OK, that title is a little cheeky, so let me explain. While a little technical, hang with me and we'll get to the financial impact at the end.
I've heard from a lot of people that their machine has been slowing down. The first obvious reaction is to assume that it's because the computer has been getting on in age. In fact, most of you probably heard that computers need to be replaced every couple of years. This isn't necessarily true though. When people say computers are out-dated in 2 years it's because the technology has advanced so much and the new software is designed for the new system. However, if you're running the same software as always it doesn't need to run any faster than it did when you bought it. Like all machines though they do break down and parts need to be replaced. Sometimes those parts cost more than a new computer and that's when it's time to move on.
The problem with Microsoft Windows is the way files are written to disk and the way the internal database (registry) is written to. Over time the file system and the registry end up as messed up as a ball of yarn after my cat is through with it. The computer starts searching for the information it needs and becomes lost in the tangle causing all your slowness. Throw in some spy ware and a virus or two and the machine seems to grind to a halt.
So the financial impact? I needed a windows machine for school and I figured that meant spending a couple of grand that I didn't have. I'd already tried the typical tools that were suppose to speed it up my existing box, but to no avail. It took 10 minutes just to start up, so there was no way I was going to want that stress while in school. Finally figuring I had nothing to lose, I erased the hard drive and re-installed everything. It was like night and day. Still not the fastest machine in the world, but 100 times better than before the re-install. It was a pain to do, but it was worth it in the end.
Maybe Windows 7 has fixed these issues, but I doubt it. Even if they have,how much time and money do I need to invest in them before I just give up. Mac's don't have any of the above mentioned issues. The only issue they seem to have is not running certain software. The problem for me is that I still need Windows to run AccPac and QuickBooks, but hopefully that will change one day.
So before you buy another machine you don't need, why not try a re-install instead. When it does come time for a new machine, if you don't have any Windows specific apps like me, buy a Mac. It might seem more expensive, but factor in your time for maintenance, the time wasted waiting for a boot-up or an app to run, and the time waster removing viruses. Not to mention the nice Mac safety features like the magnetic power cord. This little feature would have saved me from needing to replace my laptop.
Any Windows lovers out there that care to disagree? Any apps you can't live without?