By: Alexander G. Chamandy, Managing Member, Envescent, LLC

August 12, 2014 10:04 pm EDT
Student ComputingENLARGE

Students all over the United States are heading back to school. One question about their computer lingers in their minds and the minds of their parents. Should we repair it or replace it? In this article we'll go through several criteria to decide whether or not the system may be worth repairing or if it is best to replace it instead. Most of these factors rely on answers you can provide, thus enabling you to make an informed decision as to whether or not repair is possible.

First and foremost, we highly recommend looking at how the computer has served its owner in the past. Has it been reliable or flaky? Systems that have been unreliable may be less worthwhile of an investment. But systems that have performed well and grown sluggish or unstable over the years may be more worthwhile for repair. We recommend making this judgment based on the history of the computer and what amount of money may have been invested in it initially, how its performed and how much has been spent repairing it to determine if it makes sense to invest more money or replace it.

Secondly, how old is this computer? If the machine is over 6 years old then it may not be worth repairing, but if it is 6 or younger then there's some chance a cost effective repair may be worthwhile. Age is an important factor because computers age both from usage as well as time passing. The less a computer is used or at least the less intensively it is used, the more viable it may be for future usage. The passage of time also has an effect on hardware components as well. Some may age from oxidization (or exposure to air), corrosion (humidity or liquid) and temperature changes.

Third, does the system fit your needs? Is it physically compatible with traveling between classes? If the system is too large or the keyboard is too small then that may make it difficult to travel with or use to take notes. The form factor, durability, battery life, processing power and memory are all important considerations. Having a portable and lightweight system may be great for taking notes and having a more heavy duty notebook may be better for classes that require more processing power or graphics rendering capabilities.

Finally, what kind of software does your school require? Some schools may require Windows, Apple, usage of Google Apps, etc. These may help to decide what kind of machine is the best bet for your needs. Make certain that the system can perform according to the requirements of the classes being taken. Sometimes applications are cloud-based and very light on system resources, other schools may have more resource intensive requirements for certain classes. Because these variables are very school and course-specific, I recommend querying those institutions directly for a list of system requirements. If your current machine can handle everything the school will throw at you and it meets the first three criteria then it may indeed be worth investing in.

Personally I recommend everyone make their decisions on a case by case basis and weigh the pros and cons of all the options available. This is a long term investment for educational purposes, but it is also one that may change over the course of the education process. What served for the initial classes may not be ideal later on, so some degree of flexibility may also be appropriate.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s). Core Compass’s Terms Of Use applies.

About the author

Alexander G. Chamandy is a seasoned information technology professional with more than two decades of experience in the industry.  He is a managing member of Envescent, LLC, a business IT solutions provider serving the Washington, DC area.

student computers
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