Technology seems to be outdated the minute it hits the store shelves. Like a new car, the minute you take home a new computer, it starts to lose its value. However, unlike a new car, the life of a new computer starts to depreciate the minute you take it home as the technology that powers it quickly becomes obsolete.

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With technology changing so fast, it may be difficult to know when it’s time to cash in your chips and get a newer model. After all, you may be able to squeeze out another few months, or even years, if you’re stubborn or just don’t mind being inconvenienced. If you aren’t sure if you’re holding on long after it’s time to move on, here are 5 signs that it might be time for you to upgrade your computer:

Time to Upgrade Your Computer

Everything Is Running Slow

You log onto your e-mail and it takes a full minute before your inbox appears. You click a link and it seems to take forever before the website opens. A quick 5-minute job in Photoshop turns into a half an hour or more. There never seems to be a “quick” job on your computer anymore.

When your computer starts running slow like this, it’s not just an inconvenience — it’s also a sign that something could be wrong. You may need new memory, a new processor, or some other upgrade. If things seem like they’re running slower, run a diagnostic test to see if you really are suffering a setback in performance or you’re just feeling more impatient than usual.

Your Programs Start Crashing

When you bought your computer, your version of Photoshop probably worked like a dream. Now you open the program and everything locks up for a long time before finally crashing the whole system. No matter what program is causing it, if your computer starts crashing often, it may be a sign that you need to upgrade.

Be sure you have your computer checked for malware or other problems that might be causing the crashes first. However, if you find that you don’t have a virus or other issue causing the problem, you may be in need of new memory, a new processor, a new graphics card, or some other vital component. Get a full diagnostics to find out if you can upgrade the parts or if you’ll need to replace the system entirely.

The System or Components are No Longer Supported

If you’re like me and you are still hanging on to your first-gen iPod (yes, Pod, not Pad), you may have already found out the hard way that when you have a problem with the hardware or the software in older technology, you will likely be up a creek without a paddle. Companies stop supporting their technology after (what I would consider) a relatively short amount of time, including updates to the software, parts for repair, and so on.

If your computer has lived past the point that the company that made it is no longer offering tech support of software or hardware updates, then it may be time to trade it in for a newer model. If you don’t, the next time your hard drive is on the fritz and you need to have your computer serviced, you may find yourself laughed out of the Geek Squad counter instead of coming home with a fully functioning PC.

Your Needs Have Changed

Most of us don’t need our computers for much more than sending e-mail and spying on our co-workers through Facebook. But things change. Maybe you bought your computer wanting an outlet for playing the Sims, but now you have a prestigious job that needs you to design 3D models of irrigation systems or to create HD flash animations of dancing cats.

If your needs for your computer have changed, it may be time to upgrade. You may need significantly more memory, a faster processor, or a more sophisticated graphics or video card. You may be able to replace some of these components individually to meet your needs, or you may have to replace your system entirely. Finding out that one of your components is too weak for your needs tends to have a cascade effect: Your top-of-the-line video processor needs more memory — and so on.

It’s Just Plain Old

If you wait too long to upgrade your computer, you may not have a choice anymore. Think about it: If your computer is still rocking a boxy CRT monitor and a dot matrix printer, chances are that you aren’t going to be able to do anything on it except cross the Oregon Trail. If you have a floppy disk drive or a zip drive, you’ll also be equally dated.

Maybe your situation isn’t so severe, but if you have an older computer whose components and software are just plain out of date, it’s probably time to go ahead and get a newer model. Just think: With all the mileage that you’ve gotten out of your old computer, the new one will probably last you another decade, as well.

There’s no hard and fast rule for when it’s time to upgrade or replace your computer. If you can live with taking 10 minutes to check your e-mail and can endure the sound of a buzz saw whenever you start it up to hop on the Net, then you’ll probably be OK until the computer just stops working entirely. But if you’re not OK with those inconveniences, or if you have greater needs for your computer, then it might be time to get a newer computer or to upgrade the older one.

Of course, if the computer is no longer supported or it’s just plain old, there’s probably no way around getting a new one.

How did you know that it was time to replace your last computer? Tell us about the signs that pushed you to upgrade in the comments!

Carmen Brettel is a writer and manager for, where she has recently been researching financial aid for girls. In her spare time, Carmen enjoys gardening and volunteering at animal shelters.