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Here's one upgrade that you desktop PC and Mac users might not have thought of. Adding a bigger screen to your system – or, if the system allows, a second display – is an excellent way to improve performance without having to crack open your system.
If you work with a lot of applications at once, or your job involves having to split your attention between two or more applications/data sources, then adding a second screen means you can give the applications you use more screen real estate, making them visible all the time.
Many modern systems have two ports (or sometimes more) for displays. If not, you can add a graphics card that will support multi-monitors.
Even notebooks can support dual screens, although with some you may have to invest in an adapter.
Don't underestimate the enormous productivity boost that adding a bigger -- or second -- display will bring.
Don't feel like cracking your system open to add more storage, or perhaps you want to add a LOT of storage, then external storage is the way to go.
Here you have loads of options, ranging from a single one-disk external drive that connects to your system via USB (1TB should cost about $80), to something more elaborate that can offer many terabytes of storage and be accessible to a number of PCs over a network (a 16TB LaCie Quadra Big will set you back $1,600).
If your system has a Thunderbolt port then there are a number of extremely fast external storage devices that make use of this port, but expect to pay a premium for this sort of performance.
Running an old operating system? Then upgrading to a new version might give your system a spring clean and bring with it some new features for you to play with.
Upgrading Windows or Mac systems is pretty easy, and far less problematic than they once were. Macs are especially easy to upgrade because the process is essentially a one-click download from the Mac App Store.
Mac OS X upgrades are also cheap, costing only $20.
Windows upgrades cost more, but hardware support goes much further back, so there's a better chance that you can upgrade an older system to the latest version.
Anyone thinking of upgrading should check to see if his or her system can handle the upgrade before pulling the trigger on buying it. For Windows users Microsoft has an Upgrade Assistant, while Apple's offering is some simple instructions on checking your hardware.
Personally, unless the hardware is relatively new – no more than five years for a PC, and about three years for a Mac – I'd save my upgrade money and put it towards a new system, and the costs outweigh the benefits.