New battery, more RAM and other ways to extend your laptop’s life
Your ageing notebook may be starting to slow down and stutter through its tasks, but does it make sense to buy a new one or should you instead try to upgrade the old one to get a few more years of life out of it?
Notebooks definitely last three to five years, says IT product reviewer Christian Hirsch. “Users can even expect seven years if they use the device primarily for less demanding applications such as surfing, streaming, and office applications,” he says.
The number one part of a notebook that wears out is its battery, which weakens with every full charge cycle. There are things you can do to slow down the process.
“The battery should be drained once every few weeks and then recharged so that the charging electronics can determine the actual capacity,” Hirsch advises.
It can also help to not fully charge the battery every time. After a few years, however, the battery usually wears out despite all precautions. Then it just has to be replaced.
Of course the battery is only worth changing if the rest of the notebook is still working satisfactorily. If your notebook becomes a lame duck over time, the processor or the RAM (the device’s working memory) may also be to blame.
“This is a typical ending for laptops. Applications are becoming more and more demanding; videos, for example, have an ever greater resolution,” Hirsch says.
“But the computer stays at its level. As the years go by, it can hardly keep processing with its computing power and thus becomes slower and slower.”
On Windows machines you can check whether the RAM is reaching its limits using Task Manager. If that shows the RAM is close to 100%, that means that some of its processes have to be outsourced to the internal hard drive — which is much slower.
If that’s the case, it’s definitely worth upgrading, says IT specialist Wolfgang Pauler. Additional RAM modules can be added to expand the notebook’s memory capacity.
“If you’re lucky, there’s a slot into which another module can simply be inserted,” Pauler says. Or you can insert larger modules to replace the current ones.
If the hard disk is old or full, more storage space or newer technology can also speed things up.
If you still have a magnetic disk hard drive, you should swap it for an SSD because these memory chips are much faster than magnetic disks. You can also replace an existing SSD with a larger one.
“Or you can simply connect an external hard drive or SSD via the USB port. Data can be swapped out to it, which increases the storage space relatively easily,” Pauler says.
Task Manager can also tell you how busy the processor (CPU) and graphics chip (GPU) are. However, it’s not possible to replace them.
“Not every speed problem can be solved,” Hirsch says. “And investing money in the battery or RAM is only worthwhile if the processor still delivers sufficient performance.”
Pauler says you need to weigh things up: is the problem one that can be fixed at a reasonable cost? Or are you dissatisfied with the overall performance of the device?
If you can live with the problem then it makes sense to extend the notebook’s life from a sustainability point of view rather than buying a new one. – dpa