When to Repair a Computer Vs. When to Replace It

 

TechRecyclingBinIn my previous article, I explained how to make an ailing computer last longer, however it’s not always feasible to save an old computer. At times, it is difficult to determine whether it is and is not worthwhile to repair a computer instead of replacing the machine all together. Computer repairs can become very expensive, unless one is able to do the repairs ones self, and the parts alone are very expensive. There are a number of scenarios where it is better to repair a machine, but then there are times where the repairs would be far more costly than an equivalent new machine. Some repairs are very simple and many times can be done by the user, especially software issues. Extended warranties, although costly at times, can cover the cost of typically expensivly repairs such as motherboard replacement.  Unless one is a computer repair expert, who can take computers apart and put them back together in their sleep, there are certain repairs that have to be done by a professional computer technician and can be very expensive. Below are lists of scenarios that are best remediated by repairs and some that are best resolved by flat-out replacing the machine.

 

When to Repair:

 

1. Software Issues: Software issues can typically be troubleshot or if all else fails, the program can be uninstalled and reinstalled to resolve most issues. If reinstalling the program does not resolve the issues,there may be an underlying issue with the operating system.

2. Minor or Easy to Replace Hardware issues: These would be failures with hardware such as RAM, Hard drives, disk drives and batteries which on most computers are easy to access and affordable to replace. Many of these can be done by the end users or can be done affordably by any computer repair shop. This is also a good opportunity to consider upgrading, for higher performance if the computer can handle higher performance hardware.

3. When Covered Under  Warranty: If the computer is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, and if the issue is covered by the warranty, or if one bought an extended warranty with their computer, then contact the warranty provider to help troubleshoot the issues being experienced.  Depending on the warranty’s coverage, if parts need to be replaced, the warranty should cover the parts and/or the labor to make the system functional at no additional cost. It is worth noting however, that many times the machine needs to be shipped out so be sure to backup all essential data in case the hard drive needs to be replaced or if the computer needs to be reformatted.

4. Virus/Malware: Many computer issues are cause by a virus or some sort of malware, which in many cases can be removed or can be wiped out by doing a full system restore. While virus removal may make buying a new, cheaper computer may make it seem worthwhile to just replace a computer, the physical hardware is still fine. Worst case scenario, reformatting the hard drive and performing a system restore will eliminate any issue.

When to Replace:

1. Major Part Replacement on Older Machines Out of Warranty: Unless one comfortable totally dissembling a computer and replacing the parts on their own, replacing parts like the motherboard or laptop screens can be extremely expensive. This is due to the fact that the parts are far more expensive than hardware like hard drives, which are mostly interchangeable. The actual replacement process can also be labor intensive, making it an expensive endeavor. Replacing these more expensive parts may be worthwhile if the machine is a couple years old, but if the machine is over three or four years old, it may be wise to consider simply replacing the machine.

2. Major Physical Damage: If the computer case or body is completely broken, and is not covered by a warranty that would cover accidental damages, the computer should be replaced. Desktops may be able to have the internal components  moved to a new case, provided all the internal hardware is still functional.  If the hard drive is still intact, data may be recovered by putting it in an external enclosure or connecting it to a SATA to USB adapter.  Data can then be copy any data to another computer, thumb drive or another external hard drive. If one wants to continue to use the hard drive as an external hard drive, it is highly recommended to run a hard drive test on any drive that has been in an accident to assure data integrity.

3. If the Computer is Older than 5 years Old: After five year, unless the computer is under an extended warranty or can be easily fixed, it may not be worthwhile to invest too much money in that computer. System restores and minor hardware issue may be able to keep a machine going for a while. However, when a computer gets that old, it’s not worth investing hundreds in a machine that can easily breakdown again soon.

4. When Repairs Cost Almost as Much as a New, Equivalent Computer: If repairing an old computer will cost over 66% the purchase price of a new, equivalent machine, it is best to just replace the machine. Although the repairs may save money in the short term; in the long term, a new computer will deliver much higher performance and can be more energy efficient. As Moore’s Law states, computing power doubles every two years, meaning if a machine is four years old, that would give you quadruple the computing power and many times, for less money.

It is worth mentioning that if one is looking for a new computer, the cheapest computer is not always best. One must be sure it has all the necessary features and has enough power to accommodate one’s increasing needs in the future. One good rule of thumb, is to look at computers approximately in the same price as one’s current computer. Although just about any new computer will be faster than a computer that is several years old, this rule should provide one with a similar class of computer. If one wants to upgrade to a higher class of computer, they can spend more, but for those who want a newer computer similar to their old machine, this rule will help.

Finally, for those who decide to replace their computer, be sure to take the old computer to a location that properly recycles old electronics. Also if the hard drive is still functional, run a hard drive eraser like DBAN to securly erase sensitive information and prevent it from getting into unwanted hands.

 

2 comments

  1. Jane Ambrose says:

    I recently dropped my laptop which cracked the screen and left it with a few other damages. This article gives a really good tip when it talks about considering if you have a warranty or not when deciding if you should repair your computer. It seems to me like physical damages can be just as harmful as internal viral damages. Thankfully I do have a warranty so it looks like I will try and take mine in for a repair. Thanks!

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