Unless you are a recent entrant to the world of computers, this is probably a question you’ve asked yourself before. After all, if your computer doesn’t work properly, you may have a strong instinct to throw it out and get another one but keep wondering if it is worth fixing. This article is intended to help you decide which of these paths you should take to get a PC up and running so you can go about your work or play. You may be thinking that since this is a computer repair technician writing this article, I’m going to tell you that you should fix your computer in almost every case rather than get a new one. Not so. Just as there is a host of reasons to fix your computer, there are plenty of reasons to buy a new one instead.
Although the costs of consumer computers are nowhere near the costs of new cars, those who have had to decide whether to fix an older automobile or buy a new one may find it helpful to think about that process because it is similar. I would advise you to make two columns and write the reason to buy or fix in the appropriate column. If you think it through this way, you will find yourself coming to a reasoned and reasonable conclusion. Also, remember that if another person has your same PC model and the same problem, what they decide does not make their decision good for you. Keep in mind that there is not a right or wrong answer, only the best answer for you. While this article and others can help your decision process, the best answer for you is something only you can decide. Be wary of people who are certain that they know what you need.
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Let’s look at some reasons to repair your current computer:
• Budget – Although the extra expense can be worth it, buying a new PC is USUALLY more expensive than fixing your current computer. If you are on a tight budget or are just a frugal person, fixing most problems may be best for you.
• Data – This second reason is related to the budget item. Whichever route you decide to take, you can (usually) keep your pictures, documents, music, emails, business files, and important personal information. It is easier, though, if you are keeping your computer because if you get a new PC, you will have to pay someone to transfer that information to a new PC. Many of you can do this without a problem, but not everyone can. Also, if your PC won’t boot to Windows and the data has to be extracted from the computer, most of you will need someone to get the data off the hard disk, which means you will be paying both for a new computer plus a service fee to a computer technician.
• Applications – If you get a new computer, you will also have to reinstall your applications. Some can be downloaded, like iTunes or Adobe Acrobat Reader. However, any that you paid for, such as Microsoft Office, will likely be on CD/DVD. They must be installed from this media, along with the product key that came with them. My experience has been that both organized and unorganized people tend to lose application CDs, particularly if they have had their computer for several years. Before buying a new computer, gather all your application installation CDs and make sure you have a disc for all the applications you use. You may be able to avoid this process and have all your applications as they were if you get your computer fixed. However, it should be noted that if the proposed fix to your current PC is to reinstall Windows, this issue is moot because all of your applications will have to be installed on a new Windows installation, just as on a new PC.
• Upgrades – If your computer is just a little slow or can’t do a certain thing, you can usually upgrade the RAM or video card or the aforementioned USB 3.0 card much more cheaply than you can buy a new PC.
• Windows 8 – Have you used or seen Windows 8 or 8.1? If you get a new computer, it will have Windows 8.1 on it. This is important because, for all its pros and cons (and I don’t wish to engage those questions here), many people find it hard to use and a significant departure from Windows 7 and earlier versions interface. Like anything else, you would probably get used to it, no matter how much you dislike it, but if it isn’t intuitive to you, why buy a machine that comes with it? Windows 7 can be put on new computers after purchase by computer technicians if you buy a copy online. But again, you would be paying more this time for a new computer, plus a legitimate copy of Windows 7, plus the cost of a service technician to install Windows 7 on the computer.
• “Right Fit” – Buying something new is usually seen as “sexier” than keeping or repairing something used. So, if none of the reasons above grab you, think of this. If you were happy with your computer before it needed to be fixed-happy with its speed, memory, accessories, capabilities, and performance, that computer is likely the “Right Fit” for you. Why get another computer when you can probably spend less and get to keep something that fits you?
Now, let’s take a look at some of the reasons to replace your broken computer rather than fix it:
• Age – Although there is no specific age at which retirement and replacement kick in, most people know it when they see it. If your computer was slow even when in tip-top shape, that’s probably a clue you need to go to the computer store.
• Antiquated Accessories – If your PC has a factory-installed floppy disk drive or has a CD but no DVD drive, it is probably time to think about a new PC. Many people want fast peripherals through a USB 3.0 port. If you have a desktop, you can easily get a card installed, so I wouldn’t consider this alone a reason to trash the old PC, but I will mark it in the buy column if you’re keeping score.
• Major Hardware Damage-If you spilled a Coke or such in the computer, running its motherboard, I would not invest in a repair.
• The Laugh Factor – Although I have never laughed at my customers, I have, on occasion, laughed at a machine that is brought in. Why? Because it is so old, so full of dust and cigarette smoke, so slow, that it is almost a joke that someone is actually paying me to fix this computer. If this is your computer, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about but if you don’t already know, deep down, that you need a new computer, then take that message from this article. If you decide not to fix it or keep your computers for a long time, make sure they inside are cleaned regularly, whether you do it yourself or bring it in for a cleaning. That dust and smoke residue doesn’t just look bad; it can overheat your computer and cause its death