To Upgrade or NOT To Upgrade? That is the Question!
In the business of computer repair, one of the questions I am asked more often an anything else is: “Is it worth fixing?” In this article, I will share some thoughts on that topic.
In my years of running a computer repair service, I’ve had some pretty interesting devices come through my door.
People have asked me to work on everything from exercise machines to stereos, to things that make a bit more sense in my business, like TVs, gaming systems, projectors and yes… very, very old computers.
I’ve had customers who decided that a fairly new, $1000 laptop wasn’t worth repairing, and just abandon it. I’ve also had people pay $2000 to revive and rejuvenate an old DOS machine. Where does one draw the line and how does one make that decision on when to spend the money, and when not to?
There are some very GOOD reasons to hold on to old technology, and some very BAD reasons (at least in my opinion – it’s always up to the customer!). Here are my observations that may help when you’re faced with the decision to ‘retire’, ‘recycle’ or ‘repair’ an older device.
Your beloved old Windows XP machine has finally given up the ghost. You’ve been using it for years, your latest 500 page novel, all of your school work from college and the photos of your family for the last 20 years are swelling the storage out of its seams. What do you do now??
Really Good Reasons to Repair
- Proprietary Software – You spent a lot of money on a software package and it just will NOT run on a newer machine. Keep in mind that this isn’t, necessarily, a good reason in and of itself. It’s possible to upgrade to a newer, custom built machine that runs your older software either ‘virtually’ or ‘natively’ (ask me what that means) without having to worry that your hardware is going to fail any minute. However, sometimes it’s worth it to just fix the old computer. Also, MAYBE it’s time to upgrade that old software? How many years of use have you gotten from it anyway? Have you gotten your money’s worth? Will the newer version make your life easier, or more difficult?
- Vintage Gaming – There are folks, and you may be one of them, who just REALLY enjoy playing old games on an old computer and the more ‘authentic’ the better. Great! I can keep you running, but it’s going to cost you, so be prepared for that.
- Special Needs – Remember that $2000 job I talked about? It was for a customer who is a typist. She types SO FAST that, and I know it’s hard to believe, but modern computer software simply cannot keep up with her fingers. She knows, and loves, her old DOS environment, so (with some help from a specialist friend of mine in Canada – Thanks, Concept Computers!) we created a brand new, custom machine to suit her needs, which she was thrilled with.
- Replacement Cost– Can you buy an EQUIVALENT computer for as much as, or less than, the amount it would cost to repair/upgrade your old computer? Often, that answer is no. Yes, you can always run out and buy a cheap laptop at walmart for $200-$300, but then you have a piece of junk. Of course, if the computer you are looking at repairing IS one of those cheap computers, they are basically designed to be ‘disposable’ and worse, they are slow and unreliable out of the box. In most cases, you do get what you pay for. Most DECENT computers will run you $600 at a minimum, so for just a few hundred dollars, you may be able to upgrade that older machine into something that will knock that ‘new’ computer out of the water, for a similar price.
- The Cost of Essentials – When people look at buying a brand new computer, they often do not consider the cost of essential services that they will have to pay for (or at least really SHOULD pay for) anyway. These are things like data transfer and a security package. Computers DO NOT come with adequate protection off the shelf. They may offer a certain period of McAffee or Norton ‘for free’, but any good technician will tell you to stay away from those security packages. They are known for slowing your computer down while not offering effective protection. Then we have the most important part of your computer, your data. Photos, Videos, Documents, Emails… possibly even valuable software that you purchased and currently lives on your old machine. How will you transfer it to the new one? Trust a professional for these critical services, but expect to pay for them.
Really Bad Reasons to Repair
- To Save Money – It comes as a big surprise to a lot of people, that the cost of repairing an OLD computer can be much higher than the cost of repairing a new one. Parts are often less common, so they are harder to find and more expensive. The software that runs the machine is more difficult to work with. “Drivers” (the software that allows the hardware to ‘communicate’ with each other) can be extremely time consuming, or impossible to find. Even if you decide to work on it yourself, keeping an old computer on its feet can be a disappointing experience. In the end, even if all goes well, you STILL have an old computer.
- You only need it to ‘surf the internet’ – Nope. Big Nope. Older computers are FAR more vulnerable to hacking and malicious software (this especially applies to Windows based operating systems). I never recommend that computers with operating systems older than Windows 7 are connected to the internet at all. It you choose to do so, even with virus protection installed, you likely have malicious software on your computer. Also, if you never got hit by a virus or other malicious applications, older computers are not capable of running modern browsers and many websites will not even work with them. It’s just a bad idea in general.
Finally, keep in mind that you can save a BUNDLE on your computer repairs, upgrades, protection, data transfers and more, by enrolling in one of our Service Plans. ALL of our service plans come with our highest level protection package included, as well significant discounts on, or even FREE labor charges, depending on the situation and plan level. Our ‘Platinum Plus’ plan comes with ALL of the perks, as well a continuous data backup through Carbonite.
Check out some of the Upgrade Packages we offer, and compare the costs with, or without, a Service Plan membership to see how much you could save.