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Should I buy a new laptop

QUESTION: We have 3 older laptops, one not that old, but they all run super slow and I’d just like to turn them into internet stations.  What defrag, cleanup, speed up, type tasks can you recommend?

ANSWER:

First – the industry unwritten rule for laptop design life is about 3 years.  However, usually, the only two things that go wrong with a 3+ year old laptop are 1) Battery life 2) Hard drive failure.  The later being a bigger problem…my father just lost his hard drive but it was on a 6 year old laptop….it happens and when it does you will wish you had backed up your data.
That said, if your computers are 2-4 years old and you just want to use them for simple things like email/web browsing etc. they should be just fine from a hardware standpoint.
The sure fire way (and what I tend to do) is to avoid all the headaches of trying to ‘clean up’ an old computer and simply reinstall Windows fresh.  It takes about an hour, and is easier than you think, especially for name brand laptops like HP with well supported hardware.  Of course, you will need a copy of Windows 7 to do that.
PS – Internet Explorer is probably one of the worst (and slowest) browsers to use.  You should just download Chrome – free, fast, and super good.  It’s what I use…always.
Buying a new laptop is a function of Apple vs. Windows and if Windows, then 300-500 vs. 500-1000 vs. 1000+ price points.  Apple hardware isn’t any better than most 500-1000 PC’s from HP.  You can buy less expensive PC’s from other companies like Lenovo (China), or Samsung (Korea) which may work just fine for you too, but usually have lower quality components.  It boils down to you usually get what you pay for.  For ‘everyday use’ like email, browsing, photos and movies, a 400-500 new HP laptop is going to be all you need for another 3-4 years.
Final note: I would suggest buying a laptop with Windows 7.  Windows 8 is coming out soon and the general views are somewhat sketchy.  Historically Microsoft has a good release followed by a disaster followed by a good release and so on.
Windows 97 and Windows ME -> BAD
Windows XP -> GOOD
Windows Vista -> BAD
Windows 7 -> GOOD
Windows 8 ->  ???  I’d place my money on BAD.
This is an updated version of the last laptop I bought for everyday use.  It’s solid and priced about 550 USD.