When is it Time to Get a New PC?
Many of us are not fans of change––especially creatures of habit. A big change to make (yet an exciting one) is upgrading your PC. Like most technology, your beloved PC will eventually wear down or become obsolete. While this can send some people into a spin, upgrading your PC will likely mean a faster, better machine, and therefore greater usability and productivity.
So, how do you know when it’s time to replace the ol’ faithful PC? Well, unfortunately, many folks wait until their PC dies a sudden death before upgrading. However, we all know that’s far from ideal as you may lose important documents and information. So, below we have put together a few warning signs to help you decide when it’s time for an upgrade.
How Do I Know When I Need a New Computer?
Remember, while the physical machine can last for decades, there comes the point when the capabilities no longer keep up with newer innovations. Pretty soon, you won’t be able to upgrade software, programs, or operating systems, leading to all kinds of headaches down the line. You may want to consider several factors before deciding when it’s time to get a new PC. Below, we unpack 5 warning signs to look out for:
1. The Minimum and Recommended System Requirements
Every application you install should have the minimum requirements in order to install the software. You can check some of your system’s specs by searching from the taskbar. This app will show information such as the processor type and RAM.
If the latest software coming out tends to exceed your machine’s specs, it becomes easier to decide whether to replace it. Now, things can get a bit tricky when you can still install the latest software, but its performance seems sluggish.
Software manufacturers also tend to include another set of criteria to be mindful of– the recommended resources needed to actually run their programs. For example, an application might require at least 4 GB of RAM, 1.2 GHz processor, and 20 GB of free hard drive space to install. However, the recommended resources to actually run may look more like 8 GB of RAM, 2.0 GHz processor, and 80 GB of free hard drive space. If you have the former but not the latter, it may be time for an upgrade.
2. Your Available Hard Drive Space is Low
As you know, your computer stores a lot of information. The various applications you need to run, require space for installation, temporary files, and ample room for saving new data. Plus, the operating system still needs room to do its job – including making room for the paging file. This file (pagefile.sys) is used to create what’s called virtual memory. Your computer uses two types – primarily random access memory (RAM) and virtual memory when RAM is at capacity.
You can clear up space on your hard drive by removing items you no longer need. A simple way of doing so is using the built-in disk cleanup utility. In Windows, you can use the taskbar’s search box to find the Disk Cleanup app. This tool will allow you to choose what types of files to have the operating system remove.
3. Computer Speed is Noticeably Slower
Like all things that age, your PC can become sluggish over time. It’s quite common to find your computer takes longer to start up in the mornings, open programs, or run things simultaneously. If you find your desktop or laptop particularly slow after a new software installation, this may be a sign that you (and your tasks) are outgrowing your machine. However, not all incidents of a slow computer can be attributed to just running larger programs or multiple ones that you’re using. An easy way to check this is to go into Task Manager (use Ctrl+Alt+Del) and verify if there are things running that don’t need to be – and close them down.
4. Newer Features Not Available
Perhaps you’re looking to enjoy some new features that your new computer can’t support. Maybe you’d like a touchscreen, need more USB ports, or even different types of ports (HDMI, USB-C). Or maybe you have your eye on something like a higher resolution monitor or backlit keyboard. If your computer is a desktop, these features may be easy enough to upgrade without having to buy a whole new machine. But, if you have a laptop, it’s not that easy. So depending on how badly you want these new features, it might be time to go shopping for a new one.
5. Hardware-related Issues Start to Appear
A PC has many moving parts – the software running, the numerous operating system processes, and the many devices connected to it. At any given time, one or more of those pieces of hardware may start to become faulty– if not fail altogether. There might be an error, but typically devices behave erratically or not at all.
Common hardware-related issues to watch out for include:
- Wireless network connection
- Printers not printing
- Mouse, touchpad, or keyboard stops working
- No sound
- Poor graphics display
Some of these can be fixed by adjusting the individual hardware’s physical/software settings where applicable. Also, restarting/resyncing the device or rebooting the computer sometimes helps.
While there are issues that will actually be hardware-related, a more common reason for problems (or failure) with devices involves its drivers. A device driver is required for the hardware to communicate with the operating system effectively. If these drivers become corrupt or outdated, problems will typically continue.
You can remove or upgrade a device’s driver by going to the Device Manager (find using the taskbar’s search box). Then, simply right-click the device and choose what action you wish to perform.
Replacing Versus Fixing a Computer: What to Do?
For whatever reason, maybe a new PC is not possible right now. We understand that these can be costly and timing is often everything. While we have focused on upgrading your PC here, there are still several reasons when a repair or fix is a better option than a replacement. Thankfully, there are a few ways to breathe new life into your senior PC. Here are a few methods you can try:
- Ways to Free up Space: As mentioned before, the disk cleanup tool can help free up some space. On top of this, you can also offload items on your computer that you don’t need – or can store somewhere else. First, consider uninstalling applications you don’t use. You can do this from the Add or Remove programs app (easily found by searching for it on the taskbar). Next, you can offload photos (or other large files) into the cloud. There are many cloud storage options today – including Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive.
- Increasing the Speed of Your Current Machine: As we’ve previously mentioned, there are plenty of reasons why your computer has slowed down. To help increase the speed, you can try one or all of the following: Checking for viruses, restarting the computer regularly (to clear memory), and even adding more memory. If you have no idea where to start, take advantage of some of Windows’ built-in tools – like Resource Monitor and the previously mentioned Task Manager. These tools can help give you an idea of where you should set your focus.
- Ensure Devices are Running Optimally: Device Drivers (already mentioned) as a common failure point with your computer hardware. You’ll want to ensure these drivers are always up to date. There are a few ways in which you can maintain your hardware’s drivers. For starters, go into the Device Manager, right-click the desired device and choose: upgrade driver. From here, you’ll have two choices. The first will allow Windows to try and find a better driver. If this doesn’t work, you can choose to browse for one yourself. The second option requires that you’ve visited the manufacturer’s website and downloaded/unzipped the latest driver.
Of course, another solution is to allow software/services, such as Solve iQ, to automate the task of updating drivers for you. Not only is this more efficient, but it also means you don’t have to chase down the correct ones yourself.
We hope the above information helped you decide whether or not it’s time to upgrade- or if your old PC still has some life in it. Remember, the best thing to do is to not rush into any decisions and work out what you want and need as a desktop or laptop user for the moment. If the timing is not right to invest in a new computer, look at ways in which you can upgrade your machine so that it can keep up with you and your tasks.