We all have different computing needs like browsing the web, editing documents, development, running our own home server or editing movies but for me personally I never really felt the need to have more than 8GB of RAM or processor beyond i5 earlier generation, that means my computing needs haven't really changed much in the past decade. I recently made a video about my computers where I talked about when I buy a computer I look for mainly 2 things - how easily can I upgrade it and how easily can I replace it. I own few computers, almost all of them are around 10+ years old and honestly they all work fine for my computing needs even in 2021.
Choose the right operating system and identify your computing needs
I don't do video editing and I don't run virtual machines as well. The last game I played was Quake 3 arena. The most bloated software that I use is probably a browser. I use Emacs and Org Mode for majority of other things. I recently moved to Arch Linux from Fedora which has given my old machine a new life. Arch Linux is bare minimum system and you install things that you need, I am quite sure my machine will run fine for another few years. I use my slowest computers for network storage. Even the very first computer I bought still kinda works but I voluntarily retired it because I couldn't put it to a good use. My father actually installed an FM receiver in it to listen to radio. The machine has Pentium processor with 128MB RAM, so I don't think it is worth trying to do anything productive on it. If you have any idea then please tell me. I was thinking of using it as an emulator for old games.
I still need storage though
I do have lot of files mostly raw images and videos. I stopped shooting in raw couple of years back because it was not needed for my photography requirements and managing big files is a pain. Videos are another problem. I started shooting in H265 format to save on storage but this format is not widely supported yet. So 90% of my storage goes into videos and I also have backup of my backup so yes I need lot of storage but I mostly manage that using external hard disks. I do use cloud storage services like Google Photos, Drive and Dropbox but I always keep my file with me on local storage as well. It is not a fancy setup, just a linux server running samba server. That's it. I believe in owning your own data and I think you. should too.
Text files for life
As I mentioned above I use Emacs and Org Mode for doing most of my work like writing book, coding, making notes, managing my tasks and much more. Good thing about this approach is that everything is in a text format. A word file or an excel sheet stores the information in its own proprietary format and you need these application to open those files. Whereas a simple Org file is a text file which you can open anytime, anywhere or any device without relying on these heavy applications, you can version control them and above all they are light weight. In this video I talked about things you can do with org mode.
Companies want you to purchase the very latest machine because thats what they need to do, which is fine, I am ok with that but whether you fall for it or not is in your control. A 4-5 year old computer is just as fine for your computing needs and it can save you a lot of money. You will be surprised to know that even a used 10 year old top of line laptop can perform far better than the mid range current laptop and you can save 5 to 10 times money. If you don't care about the money then you can ignore this point but most people do even if they are rich.
When you install linux on your machine then it will give you an opportunity to know more about how computers work, how operating system works and it is so much fun customising your own desktop and workflow. I have always used fedora as my main operating system but after moving to Arch Linux I have realised that there is so much more to learn. I started using dwm which is a bare bone tiling window manager and it is so much fun to do simple things like displaying battery percentage in the statusbar.
I can go on and on but I just wanted to write a blog on this topic of never ending obsession about the very latest expensive piece of hardware that we never really end up using fully. It makes me sad that many people do it, people I know very well do it, I tried stopping them, but no they think 16GB or 32GB RAM can solve all of their life problems.
That's it guys.