Replacing Your Old Computer? Here's What You Should Know

Have you had the same computer for years? Has it become so slow and problematic that you can barely use it? You may not want to go out and pick a new one, but there just doesn’t seem to be any way around it. So where do you go from here?

If this sounds like your situation, read on. We’ll have you feeling like a confident buyer in no time!

Out with the Old, in with the New

If your computer is simply too outdated or broken to be worth repairing, then it’s probably time to choose a new one. When you’re ready to look for a new computer, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of choices, but there are some things you can do to narrow those choices down. Think about how you’re currently using your computer, and what you might be using it for in the future:

  • Email and other social media correspondence
  • Writing and/or creating spreadsheets
  • Photo, music, or video editing
  • Games
  • Watching streaming video (YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Instant, etc.)
  • Video calls (Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.)

When purchasing a new computer, you’ll want to find one that lets you do everything you were doing before, and that has the ability to do everything you want it to do in the future. Write down everything you’ll need your computer to do, and bring that list with you to the store when you’re ready to buy. If you’re on a budget, you may want to look into buying refurbished instead of brand new. Computers retain their value for many years, and a secondhand or refurbished system can serve you for many years to come if you buy it from a reputable dealer.

Choosing a Computer – Important Considerations

If you plan to always keep your computer in the same location in your home or office, it makes sense to get a desktop model, possibly even an all-in-one (where the computer itself is built into the screen). They’re usually cheaper than laptops, and pack more computing power for the price. However, if you need more mobility, then you’ll probably want a laptop. Just keep in mind that laptop parts (battery, charging cord, internal fan) typically need replacing a lot sooner than desktop models.

Other considerations to include in your shopping are:

  • Storage space. If you plan to keep a lot of pictures or videos on your computer, you should plan to have at least 500 gigabytes of hard drive space.
  • RAM. This stands for Random Access Memory, and is a determining factor in how fast and responsive your computer will be. At least 4 gigabytes of RAM is enough for most users, but more is always better–particularly if you plan to use your computer for playing a lot of graphics-heavy video games.
  • Operating System (OS). There are a few choices out there, but what it usually comes down to is MacIntosh vs. Windows. Most new PCs come with Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 installed, and most new MacIntosh computers come with the latest version of Mac OS X.

Do You Really Need to Replace Your Computer?

Switching to a new computer can be more complicated than you might think. If you’re moving all your files from your old computer to a new one, you’ll need an external drive of some sort to make the transfer. Additionally, you may have to purchase programs like Microsoft Office again in order to have them installed on your new computer.

But you may not even have to replace your older system yet. In some cases, you may be able to vastly improve your computer’s performance with a simple RAM upgrade, or it could be that your computer just needs a good cleaning to get it working again.

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About the author

Photo of Erik Fullmer

Erik Fullmer

Erik was raised in many places but has long since called Utah home. Rooted in mountains, he spends a lot of time with his dogs in the mountains and in the winter he skis… a lot.

Erik is actively earning the necessary certifications and training to become a certified AMGA Ski Guide.

With over a decade of content writing experience, Erik finds passion when writing for the tech and outdoor recreation industries.