Can we fix it? Yes we can!

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

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Bob the Builder teaches kids some important lessons in life. First of all he teaches kids that things can be fixed. In fact, anyone can learn to fix things with a little practice, a bit of courage and a positive attitude.

No really.

Bob also recites these three words fairly often too. Reduce. Re-use. Recycle.

Now when it comes to computers, you can’t really be expected to make a nice bay window out of computer parts, nor can you thatch a roof with old monitors. You can however fix them and give them a new lease of life.

So what exactly are your options with an old computer?

You may be able to increase the amount of RAM in your computer. Removing RAM is easy. You will find it secured in place with a couple of levers (one either side). Simply push the levers back and pull the RAM out. To add RAM, do the reverse, pushing firmly into place. Be aware that the RAM needs to be oriented the right way, otherwise it won’t go in. RAM comes in lots of different flavours, but choosing the right one for your machine isn’t difficult. There is a really handy tool that inspects your machine and tells you exactly what you can use and how much. Here’s the link to it: You can buy RAM from there too if you choose to.

Adding extra hard disk space is easy. The simplest way is to attach an external hard drive for storage. This has the added bonus that you can remove it to keep it safe, which is perfect for backups. You can also attach it to a different computer to make data transfer simple. If you don’t mind taking your computer apart, you can add an internal disk. It is not too difficult (similar in difficulty to adding RAM). Both options are fine if you are running out of storage space.

Replacing a failing hard disk or upgrading your existing disk to a larger one is a little more involved if you want to keep everything as is, as you will need to clone the existing disk and then mess around with partition sizes.

If you are worried about computer viruses, or don’t mind starting with a fresh install, then installing Linux on an old machine may be the answer. Linux is Open Source, which means the code is freely available for anyone to use and contribute to. That means there are lots of different distributions that you can try. Many of them have been designed with minimal hardware requirements in mind, which means they will happily run on old equipment. I use Ubuntu myself, which can be downloaded here: If you are using an old machine with 2 GBs of RAM or less, make sure you choose the 32 bit version.

If all of this seems baffling and you want to talk to someone about it, then pop along to the Kinder Tech event in Horsham on the 23rd April. It’s a free event hosted by the Kinder Living Show to be held at County Hall North between 10am and 3pm

You can find more details here:
Alan Stainer