Laptops in Israel – a surprisingly short lifetime

A few weeks before our planned move to Israel, our desktop computer was totally fried.  Not a hope of fixing it.

I would have felt it was a big splurge to buy a laptop when our desktop was totally fine, but in light of the state our computer was in, dh and I decided to each get laptops.  We bought refurbished models on ebay from a seller who had an excellent history.  It was great to be able to simultaneously downsize the amount of space we needed in our luggage for our computer, while doubling the computer availability.

I was very happy with  my laptop, but dh’s was showing signs of a problem.  Turns out that the small annoyances that he chose to overlook since it was such a busy time before our move that he didn’t want to bother with having to send it back, were part of a bigger problem.  So after a few months, he replaced it with a brand new model.

But as for me, my computer kept chugging along and I’ve felt that our purchase was a good one.  In the last couple of months, I’ve had a couple of computer issues, but they were easily resolved. Until the most recent one – the motherboard is warped due to the heat that this particular model puts out and this had rendered my laptop unusable.  This was nothing that the seller did wrong, and nothing that I did wrong in using it, though knowing what I know now, I would have purchased a cooling pad for it.

Interestingly,the computer repair guy told us that laptops in Israel rarely last more than 2 – 4 years.  This is because there’s so much more dust here and it gets into the inside of the computer where it causes malfunctions.  He’s fixed hundreds of laptops, and he said that in his experience, to get four years out of your laptop, he said you’d have to take it apart about once a year and have it totally cleaned out of any dust that accumulated.

So now we’re trying to decide what to do.  I definitely need a computer – in this interim period I’m grateful to be able to use dh’s, but it’s not usually available until late at night and dd17 also wants to use it then so I have a very minimal amount of time available to me right now, which is a bit frustrating.  The question is, should I replace the laptop with another laptop, or with a desktop?  I’ve gotten used to the flexibility of a laptop and would find it very hard to go back to a desktop, but the idea of spending money every year or two on a laptop and thinking of it as a disposable purchase isn’t so appealing!

What has been your experience with laptops vs. desktop computers?  What would you recommend, and why?  If you live in Israel, has your experience with the lifespan of your laptop been in line with our computer repair person’s?


22 thoughts on “Laptops in Israel – a surprisingly short lifetime

  1. Interesting you say that, as I had my first laptop in Israel for 4,5 years and then it pretty much nearly died… and had my current laptop for only a year and a bit and its already getting very slow and hard to use…
    I don’t know what you typically use your computer for, and I don’t know how tablets compare, but can you get a tablet for cheaper than a computer, and does it have the same issues as laptops?

  2. Hmmm, my only thought on this is that perhaps from a family perspective it’s better to have a computer rooted to the ground, so you know where it is at all times. I also think it’s easier to become computer addicted when you can take it anywhere….Thoughts?

    1. Shuli, part of what I like about a laptop is that I’m not limited to being in the office when I use the computer, in which case I’m very much away from the kids. I like being able to be online and be in the main part of the house where the kids are, and I like that I can position myself to be facing wherever they are, rather than having my back to them. Also, I don’t have a place in the living room/dining room combo of my house in which I can put a desktop, and we’ve always felt that a computer shouldn’t be put in a private area but in a place where there’s a lot of traffic, as a safety measure.

  3. Hmmm… it sounds like the laptop gets more use, if that’s what you mean by the “flexibility” of a laptop. So that could be part of the wear-n-tear. A desktop is very easy to maintain (esp. to open it and blow/vac the dust out) and also easier to switch out parts if something malfunctions; they’re more likely to be standard parts, though laptops are better now than they were…

  4. I have sadly come to look at laptops as disposable. I rarely get 2 years out of mine (in Canada). After several expensive laptops died in ashort time frame, we now buy the absolute cheapest and hope for the best.

  5. as a university student in israel i can tell you that my computer is now 4 years old and still going strong. My husband replaced his computer after 4.5 years, but the old one still works, it is just slow and we do use it if we need to.
    I have friends who kept their computers for 6 or more years before deciding to upgrade to a newer model.
    I think the disposability of the laptop really has to do with the market and the fact that after 2-4 years your computer is REALLY outdated.

  6. I wouoold opt for a desktop in your situation. It usually is cheaper too. (My laptop in the US that I treated really badly lasted 4-5 years.)

  7. Everything gets dusty in this country! But really dusty! Even indoors with the windows closed!! That’s the climate here :-)

    My husband cleans out the inside of our desktop about every year, as it is, and I don’t think we’ve ever had a desktop last more than 4 or 5 years despite that. As soon as we hear the computer’s fans sounding strange/loud, it means they’re full of dust, and it’s time to clean them again…

    So I’d say go with whatever’s cheapest (that’s still good quality) that meets your needs, and either get it cleaned regularly, or accept its relatively short lifespan (whether desktop or laptop).

    And incidentally, you can usually get the best prices online, with free delivery.

  8. I’ve had similar problems with two laptops over the past three years since my aliyah, although seemingly from electrical issues. Both were hand me downs, but I expected them to last much longer. I am now trying to determine our answer to the same question.
    In contacting one computer place, I was told both laptops and desktops have their pros and cons. If I ever get to call back and hear of them I will let you know. :)
    FYI, my mother lent me a tablet to keep up skyping until I get a computer and i don’t like it at all. I find numerous aspects very limiting, and in looking up solutions have seen how one must do research to know what a particular tablet can and can’t do before purchasing. Just a thought, if that’s a possible consideration. Also, aside from a laptop, I actually had a netbook, also a cheaper option, but truly annoyingly small, also limited, in my opinion, and not worth repairing in any instance of a problem, as I was told by another tech.
    I’m very interested to see upcoming responses, and if I ever get to a real keyboard, will post more thoughts, if not posted already! Lol:) good luck

  9. This might be off topic, however I teach piano in Toronto Canada, and even though I was in the music business and studied piano for a many years, I never wanted to teach, so I never got a teaching degree. Eventually I started teaching anyway, and in my part of Canada if you work for yourself you do not need a teaching degree or license. I heard that in Israel you also do not need a teaching degree as long as you work for yourself, I don’t know about a license though. Avivah, I would appreciate it very much if would know if that is true about teaching in Israel not needing a teaching degree as long as you work for yourself. Also I wanted to know if there are other music teachers in Karmiel who teach students one on one, or are most of the music lessons done in a group setting, and are these group settings subsidized by the government? I want to thank you for any help you can give me on this matter, or if you would know any persons in Karmiel who could answer my questions, or even other readers of yours on your blog. I hope to make aliyah to Israel next year and to karmiel, and I know jobs are not easy to get in Israel, and espeically in the north.
    Avivah, thank you again.

    1. Hi, Robert,

      I don’t know the answer about teaching certification here – I know in the schools you do need to be certified. But teaching privately I don’t think you need anything, not in the US or here. Since there’s a huge Russian community here, there are a lot of music teachers (they were trained there at a high level), as well as a music conservatory locally. I believe most lessons are one on one rather than in a group, but since I haven’t looked into this, I can’t give you solid facts about this.

      Good luck!

  10. I’ve never had a laptop, but when my (really old) desktop died I couldn’t decide between a laptop or desktop.In the end I decided on an all-in-one which takes up less space but is not a laptop (ie portable). reason being that I have kids and a laptop is more fragile. (spilling things, moving it around etc) I am really happy with my decision. My bil who is the computer expert in the family steered me away from refurbished because sometimes they can be really problematic if you are not an expert, and I am not. I’m not sure if you would be bringing in from the states or buying in EY, but since where I live everything cost triple at least, I brought it with me from NY when I visited. has good deals .

  11. That’s a hard question. I managed to squeeze nearly 7 years out of a high-end Apple desktop (that I had bought on the cheap as that model was being phased out) but I really dislike being “chained” to a desk at home.

    For laptops, even with the RAM maxed out I feel like 4 years is about the longest I can go and it’s usually closer to 3 before it becomes too slow to put up with. I also agree with Sharon – netbooks are so underpowered that they’re really only good for specific business/travel needs. I’ve mostly switched my thinking from computer as big investment to computer as something with a limited lifespan.

  12. I have an old Dell Inspiron laptop (c. February, 2005) that we finally replaced in January, 2011, and only because it was so slow it couldn’t keep up. The battery doesn’t hold a charge (that’s a fairly standard problem with any laptop over 3 years old, according to the manufacturer, and it’s why they sell replacement batteries), though otherwise it still works just fine, I just don’t have the patience for it. We replaced it with a DELL desktop (since with no battery power, that’s how we were using it anyway) and a DELL netbook, which is so far so good.

    Before the 2005 laptop was a replacement of a 2004 laptop…which was replaced because it was stolen. That one was a replacement of a Compaq laptop, purchased in March of 2000…in Canada. That one actually died and it was not worth fixing (I’d already done so a couple of times). And that laptop replaced a 1995 Compaq desktop. So my computers all seem to last about 5 years…except for that DELL laptop that was good for 6.

  13. “For Your servants desire her stones and cherish her dust.” (Tehillim 102:4-15)

    The laptops that we bought in Israel and brought back to the States didn’t last that long. They were also more expensive. We had them refunded here through the English-speaking manufacturer customer service.

  14. I have been fixing computers for many years both here and in the US, and will put in a few thoughts.
    1) Laptop vs Desktop: a current mid level laptop will meet the needs of 80% of users, take up less space, use less power, and be more versatile.
    2) Desktop computers can usually be bought on specs alone as they all use standard interchangeable components. Further, if something goes bad it can be easily replaced. A year after your purchase the two most expensive components, the CPU and Motherboard will likely not exceed $2-300 to replace.
    3) Laptops should not be bought based on specs alone. Read every reputable hands on review you can get because they will uncover the important design flaws that will render the machine a pleasure or a pain.
    4) The most durable laptops are usually from a company’s corporate line (ie dell Latitude).
    5) Only buy a refurb (typically a machine that was returned, not broken) that is a current model from the original company and only if it comes with a full warranty. Do not buy refurbs from third party sellers, and never buy a refurbished laptop that is one or more years old. You can buy a very usable New laptop for $400 if you look out for sales, Why spend nearly that much on something used and 2 generations behind.
    6) The issue of dust here is worth considering. So, a) buy a laptop that runs cool initially and does not need to run it’s cooling fan constantly. The less the fan runs the less dust is blown into the computer. b) buy a can of compressed gas and blow out the dust from all the open ports, fan grills etc every month. c) Turn the computer off or have it go into sleep mode when not in use. d) Consider upgrading your laptop to a SSD (solid state drive) this will run cooler, faster, and use less power)

    7) For the most part computers do not physically slow down over time. The computer simply becomes bloated with resource hogging software and the operating system slows down by having to deal with more services. Uninstall unused programs and drivers, even when the computer is brand new. As a last resort reformatting the computer’s drive and reinstalling windows will bring most computers back to life. The latest versions of windows have gotten better and faster, so if you are careful this may never need to do this. Also avoid programs that do little more than slow things down and cause conflicts (virtually every so-called utilities suite) and driver installations that include unnecessary components (virtually everything from HP). Unless you are unwise about which sites you visit and what you download, Microsoft’s free security essentials is all you need as far as an antivirus solution.

    8) On a laptop virtually every component is tightly integrated with the Motherboard. Anything from a faulty power port to a video display problem will entail replacing the motherboard. This is why an extended warranty is not a bad idea for a laptop.

    9) Is the battery life on you laptop kaput? That is no reason to ditch it. Get a new battery from a reputable non-OEM source. Is the keyboard messed up? It is usually very simple to replace and the part will run less than $30. Does it not power on? perhaps the power brick is dead. Rule that out before chucking the whole thing. Did the hard drive die? This is usually very easy and inexpensive to replace, but you will have to reinstall the OS and all the programs you use. (I highly recommend Ninite for installing all the typical free applications we all use).

    10) Computers (not printers) do not require voltage converters. They require only the correct plug. On a desktop there is a small switch to switch the power supply to 220-240V (did you forget to do this and blow out the PS, Trust me, the rest of the computer is probably fine, and a new PS is inexpensive). Your computer’s LCD monitor probably can do the is automatically. On a laptop the external power supply does this automatically.

    Anyway, following these tips and with a bit of luck you can keep a laptop running for a good five years and a desktop for at least that long. My current everyday laptop is now a bit over five years old, I kept my wife’s last laptop going for 6 until I retired it so she could run some newer software,

    BTW, my recommended specs for current laptop no matter the size is a core i5, 4 to 6 GB RAM, 500-1000 GB 7200RPM HD – unless you know you won’t need the space (or a smaller SSD). Useful things to look for that are usually not standard are a higher resolution screen with a minimum vertical resolution of 900 pixels(most screens on consumer level laptops now have “HD” screens that do not offer enough vertical screen real estate), a backlit keyboard, and the increasingly rare anti-glare screen. Features not worth paying for for most people include a discrete graphics card. If you very seldom use an optical drive, consider a lighter notebook without it.

    1. Wow, MJ, what an amazingly informative comment! Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of this – I’m going to use your suggestions to help me decide on a new computer. Thanks!

  15. As a very new student one of the real challenges has been to find where to purchase new or used laptops in Israel. Websites are usually in Hebrew and very few have translation into English options. I am partial to the Apple Mac Book, but at this stage I will try just about anything.
    Can someone please give me some information?

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