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PC Performance lagging- When should I just buy a new computer?

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I know how tempting it is to just toss the old computer and buy a new one when it starts to act up. In fact, I used to do that all the time. Part of this was inspired by the rapid pace of technology; I always wanted the latest thing. If my computer was giving me trouble and a new operating system or Pentium chip was on the market, my computer was history.

While it was nice having the latest and greatest computer on the market, it wasn't so nice on my pocket book. The kicker was when Windows XP came out. While I didn't camp out at the parking lot of the local electronics store, I was one of the first to buy a new Windows XP system. I bought a Sony Vaio desktop with the latest cutting-edge Pentium chip at the time. I also maxed out the memory and hard drive.

Imagine my surprise when none of my existing peripherals worked with it. I needed a new printer and scanner right off the bat. Plus, I needed the new Microsoft Office suite which set me back a good $400 or so. And that was just the beginning.

However, that computer rocked! I owned it for six years before finally retiring it in favor of a laptop. I would have kept it but I really wanted to go wireless and mobile. That's the only reason I don't still have my beautiful purple Vaio.

So, why the big change from a new computer each year to a six-year-long love affair with a Sony Vaio? Part of it had to do with price. Imagine saving a thousand bucks a year for six years. That's pretty motivating. Another part had to do with picking a computer that I wouldn't outgrow right away. The final part had to do with learning how to maintain and optimize my computer for performance when needed.

However, there does come a time when there's only so much that you can do. Using registry cleaners, anti-virus and anti-spyware tools, and following standard computer maintenance routines will serve your computer well. However, hard drives fry, memory chips fail, power supplies go out, and motherboards fizzle. In addition, even if functioning well, as new technologies emerge, your computer may not be able to keep pace. You may want a new application that your computer simply can't handle.

My experience has shown me that you can extend the useful life of your computer. The longer you extend it, the more money you save in the long term. Upgrading your computer or repairing failed hardware often costs as much as a new system. If the problem is hardware-related and your computer is obsolete, weigh the costs and consider replacing it. If your computer is still in its prime (or good enough for your purposes) and simply needs a little tune-up, invest in a few utilities like a registry cleaner and anti-spyware and extend its life even further.

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