Upgrade, Repair or Say Goodbye?



To upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the question.

I am often asked to solve issues of full hard drives, under-RAMed machines and to help to prop up ancient Macs in order to wring another year out of them.

Sometimes it’s a quick fix that a few bucks and 15 minutes can solve, such as adding more RAM. Other times it’s more complex, such as installing a larger hard drive, a process that involves the price of the new hard drive as well as paying for the installation and data transfer. And then there are things like a bad motherboard or a dead power supply that cost several hundred dollars to repair at the Apple Store or other Apple retailer.

But the question that begs to be asked: “What is the formula to decide when you should upgrade as opposed to trying to fix it or upgrade it?”

There’s no magic formula to decide when to upgrade and when to throw in the towel and spring for a new Mac. A couple of factors to decide which way to go include:

Age of the Mac. If your Mac is over four years old, then anything short of a RAM install or larger hard drive is probably not a good idea. Things like motherboards and power supplies are expensive – usually around $400 or so. And when they go bad, they’re usually in computers that are over five years old.

Think of those sorts of issues the same way you think about a transmission in your car. When your transmission goes, you have to consider the age of the car before you decide to go ahead and replace the transmission. The same goes for your computer. But I would say that 90% of the time, it’s prudent to get a new Mac.

Money. Sometimes buying a new computer solves a lot of problems. Rather than spending the time and money to install a larger hard drive when there’s a new computer in your future, it’s best to pull the trigger a few months early rather than have to repeat the data migration process. Plus, a computer purchase, if used for business, is a tax deduction.

A good way to gauge your computer’s value is to see what similar models are selling for on eBay. But remember – that price also includes reformatting the drive as well as putting in the effort of listing it on eBay, packing up the computer and shipping it, a process that most people realistically don’t want to bother with.