Help Me, Laptop: Can I Change My Own Battery?

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Our laptops must eventually return to the great assembly line in the sky. (Or, if you're responsible, you recycle it). But this week, reader oscarandmutley is trying to keep their machine going.

The reader wrote that after using their machine for 10 minutes, it turns off. So the question is: After seven years, do they need a new laptop?

Probably. Seven years is a long time for a notebook, and there's newer, better technology out there. Displays are better, CPUs are more powerful, and, heck, you're probably a few operating systems out of date.

But OK, you like your current one, so let's take it to its logical extreme. In theory, you may be able to replace the battery, especially on a laptop that's 7 years old. While more and more laptop vendors are making it increasingly difficult to replace parts, older and larger machines often make it easy to swap out parts.

Oscarandmutley didn't tell us which laptop they currently own, so we can't tell them if their battery is replaceable. While third-party companies might sell batteries, I'd recommend finding one from the laptop's company, if you can. Some vendors sell parts online – both HP and Dell have battery stores, for example. If you can’t find yours online, you can also try calling the company to see if they sell it.

MORE: Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

Some machines also come with maintenance manuals, and if they do, be sure to follow it to the letter. Even though you probably don't have a warranty 7 years later, you still don't want to break anything (or hurt yourself). Chances are you're going to need a couple of screwdrivers to get into your laptop, but it's cheaper and less wasteful than getting a new computer.

But if you can't replace the battery, well, you had a nice run.

Seven years is a long time. Oscarandmutley also asked if a desktop would be better suited for them. But without knowing what they use the machine for, I'd say that's only the case if they never want to take their computer with them anywhere.

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