Update Before You Upgrade: 12 Tips to Make Tech Last

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Who doesn’t love upgrading to the latest and greatest? Beyoncé might have once sung the praises of upgrading to something newer and better, but the truth is, whether in regards to relationships or technologies, sometimes what is needed isn’t really an upgrade, but simply an update. Optimize, maximize, tweak, fix or hack…your gear might not be outdated as you think (we can’t vouch for your boyfriend/girlfriend). Here are 12 tips of how to improve what you already own, from improving the picture quality on your HDTV to fixing dead pixels on your monitor to rescuing and reviving wet electronics.

That’s not to say there aren’t times when upgrading, opposed to updating, isn’t actually the smarter option. If your laptop has an amber display, requires duct tape to keep closed and speaks only in command line DOS, by all means, bust out that credit card and welcome yourself to the year 2000, Gordon Gecko. But knowing whether you’re making an impulse purchase opposed to a necessary upgrade can mean putting away our emotional desires to have the newest for the sake of simply having it (aka, ShowOff-itis, a bank account debilitating affliction only treatable by a swift whack to the head by spouse/partner).

Here’s the checklist we refer to before upgrading or replacing existing hardware:

  • Have you given yourself more than one week to consider whether this is an impulse or well thought out purchase?
  • Will it improve productivity/enjoyment by 50% compared to what you’re already using?
  • Can what you already own be updated rather than replaced for a few months/years of additional use?
  • Does budget permit this upgrade without using credit?
  • Is this upgrade replacing outdated standards or technologies (e.g. CRT to HDTV)?
  • Is what you now have causing more stress than joy during use?
  • What would mom say?

Okay, maybe not that last one, but giving yourself some hurdles to jump through before making an upgrade purchase can be a smart way to ensure you need version 2.0 and not simply a 1.5 update. Here are 12 ways you can fix, tweak or reuse what you’ve already got: