How to Decide If It’s Time for a New Computer

Is your computer beginning to get on your nerves? You are fed up with the frequent crashes, strange noises, or issues with accessing your files or folders. You have seen the “blue screen of death” more times than you can count. Perhaps your computer randomly shuts down while you are working, and you wonder if what you are experiencing is a sign that the computer is on its last legs.


It’s possible it is dying, but it’s also very possible that it isn’t, and you might be able to repair the issue for less than the cost of a new laptop.

Your whole computer doesn’t fall apart all at once and suddenly need to be replaced, but each computer part can wear and tear, causing the computer to malfunction. You may be able to have one part repaired or replaced for a reasonable price and continue to use the same computer for some time to come.

Software Problems: Reformat Your Hard Disk

Regular and sometimes frequent software crashes, freezes, and glitches are a definite sign that something is going wrong. When the programs you are using run into issues, your computer may slow down, show a fatal error like the blue screen of death, or even crash. If only one program is not working properly, it’s probably just something with that individual program. But if several applications have the same problem, you have a more significant, potentially fatal problem.


When you have a situation, try reformatting the hard disk and reinstalling the operating system. This will solve most software issues. If the problem persists after a new installation, then it could be a hardware issue.

Hardware Malfunctions

Your computer is made up of multiple parts, and any part could fail at any point in time. Depending on where the failure occurs, there is a chance you could get it working again by replacing a part.

Motherboard failure – When your motherboard fails there is a high chance you will have to get a new computer. The motherboard is the part that holds everything together, and when it fails, it brings the whole system down. Changing the motherboard itself requires you to change/upgrade your CPU, RAM, graphic card, etc., too. In the end it might just be cheaper to get a new PC/laptop.

Other hardware parts – Does your mouse freeze on the screen, or is your touchpad becoming unresponsive? Are there dead pixels on your screen? Maybe one or more of your USB ports aren’t being recognized. These issues individually probably don’t mean it’s time to replace the laptop altogether. Look into getting the hardware repaired, as it’s cheaper than buying a new computer.

Strange Noises


When your hard drive is making clicking or grinding noises, it is most likely getting ready to fail. If your fans are loud, it could be dust or dirt, or the computer’s fans could be running excessively in an attempt to cool down the system. Regardless, a noisy fan or hard drive is a sign that something isn’t working correctly. Don’t overlook these noises because eventually the part will stop working altogether. Before jumping to a new computer, make sure your data is backed up and try purchasing just a new hard drive instead.

Declining Performance


Is your computer sluggish? It could be because of several different reasons. It could be that you don’t have enough storage space, have out-of-date software, or a virus. It could also just be because your computer is old. Try clearing out some space on your hard drive and updating programs you use frequently. Run a virus check to eliminate the possibility that there is one eating up your computer’s resources. If after freeing up space and adding more memory you computer still hasn’t sped up, it is a sign for you to get a new one. Your current computer is just too old to support modern software.

Do You Need a New Machine?

Ultimately, you determine if your computer is “dead” and needs to be replaced. Since it is most often just one part that is causing the problem, you can decide whether you want to just fix that one issue or give the computer up for dead and move on to a new model.

A good rule of thumb is if the repairs will cost more than half the price of a new computer or if the machine is too old (and sluggish) to run modern software, it’s probably best to replace it.

Remember, too, that when parts start to go, the entire system may be at risk. Because of that possibility, make doubly sure that you have everything backed up at the first sign of trouble. Hopefully, you have that already in place and preferably in more than one other location. So that no matter what happens, your data will remain intact!

Tracey Rosenberger Tracey Rosenberger

Tracey Rosenberger spent 26 years teaching elementary students, using technology to enhance learning. Now she's excited to share helpful technology with teachers and everyone else who sees tech as intimidating.

One comment

  1. Computers should run as fast as they were when new. If not, well, you obviously have Windows, so you can get a lot more time out of an older machine by installing a Linux operating system. Go to distrowatch .com and hit the search button up top, and feast on the choices. “Beginners” and “old computers” might be good choices for starters.

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