Time to upgrade? Ah, yes, that is the question for many people these days when it comes to their computers. However, when people hear the word “upgrade”, dollar signs immediately appear in the eyes and inevitable groans will follow. The problem is, your computer is slowing down, or not keeping up with your newer programs, and you do not know what to do.
For many computer users today, they are the type of person that buys a new desktop or laptop, and then run that sucker into the ground usage wise. Perhaps your idea of an upgrade is to get a new system, and it very well may be time for that. However, there are some things to consider that might be more affordable, and still get the job done. Some of these suggestions should help extend the life of your machine and are surprisingly easy to do.
First things first, find out your system specifications. You can either refer to the data sheet for your model computer when you purchased it, or just look it up on your current PC. Goto the Computer icon either in your Start menu or go into File Explorer and locate it. Right click on it and goto “Properties.” From there you will see what version of Windows you have, how much RAM (memory) you have, processor speed and the like. Note: You are probably not looking to replace your processor, so you can skip that part.
In most cases, the first thing to consider on upgrading a system is memory, or RAM as it’s called. These days, running a system with 4 GB or less is on the low side and you will see a slowdown in performance. Consider upgrading to 8GB or 16GB of RAM for your machine. You will want to consult your tech sheet for your model of computer to find out the maximum amount of memory your computer can have installed in it.
Also, if you are on a 32 bit operating system, your computer will not recognize anything more than 4GB of RAM. So for memory upgrades greater than 4GB, for some, you may have to reinstall Windows in a 64 bit version. To find out whether your machine is 32 or 64 bit, please refer to the paragraph on system information. RAM upgrades are very inexpensive and will run desktop and laptop users anywhere between $35 and $60 for upgrades.
Another thing to consider these days is the solid state drive (SSD) option. Solid state drives are hard drives that have no moving parts. Basically, they function the same way that a thumb drive does that you might use, but of course, has a much larger storage area. The prices on these drives have come down considerably than where they used to be. Currently online you can get a 250GB SSD for around $100.00, and if you shop around, even less than that.
Of course, if you are going to go the SSD route, you will be reinstalling Windows, and if you are doing that, install the 64 bit version so that you can get the benefit of the multitasking features of that type of system. One thing you will notice immediately upon switching to a solid state drive, your boot up time that normally would last a few minutes, will most likely be reduced to seconds. That means you can get your coffee after you have logged in instead of before! Going this route is beneficial in many ways, because not only are you upgrading hardware, it also provides you the opportunity to go through your files and get rid of anything you do not need anymore.
One of the great things about solid state drive upgrades, is that pretty much all SSD manufacturers include imaging software for your current hard drive. So what does that software do? It literally makes a copy of your current hard drive, and transfers that to the new hard drive. All your programs and everything you have setup will be on the new drive. You will have to purchase a separate drive adapter, called a SATA Adapter, but they are super cheap, some for under $10 online.
Whether it is adding some more memory to your machine, or getting a snazzy new solid state drive, these are some viable, yet affordable options for someone to consider if you have a machine that is 2-3 years old. The best prices I have found are typically online for hardware upgrades, but also keep a close eye out in your local electronics circulars, as they have a tendency to surprise folks at times. By following these upgrade options, you can breathe new life into your machine, and possibly extend the life of it further than you, or the manufacturer, might have expected.