Is your broken or old computer worthy of repairs?

Is an old computer like this one still useful?

With the price of new computers getting lower all the time, sometimes it seems to make sense to throw away a computer which is broken or just old. This is because it is assumed that the cost of computer repairs are going to be less than a new computer. But beware. The cost of repairs may not be much at all, and not all new computers are made equal. Cheap new computers may not outperform even a 5 year old upper mid range business class computer. A new computer chosen predominantly on price can certainly be outpaced by a well maintained and configured older model.

We provide a range of computer repair services that can help you to get the most from your hardware.

What is wrong with the computer?

There are an almost infinite number of things that can go wrong with a computer or other electronic device. Many computer faults can be quickly fixed for a minimal cost and others may not be fixed by getting a new computer at all.

  • Poor configuration. E-mail not working? Can’t access the internet? Programs crashing? these things can be caused by configuration errors. Generally a quick fix with no parts required.
  • Computer slow or not responsive. An upgrade such as an SSD would likely improve the computer enough to make it a joy to use. These are usually quite cost effective
  • Physical Damage. Dropping your laptop or spilling coffee onto the keyboard or over the computer can spell the end. But often parts are available, so there is no need to junk the computer.
  • Virus damage. Your computer may have contracted a virus which causing problems in it’s operation. This is another relatively cheap fix.

How old is too old?

The useful lifespan of a computer depends on many things. The first thing to note is that electronics as a class of product are undeniably reliable. For example, many of the first generation of home computers, 50 years old are still operational today. Electronics items generally fail on a ‘bathtub’ curve. this means most ‘lemon’ devices will fail within the first 12 months of use. The rest will very likely continue to operate for many decades. Finally there comes a time when wear and tear begins to kill the devices off.

This means is that most likely your old device still functions perfectly but something else has made it obsolete. In the case of computers this is most likely to be the progression of computing power. In the 1990’s – 2000’s it was almost impossible to keep up with computer technology. It seemed like a new computer was unable to satisfactorily run the applications you wanted in as little as one year.

In the last decade however, the progression has slowed somewhat. So that now for the average use case, depending on the class of device, computers that are as much as 10 years old can still provide a satisfactory user experience today. A computer which is better than those in the table below, can generally still provide a satisfactory user experience for average use cases today with a minimum of cost.

Device ClassYears Old
Desktop High Specification
*High-end Core i7 with 8GB or more RAM
Desktop Mid Specification
*High-Mid Core i5 with 8GB or more RAM
Desktop Low Specification
*High-Mid Core i3 with 4GB or more RAM
Laptop High Specification
*High-End Mobile Core i7 with 8GB or more RAM
Laptop Mid Specification
*High-End Mobile Core i5 with 8GB or more RAM
Laptop Low Specification
*High-Mid Mobile Core i3 with 4GB or more RAM
Does your old computer still have a life left to give?

Of course, there are other factors which contribute to the usefulness of the device. Battery life can impair the usefulness of laptops. The build quality of the device (business use or home use) also has an impact. Of course, if the use case you have in mind has low requirements, almost any working computer can be used.

This more than 10 year old Dell E4300 still plays a weekly role in reliably playing slide shows and videos on a projector.

What can you use an old computer for?

The latest and greatest computer is really only required for the latest and greatest applications. For many years now, computers have been capable of far more than what we use them for 90 percent of the time. Because of this older computers can be put to work in specific cases for which they have good enough specifications.

Here are a few ideas:

Your Everyday Computer

Most peoples computer use is not demanding. For this reason if your computer is equal to or better than one of the above slots in the table, it is likely that your computer is still capable of providing a satisfactory experience for average everyday use. A low cost upgrade such as SSD or memory could be required depending on the specific hardware.

Media PC

Your smart TV will become obsolete long before it is broken or unusable. A great use case for an older computer is to be used as a media PC. With the right software installed, and an internet connection, your old computer can utilise the TV as it’s screen allowing you to surf the web, stream your favourite movie, view family media such as your digital photos and home videos and more, all from your favourite comfortable chair.

Home server

If you have multiple devices in your family, a home server can be a great way to centralise your data and media so that you can access it from all your devices. A centralised location for data makes effective backups easier to achieve since all your data is in one place.

Backup Server

An aged computer can serve very well as an off site backup device if you have access to an internet connection in another building such as a family members house, holiday home, or similar location. This allows you to have automatic off-site backups protecting you from data loss in the event of a tragedy at your primary location.

Student computer

Your child may be able to utilise the computer for education purposes such as learning computer coding or for general internet surfing and word processing tasks. Large amounts of computing power are not usually required for educational tasks.

Retro Gaming

You can set the computer up to play the games you or your parents used to play as a kid. These days many older games are available online for little or no cost. There is software available for free which can emulate older hardware to give you access to more titles. Some old hardware is now collectable and can be sells for reasonable money.

The sky is the limit. Depending on your level of technical expertise and interests the sky really is the limit when it comes to utilising old hardware. Computers are incredibly flexible devices, and as such can be used for many many purposes.

What if it really is too old or broken?

If you can’t reuse it, Recycle it! Solid Technology Services provides a recycling service for computers and parts. We reuse parts to repair other computers where possible and to provide computers for people in need. Our aim is to find a use for as much as possible and send the rest for materials recovery so that the burden of e-waste to the environment is as small as possible.