Putting the spring back in an old PCs' step
I can't tell you the number of times a week I do the cost vs benefit talk with customers about spending money on an old computer. It is a lot.
The value of refurbishing a PC drops quickly when you have to pay someone to do it. If you are paying them fairly it quickly becomes clear that you probably should have just bought a new machine.
It is sad for my business model. It is sad for the world. But it is best for your pockets.
I've previously lamented the throw-away aspect of our technology and the ever growing (lack-of) recycling problem for e-waste.
However, take paying for technicians out of the equation, and upgrading and refurbishing an old PC can be worthwhile and event fun.
If you are willing to get your hands dirty and take some minor risks it is possible to make an annoying old PC go well again.
I say "minor risks" because, let's face it, if you did nothing you'd still have a dead or failing PC, so you may as well have a go.
For me probably the most exciting way to revive an old pc these days is to install a solid state drive (SSD) as the boot disk or main operating system drive.
Now before I go any further I am going to put a big hairy caveat on this...
There are many factors that affect and ultimately determine the speed/performance of a computer. Without seeing yours I can't say for sure if anything will speed it up. But on average your hard disk speed will be one of the main bottlenecks.
SSDs, on average, operate about 10 to 20 times faster than traditional spinning platter drives.
So swapping out your hard drive for an SSD can be the best bang for your performance buck. If you are using a laptop or an all-in-one pc, then you may find that your hard disk is an even bigger bottleneck than you thought...and hence the improvement even more notable.
These laptop hard drives are designed to use less power and, as a result and by design, they run slower. SSDs are already low power so there's no need for them to be throttled in any device.
As you can see from the image above, there are a few different types of SSD.
Probably the easiest swap for most people to consider is the SATA SSD. It is designed to be a straight swap for the SATA hard drive already in your PC.
The other types plug into other types of expansion sockets on your machine and you may, or may not, have those.
Again, I am not going to talk you through physically swapping the SSD and hard disk on your machine. It will be different for everyone.
But assuming you are ready to do that you will need to consider if you want you machine to boot up "exactly the way it was before" or if you are happy to reload the operating system from scratch and give yourself a lovely fresh new machine in every way.
If you want it to be "exactly the way it was before" then you will need to CLONE your old hard drive to the new SSD.
This is no trivial process and comes with no guarantee of success. There are lots of variables around this and you may end up simply having the wrong drives to achieve it and/or waste a lot of time attempting clones that fail.
For my money and time I simply bypass cloning and re-install the operating system from scratch. But this may not be possible if you don't have the installation media for your operating system.
Download your windows 10 installer from here:
For other older operating systems using your recovery disk or other installation media (USB/DVD) is best.
However, images (ISO - bootable CD creation files) for the various windows operating system can be found on the web.
BUT BE VERY CAREFUL of the source you choose. They are often chock full of viruses and other malicious software.
You may want to consider alternate free operating systems like Ubuntu.
It is hard to say if this saves any time but it certainly seems like it and it is definitely less stressful.
Besides, your data is still on the old hard drive so you can easily copy your photos and documents etc. from it to the new drive if you wish. In fact, if you are running a desktop with some room you can even leave your old hard disk inside and running as an overflow or data drive.
That way you can perhaps buy a smaller/cheaper SSD for the things that need to be fast (operating system, programs) and use the other drive to store voluminous but static things - data.
Once you have your new SSD installed and running I am pretty sure you'll be amazed at how much faster your computer now runs.