How long can a desktop last?

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by sportsfan7700, Oct 14, 2011.

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  1. sportsfan7700

    sportsfan7700 Registered Member

    I think my 6 year old desktop PC is could be on it's last legs running vista. (just not speedy as it used to be, despite virus scans being clean) My question is two fold:

    1). Is it worth it to just replace the HD, keep the current PC with all my applications
    2). Buy a new Intel based faster model since the holidays are coming up?
    3). How long do desktop computers typically last? I run a few programs (Dragon 11 for one) and the responsiveness just isn't there like it used to be.

    Opinions are welcome.


    Except mine is 2 gigs.
  2. Cudni

    Cudni Global Moderator

    I would go for 2. Treat yourself
  3. cozumel

    cozumel Registered Member

    Personally, I would reformat and reload software, double up on the ram (really cheap upgrade) and maybe upgrade the OS too (make better use of the RAM). It should in theory last for many more years.
  4. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

    Well, I recently retired my Win2K desktop (my home office computer) after 7 years of great service. Why? Because some of my new photography programs wouldn't install. So much for backward compatability!

    Upgrading the OS wasn't feasible because of motherboard and other incompatabilities, so I opted for your Option #2, as Cudni has recommended!

    I opted for a new laptop computer because laptops are now powerful and fast. It was nice to rid my office of the tower sitting on the floor!


  5. Searching_ _ _

    Searching_ _ _ Registered Member

    How long they last depends on how hard you push it, how clean you keep it, quality of the MB, quality of the power supply, the right size PS, etc.

    Heat is the biggest PC killer so check your temps to see where they are at.
    An hard drive can slow down a system easily and it can be affected by heat.
    Graphics can be affected by heat which affects the PCI bus, slowing down the PC.

    So the first thing I would do is check temps before I go on a part replacing binge or new computer purchase.

    If your going to buy new build your own, this way you control the end product and can build in for future scalability.
  6. TonyW

    TonyW Registered Member

    I don't know what the average lifespan is, but my desktop is 9 years, 4 months old. It still has 256MB RAM and using Windows XP. The memory usage is small compared to today's standards, but everything I run seems to do so fine. As Searching said, I think a lot has to do with how you maintain the machine to keep it in good condition.
  7. majoMo

    majoMo Registered Member

    Is the Hard Drive the same yet? :eek:
  8. TonyW

    TonyW Registered Member

    It is the same hard drive as purchased in June 2002. Obviously, programs have been added/removed in all that time so it isn't exactly the same as when first started up all those years ago. I do have an archive I can restore to though, which refreshes the system if I need to, but rarely do so.
  9. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

    Build a new PC and on the way learn the DIY.
    For budget systems i recommend AMD/ATI :thumb:
  10. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

    I've just replaced a 6-year rig, and my goal is 6 years for desktops.
    The reason is mostly hardware parts life, disks in particular.
    Software does not change, if you are being nice to your box.
  11. Ibrad

    Ibrad Registered Member

    Well it depends on how well you care you for it. I have a old Compaq desktop that had Windows ME on it at one point but the hard drive was replaced due to a nasty virus so no it "slowly" runs XP.

    I have an old dell desktop (prob from 2003) that runs Windows XP. It still runs fine for some light usage it's not as quick as it use to be but still useable. Some nasty malware attacks likely hurt some of the core OS but it was cleaned up. Its running short on days so eventually when I get some spare cash I want to replace it.

    I think it all really depends on how you care for it. So far I have only had a machine in the 90's the failed due to a hard drive failure but parts have gotten stronger over the years.
  12. majoMo

    majoMo Registered Member

    I have a desktop with similar attributes: "256MB RAM and using Windows XP". Hard drive with 7 years old; abruptly it died...; I had warning's from HDTune and CrystalDiskInfo... I had however a Redo Backup image (in external USB disk) that allowed to install all in newest hard drive.

    So, TonyW to "have an archive I can restore to though" it's needed; I adviced to check disk with HDTune/CrystalDiskInfo also...

    Good luck. :cool:
  13. noone_particular

    noone_particular Registered Member

    I can't remember the last time I've had a PC completely die. The Dell I'm using now is 8 years old and works fine. I have an HP that's 13 years old originally 98FE. Until 2 years ago, it was running 24/7 and still used the original 5.1GB hard drive. I've also got an old Gateway P5-133mhz that's been serving as a hardware firewall for the last 3 years. It's all original except for the hard drive. The original 500MB hard drive failed last year and was replaced by a 2GB that works just fine. Except for wearing out CD and floppy drives, I've had almost no hardware failures. I've never had a new PC here. They're all used and most were being discarded as unreliable or obsolete. The reliability problems always came back to adware/spyware infestations on top of a lot of useless garbage that was installed. All of them have outlasted the units that replaced them. All total, I've lost 3 very old hard drives and a processor cooling fan, not counting the CD and floppy drives I've worn out. I only wish I could say the same for keyboards and monitors. I've had 4 or 5 monitors fail, 2 of which I bought new, and I can't even guess how many keyboards I've worn out or dumped coffee into. At least a dozen in the last 8 years.

    IMO, one of the bigger enemies of longevity is cold startups. There's been several discussions on this subject here. I can't prove it as all my evidence is circumstantial, but I've got 4 different brands here, each with a different default OS that have all exceeded the "normal" lifespan. All of them were run 24/7, 3 still are. The way I see it, when a PC runs 24/7, there's little if any physical or thermal shock on its mechanical components. Hard drive clearances change little because the temperature changes very little. Lubricants on the bearings and shaft stays warm and evenly distributed. The electrical components last longer because their temperature is more consistent and they're not subjected to the power spikes and surges that come when the unit is powered up. IMO, PCs are not much different than vehicle engines in this respect. They get most of their wear when they're cold started.

    As far as I can tell, it doesn't hurt a PC to put it to work, provided the cooling is good. My 8 year old Dell is serving as a Tor relay and also runs Virtual PC or VirtualBox. That said, I am starting to believe that operating systems and software that perform large amounts of disk writes and reads do shorten the life of hard drives.

    All of this would be time consuming and somewhat costly to test. I wouldn't expect any hardware or software vendors to conduct such tests unbiased, not when increased wear equals increased sales for them.
  14. MikeBCda

    MikeBCda Registered Member

    It sounds like others have had similar experiences to mine ... I've typically gotten about 8 or 9 years out of each of my systems. My current one is about 8 and still going strong, although I suspect it won't last as long as MS support for XP SP3 which is almost another three years.

    In my case, I've found that a long lifetime does have one problem: I've never changed the OS (with the exception of one running under DOS 6.20 to which I later added Win 3.1 for internet access), so each new replacement system skips a generation or two and presents me with a "learning cliff", as my son dubbed it, rather than a learning curve. This was particularly the case going from 98SE to XP, especially since the former still had most of DOS functional. I suspect the same will be true next time around too, going from XP to 7 (or 8, depending on the timing).
  15. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

    I also think desktops are something belonging to the past. Their design is really obsolete. I can understand a computer tower is still the best solution for somebody wanting super performance and heat control, but in most situations notebooks are really hard to beat. My choice would also be No2.

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  16. RJK3

    RJK3 Registered Member

    You've done well to have machines last that long.

    Windows 7 may be easier to use that XP - although the control panel options are re-arranged and renamed in a completely nonsensical fashion, one tends not to need to do as much configuring You didn't miss out on anything bypassing Vista like most people, it really was as bad as everyone said.
  17. twl845

    twl845 Registered Member

    I have a 7 year old DELL that runs better now than when it was new. It has 1gb of RAM and would take another 1gb card. The HD is half full. The graphics card is inadequate for even simple games like SIMS. However, I had noticed that new apps and some upgrades don't support XPsp2 any more and it is noticeably slower loading some things like my Firefox. So I bought a new DELL. 8GB RAM, 1.5TB HD, Intel 2400 i5 3.10ghz cpu, and a 1 gb graphics card. WIN7 is great. The old computer has been moved to another room. :cool:
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  18. farmerlee

    farmerlee Registered Member

    What brand/model laptop is that?

    And to the OP, desktops can last a long time. I still have an old Pentium 3 based desktop thats over 10 years old and sill functioning. If your computer still does everything you need it to do i would simply format and do a clean windows install which usually helps to speed things up quite nicely.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  19. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

  20. roger_m

    roger_m Registered Member

    There is absolutely no need to buy a new computer. If your computer has started running slowly it is not too old or wearing out, there are just some software issues.

    If you were to do a complete reinstall of Windows (your computer should have come with recovery CDs to do just that) then your computer will run like new.

    You should follow the steps that cozumel posted, just make sure you backup any needed data first.

    As an alternative, uninstall and unneeded programs, and also use MSCONFIG or a third party utility to remove all unneeded startup programs. The result won't be as good as a full reformat, but will definitely help. Also, make sure you only have one antivirus program installed - having more than one installed can lead to massive slowdowns.

    For the record my only computer is a 5 year old laptop which has been used daily since I purchased it. I don't see me replacing it for at the very least another two or three years, as for me that would just be a waste of money, as I have absolutely no need at all for a faster PC - it runs Windows 7 just fine.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011
  21. J_L

    J_L Registered Member

    Mine lasted more than 4 years by now, and current installation is ~2 years old.
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