The Joys of Fixing Your Own Stuff

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Whether by necessity or choice, lots of us are adopting acts of frugal self-reliance like baking our own bread, teaching our own children — and fixing our own busted iPhone screens.

Kyle Wiens, iFixit’s chief executive, said more people have become inclined to fix their own gadgets because of financial hardship, lack of access to repair shops and boredom. But he said he believed there’s also something bigger at work here.

If we bought less and kept what we have alive for longer, we’d save money, be gentler on the planet and learn how resourceful we are.

Wiens has three suggestions to help us budding D.I.Y. types. First, that thing you worry is too complicated and dangerous to fix yourself probably isn’t.

“Our message is, give yourself a chance,” Wiens said. (There are limits. Wiens said some products, like old-fashioned television sets, are actually dangerous to fix. If your TV is one with a bulging back end rather than a flat screen, skip it.)

Second, Wiens said, when we buy a new product, we can consider how long it might last and how easy it would be to repair. Wiens suggested checking online for parts and repair manuals of older versions of the product. That’s a sign that the manufacturers have longevity in mind.

This shouldn’t be necessary, but it is because some products are D.I.Y.-proof. Fixing the home button on some iPhones, for example, requires software that only Apple has. (Apple says this preserves the safety and integrity of our iPhones.)

Unlike a hard disk, an SSD has no moving parts, making it faster to load files and apps. It will also be quieter and less likely to fail. Expect to pay around $60 for an SSD with 500 gigabytes, which should be more than large enough for Windows as well as your files, apps and games.

You could also upgrade your computer’s memory (RAM), especially if you have 4 gigabytes or less. More RAM is especially helpful if your computer is slow to switch between multiple apps or browser tabs, or if it slows down noticeably as you open more apps at once.

Don’t spend more than $100 or $150 on new parts, especially if your computer is more than four or five years old. Consider saving that money toward a new system instead.

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