Should I Repair My Laptop Or Buy New?

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What a great question! Like with many things there are a number of things to think about before making a decision especially since laptops don’t come cheap! That’s why in this article, I decided to explain whether you should repair your laptop or buy new one.

As someone with ten years worth of experience fixing and upgrading laptops as well as building PCs, I will provide you with my opinion. I will use real-life examples to help you build a better picture of when a repair may be a better option and when a replacement may be necessary.

The Short Answer

In short, it depends on the circumstances and I’m a huge supporter of rights to repair. However, there are times when a replacement is the better option. Read on to find out more…

So, should I replace or buy new?

Laptops are devices with a core objective, being portable. This portability can cause issues if not careful, screens can crack, the casing can get damaged and hardware has a greater potential of failing, particularly on older laptops that may have mechanical hard drives, but it can depend on various factors. Nevertheless, there are many reasons why a laptop may underperform or fail. 

Determine the type of fault your laptop has

Before we get any further, you need to determine the type of fault your laptop has. Faults and failures can be split into two categories, software, and hardware. Software issues can usually be easily fixed without the need of taking the laptop apart, whereas hardware failure will result in the laptop being opened.

Before determining what type of fault you have, it is important to do some troubleshooting. For example, does the issue happen when I run a certain program? or does a certain program cause the issue? If you answered yes to any of those, your issue is likely caused by software. But if your screen is cracked or if your laptop doesn’t power on anymore, that’s a hardware issue.

There are many advantages of getting your laptop repaired. As with many things, a repair can cost less than buying a new device and it helps the environment as it reduces e-waste.

Software Fault

Software faults can usually be easily corrected. and if the classic turning it off and on again doesn’t help, there are a number of troubleshooting steps you can take. Speaking of which, have you checked out my article on why turning it off and on again works? You can check it out here

If your laptop is underperforming due to a certain program or if a certain program is causing issues, it could be as simple as uninstalling that program and reinstalling a fresh version of it. I actually faced this issue on my own computer just yesterday. I planned to work on creating a video using Filmora and there was an update due so I decided to update it before I start but unfortunately, the program malfunctioned and stopped launching properly, so I uninstalled it using the Control Panel and downloaded the latest version. It worked a treat!

If your system is generally underperforming and is slow to complete tasks, you could restore your laptop to factory settings, making sure you have backed-up all of your data onto an external storage device such as a memory stick, external hard drive, or even cloud storage. A fresh install of Windows will clear any software issues there may be on your laptop, but unfortunately, it will also clear everything else, including the software you have installed. Therefore you need to be careful with your data and that you have your software licenses and installation files accessible.

The issue can be related to drivers. Drivers are little programs that help hardware communicate with software Drivers are little programs that help hardware communicate with software. A good example of a driver issue I was recently dealing with was on a laptop I was refurbishing to give to a friend. The laptop had an issue with sound, no sound was coming out of the laptop and the sound icon was showing a little red x. My usual recommendation would have been to check the manufacturer’s website for audio driver updates, but this was not possible in this case as the laptop was an old laptop by Advent, who isn’t around anymore. So I used a cool tool called Driver Pack Solution. I made a short five-minute video about this tool on my YouTube channel:

Refurbishing older devices?

Now you may be thinking, why did I refurbish an old laptop? Older devices can still make good PCs, particularly when it comes to home use. But you need to be aware that older operating systems such as Windows 7 aren’t supported anymore. That means that the laptop won’t get critical security updates and software vendors will stop developing software for these systems. Linux operating systems such as Ubuntu and Linux Mint are a great choice for these laptops as they are still supported and worth using.

I have given many desktops and laptops a new lease of life with Linux operating systems. Depending on the version or in Linux terms distribution,  Linux is usually lighter compared to Windows meaning that newer systems can perform well on older devices. Whilst, not a laptop, I made a video featuring the refurbishment of a Dell Optiplex 380 desktop where I installed a distribution called Linux Mint on it. The video can be found below:

Hardware Fault

Hardware faults aren’t as easy to fix as software faults are because they result in having to open the laptop and that can be a hassle, particularly on older models where you have to take several sections apart to get into it. 

Before attempting to get a hardware fault repaired, it’s worth checking whether the laptop is under warranty as opening the laptop is likely to void it. 

Hardware faults come in all shapes and sizes and depending on what the issue is can come at a cost. My golden rule for repairing laptops is if it’s more than 3 years old and the cost of repair is greater than 50% of the cost of the laptop when it was new, buy a new one. It’s likely that a new or second-hand laptop can be purchased for that price and last longer.

An example of a recent laptop I fixed that was worth the repair was a 4-year-old HP Pavilion where an error stating “No boot device found” was appearing after the laptop was powered on. This type of error usually suggests an issue with the hard drive and after connecting it to another computer to attempt data recovery it was determined that the hard drive was dead. The hard drive on this laptop was only a 500GB hard drive and its owner wasn’t storing much on it so I replaced it with a 240GB faster Solid State Drive that only cost £23 on Amazon. This type of repair is cheap and worth it as not only did it fix the laptop, it made it faster.

A few months ago, I was working on a laptop that once you turn on was flashing several color lights on the screen and eventually shut down. It was likely to be a motherboard issue, a new motherboard cost the same price as a slightly newer laptop on eBay, so that laptop was recycled for parts and the owner decided to buy brand new.

Another example of a laptop I was working on is the Lenovo IdeaPad 100s, a laptop that was designed to be cheap with only 2GB of RAM, a 32GB, and a basic Atom processor. Laptops of this spec start at around £130, today and are designed for basic web browsing and checking emails. The 100s I was repairing had faulty USB ports which basically didn’t work. I was lucky enough to find a part on eBay for a reasonable price. The video can be found below.–ycwxifnE

The reason I am mentioning this repair is that in this scenario I wouldn’t usually recommend a repair, mainly because these parts are difficult to get hold of. Remember what I said about other components failing soon after at the beginning of the article? Well, this exact situation happened here. The battery decided to give up around a month after. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a new battery and we ended up buying a higher spec second-hand laptop on eBay for a similar price to a new laptop of similar spec. Not only did this second-hand laptop perform better but it was a better laptop, to begin with.

To Conclude

As someone with experience in repairing and refurbishing laptops, I would definitely say it’s worth repairing but there are times when a repair wouldn’t be a sensible solution. Hopefully, the examples provided in my article provided you an insight. If you are ever in doubt, I highly recommend taking your laptop to a local repair shop to get a second opinion, in fact, it may be worth taking it to a few repair shops to get quotes should you wish to get it repaired. But remember my golden rule, if the laptop is 3 years or older and the repair costs 50% or more of the product, get new.

At the end of the day, the decision will always be yours and every laptop is different. There may be several factors affecting your decision such as the short-term costs or the thought of unboxing that brand new laptop for the first time. That’s why I recommend having a good think about your options before you make the final choice. If you decide to go with a brand new laptop, it’s worth selling your old laptop as spares or repair, that way you can put money towards your new device.