When Is A Computer Worth Repairing?
Computers have become such an important part of our daily lives that, when they break, they often leave us feeling like we’ve lost a limb in terms of not being able to access the important information that we use on a day to day basis. So when a computer is no longer functioning, you usually have two main options to consider – get the machine repaired, or purchase a brand new one. So how do you know which option is best for you? Well, there are a number of things to consider, and this article will outline the main ones that you need to look for.
1 – Is your computer a laptop or a desktop?
Straight off the bat, a desktop is usually easier, and more cost effective to repair than a laptop. This is due to the fact that a desktop tower can be accessed, and new parts installed, far easier than with a compact laptop unit. With this in mind, a good quality desktop can be expected to last up to ten years before it is considered no longer worth repairing, where as a laptop is considered no longer viable after about three years, in terms of replacing hardware components. In terms of software issues, both are as easy to repair as the other, yet software upgrades are still dependent on the hardware, and what the machine is capable of running. Again, you need to consider the age of your machine to decide if it’s worth repairing.
2 – So, is your problem hardware related?
If so, then what hardware components are worth repairing? For a desktop computer, RAM memory, power supply units, graphics cards, and sound cards are all quite cheap and easy to replace, and are considered cost effective repairs. On average, these parts are worth between $50 to $150 each, depending on the specifications of your machine. If the issue lies with the motherboard or hard drive, it can be a bit more complicated. Depending on age and brand of computer, motherboards can vary in price from $150 to $300, and when a new one is installed, it also requires a fresh installation of Windows to be done. To preserve the information that is stored on your hard drive, it is recommended that you backup any important files (such as documents, photos, and music) before you get this repair done. If the hard drive is at fault and needs replacing, this can be done quite easily, and the hard drive itself isn’t an expensive component (between $80 to $150). A new one can be installed, and a fresh version of Windows loaded on for you, but it will be like having a brand new computer. All of your data will still be on that old drive, and if there is extensive damage done to it, it can be a very expensive, and a very long process to try and recover that information through advanced data recovery agents (In excess of $500 in most cases). The thing to remember here is to back up your important data on a regular basis to minimise the risk of losing everything!
For a laptop computer, easy to replace parts are limited. The main one that is quite cost effective to replace is the RAM memory (between $80 to $120), which is usually quite easy to access in most laptops. Replacing a screen panel or keyboard are also possible for skilled technicians, and these are considered to be mid to high end repairs (between $200 to $450). The deciding factors in these cases are cost and age. If the laptop is approaching that three year mark, you would be better off investing a bit of extra money into buying a new machine, as the cost of repairs often equals what that older laptop would now be worth. For anything concerning the power in the laptop (power supply, battery, charger, etc), there are a few easy checks that you can do that may narrow down the problem. If the battery won’t charge, try replacing it with a brand new one. If the new battery won’t charge, then it may be the charger itself. You can often purchase universal chargers for a respectable price from electronics stores, provided they have one that matches your existing charger. Always take your old charger with you when looking for a universal one! If you’ve eliminated the charger and battery as the problem, and you still have no power, then the issue may lie with either the power supply, or the motherboard. This is where the cost of repairs really does outweigh the cost of a new machine (motherboards can range between $300 to $500), and in most cases it is usually best to have a technician extract your data, and then invest in a new machine.
3 – Or is the problem a software issue?
Software issues in any sort of computer are generally more cost effective than a hardware repair, and can be done by most skilled technicians. Virus and malware infections are one of the most common software problems, and usually affect the functionality of the computer by stopping programs from responding, the Internet from loading, or even preventing Windows from starting. A skilled technician can remove any and all infections in a couple of hours, and have your machine running as good as new, usually for a modest charge. Other easy to repair problems include Internet connectivity, driver and software updates, Windows issues, and general system performance. The only time a software issue isn’t really viable to fix is when the age and hardware of the computer limits what you can do. If you have an eight year old desktop, running Windows XP, chances are that your hardware will not support upgrading it to Windows 7. Therefore, it is not financially worth doing, as it would require upgrading the hardware as well, after which you could have purchased a new machine with the new software already installed for the same price.
Okay, so you’ve decided to invest in a new machine rather than repair your old one. But there are so many choices available, so how do you know which is right for you, and what machine will be a good investment in terms of average lifespan and performance?
Unless you fall into the categories of serious gamer, graphic artist, audio engineer, or something equally as impressive, most desktop computers that you can pick up in store will suit your daily needs. The only thing to consider would be the quality of the parts that are supplied with the low price range machines. By investing a little bit more money, you can often purchase a desktop with higher quality hardware than their cheaper counterparts, and they will often last a lot longer, and perform better. If you do need a desktop designed for specific needs, another option is to have one custom built by a technician. A skilled technician can build you a machine with hardware that will suit your exact needs, and in some cases this can be done cheaper than what purchasing a pre-built model would be, as parts can often be sourced directly from the supplier.
In terms of laptops, it really comes down to the old saying “you get what you pay for”. A $400 laptop might sound like an excellent idea, but it is almost guaranteed to fail in a year or two, as the hardware would not be of a high quality. For an average user, it is usually best to aim for a mid-range laptop (anything between $700 to $1000), as they will have better hardware, and will last a lot longer.
Brand can also play a large role in choosing a new laptop, and in most cases it comes down to personal preference, and what you’ve had experiences with. For example, someone who has used Windows machines all of their life would find it very difficult to use an Apple Mac machine. Someone who has had an Acer that caused them nothing but trouble may shy away from that brand altogether. On the other hand, a friend might have told you how brilliant their Toshiba is, and so you would be more inclined to look at those first before considering anything else.
If brand doesn’t worry you, the next thing to look for is the specifications of the laptop. There are a few key things to consider, and to keep an eye out for, when making your decision. Look at how much RAM the laptop is running, and aim for at least 4 GB. For the hard drive, anything over 500 GB is a respectable size. For the processor, look for either a dual-core or quad-core, i5 or i7. All laptops these days will come with the latest software (Windows 7 at present) already installed, and some will even come with demo versions of software such as Microsoft Office for you to try out for thirty days. Very few, if any, will come pre-loaded with full versions of software packages such as Office, so if it is something that you require, you will also need to look into purchasing that software.
Whether you are repairing or purchasing, it is important to make the right decision for your circumstances, as computers are an important part of daily life, and are well worth investing correctly in. Ultimately, preserving the data that is on the existing machine is usually the main priority, whether you are repairing or purchasing new, and here at the Australian Computer Doctors, that is something that we strive to do in all cases. We are able to perform a number of both hardware and software repairs, on both desktops and laptops of all brands, can help you choose a new machine, and can even custom build desktops to suit your exact needs.
If you require any further assistance or information on anything that was mentioned in this article, please visit Australian Computer Doctors at - http://acdoctors.com.au/ - or find them on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/australiancomputerdoctors
Article written by: Gemma Smyth.
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