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.