365 Frugality Tips: Be Smart With Technology

January 30, 2013

Day 30: Year of Renewed Frugality

I am working on a MacBook that I purchased in 2008. I have been a devout Mac customer since the 1990s, after I could no longer take the PC’s blue screen of death, which showed up quite often–usually when I was on deadline and needed to finish an important project.

Ever since I started buying and using Macs, I discovered that the normal life cycle of an Apple computer was three or so years. Not surprisingly in late 2011, three years after I got this current MacBook, the computer started giving me problems.

Even though in the past I just accepted replacing computers every three year, this time around I wanted to find other solutions. I ended up investing in an external hard drive–bought on Black Friday 2011 for about $50–so that I could clean off my computer’s hard drive and help it to run faster. That worked great.

Then in late 2012 more problems started popping up. This time around it was because the operating system on my MacBook was so out of date that websites were finding it incompatible. The biggest issue: I could no longer use any online couponing sites. I looked into upgrading my OS but my Apple-ancient computer couldn’t handle it.

Finally, last week I logged onto Firefox, and I got a message that told me that because my OS was so old, Firefox could no longer guarantee the “safety” of my online browsing.

That was it, I thought, I need a new computer.

Before I headed out to the store, though, I posted about my MacBook situation on a private writers’ forum and discovered this–for less than $200, I would likely be able to upgrade my current computer (even though others had told me I couldn’t) and keep it alive for a few more years.

Sure enough I called Apple and found out that if I upped my RAM from 2G to 4G ($130), purchased the Snow Leopard OS ($19.99) and then upgraded that to the Lion Operating System ($19.99), it would be like having a new computer. (You cannot just jump from my old OS to the most recent OS I discovered, which is why I would have to purchase, install and upgrade two different operating systems.)

I had the RAM installed last Friday, and Snow Leopard arrived yesterday and I installed it. Now I’m just waiting on Lion, which will come with a downloadable link via email in the next three to five business days.

I guess Apple doesn’t want to make it easy on those of us looking for frugality tips to keep older computers alive–you cannot just go to the app store and get either of these operating systems. Nonetheless, knowing that for less than $200 I can save myself from spending $2,000 on a new computer, I will have all the patience in the world.

Oh and get this: when I spoke with Apple last night to place my order for Lion, the tech on the phone asked about my purchase and how I was going to use it. When I explained my $200 solution, he told me that, once everything was installed, I could probably be looking at another three to four years with this MacBook before it was really done for good.

A 2008 MacBook that can last until 2017? Sounds great to me!

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