Even the most reliable laptops eventually have an expiration date. But it can be hard to know if your laptop is officially on its last legs, or if it just needs a repair or two.
It’s the price of a new laptop that makes it necessary to determine if a machine is dead in the water. A brand new one can cost you $1,000 or more, and even refurbished laptops cost several hundred dollars. If you can avoid the huge price tag of replacing your laptop entirely, you’ll be saving your wallet a big blow.
That’s why we’ve assembled five signs that indicate it’s time for you to get a new laptop entirely. Any of the signs could be an indication that getting a new laptop is imminent, but if your laptop is showing multiple signs, you may want to get a new machine now.
Sign 1: When your laptop can’t keep up
When we say slow, we don’t mean webpages are taking a little longer to load than they used to. We mean your laptop takes 10 minutes or more to turn on, and even running just two programs at once seems to make everything wind down to the pace of a crawl, from saving files to loading documents.
A laptop getting slower is mostly a sign of it aging, if you don’t have malware or hackers on your device. Laptops slow down as their memories start to fill up, and when multiple applications are run at once. Sometimes repairs or upgrades to the CPU and RAM can help a struggling laptop get its speed back up, and that should be considered before replacing the laptop altogether.
But if it’s slow to the point of making work incredibly difficult to do, or some tasks simply impossible, the repairs might end up costing the same as a new laptop. In that case, you might as well upgrade, and get a new laptop entirely.
Sign 2: Is your device no longer supported?
Perhaps you’ve been fortunate enough to have a laptop that’s far outliving its expected lifespan of four to five years. That can be great for access to old files, and just saving you the money of getting a new laptop. However, over time, you may find you can’t get software updates anymore including your operating system (OS).
As computer tech advances, software developers have to worry about keeping up with that, more than they have to make sure their software stays functioning on older laptops. So support for software may go, already making your life that much more difficult.
As the software starts to require better processing power of newer laptops, updates just may not be available to you at all. That’s what happens when certain updates need a lot of RAM to run, and your laptop may just be incapable of processing on that level. So you miss out, meaning you don’t get the virus protection and enhancements that come with OS and software upgrades.
This becomes true of new software as well. New software developed on new computers won’t think about being on your eight-year-old clunker, so you could miss out on a handy new office tool, or a great art program. A new laptop will be a lot safer with up to date software, and probably a lot faster.
If you do decide it’s time for a new computer there’s one critical step to take first. Don’t forget to back up your old machine.
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Sign 3: You’re really missing out
This is related to the previous sign, but instead of software, we’re talking about hardware. Once again, old laptops can continue to run, but newer laptops have more RAM, better processors, better graphics cards, and even better motherboards.
Outdated specs on your laptop are partly why the previous two signs in this tip can happen to you. New programs need more processing power than your laptop can actually generate because it’s using old tech, and having less RAM to work off of can make running multiple programs a lot slower than a new device with four times as much RAM available to it.
So if your laptop has seriously outdated specs you might want to get a new one. This way you’ll be able to run all the new programs that require more than what you already have.
Sign 4: Things are heating up
Laptops come with fans built inside of them to keep cool. When you’ve been doing a lot on your laptop over an extended period of time, you may have heard them whirring as they attempt to make the toasty device in your lap drop by a few degrees.
Over time, though, these fans can get full of dust and debris, or just wear down. Your laptop will still heat up, but its inability to cool itself now makes it uncomfortable to hold on your lap. Though you can use cushions or fabric to keep your laptop in position, and even invest in a cooling mat, this kind of heating up is sadly a sign it’s probably time to replace your laptop.
If your laptop gets hot enough, it will cease to function, and even damage itself by running in that way. If a laptop consistently gets too hot, it’s just counting down until it fully breaks or melts one day. If nothing else, a hot laptop will start to show sign one, and slow to a crawl to where you’ll barely be able to watch a video or send a large email attachment while it cooks your thighs.
Save yourself the physical and emotional pain, and get a new laptop once yours starts regularly overheating. A cooling pad will give you time, but most laptops can’t be saved from this fate. It’s just time to get a new one.
Sign 5: The most annoying problem of all
Laptop batteries, like phone batteries, lose charge as you use them, and over time lose how much charge they hold. This means your laptop will eventually need to be charged more often, and it may even escalate to the point where it needs to be plugged in all the time just to have it on.
For many laptops, you can buy a new battery if it holds so little charge it’s become a less effective computer for you. Some companies, like Apple and others making incredibly slim laptops, can make this an expensive endeavor as it involves getting into the laptop hardware. But, it can save you from this issue as can sometimes getting a new charging cable.
If you’re finding that new batteries are draining more and more quickly, the problem might be with how your laptop interacts with batteries. With an issue that internal, repairs can be expensive or impossible, and it may end up being easier to get a new laptop.
For many people, particularly those whose only computer is a laptop, plugging in all the time isn’t that much of a hardship. But the entire idea of laptops is they’re a computer you can carry around with you, so it seems a shame to deny yourself that mobility when you could get a new battery, or a new laptop.
For this sign, get a diagnostic done before you commit to getting a new laptop, or try getting a new battery first. If your laptop is still having charging issues with a new battery, that can be a sign it’s time for a new laptop, but a diagnostic may save you having to buy that battery.