September 27th, 2021
How long does a laptop last?
Laptops are an important part of our daily lives. We rely on them as the hub for our communication and entertainment, but also as a space to store all of our important photos, documents, and data.
Whether you're a student writing papers or a business person on the move, you can be confident that there is a laptop out there that fits your needs and budget. That said, even a smaller laptop is still an investment—and keeping it protected is important.
Asurion Experts help our millions of customers to get the most of the tech they rely on every day. Here's their guide to everything you need to know about your laptop's lifespan plus ways to take care of your laptop—both inside and out—to help extend its life.
What is the average lifespan of a laptop?
Most manufacturers will say that the average laptop lifespan is anywhere between 3-8 years. Why the large gap? Because there are a lot of factors that affect the lifespan of a laptop. Some of these factors include:
- The quality of the hardware
- How often you use it & what you use it for
- How often you perform regular maintenance
The good news is that nearly all of these factors are in the user's control. The more you know about choosing the right computer for your needs or knowing when to perform maintenance, the longer you will be able to extend your laptop's lifespan. We'll break down each of these factors to illustrate the effect they have on the average lifespan of a laptop.
Does the quality of laptop hardware affect lifespan?
From Dell® to Apple®, to Google® and Samsung®, there is seemingly no limit to the number of different laptops on the market. They may all look a little different and serve different needs, but there is truly something out there for everyone. Whether you prefer the biggest MacBook Pro® or the smallest Chromebook®, each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
When evaluating them based on their lifespan, it's important to consider that different laptops will have different hardware components based on their power capabilities. These components not only play a big role in the laptop's lifespan, but in its price point as well. Here are the key hardware components in laptops and how each affects the lifespan of the device:
RAM or Memory
Have you ever had to delete programs or data from your device because your device's storage was full? That's your device's memory, or RAM. RAM means Random Access Memory, and this component of a laptop stores data temporarily so that the device can use it, but not keep it long-term.
The more RAM your device has the faster it will run, and the longer you will be able to use it without noticing any slowdown. Different laptops come with different amounts of RAM, but most laptops allow you to add extra to increase the memory. How much RAM do you need in your computer? That all depends on what you will be using the laptop for and how much memory you need to complete those tasks.
Hard drives and SSD
The hard drive is the component that stores information long-term so that even if the device is turned off and on, important data isn't lost. All laptops come with a hard drive built in, but what size hard drive depends on what the laptop is made for and how much power they need.
For example, higher-end laptops have a different kind of hard drive called an SSD or solid-state drive. SSDs do the same job as a hard drive, just a little bit better—they can hold more storage, plus they're faster.
If you want a more powerful and faster laptop, finding one with an SSD is a smart move, but you can also use an SSD to upgrade an older laptop that didn't come with one. This process is not difficult, but it does involve opening up the laptop and moving some things around. You can contact a local laptop repair pro for help on this kind of upgrade.
Battery power is a particularly crucial factor when considering the lifespan of a laptop, as its typically the first component to slow down as the device ages. Taking care of the battery and knowing some tips and tricks will help you extend the battery's life and keep your laptop running longer.
How long should a laptop battery last? You may be surprised to learn that they're actually only meant to last through around 500 charging cycles. A charging cycle is when your battery depletes completely, from 100% to 0%, then charges back to 100%. The more times you drain your laptop's battery, the fewer charge cycles it has left. If you're able to preserve charging cycles, your laptop's lifespan will be longer.
Here are some quick tips on how to extend your laptop's battery:
- Keep your laptop in hibernation or sleep mode when you're not using it. This will prevent the battery from draining unnecessarily.
- Close apps and background programs that drain your battery, or use battery saver mode.
- Shut off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and reduce your display brightness when you're not using your device as these are big battery wasters.
Worried about overcharging? Don't be! Modern laptops and devices self-regulate their batteries so overcharging isn't an issue anymore.
Once your battery life drops to around half of its original battery life, you should consider investing in a battery upgrade.
How you use your laptop largely affects its lifespan
Laptop hardware matters and it plays a big factor in your laptop's lifespan, but how you use a laptop plays a much bigger role in determining its longevity. In this section, we will break down the different types of laptop users and how long the lifespan of their best-suited device could be if maintained properly.
A power user is someone who is better at computer skills than the standard user, like students, graphic designers, and web developers. This kind of user requires a powerful, high-end laptop that can run larger programs and withstand continuous use. These laptops will require more maintenance and will be more expensive than a standard laptop, but will work well and fast for a long time.
Much like power users, avid gamers need laptops that can withstand longer use and can run programs that require lots of power. Because of the higher price point, these machines are built to last longer, between 7-8 years, but require more frequent and more advanced maintenance. Many gamers even build their own computers with specialty parts and customization so that they can run games for hours at a time.
Small to medium business users
Those who use their laptops for small to medium business purposes have the luxury of choice when it comes to laptops. Because they typically need their devices for sending emails, accessing the internet, and running smaller programs, they can use a more affordable laptop and be confident that it will last a while.
A casual, home laptop user who only uses their device for online shopping, streaming, and writing emails doesn't need a high-powered, expensive laptop. This kind of user can confidently spend less money on a laptop and as long as it's taken care of, it will last them 3-5 years or even longer.
Laptop care & maintenance is critical
Just like your washing machine or air conditioner, care and maintenance play a big role in determining how long a laptop will last. By regularly checking the health of your laptop and doing some basic caretaking, you can keep it working better for longer. From software checkups to creating a safe workspace, we've broken down the best tips for laptop maintenance for you.
Operating system updates
Every few years, a manufacturer will release a new OS, or operating system, for their laptops and devices. These new updates usually have improved software and security, plus access to the latest programs and apps. If you want to use your laptop for a long time, it's important to know how OS updates affect a laptop over time.
Because software is constantly evolving, new updates will always require more power from the device. When installing an OS update on a newer laptop, you probably won't notice a difference in the speed or battery life because it's new and still has the bandwidth to handle the updates. But as laptops age, they don't always have the power required to run the new updates, and attempting to install them will result in malfunctions and a significant slowdown. Because of this, when a device is around 8-10 years old, new updates may become “unsupported." This means that the manufacturer knows the device won't be able to handle running it and you won't be able to install the update.
Laptop antivirus software
If you want your laptop to last a long time, it's important to regularly check for and prevent viruses and malware. There's nothing that will shorten a laptop's lifespan faster than a virus turning it into a glorified paperweight.
As our technology gets smarter every day, so do cybercriminals. They are constantly finding more ways to crack into our devices and get their hands on our personal information, like phishing emails. Some of these viruses and malware are designed to damage your computer's programs, files, and hard drive, rendering them useless to you. Antivirus software is affordable (sometimes even free), easy to use, and will check your laptop daily for any signs of viruses or malware that would harm your device.
Liquid spills and your laptop
Laptops and liquids of any kind simply do not mix. The inner components of a laptop are very delicate and fluids can wreak serious havoc if they get inside. Water can quickly form corrosion and damage crucial components. Other liquids, like soda and coffee, can leave behind residue that causes short circuits. Once a laptop's motherboard or key components have liquid damage, no amount of repair can bring them back. So if you want your laptop to last you a long time, keep it away from any exposure to moisture or liquids.
Pets and dusty environments
Where you keep your laptop can also affect its lifespan. Dust and pet hair are the silent killers of a lot of electronics because they can get sucked into the laptop's internal fan and eventually stop it from working. It is always recommended to keep your electronics in open spaces off of the floor, so that dust, pet hair, and loose fibers can't get into the fans. Learn more ways to keep your fan clean and keep your laptop from overheating.
The Mac vs. PC debate: which lasts longer?
Asurion Experts get asked all the time if Macs or PCs last longer—and the truth is, there is no right answer. This great debate is a great example of how it really depends on what you're planning to use your laptop for and how much power you need to complete those things.
Apple laptops are known for their high-quality components, as well as their connected ecosystem, that allows users to seamlessly connect their phones, tablets, laptops and other accessories. They also offer frequent OS and model updates, which can be great, but can also potentially make the devices you already own obsolete quicker.
Laptops that use the Windows operating system have access to more apps, services, and accessory products than Macs, but the endless choices can make narrowing down which system is best for you more challenging. The bottom line is that one manufacturer is not inherently better than the other, it comes down to what you need a device to do and which serves your needs better.
Laptop lifespan & repairability
A final factor affecting laptop lifespan to consider is how repairable the device is. Repairability is determined by how easy it is to fix or replace one individual component on a device without ruining its functionality. For example, if the screen or touchpad were to malfunction, could it be fixed without ruining the device? Repairability gives you the freedom to extend the life of your laptop once it starts to show its age, saving you money and hassle. Battery replacements and RAM upgrades are examples of common upgrades that will make an old laptop run like new again.
So… how long should a laptop last?
While some laptops are built to withstand more use than others, the bottom line is that the better you care for your laptop, the longer that it will last. Asurion Experts recommend regular maintenance along with upgrading parts when they begin to show signs of slowing down.
If you'd like assistance choosing the right laptop or upgrading parts, the helpful technicians at uBreakiFix by Asurion are happy to assist.
Tips for extending the life of your laptop
Understanding the lifespan of a laptop has everything to do with how it's used, but there are plenty of steps that you can take to extend the life of your laptop.
- Unless you use it consistently (every few hours), you should shut down your laptop overnight.
- Store and use your laptop in a clean area free of dust and pet hair. You can use compressed air to clean the keyboard, vents, and fans if they start to accumulate dust.
- If you start to see signs that your laptop is slowing down, look into upgrading individual components like RAM or storage space. You can seek the advice of a repair expert, like the helpful technicians at uBreakiFix by Asurion, to learn more about your upgrade options.
- If you're a power user that fills up on storage quickly, investing in an external hard drive to work from will save you from constantly deleting and moving files around.
- Battery maintenance is an important part of making your laptop last. Batteries generate the most heat in a laptop and if it gets too hot from overuse or blockage, it can shut down or drain. Keep track of how hot the bottom and sides of it feel as you use it. If it gets too hot to touch, close any open programs, shut the device down, and make sure air is flowing under it.
Tech is expensive. Protect it all.
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