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Do I Really Need to Upgrade My Computer?

Do you ever just suddenly think that you need to upgrade your computer? If asked why your computers needed an upgrade, could you give a good reason? The truth is that you may not need an upgrade at all. Too often it seems that most computer upgrades or new computer purchases are not necessary. These are just a few reasons that people upgrade unnecessarily:

  • My computer runs slowly, and a new computer will be faster!
  • There is so much junk on this computer, and buying new stuff will fix that!
  • My computer can't run the latest version of Windows, so I just HAVE to upgrade!
  • My computer is so old, and new computers are CHEAP! Why not get a new one?

None of these reasons alone are very compelling reasons for upgrading. If your computer is very slow or has a large amount of software or unwanted items on it, you can take care of all of that with a proper computer tune-up. Having the latest version of everything is not a good reason to upgrade unless you absolutely need the latest version to get things done. Remember that if you have been using older versions of software, you will have to learn the quirks of the new software before you can make full use of it. Microsoft Office 2007 is a prime example of a software with a steeper learning curve for existing Office users than one might be prepared for.

A more sinister problem to consider: if you buy a brand new computer to replace your old one, you will face the ugly problem of moving everything over to the new machine! How will you get your documents to the new system? What about configuring your new system to meet your needs, and installing programs that do what you want? Almost EVERY new computer comes with 30-day trial packages of office suites, money management software, and others, but very little software that is usable beyond some demo or trial period. A new Microsoft Office license will cost at least $100, too.

There are many hidden expenses after you get the new computer in your hands, and you need to consult an expert instead of making that jump blindly. Data migration from one computer to another often costs the same as a computer cleanup and spyware removal, and if you can save money by just polishing up the old reliable machine you've already got set up just how you like it, you should consider that option before jumping on the upgrade train.

So, when should you upgrade? Upgrades are only necessary as your needs extend beyond your computer's capacity, if serious flaws appear in older software that could be a major issue down the road, or if features in newer software or hardware will make your computing life easier and more enjoyable. For example, running major updates such as service packs for your operating system will surely increase memory usage to some extent. Using newer software generally requires more resources than the older version, but the newer software may provide functionality that enables you to do more. Installing the latest Adobe Flash Player, for example, will ensure that you can view the newest and most feature-rich dynamic Flash-based websites, but Flash has steadily demanded more power from the underlying computer as it has evolved over the years.

Because the natural order of software is to "bloat," all users will eventually face the need to upgrade. Many computers running Windows XP with 256MB of RAM were super-fast little rockets back in 2003, but today such machines can barely run more than five or six modern programs hiding in the background without beginning to slow down significantly. And if you're out of hard drive space, there's not much debating about whether or not it's time for a bigger one. Ultimately, an upgrade is a matter of personal preference. It helps to think it over before making the jump, and the best part is that making sure it's for you doesn't cost a dime.