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If your computer is more than a couple of years old, and it stops working, you are facing one of the most common questions in computer repair, “Should I fix it, or just buy a new one?”


As many computer models have become less and less expensive, it can be tempting to throw in the towel immediately and buy a new one. For higher-end models whose replacement costs are higher, some owners might be led to spend far too much money trying to keep an older machine running. Before you decide on what to do with that broken machine, let us look at some factors to consider.


How Bad is the Problem?


Sometimes you don’t need to be a diagnostician to understand how bad the issue is with your computer. Broken displays, a malware infestation, or a can of soda inside the CPU can often give you a good idea of what a repair will cost. A little online research or a trip to a trusted repair shop can usually give you a decent idea of how big the problem is, what it might cost to fix, and how long it will take.


How Old Is It?


Different computers have various different lifespans. The typical length of service for a computer depends on several factors, including the quality of equipment when new. For instance, more expensive gaming laptops and “business class” machines tend to last a couple of years longer than consumer grade models. Typical usage can also impact the lifespan of a computer. Heavy usage or the strain of daily travel can lead to a shorter serviceable life for a machine.


You certainly don’t want to invest in a pricey repair on a machine that is at the end of its usable life. For computers between brand-new and end of life, a little math may be helpful in your decision. If you bought at $1000 computer and expect it to last five years, it’s value would, in theory, drop by $200 every year. In reality, it loses much more value in the first year, but this gives you some idea of the value of the machine when you are spending money for a repair so you can compare that to the estimated repair cost. However, don’t make that decision yet. There are some other costs you need to think about.


What is the Total Cost of Each Option?


Be aware, you may be missing something if you only consider the actual cost of the repair vs. the price of a replacement. There are some possible expenses to add to the cost of a new machine. Software is the most common unexpected expense. Users often lose track of activation codes for the programs they use, meaning that they can’t simply install them again on a new machine. You will also need to factor in the expense of your time setting up your computer with all your software, preferences, and passwords.


On the other hand, there may be some hidden expenses in keeping the machine that you have. Having it repaired now doesn’t guarantee that another issue won’t creep up down the line. Also, if your current computer is starting to become slow, consider the time and productivity you are losing compared to a brand new machine. This could mean that recycling your laptop is your best bet.