The last decade has seen a substantial drop in hardware costs, mainly because units have been farmed out to be assembled in China or other Asian territories. I’m not here to argue for or against outsourcing, but I do want to give three simple ways of keeping an older computer running.
A run to Best Buy, Walmart, or any local store that sells computers is an easy option… If, you want to spend at least five hundred dollars. By the time you pay for the machine, memory upgrades, warranty, etc. it’s going to run you at least that for a desktop, let alone a laptop.
So, what are three distinct tips for keeping an old desktop or laptop computer running (and running well)?
1. Optimize, optimize, optimize - Whatever machine you own (Apple or PC), you’ll want to use the optimizing software to keep the hard drive (or flash drive) running smoothly. Also, for peak performance, I recommend uninstalling and reinstalling the operating system at least once per year. This may seem like a pain, but it is well worth the time and effort. If you do not want to attempt this on your own, I will be happy to assist, provided you live in the Seattle area.
2. Make a move towards the Linux operating system - A bit more of a stretch than simply optimizing your existing software. I have been using Ubuntu Linux for about four years and plan to never return to Windows. I’ve not owned a Mac, refusing to shell out money for one. Linux runs well on older machines, and some stripped-down kernels are less than 150 Megabytes in size!
3. Replacement parts are still less expensive than buying a new computer - Always price replacement parts for your system. Scour sites like Craigslist and Ebay for what you’ll need. Perplexed at how to install a certain component? There’s a tutorial for every computer part imaginable. Look it up and consider it a fun project to tackle alone, with a friend, child, etc.
The list could go on, but for now these three tips will give you direction when the screen lags, the DVD drive no longer runs, the screen flickers, or the famous hard drive crashing.
To give a cool example: a few months ago one of my monitors stopped working. Perplexing as it was, I decided to investigate. The problem was a faulty power adapter. I dug through my boxes of old parts, located an old power adapter from a Dell laptop I no longer had (gave it away to my niece), cut the end off and hardwired it into my monitor and walla! It worked! In fact, I’m looking at it right now as I type.
Reusing old computers is a very ‘green’ gesture. Do the earth and your pocketbook good and think twice before chucking that old computer.