How Long Should a Laptop Last?

New laptop designs are continually introduced, enticing customers with new features and technologies at a wide range of price points. How long any laptop lasts is hard to predict, however. According to Intel’s data, over 600 million PCs in use are more than four years old. With that in mind, there are ways to extend the life of your existing laptop and issues to consider when purchasing a new one.

Young couple with laptop computer
Deciding whether to buy an extended warranty.
credit: PIKSEL/iStock/Getty Images

Types of Use

Think about how often you use your laptop and for what reasons. If your laptop is used every day for 8 to 12 hours, then expect some wear and tear. For example, if you watch videos and play games daily, then your graphics card will wear out over time. Be sure your laptop is designed to handle the type of work load. It will help lengthen the life of many of the components.

Reliability and Durability Referrals

Find out what others say about how long a laptop should last. Go to third-party sources online and talk to local retail stores. Look at product ratings and read the comments. Learn how the model does right out of the box and in its first year. After the first year, does it need repairs and what type are most common. How well rated is its tech support? (Ref: PC Mag: Readers’ Choice Awards; Squaretrade: Laptop Reliability)

Heat and the Environment

Heat causes problems, accelerates wear and shortens the life of any laptop. Be careful where you place your laptop. Direct sunlight can cause unnecessary heat buildup. Leaving your laptop in a car in the summer is risky. Keep it out of the rain and do not spill anything on the computer. Liquids and electrical components do not mix. Being diligent in this area will help you lengthen your laptop's lifespan. (Ref: PC Mag: Under the Hood; Beyond Plastic; Squaretrade: Laptop Reliability)

Memory and Auxiliary Storage

One of the ways to improve the speed of a laptop is to upgrade the random access memory (RAM). Not all laptops support upgrades, so check your users manual or speak to a knowledgeable support person. If your hard drive is full or slowing down to constant use, use your USB port and connect an external hard drive or flash drive to avoid having to buy a new laptop. Also consider using cloud storage as an alternative to an external hard drive.

Laptop Warranty

All laptops come with a manufacturer’s warranty, generally one year parts and labor. You can also purchase a two or three year extended warranty to help ease your mind. Read the warranty so you know your rights and register online. Keep any paperwork should the need arise to have the laptop examined or sent back to the manufacturer. (Ref: PC Mag: Extended Warranty)

Personal Care

Watch how you handle and move the computer. Plastic covers and hinges are not as strong as metal or aluminum ones. Use a sturdy, well-designed laptop bag when traveling and periodically examine your power cord and any connecting cables for wear and tear. Use a virus and spyware program to keep your software working to minimize any computer issues. An infected hard drive may need replacing. (Ref: PC Magazine)