What’s That Old Computer Worth? (Hint… Not Much!)

After a couple recent repairs to my vehicle, I decided to have it appraised for a possible trade-in. I was rather pleasantly surprised to find that, after 8 years, my Subaru is still worth about 1/6th its original retail value. Not too bad! I also realized that my own desktop PC at the office is now 4 years old, and overdue for a replacement. But how can that be? My car is twice as old and still worth a decent chunk of change.

Unfortunately, computers do not hold their value nearly as well as cars, and most people know that cars are not a good investment, and computers are worse. Here’s why.

My 2005 Subaru still runs great. It gets about the same gas mileage that it did when it was new. It still carries myself, my friends, my cat, my mountain bike, and a bunch of computer equipment around, rain or shine, just as well as it did when I bought it.

My computer, however, is noticeably slower. It takes longer to boot up, launch programs, and crunch numbers than it used to. But there’s more to it. I’m asking my old clunker of a PC to do things I never did when I bought it, just a few years ago. I load new software on it all the time, and thanks to automatic updates, I’m installing new fixes and patches and antivirus definitions on it every day. It’s as if when I bought the car, I used to just drive around town with it, but now I’m taking it off-roading every day; the added stress I’m putting on it is starting to show as I tap, tap, tap my fingers waiting for it to finish some task.

What people often don’t realize, especially if they work in other industries where they invest in material goods and equipment that do hold their value, e.g. tools, cars, real estate, etc., is that, after a few years, your old computer will service you best as a doorstop, a boat anchor, or a bookend. Not only is it worth only a fraction of its original purchase price in resale value, an old computer actually costs you money.

So that’s why I’m buying myself a new computer today. I don’t have to do a complex calculation to determine how little time it will take to recoup my investment, but if you suspect your old computer is not as fast as it should be, check out this post and figure out if it is robbing you blind.

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