Laptops are an important part of our daily lives. We rely on them for communication and entertainment, but also to store our important photos, documents, and data.
Whether you're a student writing papers or an officer worker who travels for business, there’s a laptop out there that fits your needs and budget. We can help you find the right one for you.
At Asurion, our experts help millions of people get the most out of their tech. Here's our 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 it last longer.
What is the average lifespan of a laptop?
Your laptop should last at least 4-5 years, but it can last even longer depending on:
- The quality of the hardware
- How often you use it and what you use it for
- How frequently you give it a tune-up
We'll break down each of these factors and show the effect they have on the average lifespan of a laptop.
Does the quality of your laptop’s hardware affect its lifespan?
From Dell® to Apple®, to Google® and Samsung®, there are many different laptops on the market. They may all look different and serve different needs, but there's 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 these laptops based on their lifespan, it's important to consider that different computers 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 as well. Here are the key hardware components in laptops and how each affects the lifespan of the device:
RAM or Memory
Your laptop’s Random Access Memory (RAM) stores data temporarily so that the device can use it, but not keep it long-term.
The more RAM your laptop has, the faster it'll run, and the longer you can use it without noticing any slowdown. Different laptops come with different amounts of RAM, but most laptops let you add extra memory to increase performance speed.
How much RAM do you need in your computer? That all depends on what you'll be using the laptop for and how much memory you need to finish those tasks—read our guide to laptop memory needs to learn more.
Hard drives and SSD
The hard drive is the component that stores long-term information on your laptop, so you don’t lose important data. All laptops come with a hard drive built in, but its size depends on what the laptop is made for and how much power it needs.
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, but 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 isn't difficult, but it does involve opening the laptop and moving some things around, so we recommend you reach out to a pro for help with upgrading your laptop hard drive.
Battery power is crucial to the lifespan of your laptop. As your device ages, it's typically the first component to slow down. Taking care of the battery and knowing some tips and tricks will help you extend its life and keep your laptop running longer.
How long should a laptop battery last? You may be surprised to learn that they're only meant to last about 500 charging cycles. A charging cycle is when your battery depletes completely, from 100% to 0%, then charges back to 100%. The more you drain your laptop's battery, the fewer charge cycles it has left. If you can preserve charging cycles, your laptop's lifespan will be longer.
Here are some quick tips on how to extend your laptop's battery life:
- 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. Another option: use battery saver mode.
- Shut off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and reduce your screen’s 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 replacing your laptop battery.
How you use your laptop largely affects its lifespan
Laptop hardware matters, 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's 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 periods of 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 custom changes 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'll 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'll last them 4-5 years or even longer.
Laptop care and 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. 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 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 operating system updates affect a laptop over time.
Because software is constantly evolving, new updates will always require more power from the device. When installing an operating system update on a newer laptop, you probably won't notice a difference in the speed or battery life because its new and still has the bandwidth to handle the updates. But as laptops age, they don't always have the power needed to run the new updates, and attempting to install software updates on your laptop will result in malfunctions and a significant slowdown.
When a device gets to be around 8-10 years old, the manufacturer knows it won't be able to handle running new updates and often won't allow you to install them anymore.
Laptop anti-virus 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'll shorten a laptop's lifespan faster than a virus.
As our technology gets smarter every day, so do cybercriminals. They're constantly finding more ways to crack into our devices and get their hands on our personal information. (One common tactic: phishing emails) Some of these viruses and malware are designed to damage your computer's programs, files, and hard drive, rendering them useless. Antivirus software is affordable (sometimes even free), easy to use, and will check your laptop daily for any signs of viruses or malware that could harm your device.
If you think your laptop may already be infected with a virus or malware, there's still hope—reach out to an expert for help with virus and spyware removal.
Liquid spills and your laptop
Laptops and liquids of any kind simply don't mix. The inner components of a laptop are delicate, and fluids can wreak serious havoc if they get inside. Water can quickly corrode and damage crucial components. Other liquids, like soda and coffee, can leave behind a residue that causes short circuits. Once a laptop's motherboard or key components are exposed to liquid, speed is key—take it to a laptop expert as soon as possible to have the damage assessed. 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.
We always recommend you keep your electronics in open spaces off 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 there's 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.
Apple® laptops are known for their high-quality components and for allowing people to seamlessly connect their phones, tablets, laptops, and other accessories. They also offer frequent operating system and model updates, which can be great, but can also make the devices you already own obsolete more quickly.
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. One manufacturer isn't inherently better than the other, it comes down to what you need your device to do and which serves your needs better.
Laptop lifespan and 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'll 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 better you care for your laptop, the longer it'll last. Asurion Experts recommend regular maintenance along with upgrading parts when they start to show signs of slowing down.
If you need a hand choosing the right laptop or upgrading parts, stop by the nearest uBreakiFix® by Asurion or Asurion Tech Repair & Solutions™ store. Our experts are happy to help.
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. Also consider regularly deep-cleaning your laptop.
- 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 to learn more about your upgrade options, like those at your nearest uBreakiFix® by Asurion or Asurion Tech Repair & Solutions™ store.
- If you're a power user that fills up on storage quickly, investing in an external hard drive 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.
Nothing ruins productivity like a laptop breakdown
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