If you’re someone with a slow computer, the questions on your mind are: how old is my computer? Is it time to retire it?
You’re in the right place to find the answers!
With technology advancing faster than ever, it seems like the gadgets we use don’t tend to last too long. When it comes to computers, however, this isn’t really the case. While you might experience slowdowns and lags here and there, for the most part your computer is probably still usable.
The System Requirements Test
Now, if you’re someone that doesn’t consider themselves too well versed with computers, then this basic test will help you determine if your system is too old.
- Access your computer’s basic configuration by right-clicking on My Computer, Computer, or This PC (depending on what version of Windows you have), and clicking on Properties.
- Check the minimum/recommended system requirements for the software that you use the most.
- Compare the two, especially the CPU and GPU generations to determine where your configuration stands.
This is a very basic test to determine if, and if you want to go beyond this, you’ll want to use the next method.
Checking the Windows Installation / BIOS age
There are two ways to find the age of your computer from the system itself. First off, you can find the date of your Windows installation. To do this, follow these steps:
- Launch Command Prompt. You can usually summon it with a search in the Start menu.
- In the Command Prompt window, type systeminfo and hit enter to get your system information. For Linux, type sysinfo.
- Scroll through the text results that show up, until you see ‘Original Install Date.’ This is the date of your Windows installation.
This method also shows you the other system details which can help you better determine system age, if you were to follow the first method we talked about.
However, there’s a catch with the installation date – there are chances your operating system was installed several times since you bought the computer, so it’s not really an accurate representation of the age of a computer, with regards to the hardware.
To more accurately determine computer age, we can check the ‘BIOS Version’ date instead of the original install date that we did earlier. It will be present in the same text results.
Checking the Age of Hardware Components
This is a more extensive method, but has a shortcut as well, depending upon the type of PC you have.
For Pre-assembled PCs
If you have a branded system, which came pre-assembled, or a laptop, you can try and find the serial number of the system. It will be present on stickers somewhere on the chassis of the computer, or the bottom of the laptop.
You can cross-check the serial number on the manufacturer website to get an idea of how old the computer is. This method will work especially well for Apple’s Mac systems.
For Assembled Systems
However, if you have an assembled system, or a branded system that has gone repairs and upgrades over the years, then it’s better to try and determine the age of individual components, one by one.
You can get most hardware info in the systeminfo command above, but if you want more, you can follow these steps:
- Open Control Panel through the Start Menu.
- Look for Device Manager, and click on it. You can also directly search for it in the Start Menu.
- In the Device Manager, check the Processor, Video Adapter, Hard Disk Drive, Motherboard, and Memory fields. The age of these devices determines the age of your computer.
- Note down the product names/model numbers of these devices.
- Search for the product names/model numbers online, along with the search term “release date” or “release year” to determine the exact age.
- Remember that many PCs are sold with components 1 or 2 generations old, so don’t be surprised to see you have a computer much older than you thought! Or if the manufacture date is completely different from the components’ dates.
Is It Time to Retire Your System?
Well, short answer? Probably not.
When it comes to computers, as long as one is up and running, you can always salvage it and improve how useful it is to you. There are two basic and cheap hardware upgrades you can make to breathe in new life into your computer. Follow these steps:
- Replace your hard disk drive with a solid-state drive. This is an easy fix on most PCs and laptops! See how to install an SSD in your laptop here (it’s a bit more difficult thank with desktops).
- Upgrade your system memory (RAM) to at least 4GB. Most browsers today (and especially Google Chrome) require and often use more than 2GB of RAM.
- If nothing else works, install a light Linux distribution like Lubuntu. Might be tricky to get to use, but it’ll give your computer a few more years of life.
These steps will pretty much transform your old computer into a new one. However, if you have an old laptop that is all battered up and needs several repairs, it might not be worth the salvage. Check the availability and cost of spares, and evaluate if an upgrade is worth it.
Repurposing Old Computers
Old computers can be repurposed into something like a router or a network attached storage (NAS) device, if you have the time, patience and the basic knowledge required to go through with it.
If you decide to go with it, or have any other ideas, make sure to let us know in the comments down below!
Palash is a technology and entertainment journalist who loves to geek out over the latest gadgets, TV shows, and movies.