Turcot: Do you really need to buy that new computer?

Over the holidays, I was tempted to buy a new laptop. The one I had was just shy of two years old, but two years is a long time for a computer if you factor in planned obsolescence. It’s kind of like how dogs have “dog years” – a computer is pretty much kicking 80 in “computer years” when year two comes around. That’s what I told myself, anyways. Things weren’t working as fast as they used to, and because I work from home and rely on my laptop, I felt like I had a legitimate reason to upgrade.

In reality though, this was like saying I needed to buy a new car every time the one I had experienced mechanical problems. Sometimes it makes more sense to simply take your car into a mechanic, and sometimes the problem is simple enough that you can fix it yourself (if you’re mechanically inclined).

In my case, it was just a matter of taking better care of my computer. I typically consider myself to be computer savvy, but with the pressures of exams creeping up, I just stopped caring. I would make rookie mistakes, like forgetting to turn off my computer at night, or forgetting to defragment the hard drive. (If you’re not computer savvy, all you need to know is that this is the digital equivalent of not taking your car in for oil changes. If you’re not car savvy, you should probably ask yourself when yours last got an oil change).

Of course, sometimes you genuinely do need to upgrade to something better, and I’m not completely against the idea of doing so. There’s a way to tell if you legitimately need to replace your tech: make sure you’re fixing a specific problem if purchasing something new. If you’re buying a new computer based on the vague idea that more RAM and hard drive space will make a huge difference in your life, the upgrade will probably not be worth your money. On the other hand, if you’re getting into high-end video editing, gaming, or [insert your hobby here] and your current computer doesn’t have a good enough graphics card to accomplish what you need it to, you have a solid case for upgrading.

In my case, I ended up finding a way to make my laptop useable again. It’s still not in its prime, like when I first bought it, but I should get another year or so out of it before I really need to upgrade.