Hardware
Liam Brennan

Marketing Graphic Designer

It’s quite difficult to know if its time to upgrade our hardware. Most of us learn to live with the quirks of our PCs even to the point of embracing its whims. We know which bits’ work, which bits don’t, and when we need to wiggle the USB plug to make it connect properly.

As a result, we often struggle on with machines well past their prime. It needn’t be the case. Here are some signs that it’s time to upgrade.

You Can’t Install the Latest Operating System

In the past, new versions of operating systems were not a big priority for many users. You’d get a major new release every three or four years, you’d have to pay to install it, it would change – and break – things, and, as a result, people would often stick with the operating system that was installed on their computer when they bought it. Windows XP way outlasted its natural lifespan for this exact reason.

This is no longer how things work. Apple is already well established in a program of annual, free updates to OS X, and Microsoft is getting there. Windows 8.1 was part of the transition to more frequent updates, and Windows 10 will complete the process. As a result, operating system updates are more important and desirable than ever. Every year, you’ll get an update that fixes bugs and adds new functionality.

But with each update there will likely be an increase in the minimum hardware specifications required to run it (and generally, you need well above the minimum specifications to run it well). Sooner or later, your computer will no longer be up to the task.

You Can’t Run the Latest Apps and Games

Everyone knows that PC gaming is an expensive business. No matter how hard you try to future-proof your PC, there will always be something that needs upgrading soon. Unless you build your own system, you’ll eventually need to just bite the bullet and get a whole new machine.

But it isn’t just games that will test an ageing PC. Professional apps such as Photoshop have relatively modest minimum specs, but need far more to attain a decent level of performance. (For example, 2GB is the stated minimum RAM, but Adobe recommends 8GB.) Mainstream apps like the new Microsoft Edge browser require a PC capable of running Windows 10. Even streaming Netflix in 4K needs not only a fast Internet connection, but hardware capable of playing it smoothly.

It Gets Slow

Slowness can be difficult to define, but you’ll know it when you see it: you can make a cup of tea while your computer boots up, it grinds to a halt when you have more than half a dozen tabs open in your browser, and you can type a full sentence before a single word appears on screen.

Some of these problems can be alleviated to an extent by giving your computer a thorough spring clean. But software solutions to hardware problems can only take you so far.

You’re Running Out of Space

If your hard drive is being squeezed for space, and you open the system monitor on your computer and see that the RAM is all in use when you’ve got a few apps open, and that the CPU usage is routinely hitting 80% or more, then it’s a sign that you’re reaching the limits of what your hardware can do.

You can buy yourself a little more time by adding an external hard drive and some more RAM (if it isn’t already maxed out). However, as a rule, once you have to start managing your resources, an upgrade won’t be far off.

It Becomes Noisy

Over time, a PC becomes louder than it was at the start. Turn it on and you can hear the hard drive creak into action. Data recovery company Datacent has produced a collection of grinding and clicking sounds that indicate potential impending hard drive failure. If you can hear one of these in your computer, be afraid.

Conclusion

If you have had your computer for 5 years or more it is probably a good idea to upgrade, the computer world moves so fast and in that time your machine will be much slower, have less space and will not have the capabilities of the new machines that is on the market. If you’re a Mac user, you will not be able to download the latest operating system onto older machines! Apple are very clever in getting customers to upgrade more frequently.

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