The Issue at Hand
Over the past two weeks I’ve been presented with this dilemma 4 different times. Anywhere from a broken laptop screen to a dead hard drive, the question is, “Should I fix my computer or just replace it?” Inevitably, the follow up question is, “What would you do?” This is always a difficult question for me, I want to offer the best possible advice to the customer and I want to do it without potential payment clouding my recommendation. So here is my thought process when I’m asked these questions, hopefully this will help you either make the decision or understand where I’m coming from when I suggest one to you. Lets go with two examples (Broken Laptop Screen and Dead Hard Drive) and in at the end I’ll tell you what my recommendations were.
Cost of Parts/Repair
The obvious first place to start is how much the repairs are going
to run. Laptop screens can vary in cost, anywhere from $50 to $150 (this one costs $55), but the time involved to replace one is pretty standard, we can do it in about an hour. Hard drives on the other hand keep getting cheaper and cheaper. A 500 GB Name Brand Hard Drive will run about $60, but (again) the time involved to put it in doesn’t just include the hardware installation so it can vary. For a job like this we also have to reinstall windows, standard applications, and move data from the old drive if possible (in this case it isn’t). So we’re looking at about 2 hours of labor.
Based on repair cost alone, I would have to go with repair over replace at this point, but there are more things to consider than just cost, such as…
Age of Your Current System
You might think that the next item to consider would be the Replacement Cost, well…you might be right, but I don’t start there. I like to completely evaluate what I’ve got before looking into what I can get. The age of the system that needs repairing/replacing could be the most important factor in this decision. A 10 year old computer has out of date hardware, out of date software, and the initial cost of the systems isn’t really weighing on your finances any longer, replacing it may seem to be a no-brainer. A year old computer still has a lot of use ahead of it, the individual components could last another 5 or 6 years, and chances are you just dropped $1000 in the last year getting it set up. Do you want to do that again so soon? Personally, I draw an imaginary line around the 4 year mark, anything older than that and you’re running out of usefulness. Plus the chances of another component failing keep going up. For our examples, the laptop with a broken screen is not quite 4 years old. The desktop with the dead hard drive is pushing 6 ye
Based on age alone, I’m leaning toward replacing the desktop with the dead hard drive while the laptop is still on the line.
Cost of Replacement
Replacement Cost versus Repair Cost is generally what the customer looks at. If I can repair a system at $150 or get a new one for $300, then why would I repair the old one. If the replacement is going to cost $1000 then the decision didn’t get any harder, it just flipped the other way. Where is the line? Again, personally, I like to play the percentage game. If I can repair the system for less than 33% of a replacement, then I’m comfortable repairing it. If the repair cost is more than
50% of the replacement cost, then I have to consider putting that money toward a new computer. So, our example…both of these systems are Dells, and Dell will recommend comparable computers to computers that they no longer sell, it makes finding the replacement cost very simple. The laptop can be replaced for around $650 with no configuration changes from the base model. The desktop can be replaced for around $520 for the base model.
Based on replacement cost alone, I would say that both of these systems are good candidates for repair.
Other Factors and Recommendation
There are always other things that go into this decision; is there a warranty involved, who will be using the computer (children vs adults), the customer’s current financial state. These are all things that could weigh on the final recommendation and if some of that info isn’t shared with me then my recommendation may not be exactly the right one. There were no other factors that I knew of in the case of the laptop. The desktop on the other hand will be used mainly by children and one adult that may or may not click everything they see on the screen regardless of if it looks safe or not.
With all of this in mind the recommendations I made were to repair the laptop and replace the desktop. The laptop is new enough and the repairs inexpensive enough that replacing the machine seems to be overkill. The desktop however, is a bit older and the replacement cost is lower. Along with the fact that it is going to be put in a potentially hostile environment with children, I don’t know that i would trust an aging computer to keep up the fight for much longer.
The laptop recommendation has been taken and the parts should be here in a few days, the desktop’s owner is still considering the options.
Would you have made similar recommendations? Did I miss anything or do you think I’m just crazy for the recommendations that I made? Let me know in the comment section below.
Computing Concepts LLC