We have all been there. Your trusty PC just doesn’t have the get-up and go that it used to. You shop around for a replacement, but the prices you find send you right back to your old machine. Then it happens. One day your computer finally gives up the ghost, and you are left with a decision. Repair or replace? The age-old question of home computing.
I should tell you that I build computers for fun. There was a time that this hobby saved me a bit of money. However, those times have changed. Lately, I have been purchasing new computers because the prices have come down and the costs of parts have gone up. But that is for an entire machine. For repairs, it is often far cheaper to fix the computer than replace the entire unit, especially if your budget does not allow you to upgrade to a better PC.
Ignorance is not Bliss. It Costs You Money
The greatest obstacle to repairing a computer is ignorance of how computers are made. Yes, many of the components are very complicated, but you will not be working on those. Repairing the hardware of a computer normally means swapping out a bad part for a good one. And swapping out parts in a computer is easy because they are modular.
The Power of Modular Assembly
In modular design, a PC is just a framework for different parts to be plugged into. Computers use a very limited number of interfaces, or sockets and plugs. Most parts will fit into most machines. This means that if your computer dies and you decipher that the power supply is to blame, you can buy a new power supply and plug it into the remaining good parts. Voila! Computer repaired for around 30 bucks. All in around the same time it would take you to change a car’s battery. Sounds simple, right? It should because it is.
A friend called me to say he needed a new computer and wanted my advice. After gathering some facts, I offered to fix his slow, crashing PC if he would buy a $50-dollar part. He agreed so one afternoon I spent about fifteen minutes installing some solid-state memory in his machine and reorganizing where he kept his operating system and where he stored his thousands of image files. When I finished, his three-year-old PC was back on track, and I was a hero.
Home Computer Repair is Not Brain Surgery, but it Does Require the Power of Google
Neither of the problems above required any engineering training or exceptional intelligence to solve. I have neither. The solutions to each issue were found by searching Google and watching a YouTube video. The installation of the parts falls about at Lego level on the construction expertise scale. Seriously, anyone can do this. It just requires firmly believing that if something is already broken, it is hard to make it much worse. The cost of the part is the only real gamble.
Sometimes Repair is Not Worth the Time or Money
Occasionally I run into an issue where the cost of the parts, the age of the machine, or the amount of time required for the repair do not justify the project. That is when I shop for a new machine. But, I do not buy the latest greatest thing out there. I get a big case, and a solid CPU and the included operating system. Everything else I just upgrade along the way. Piece by piece.