Computers get obsolete quickly— within 3 to 5 years. They tend to slow down in two or three years and may become unusable in five years. It means it is time to replace or upgrade your computer. Replacing the computer could be expensive. A computer with a decent

configuration may start at Rs. 35,000. But you can upgrade yours by spending a fraction of what you would have if you had bought a new one.

We do not realise upgrading one is not a difficult task. You may not even need a computer engineer to do it. The easiest part is adding storage. External hard disks can be bought anywhere and are not expensive. A 1 TB (over 1,000 GB) external hard disk can be bought for less than Rs. 5,000. It is better not to fiddle with the internal hard drive.

This doesn’t mean internal hard drive cannot be changed, just that it would require a technician’s help. But installing an external hard drive involves just plugging it in. Once you do it, your computer will recognise it. You can start moving your files to the new drive. You have to be careful about the C: drive, which will have the operating system installed. While moving files from C: drive, move only your documents and photos, while leaving any file you are not sure about. . It’s better to have free space in your C: drive as the operating system (OS) needs space to function. But most of the time, the program files and other files we accumulate (and use rarely) take up a lot of space and hinder the smooth working of the OS. So it is better to reformat your internal hard drive once you copy/backup your important files. Once you have backed-up your files, and if you have your original CD of your operating system, and also the motherboard driver CD, right click on each of your drives and click on format.

Remember that this will erase ALL files and programs, including the OS. Remember not to format your new external hard drive! Better, uplug it from the PC before formatting the other drives. Next comes upgrading the memory or RAM. But before changing the RAM, you will have to check your computer’s documentation on the type of RAM—DDR, DDR2 or DDR3 and the maximum RAM it will support. Incompatible RAM may damage the motherboard. Computers usually have two RAM slots. . Removing and installing new RAM modules is easy. But you must remember not to touch the gold-plated connectors. Switch off and unplug the computer. Open the CPU. Hold the old RAM modules on their sides and pull them out. In the same way, hold the new RAM modules by their sides and push them into the slots using your thumb. Ensure you don’t touch the gold-plated connectors. Some PCs may have spring-loaded slots, you will have to hold the springs aside before you push the RAM. You will hear a soft click when the RAM module settles properly in the slot. Just be careful not to push them too hard.

Once you have installed the RAM, switch on the computer and insert the OS CD. Installation is just a matter of following the instructions. Next you will have to insert the motherboard driver CD and install all the drivers. This is important because they may include network drivers without which you will not be able to connect to the Internet. Once you are through, your PC will like new. And you would have saved at least Rs. 20,000.

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