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FAQ

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Give new life with these simple upgrades to an old computer

Can upgrades to an old computer be effective and affordable? Yes. There might still be life in your current computer. You just need to improve the aging hardware’s speed and reliability with one of these affordable upgrade. Each tweak is simple enough that you can attempt it yourself or ask the technicians at ClickAway to do it for you.

Connect an external hard drive

When your computer runs out of disk space, it has no room to temporarily save and swap data as you work. This means your machine may begin to slow down or start crashing on a regular basis as room starts to run out. Plus, you won’t have any space left to save anything new. Plugging in an external hard drive can alleviate this problem in minutes and is the first place to start making upgrades to an old computer.

Whatever drive you choose, make sure it has the right connections and cables to plug into to your computer. For example, some may link up via USB, and others by Thunderbolt. This information should appear prominently on the device’s packaging or online description, but if you’re not sure, just ask the retailer.

Once you’ve chosen your hardware, upgrading is easy. When you plug your new disk into your computer, the operating system will automatically recognize the device and walk you through setting it up. This process differs on Windows and macOS, but both provide troubleshooting help. With your new drive connected, you can transfer videos, images, music, and other files to the new device, freeing up space on your main hard drive.

Add an internal hard drive

Freeing up space on your hard drive is great for your computer’s health—but an external hard drive isn’t the only place to start with upgrades to an old computer. If you’d like to avoid adding another gadget to your life and you have some DIY expertise, you can install a second internal hard drive inside your computer. This is a more technical and time-consuming process, but it creates a more streamlined look.

Before you dive in, be aware of a couple caveats. First, any time you’re messing around with your hardware, you need to safely back up your data before you start. Next, this process won’t work on all computers. You’ll need a device with a second drive bay, so that rules out laptops and all-in-one machines like Apple’s iMacs. If do you own that type of computer, you might be able to replace the original hard drive with a more capacious one—but that process is much more difficult and beyond the scope of this story’s focus on easy upgrades. Finally, you don’t need to be an expert to add a second hard drive, but you should be comfortable with a screwdriver.

When you go shopping for your new internal drive, make extra sure your choice is compatible with your computer’s make and model. You can also look for installation guides that reference your specific device.

Upgrade your cloud storage

The final option for increasing your hard drive’s available space sits in the cloud. Specifically, you can move the bulk of your personal files to a cloud storage service. Many of these services let you delete local copies of a file once you’ve moved the original online, which frees up valuable room on your old machine’s hard drive. (This also makes it easier to move your files to a new computer when you do decide to upgrade.)

Install more RAM

Upgrades to an old computer can also involve RAM, Random access memory. This is your computer’s “thinking” space. It uses RAM to hold data for open applications. When your RAM has too much to do—think dozens of browser tabs, way too many applications, or a huge video file—your computer’s speed can slow to a crawl. To prevent this issue, install extra RAM.

As a preliminary step, you should research the amount of RAM built into your specific type of computer and how much extra it can take. This upgrade works better on desktops, which have bigger cases with more physical space for memory. However, certain laptops do let you add RAM. As with an internal hard drive, you should remember to back up your data before you start and look up an online guide specific to your computer’s make and model.

Slot in a new graphics card

If your existing computer relies on a built-in graphics chip, it might struggle with tasks like gaming or image and video editing. Even playing oversize videos can slow it down. To boost its performance, plug in a new graphics card.

Invest in a bigger monitor

One way to improve your computer experience—even if it won’t speed up the machine’s performance—is to pay up for a bigger monitor. If you’re stuck on an old laptop with a tiny screen, think about adding another display. This provides more screen room for applications and games, allowing you to compare multiple apps on the same screen or see all the extra detail on your favorite TV show. Just make sure your computer can run a second screen: Check for a display output port somewhere on the chassis.

Upgrade your keyboard and mouse

Tired, cramped laptop keyboard with worn-out keys? An unreliable wireless mouse that makes your wrist ache? As these input peripherals age, they acquire a coat of grime and also become less responsive. So while you’re improving your computing experience, consider investing in a shiny new keyboard and mouse. As with the monitor, this won’t make your old computer run any faster, but it can definitely increase your enjoyment and stave off thoughts of upgrading your machine.

Add extra ports to upgrade old computer

If you’ve maxed out the ports on your current computer, or you didn’t get many to begin with, think about investing in an extension hub. As manufacturers knock more and more ports and slots off their machines, an external hub can replace those missing connections. This makes a particularly big difference when you’re traveling, allowing you to connect a laptop to a meeting-room projector or a hotel-room Ethernet cable.

Contact opens in a new windowClickAway for further explanations or to schedule a free basic diagnostic before you attempt to apply upgrades to an old computer.

What should you upgrade on your computer first? There are plenty of reasons that a computer can run slow, each of which can require a different fix. Some of the more common issues include slow boot-up and loading times, slow performance when switching between tasks, and poor performance in games. Not all of the following advice will apply to all situations. You should identify the performance issues your computer has and what causes them, to prioritize what components you should replace. ClickAway can do this during a free basic diagnostic.

What Should I Upgrade First? Replace the HDD with an SSD

One of the main components that you can replace to get a big performance boost, especially in booting and loading times is your hard drive. Old HDD hard drives are notoriously slow because they read and write data to a spinning disk. A modern SSD can read and write data more than three times faster than an HDD while using the same SATA connector. If your computer is modern enough to support an M.2 or U.2 connector, this read and write speed improvement over an HDD can be as much as 20 times.

In the real world upgrading from an HDD to an SSD can see your boot-up times change from two or more minutes to nearer 15 seconds. You’ll also find that large files and programs are quicker to copy or open.

SSDs are still somewhat expensive in comparison to HDDs but if you stick to a capacity of one terabyte or less, prices can be reasonable. As you’ll be replacing your operating system drive, this upgrade will require you to reinstall Windows.

what should I upgrade
What Should I Upgrade On My PC? 3

Next – Upgrade your RAM

If you run into issues where switching between tasks is slow, or your web browser slows down with only a few open tabs, you may not have enough RAM in your computer. RAM is a type of fast memory used to store data for the currently running programs. By using the high-speed RAM, data can be accessed much quicker than if it was accessed from the hard drive, it also leaves the hard drive available for other tasks.

If you only have a small amount of RAM and you open too many programs, your computer will start to slow down as some of the data in the RAM is offloaded to the slower hard drive. If your computer is running slow and you can see that your RAM is at or near 100% usage, this will be your problem.

The absolute minimum RAM requirement for a computer running Windows 10 is 2GB. Realistically, however, this will not run well at all. Even with 4GB of RAM, you will likely regularly run into RAM related performance issues. In the real world, it’s recommended that you have at least 6 or 8GB of RAM in your computer.

Thankfully, most computers are designed to support RAM upgrades. Before purchasing new RAM though, you need to check what you already have and what your system supports. Most computers will have two, four, or eight RAM slots. You should ensure you don’t buy more sticks of RAM than you can use.

RAM comes in four different shapes. DDR3, and DDR4 RAM are used in desktop computers. While the connectors may look very similar, they are not the same, and you will need to get the version your motherboard supports. Laptops tend to use a smaller form-factor called LPDDR3 and LPDDR4, these types are also not compatible.

If you’ve got free RAM slots, you need to choose if you’re going to supplement or replace your existing RAM. Be aware, that is highly recommended that you do not mix different speeds or capacities of RAM; in fact, it’s best you ensure that all sticks of RAM are of the same brand and model.

Upgrade your graphics card

If you’re a gamer, what should I upgrade often leads to the graphics card. But some professional workstations may also be limited by an old and weak graphics card. If you’re playing games but struggling with low frame-rates or not being able to enable the graphics options you want, then it’s likely time to upgrade your graphics card.

In computer games, the GPU or Graphics Processing Unit is almost always the limiting factor in performance. Upgrading a GPU can be somewhat expensive but modern mid-tier graphics cards are very capable – if your resolution requirements aren’t too high.

Obviously, gaming at 4K or even 1440p is much more processor intensive than at 1080p. To game at higher resolutions you will need to be prepared to spend more money on a stronger graphics card.

Laptop gamers should be aware that it is impossible to upgrade the GPU built into almost all laptops. This is because the GPU processor is built into the laptop’s motherboard itself for space reasons. In desktop computers, however, graphics cards come as a separate expansion card that can be replaced and upgraded with relative ease.

For professional workstations, graphics cards can also be useful for applications such as rendering or neural network training. Having a more powerful graphics card will speed up your workflow. Performance benchmarks are often available so you can compare the rough performance advantage you’d receive in your workloads before you buy.

Other Upgrades

Answering the question, what should I upgrade, might lead you to examine your device peripherals. Upgrading your keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, headphones, or even your chair, can have a positive impact on your computer usage. The effect of some of these upgrades when using your computer for a long time each day can be quite significant and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Upgrading your CPU cooler can help your computer run a fair bit cooler, but the process is fiddly and time-consuming. Running cooler may help your computer be a little faster too if it was previously overheating under heavy load.

Unfortunately, upgrading the rest of the components in your computer, such as your CPU and motherboard can be a complex and time-consuming process, requiring you to rebuild most or all of your computer. ClickAway can give you a cost analysis between upgrading and purchasing a new computer. What should I opens in a new windowupgrade on a PC or buying new is a question you should ask first.

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MacBook Pro hard drive replacement

More On Hard Drive Replacement

One of the quickest and most cost effective performance upgrades to your laptop or desktop computer is an SSD upgrade. For as little as $99 you can give up to a 10x performance increase to your computer. ClickAway's repair experts are here to help! Our certified technicians can upgrade your laptop or desktop's hard drive or replace it with a blazing fast SSD and get you up and running quickly. If your new computer takes a long time to boot up, that's likely because it runs on a regular hard drive. This is also the case of most older computers. The good news is that swapping out the drives is quite easy to do and not too expensive either, thanks to the fact that SSDs are now much more affordable than they were a few years ago.

Looking to turbocharge an aging laptop? An SSD upgrade is not only effective, but nowadays, it can be downright cheap. SATA drives, M.2 SSDs, PCI Express, NVMe: ClickAway can tell you everything you need to know about laptop SSD upgrades

  • Lenovo ThinkPad, HP, Dell, and Toshiba laptop SSD upgrades starting at only *$99
  • Desktop SSD upgrades starting at only *$99

*Not applicable to all models as part prices will vary with drive types and capacity.

MacBook Pro Hard Drive Replacement or

Install New Hard Drive Windows 10

There are many ways to make a slow laptop faster, but few are as easy and cost-effective as replacing your existing hard drive with SSD upgrades. Even student laptops benefit from SSD upgrades. Making the swap will, in most cases, dramatically reduce the time it takes to boot Windows, load programs, and perform any activity that involves significant amounts of disk access (video editing, gaming, transferring files, etc.). When I swapped out my hard drive for an SSD, my Windows boot time dropped from a very-painful almost 10 minutes to well under a minute. And programs like Adobe Photoshop that could take a minute or more to open, now open in seconds. Your old computer won’t just be as good as new; it will be better than it ever was.

With an SSD, you’ll also get the added advantage of greater ruggedness (SSDs are much less susceptible to damage from drops than hard drives because they have no moving parts), better battery life and quieter operation.

Despite the advantages of SSDs, in the past, upgrading wasn’t an attractive option for many people because of the high cost. But with 1TB SSDs now available for around $100, it’s almost silly not to make the switch. We run a cloning program (which literally makes a clone of your existing drive, so your operating system, your programs and settings, and all your files will be exactly the same and ready to go on your new drive).

Here are the simple steps we take to swap out your hard drive for an SSD.

  1. Buy an SSD from ClickAway
  2. We transfer data to the new SSD
  3. We clone your HD for security
  4. We install the SSD & related software

ClickAway is a full-service computer repair, phone repair, network installation and IT services company. Above all, we provide professional and opens in a new windowClickAway Repairs Computers for all your home, personal, or small business technology needs. ClickAway combines all your tech needs in one stop. We are just a click away for new purchases, repair service or if you simply have a question.