Has your computer ever refused to turn on when you hit the power button? Or maybe it turned on, but only to display a blue screen? The best (really the worst) is when you’ve been working on a document or presentation all day, and your hard drive crashes.

If this has yet to happen to you, you’re likely overdue. The following signs indicate your computer may be close to death:

  • A blue screen is often a sign of a driver conflict or hardware issue. When your formerly fully functional PC displays a blue screen informing you that a serious error has occurred, it could mean total failure, or require a simple reboot.
  • Lengthy start up or shut down times may mean that your computer is overwhelmed by too much software, or particular programs are not shutting down properly. Or it could mean that motherboards or hard drives are not long for this world.
  • If you hear strange noises, like beeping, whirling, or grinding, during startup or when computing, this may be a sign of hardware failure.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Like a Boy Scout, be prepared. Here are a few things to keep in mind to prepare you and/or avoid issues with your computer.

Back up your data. There are many options for real-time automatic backups to the cloud, as well as for local backup. Combine both, and you’ll never lose your data.

Back up your set-up. A great way to do this is by using something like Belarc Advisor, a free program, to take a snapshot of all your software and serial numbers. Set a monthly reminder to take two minutes and do this manually. It will provide an easy guide of what to install when you replace your computer.

Replace your personal computer every two to three years. If you are a casual user, you can ignore this. But if you’re on your PC for four or more hours a day, it will need to be replaced eventually. And setting up your new PC will be far easier to do if the old one is still functioning.

Computers are like shoes. They wear out, and replacing is preferable to repairing. And like shoes, once you break your new computer in, you’ll be happy.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto, discusses hackers hacking hotels on CNBC. Disclosures

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