Computers are one of those devices that appear to have a small window of “state of the art”. Before you know it, that awesome top of the line muscle machine you bought a year and a half ago is already considered old tech. But there’s a difference between a machine that’s no longer cutting edge, and one that’s just plain old.
But even an old machine isn’t necessarily recycling center fodder. Some users really get attached to their old system, and try to extend its life by any reasonable means. So, what constitutes reasonable means?
Glad you asked. Here are some upgrades you can perform on an older computer in order to bring back at least a little spring to its step.
Software. In many cases, when an old computer is starting to slow down, it’s not the hardware; it’s the software, especially the operating system. So, if you want to breathe new life into the old workhorse, reinstall the operating system (you did save your old software disks that came with the system, didn’t you?), and make sure that it’s up to date with the latest upgrades.
It also wouldn’t hurt to make sure that you have a good anti-virus and anti-malware utility in place and doing their jobs.
Newer applications tend to eat more RAM as a rule, so the best (and cheapest) way to revamp that old system is to purchase more RAM. Most systems are easy to expand, and you can slap some additional RAM in no time.
Not only do newer programs demand more RAM, many of the more media-intensive ones also have bigger audio and video requirements. Consider an upgrade to your sound and video cards.
Consider the lite version of established utilities instead of the full-blown versions, the latter which usually eat a lot of resources, PDF tools in particular. Furthermore, try to get your hands on a good file compression utility. Compressed files mean smaller files, which means less disk space, and that means less work for your hard drive. And speaking of disk space …
Consider subscribing to some virtual storage to ease the burden of that old hard drive. There are a number of good options out there. Of course, if you don’t want to go to the clouds, there’s always an external hard drive, but you’re looking at an investment here.
What You Should Avoid Changing
What you don’t do can be as important as what you do. If you pump too much money into your refurbishing project, you eventually get to the point where you may as well just get a new system and be done with it. But if you love that old system and you want to maintain some semblance of a budget, avoid trying to replace the CPU or the monitor. For the amount of money you sink into a new CPU, the returns aren’t worth it.
You probably don’t have to worry about power consumption issues, either. That is, unless you’re dealing with workstations and CAD programs, as pointed out in the article “Do You Have The Power?”.
Refurbishing an old system is a good way to go green, save some money, and keep you happy with the computer that you’re most accustomed to. With just a little time and few bucks, you can squeeze some more good times out of that venerable PC yet!
Kimberley Laws is a regular contributor to HowDoYou.com and the author of two blogs, The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss. A "Jill of all trades," she is a High School English Teacher and Certified Career Counselor with a background in makeup artistry, retail banking, and graphic design. She is also a scrapbooking, PEZ-collecting, car enthusiast who loves travelling and New York City.
Sep 25, 2013 1
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