A good rule of thumb when it comes to PC’s are that they should be replaced about every 5 years, every 3 years for a laptop. What should you do though when something fails during that time frame? Is it worth it to replace the part that has failed, or should you replace the entire device? The answer is that it definitely depends on what part has failed on the device. Make sure to check if the device is still under warranty, however, since it wouldn’t cost anything to replace a warrantied part. If your computer is no longer under warranty, and any of the following parts have failed, it’s usually a good idea to just replace the part that has failed instead of purchasing an entirely new computer.
There is one part of a PC that is usually incredibly easy to replace and usually doesn’t cost a fortune. That is the power supply. The power supply is generally where the power from the wall meets the PC. The power supply is actually a pretty common component to fail, especially in places with “dirty power” meaning that the power coming from the wall isn’t steady and can cause the failure.
One symptom of a failed power supply is usually the fact that the device will not power on. There are no lights that appear when you press the power button, and the screen doesn’t receive a signal or fails to power on as well.
Another part that is easy to replace is the RAM chip inside the machine. RAM stands for Random Access Memory and is where all of your open programs are temporarily stored for quick access and retrieval. When you save a file to the hard drive and close the file, it moves out of RAM and is stored in a more permanent location on the hard drive. RAM is typically easy to remove and replace as well. There is nothing to connect the RAM chip to except to remove the old chip and put the new chip in its place.
You should be able to tell if your RAM is failing when your computer starts to slow down considerably as more programs and files are opened throughout the day. When you start up your machine it could be running fine, and then by lunchtime, you are ready to throw it through the window because it has become so slow. The computer can also reboot randomly, and blue screen often.
The hard drive is another part that is pretty easy to replace but is definitely more of a pain than the others. Hard drives are readily accessible from any electronics retail store and can be pretty inexpensive depending on the size you need to replace. The problem is that in order to replace the hard drive, you need to reinstall the operating system, the installed programs and copy over any files that may have been stored on the failed hard drive (if you can recover them).
A failed hard drive is generally also easy to diagnose, since the computer will boot, but will not open the operating system. You are typically left with a message that there is no operating system to start, or no boot device available. Before you jump to replacing the entire hard drive though, you may sometimes get this message from additional devices plugged into your computer that the device is trying to boot from. Try to remove any CD’s from the drives, and disconnect all USB devices and boot again, just in case.
Most of the other components in PCs can be difficult to obtain, difficult to replace, and might be more expensive than just replacing the entire machine. As always, if you aren’t sure, definitely ask one of the professionals here at Protek to help with your decision!