How to Update an Old Computer

by Charlie Higgins

If you've noticed your old computer is a bit sluggish or isn't performing at 100 percent, it may be time to update it. Often the software or hardware in your machine can become outdated only months after you purchase it, creating incompatibilities and crashes. There are a myriad of ways you can update your old computer, so it's important to analyze the problem before rushing out to buy new components. And remember that individual components can be updated, saving you from purchasing an entirely new computer.


Determine exactly what needs to be updated. For example, do you need new software, or hardware? If your hard drive lacks free space, it may be time to upgrade to a larger drive. Check how much space you have left by right-clicking the hard drive icon (usually the "C" drive) and selecting “Properties.” The amount of available space will be displayed in the following dialogue box. If your computer is running slow, you may need to upgrade the processor, or the Random Access Memory (RAM). RAM is the temporary memory your computer uses when it is actively working. Increasing the amount of your RAM is generally the most effective computer upgrade you can make. Consult your owner's manual to determine which drives, memory cards or processors are compatible with your computer's motherboard.


Research components and products that are on the market. Magazines like PC World (see link in Resources) have thousands of product reviews you can browse to find the right item for you. Shop around for the best prices, as many items can be bought online for a fraction of the retail price. Bear in mind that sometimes the cost of purchasing and installing certain components, such as the processor or motherboard, can be greater than buying a new computer.


If your system only has a CD drive, consider replacing it with a DVD drive. If you watch videos, listen to music or play games on your computer, consider upgrading your video and/or audio cards.


Install your components according to the manufacturer's specifications. If you're upgrading software, simply insert the CD and follow the installation prompts. If you're installing new hardware, investigate if your upgrade can be done as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project; you may be able to save yourself a few dollars in labor costs. But if you aren't confident tinkering around in your machine, call in the experts to do the work for you.


  • close Doing DIY upgrades on your computer may void your warranty. Check with your supplier before doing any work.

About the Author

Charlie Higgins is journalist, editor and translator based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has written for a variety of lifestyle and niche market websites, including International Food Trader, The Olive Oil Times, microDINERO, Sounds and Colours, Connecting Worlds and The Buenos Aires Reader.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images