If your computer is running poorly and you think it may be about to crap out, don?t junk it?the problem may not be the computer itself. It may be the operating system. It may not be that your computer dying at all.
Our kid?s computer, a desk top, got hit with a virus about a month ago, one that the AVG system wasn?t able to stop. The computer was at a near standstill. We checked with the Geek Squad to see what they would charge to remove it–$200 plus tax.
Not gonna happen. The computer is five years old, and we?d sooner replace it than pay that much to have it fixed.
We added another anti-virus system that we?ve had excellent results with on our other computers (Trend Micro). It seemed to do the job, but the computer wasn?t moving any faster. I spent an hour and a half on the phone with the techs at Trend, who identified that the problem may be deep in the system registry. They did get the virus thoroughly removed according to their system and Microsoft?s. But still no luck on improving the performance of the computer.
Time for a new computer?
Was it time to toss the computer and buy a new one?
In truth, the computer had been running slow for a few months. Since it?s used mainly for Facebook, emails and games?a lot of games?we assumed it was just worn out from too much use and too many applications.
Right now, we have two desktops and two laptops, and though the desktops will eventually be replaced by laptops, we want to keep them around as long as possible.
Our son talked with a friend of his about the computer, and the friend suggested that we try adding a different operating system to the computer, rather than getting rid of the unit. He knew how to do it, and offered to install it.
Now our son?s friend is 18, and though we might have been skeptical of his technical skills, there really wasn?t much to lose since the computer was heading for trash pick up the way it was.
An old computer that?s good as new
Our junior computer expert came in and installed the Linux system over the existing Windows system. Once he did, the computer functioned as if it were brand new. The improvement in speed was incredible. We couldn?t have bought a new computer that would run faster.
The real problem was never the computer. I?m speculating here because I?m not a computer tech, but I?m guessing it could have been the plethora of games and applications added to the computer over the years. Or it could have been the hundreds of Windows updates added automatically. What ever the issue, the constant piling up of applications and updates made the computer seem old and tired.
By replacing Windows with Linux, all of that went away and the system now functions flawlessly.
That might invite the question, why not just reformat the computer? I?ve done that myself, and it took many hours to re-add Windows to the reformatted hard drive. The Linux addition took out Windows in the process of the download and the entire exercise took less than an hour.
Some caveats before going this route
One thing to understand about this process is that when you put Linux, or any other operating system on your old computer, everything associated with the original system will disappear. Windows has its own applications?email, Word, accessories and the like?all of that will be gone when you add the new system.
With that in mind, back up documents unique to Windows, either on cd?s or on another Windows based computer. This includes important Word documents, photos and even emails.
Another alternative?that we didn?t choose?is to ?partition? the computer. In this way, you can have dual operating systems, with both Windows and the new system working at the same time. This will enable you to retain unique Windows records, but to surf freely (and quickly!) in Linux. Windows won?t improve with the partition, but it will enable you to bridge the move from one system to the other at your own pace.
A near perfect ending
For my own purposes, I like Windows and would have preferred keeping it, but it isn?t my computer. My kids are happy with the speed and performance, and we?ve managed to keep an old computer for longer than we thought possible.
The moral of the story is that we usually have options if we dig a little deeper. Often we?re trained to ditch anything that?s more than a few years and replace it with something new. But if funds are tight and alternatives exist, it may be better to see what can be worked out.
There?s always a question of fix or repair; for now, it looks like we?ve saved ourselves a few hundred dollars on a new computer by taking a chance on the repair option.
Have you ever done anything like this with an ?old? computer? Do you have any other ideas on how to extend their lives?