How do you know when it’s time for a new computer?


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This week, a reader writes: “Question: When is it time to replace a computer?

“I bought a 27-inch iMac in 2018. It still works. But it’s starting to have a minor glitch or two. Most prominently, I often need to click on an icon many times before it’ll open. I don’t want to unnecessarily replace the Mac too soon, but I don’t want to wait until it stops functioning. So, I wonder, when is the best time to replace? How can I know?

“In case it’s relevant, a couple of configuration facts: 3.8 GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, and a 3 TB Fusion Drive. A year or two ago, the Apple store told me to turn it off each night. I don’t think storage is a problem — I apparently have 2.55 TB of 3.12 TB available. And I regularly clear cookies.”

I get this question a lot.

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It can be difficult to know when it is the right time to upgrade, but the reader leaves a lot of clues.

First, the computer still works, but programs don’t always launch on the first try. That can mean the processor is busy doing other things in the background and not giving enough priority to user input.

If your computer is acting up, that’s a big sign that things are not right. The Fusion Drive is not full, which is good, but Fusion Drives can be problematic.

Fusion Drives combine a small solid-state drive and a larger spinning hard drive that combine to appear as one volume.

I never cared for that technology, and Apple didn’t keep it around long. It was seen as a stopgap compromise between expensive SSDs and cheaper spinning drives.

I know plenty of people who have replaced the Fusion Drives in their iMacs because of poor performance.

It is possible to remove the Fusion Drive and replace it with a larger SSD, but that might not be worth the hassle and expense.

Also, Apple no longer makes computers with Intel processors. They’ve moved on to making their own chips, which are much faster.

It’s a 2018 iMac, which isn’t that old, but as a user, it is important to keep up with operating system updates and security patches. Apple does a pretty good job of helping users keep up to date with automatic updates (you should turn on…