Repair or Replace?

Is it worth repairing your computer, or should you just replace it?

One of the most frequently asked questions after presenting a customer with a computer diagnosis and estimate at our computer repair shop is “Is it worth it? Or should I just buy a new one?”  With the increase in computer sales over the past few years the retail price has dropped dramatically (yes even Apple computers have dropped in price), to the point you may frequently ask yourself whether or not you should bother repairing the machine when it has issues.  You may even talk yourself into the need for more gizawidgets and megawhoseez the new machines come with.    There are some questions you should ask yourself when pondering such an important question.

What do you use the computer for?

If all you use the computer for is browsing the Internet and checking email, more gigahorses and megaboxes probably aren’t going to do you much good.  Think about this… if email and web browsing used a lot of power and space on the computer, would you be able to do them on your cell phone?  Probably not.  The reality is a lot of people get caught up in getting something newer, bigger, faster, better when the machine they are going to buy can’t really perform the tasks they do any faster than the one they’ve had for a few years.  Sure if you were to run a super deluxe high powered stop watch you may find that you can open a web browser 3/100ths of a second faster, but in the “real world” you’re not going to notice any super improvements in basic tasks like email and web browsing.  If we liken it to automobiles… you could replace that five year old Ford that needs a new transmission with a new Ferrari… but the speed limit is still 55… and it still snows in the Winter.  Perhaps bigger, better and faster doesn’t always make sense.

What software is on your machine, and can you transfer it to another machine?

A great example of this is Microsoft Office.  We see hundreds of people a year come into our repair shop and have no idea if their version of Microsoft Office came with the computer or if they bought it afterwards.  Most of the time, if your computer came with software pre-installed you are not legally allowed to transfer that software to another machine.  Some software that you bought separate of the computer will allow you to install it on more than one machine.  Do you know what software you use to send email, create documents, organize and edit photos, or perform other tasks you do on a daily basis?  Also, keep in mind that some older software won’t run on newer machines, so even if you’re legally allowed to install it on more than one machine that doesn’t mean you will be successful in doing so.  How long might it take you to learn how to use the new version of whatever software you use?

Replacing software you use for that inexpensive new computer can often times add up to more than the cost of the computer itself.  Oh, and the fine for violating software license agreements is somewhere in the vicinity of $10,000 per incident.  We know of incidences right here in the Midcoast where people have been fined $30,000 for using software that violates the terms of the end user agreement.  Unfortunately the law does not equate ignorance with innocence, so claiming “I didn’t know” probably won’t get you very far.

Can you transfer all your files and settings?

You’ve been using your current computer for years.  Do you remember all the passwords and settings you used to configure email accounts and other software when you first got it?  Do you know the location of any files (documents, pictures, videos, etc) on the old computer so you can transfer them to the new computer?  How long will it take you to transfer the data from the old computer to the new computer?  How much will it cost if you pay someone else to do it?  How will you know if everything has been transferred correctly?  Those are just a few of the questions you should ask before assuming everything is going to magically move from your old computer to the new computer.

So what’s the real cost of replacing my old computer with a new one?

While up front a couple hundred dollar repair bill for your computer may look less desirable than spending a few hundred more for a new computer, take into account all the things you don’t know about your current computer that you just assume will be the same in a new one.  When you lay it all out with some real dollars applied, the cost to repair will almost always be less expensive.