Do you have an older computer (about five years old) running much slower than it used to run? Perhaps you are considering purchasing a new computer to get better performance. First, consider upgrading before you buy a new one. Sometimes you don’t need a new computer but just to improve performance on the computer you have.
Several years ago, I suggested upgrading some of a company’s computer systems instead of purchasing new ones. They had a policy of replacing their computer systems every four or five years. They didn’t have special requirements such as using video creation software, etc. Their computers were still viable but needed some updates to increase performance.
I increased the performance of those computers by simply replacing the mechanical hard drives with solid-state drives (SSD). I was able to extend the life of those computers by about another four years, saving the company thousands of dollars.
Now, if your software requirements change such that upgrading your system is not enough, then purchasing a new one might be the best bet. A major requirement change might be running the latest Windows operating system, which is undoubtedly the case for Windows 11 in many cases (more on that later). You may need to create and edit video and audio files or another high-resource program. In those cases, purchasing a computer with better performance would be the easiest path to take.
A brand-new system will work very well. You will find that it is faster than the older system it replaced. For example, you may immediately experience programs and files loading faster than before. You will notice that the computer boots up much quicker than the previous system.
However, as time passes, you may notice that your system becomes increasingly slower. It seems that programs and files take longer to load than they used to. Soon the system becomes much slower than it used to be, and, in some cases, it may affect your productivity. Files take a long time to download, the system takes “forever” to boot, and more. You think that the solution is the same as before, i.e., purchase a new system.
Purchasing a new system will most likely resolve the performance issue (if you buy the proper system). However, another option is to increase the performance of your current system by upgrading one or more of the components.
Components to Upgrade
The major components of the computer that you might upgrade are the following.
- RAM: Increasing memory. For example, you might increase the memory of your computer from 4GB to 8GB or 8GB to 16GB. The additional memory will give the software running on your computer more room to breath.
- Hard disk: Replace mechanical hard disk with an SSD. This will not only increase the performance of your system, but it can also increase the drive capacity if you replace the mechanical drive with a higher capacity SSD.
- Hard disk: Replace the current hard disk with a higher capacity and faster one. Though the cost of SSDs have come down significantly, you still may opt for a traditional mechanical drive. You would then simply replace the current drive with a higher capacity and faster one.
- Video: Replace the video card for a higher-performing one (you might need this if you are going to use Photoshop, for example)
- Soundcard: Replace the soundcard for a higher-performing one
- Monitor: Replace monitor with a higher resolution one or add one or more monitors to your system (adding multiple monitors will require connections on one or more video cards)
In many cases, you can increase the performance of your computer by increasing system memory (RAM) and upgrading to a Solid-State Drive (SSD) if your system has a mechanical hard drive. Just upgrading to an SSD will boost the system performance significantly. An SSD uses flash memory for storage instead of spinning platters used by mechanical hard drives. Therefore, SSDs perform faster and are more reliable because there are no moving parts.
In some cases, increasing the amount of system memory (RAM) will improve performance. When a computer system is short of memory, it will swap data to and from system memory and the hard drive. That process, called paging, decreases performance if it occurs excessively, e.g., insufficient memory. Increasing system RAM will give your system more memory to work with and reduce paging and improve performance.
Let me give you an illustration. If your system is running Windows 10 with 4GB of memory, then I am pretty sure you are frustrated because that is not enough memory for an acceptably responsive system. Your system should have a minimum of 8GB (preferably 12GB) of RAM.
If you regularly have many files open simultaneously, you might consider getting even more RAM, e.g., 12GB-16GB. That will give your system room for all those files and corresponding programs to reside in memory.
Upgrading to Solid-State-Drive
Upgrading the hard disk to an SSD and larger capacity is also a good move if your system has a mechanical hard drive. For example, if your computer contains a 500GB hard disk drive (HDD) and only about 10% to 15% free space, it is time to upgrade to a larger drive. If you upgrade to a larger drive, you might as well upgrade to an SSD. The prices of SSDs have decreased significantly over the years.
Another option to replace an HDD running out of free space is to create a hybrid system. A hybrid system contains an SSD for the operating system (Windows) and an HDD for your data. It will enable your programs, including the operating system (Windows), to load quickly. I recommend using a 7200 RPM mechanical hard disk with a SATA3 interface or better for mechanical drives.
Upgrade to Windows 11?
Now, should you upgrade to Windows 11? I recommend that you DO NOT upgrade to Windows 11 at this time. For one thing, if you have an older system, you may not be able to run it without upgrading your system. In other cases, you will not be able to run it at all due to incompatibilities.
There used to be a tool that you could use to check your system for compatibility with Windows 11. However, Microsoft changed access to that tool for Windows Insiders only. There are alternatives to the tool. However, Windows will notify you if your system can run Windows 11 via the Windows update system.
Go to Start->settings->Windows Update. If your system can run Windows 11, you’ll see a message similar to the one below.
If not, then you’ll see something like the following.
I recommend that you do not update to Windows 11 at this time.
Consider upgrading your system before purchasing a new one. You may save a significant amount of money and extend the life of your current system. Adding system RAM and upgrading to an SSD are simple ways to increase the performance of your system.
Wait a while before upgrading to Windows 11. Like past Windows new operating systems, there will be issues and bugs. Upgrading now may disrupt your productivity significantly. There is also a learning curve for Windows 11. So wait until next year to upgrade to Windows 11, even if you get a new system.
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for assistance upgrading your system or purchasing a new one.