Do you really need to buy a new laptop? - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Do you really need to buy a new laptop?

With the release of a whole new crop of laptops and ultra books it may be pretty easy to fall into the “I Want” mindset, but let’s be practical and upgrade the computer we have.

Recently when Apple released the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, I was all set to buy it.  Luckily I second guessed my purchase and went with upgrading my 2009 MacBook Pro.  Upgrading instead of buying new, will end up saving me at least $2,000 (yes Macs are a bit expensive).  All the upgrades I made were relatively easy to do and will not require too much prior knowledge.  No matter what computer you have you can probably find a walk-through on YouTube.

Upgrade to SSD (Solid State Drive)

You might have heard about SSD drives recently because more companies are sticking them in their newest line of computer.  They have also become more affordable than they have been in the past.

I was a bit timid at first because I did not know how big of a change this would make to the speed of my computer.  I was surprised to find out that the difference was night and day.  Immediately I noticed a difference in start-up times, launching applications, loading websites and more.

The reason that these SSD drives are so fast is because they no longer have spinning parts and it cuts down on search time and it can find your data faster.  One more added bonus is that your hard drive is now shock resistant.  This means that if you do drop your laptop it will be safe from from data loss and other problem that affects older hard drives.  On old drives when you dropped your computer it would automatically lock the hard drive to stop from scratching the hard disk.  Below is a quick walk through of how to upgrade your SSD on a MacBook Pro.

Wipe and ReInstall

If your computer is running slow the perfect thing to do is to wipe your whole computer and reinstall your operating system.  Just from everyday use computers can build up a bunch of garbage on them and need a good wipe to get them working properly.  No matter if it is programs you no longer use or maybe some malware that you never knew you had on your computer, it is always best to wipe your computer and reinstall the operating system.

For this process you will need a backup drive while you carry out this process.  You should always have a hard drive to backup your computer in case of a hard drive crash.

Free Up Some Space

Is your computer too full?  You are hurting your computers performance.  Every computer needs a good amount of free space in order to run day to day programs.  When your computer is full of programs and data that have been added and deleted it will fragment your files causing increased search times.  You will also be surprised what files or programs you have on your computer that you no longer need.

Grab some more RAM

If your computer slows or freezes when you are running too many programs, chances are you are running too many programs or you need more RAM for your computer.  A few days after upgrading my hard drive to an SSD drive, I also upgraded my RAM to the maximum that my computer will support (8GB).  RAM (random access memory) is what program use to store information to be accessed.  When you are running too many programs, the RAM gets overloaded and slows to a crawl.  If you restart or shut off your computer you will see that it clears the RAM and it will run fast again until the RAM gets filled up again.



One of the big problem with laptop batteries is they lose the amount of time that they last.  This is one of the most expensive upgrades, but if you can get another two to three years out of your laptop then it might be worth it.  Changing a battery though is one of the simpler changes.

Buy Used

Is your computer not worth redeeming?  Whenever new products come out there is always a surplus of people who are selling their old computers.  This means that you can find lightly used great computers that are sometimes only a year or two old.  So go out on Craigslist or eBay and find yourself a computer.

Calculate Your Savings

All of these are relatively cheap and easy fixes compared to buying a new computer.  I calculated the amount I spent on a SSD and RAM to be under $300.  You can also find 1TB hard drives for under $100.  I will be able to get another two comfortable years out of my old MacBook Pro and hold off spending a lot of money on a new computer.

About the author

Erik Hoffman

Erik Hoffman is a web designer and computer consultant. He has run a computer consulting company for the past four years where he enhanced businesses by designing and developing user-friendly websites that have helped companies reach targeted revenues. Contact the author.

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