A laptop running slowly could be an early sign that the device’s performance is declining and it is only a matter of time before it needs to be replaced. Most people notice warning signs before a computer is no longer usable, allowing them time to upgrade laptop or desktop components or back-up files before buying a new device.
A good laptop is an expensive purchase, but upgrading an old laptop can still cost $100 to $300 for a temporary fix. It is often better to buy a new laptop than to upgrade an old machine that is worn out because replacing components can cost half the price of a new system. Plus, choosing a new laptop for a student or a work-from-home parent makes every task more efficient.
A laptop should last between three and five years if it is well maintained, and a desktop computer’s lifespan extends years beyond that simply because it is easier to update components in a tower. A user who recognizes the signs of a failing computer, which include a noisy fan, outdated operating system and slow processing speeds, will not be caught off guard when it is time to purchase a new device or bring the laptop in for service.
A computer with any of these issues may be ready for repair or replacement:
1. Outdated Operating System
Updating a computer’s operating system gives a user faster, smoother computer performance, new features and improved protection against security breaches. The laptop manufacturer or software developer provides updates until a computer reaches a certain age, after which it is no longer supported. When an operating system becomes obsolete, it is time to replace the laptop or desktop with a new machine because an unsupported machine is susceptible to malware and other cybersecurity risks.
2. A Loud Fan and Noisy Processor
The fan inside a laptop or desktop that is not performing complex tasks should not emit loud noises or run constantly. When hardware is overworked, the internal fans are triggered to run. A consistent hum or obtrusive noises are signs a laptop could be failing.
Running a malware scan can signal whether a virus has been installed and is causing the device to overheat and sometimes cleaning dust out of the ports and vents can help improve airflow. If the loud fan is not the result of malware or poor ventilation, the fan might be faulty and could require replacement. A computer nearing its five-year life expectancy should probably just be replaced rather than repaired.
3. Slow Laptop Performance
Startup and shutdown should not take more than a few minutes unless the computer is performing an update, and switching between tasks should be fairly seamless for users. When these processes take considerably longer, the laptop is not only running slowly, it could be on the brink of failure. Adding RAM (random access memory) can improve the machine’s performance for a while, but not all devices have space for this and once the resources are used, the computer needs to be replaced.
4. Processing Errors and Malfunctions
When a computer crashes and freezes frequently, it is time to replace the machine altogether. A blue screen and random restarts are signs the hard drive is failing. If the problem is left undiagnosed, the user’s files and data are susceptible to corruption. Replacing a hard drive is a tedious task that novices should not attempt; instead, the computer user should salvage any files or information while the computer is still operable and transfer them to a new laptop or desktop.
5. The Device Is Old
While many people become accustomed to the quirks of an old computer and accept features that no longer work, they are short-changing themselves. Adding peripheral devices, like a 4K monitor or wireless mouse, to make a dated computer feel new might not even be an option due to compatibility issues. Instead of retrofitting an old laptop with modern enhancements, the user is better off purchasing a new laptop to enjoy top-of-the-line functionality and faster speeds.
Bringing an old laptop back to life requires diagnosing hardware issues and replacing parts, removing extra apps and programs to free up hard drive space and refreshing the operating system to remove bugs and to patch security gaps. If the laptop or desktop is too old, finding compatible parts might not be worth the headache.
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