. The average lifespan of a desktop computer is five years, a laptop averages 3-4 years. After a few years, as already mentioned, aging hardware is more likely to fail, software begins to outpace your system’s capabilities (leading to sluggish performance and slow boot up) and operating system upgrades have likely cycled through a few generations.

Now you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow! Now that he mentioned it, my computer HAS become increasingly slower?” Slowness can be difficult to define, but you’ll know it when you see it: you can make a cup of tea while your computer boots up, it grinds to a halt when you have more than half a dozen tabs open in your browser, and you can type a full sentence before a single word appears on screen.

For most people, the decision to replace a computer comes down to cost. Since a basic desktop computer starts at around $300 and a laptop around $500, most people consider replacing their system when a repair will cost $250 or more. In fairness, there are less expensive alternatives when considering a replacement PC or laptop – namely the newer Cloud books and/or Chromebooks available on the market. These systems generally start at around $180 - $250, but are purely for content consumption (i.e., checking email or utilizing documents in the “cloud”) and they were never intended to be replacements for those with real computing needs.

Keep in mind that cheaper computers may not include components that you want, such as an optical drive (for watching DVDs or loading data from a disc), touch screen capability or a fully functional operating system. Be sure to take stock of the features you need, before you price or compare a new system vs. repair.

Do yourself a favor and stop listening to the advice of your local “I-Know-A-Guy” computer guru and visit a reputable computer service center for professional advice on viable upgrade options or the possibility of a new (or refurbished) replacement system altogether.

Lastly, transferring data, installing programs, configuring printers and getting a new PC set up on your home network can be a daunting task. If you’ll want professional assistance to get your new computer set up, factor in this cost before buying a new PC.

Darnell Hughley is the Owner, Certified Technician and Consultant for HY-Tech Solutions, LLC - having more than 23 years of total experience in the PC Repair and IT Consulting field.

 

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