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Any tips to keep the internal hardware of my desktop PC to run forever?


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#1 signofzeta

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 01:46 AM

I purchased a desktop PC in 2006.  It is the only PC I have that can run a certain piece of software perfectly, while the newer laptops I bought, running Vista and 8, can't run it perfectly, something about Vista, 7, and 8 compatibility mode being garbage, but that isn't the point.  The point is that I know that finding a legitimate copy of an older windows OS on the internet is hard to find, and I don't want to take any risks, so the best bet is to just keep on using that old PC that is currently 8 years old.  I guess this is about both internal and external hardware as well.

 

My question is, going into the future, how many more years does this PC have left, and what can I do, without opening the case of the PC, to extend the life of this PC?  How do I extend the life of the monitor, keyboard, and mouse of this PC as well?  Are current monitors, keyboards, and mice compatible with an 8 year old PC?  How about external hardware 10 years from now?  20 years from now?

 

Something like Turning it on when using it and turning it off when not, vs leaving it on 24/7, or any other tips that might keep that PC alive?

 

The PC is currently running windows XP SP3, and I just posted in a malware removal logs forums to check if there are any lingering viruses, and the person who helped me said it was clean.  The computer is currently offline, but on, idle in the desktop screen.  The computer was infected with malware in the past, but they have been cleaned out.  The computer has Avira anti virus installed, and Comodo firewall installed.  The likelihood of using an internet browser on that computer is close to 0% since I just browse the web on my newer laptops anyway.  The computer is currently working fine, like the way it should be, but sooner or later, something is going to give, and since this computer is offline, and is clean, the most likely failure would be hardware failure.  I want to prevent that from happening, so any tips to prevent hardware failure?

 

I know for a fact that desktop PC's and laptops can last over 15 years. 

 

I have an 11 year old laptop that turns on and runs windows XP fine, but due to hardware defects, the thing shuts down by itself when it gets too hot, and it gets too hot too quick.

 

I have a 15 year old PC running windows 2000 that still works, but everytime it is off, it sometimes automatically turns on itself for 2 seconds and shuts back down.  I had to retire that PC because of that. Could anyone explain the cause of that?

 

I have a 19 year old laptop that still runs fine, and uses windows 95.

 

I have a 22 year old 486 PC that can still turn on, and work as it always should.  Finding a monitor or any external hardware compatible with it is another story.

 

Let's go back to my 8 year old PC.  Let's take this scenario.  If I turned off my PC for 11 days, turned it on for 24 hours on the 12th day, and turned it off for 11 more days, and turned it on for the 12th day for 24 hours and the cycle repeats, how long would the hardware in this PC last?  Again, is it better to turn it on for 12 days straight, or have it off for 11 of the 12 days to keep the hardware alive longer?  By 12 days, I mean each 12 day cycle.


Edited by hamluis, 13 May 2014 - 01:04 PM.
Moved from Internal Hardware to XP - Hamluis.


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#2 ElfBane

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 03:01 AM

The concept of "running forever" is against the Second Law of Thermodynamics.



#3 signofzeta

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 03:51 AM

The concept of "running forever" is against the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

 

People like me also don't last forever, and couldn't care less what happens to that computer once I die.  Basically I want to know what steps do I take to extend the life of a desktop PC?

 

Maybe I was a bit vague.  When I say running forever, I don't mean running non-stop forever.  I mean that I want my PC to be able to be usable 50 years from now, or until Microsoft releases an emulator for Windows 2000 or XP for free or for a cost on a virtual machine.

 

What are some tips to extend the life of my 8 year old desktop PC by 20 years?

 

If given this scenario where I only use the PC one day out of a 12 day cycle, is it better to turn it off for 11 days and turn it on for 24 hours on the 12th day,  or leave it on for 12 days in a 12 day cycle, in terms of extending the life of a PC?


Edited by signofzeta, 13 May 2014 - 04:02 AM.


#4 Kilroy

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 09:08 AM

There is nothing you can do to the machine, other than not abuse it.  There are too many variables and a lot of parts.  The real question is why?  Unless there is some critical application that the computer runs, that can't be moved or upgraded, there is no reason to keep an ancient machine alive.  Running outdated operating systems, anything before Windows Vista, on the Internet today is not a good idea.

 

Every time you power on the machine it could be the last time.  Powering on is the most stressful time for a machine.

 

Leaving the machine on all the time, the other option, will cause additional wear and tear on the moving parts.  Additionally be more expensive due to power costs.



#5 signofzeta

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 10:10 AM

There is nothing you can do to the machine, other than not abuse it.  There are too many variables and a lot of parts.  The real question is why?  Unless there is some critical application that the computer runs, that can't be moved or upgraded, there is no reason to keep an ancient machine alive.  Running outdated operating systems, anything before Windows Vista, on the Internet today is not a good idea.

 

Every time you power on the machine it could be the last time.  Powering on is the most stressful time for a machine.

 

Leaving the machine on all the time, the other option, will cause additional wear and tear on the moving parts.  Additionally be more expensive due to power costs.

 

 

There is indeed one program that does not work on anything that isn't Windows 98, 2000, Me, or XP.  If I have to retire this computer, I would have to unretire my even older windows 2000 computer, and who replaces something with something more outdated?

 

I like to play old games.  Microsoft does not like to re-release their old OS, or at least give us a way to purchase an .iso file of their older OS so I could get a virtual machine and run one of those 4 Windows OS on it and run the game fine.

 

Let's say I used it once every 12 days.  What would kill the PC faster?  Powering it on and off once, or running the machine for 11 days straight?

 

My PC also has a large vent on the side of the case.  I wouldn't say it is just one gaping hole, more like a bunch of tiny holes in a large surface area.  Is this a good thing for my PC by letting the heat out easily, or is it a bad thing where there is more chance to let dust in?

 

How long do you think an 8 year old desktop PC lasts starting from today?  My definition of a dead PC is one that doesn't boot into windows anymore, so if I can boot into windows, but is way slower than it used to be, it still counts as being alive.


Edited by signofzeta, 13 May 2014 - 10:22 AM.


#6 hamluis

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 11:10 AM

It's not the system...that determines program compatibility...it's the O/S.  Your focus is off, IMO.

 

Installing the tolerant O/S on any system...should enable successful running of any program designed for that O/S...as long as the appropriate drivers can be obtained/installed, IMO.

 

Louis



#7 signofzeta

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 11:43 AM

It's not the system...that determines program compatibility...it's the O/S.  Your focus is off, IMO.

 

Installing the tolerant O/S on any system...should enable successful running of any program designed for that O/S...as long as the appropriate drivers can be obtained/installed, IMO.

 

Louis

 

I know that it is the OS that makes the game run or not, as I have tested on 1 vista laptop, 1 7 laptop, 1 8 laptop, and 1 8 desktop, and they all had the same problem.

 

The issue is that I don't have any copies of windows XP or older that isn't used, and finding trustworthy copies online is hard.  I really wish microsoft actually released .iso files of their older OS, because some people actually want to run older software that don't work on newer operating systems.

 

The only solution now is to keep this computer alive as long as possible, because the operating system running on it came with the computer when I bought it, and I can't just transfer the license to a newer computer.

 

In this day and age, software, including operating systems are easily distributable, just look at Steam.  I don't even have to go to ebay to hunt for a very old game that I want.  I just wished that Microsoft distributed 95, 98, 2000, Me, and XP online, or made it free to download and use on a virtual machine after so many years after it's end of support.  I also wish that there was something similar to Dosbox, but for Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, or XP.


Edited by signofzeta, 13 May 2014 - 11:49 AM.


#8 UpgradeMe

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 05:35 PM

I focus on this with my PCs in this order:

 

1.  Imaging-use imaging for your backup solution, so you get the OS back when you restore.  You need a disk and a burner to burn the boot utility that is used for restorations (it's like a mini operating system).  Then you can make a backup and add much smaller differential backups of changes to the original backup for each day of the week and/or once a month and so on.  If you don't image daily, make sure you back up the files (actually the folders containing your files) you use on the PC using a sync tool, so you won't lose changes to them if you must restore.

 

2.  Keep a spare identical motherboard as the one you have now around-The only weak point in restoring from images is motherboard failure.  This is only a problem if you can't find a motherboard to replace the one you have that is identical.  The problem is that the motherboard driver in your image backup might not be the same as the driver for the replacement motherboard if they aren't the identical same type.  Then the OS likely won't complete a boot.  It still might be possible to get around this, although I don't know of a way.

 

3.  Keep a spare hard drive and some RAM around-This is more than convenience for me.  This is all about keeping the PC running in tip top shape.  I really do recommend this strategy in every case someone is planning to keep a PC for an extended amount of time (say 5 years or more).  If your PC uses a special shape of power supply, keep one of these around, too.

 

4.  Perform routine maintenance such as defragmenting (unless you have an SSD drive) and removing temporary internet files on a regular basis-These are good practices I have found.  PC will run better, and the hard drive won't have to work so hard, especially due to the defragmenting.

 

5.  Clean out the PC with canned air every 3-6 months, as necessary-Removing dust from the inside of a PC will extend its life

 

One other thing I would add is to keep the installers for your drivers for the old PC both on the PC and on a backup drive.  I do this just so I never have to go hunting should I for some reason have to reinstall the OS...

 

Hope this helps some...


Edited by UpgradeMe, 13 May 2014 - 05:35 PM.


#9 signofzeta

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 08:09 PM

Could you technically retire a PC now, and be able to use it 30 years later?  For example, your PC is too old, and you put it in storage, with the power off, unplugged, case in a box that does not attract dust.  You decide to relive some old memories, and you bring that PC back out 30 years later.  What are the chances of it running the same way since you decided to put away that PC?

 

So let's say I used my PC now, and it runs a certain way, has a certain speed.  I stop using it for 30 years, and I decide to boot the PC back up 30 years from now.  Will the PC be running the same way since I stopped using it?

 

Another thing is, my main purpose of keeping this PC operational is only playing one game, and that PC is used for nothing else.  I've seen PC's in the university that are super old, like cream colored cases, using floppy disks, and has no CD drive.  So how do they keep those super ancient PC's operational?  Their main purpose is to run lab equipment, and I believe those dinosaurs run Windows 98.

 

Let's take another scenario.  My computer is already 8 years old, and I have been saying this before.  Let's say I keep my PC on for 30 more years starting from today.  At which year will the PC finally give out?

 

Let's take a different scenario.  Let's say I turn on my PC on every 12th day in a 12 day cycle for 24 hours, for 30 years, which means a lot of powering on, and shutting off.  When will the PC give out?

 

I'm not a PC tech expert, so I don't really want to open up the case, and worry about having to replace any parts, just getting tips how to extend the lifespan of the existing parts. Considering the OS came with the computer, and is tied to this computer, I can't really change motherboards, or use a new computer.  The only roadblock is finding a legitimate copy of Windows 98, 2000, or XP on ebay, amazon, or any store, because I am paranoid that the one I might buy is a used one that has already been activated.  This would also have been easier, and I could finally let this computer retire if Microsoft released older operating systems in a .iso file that only works on virtual machines.  So far this hasn't happened yet, which means I have to get this computer to keep on running, or at least be operational longer, until I can get my hands on another copy of 98, 2000, or XP.

 

Do you think Microsoft is going to get revenue from windows 95, 98, and 2000?  If not, then why don't they just release the .iso files for free for people to use on their virtual machines?  If there only was some Windows 95, 98, or 2000 emulator out there similar how Dosbox was a Dos emulator.  Heck, that emulator doesn't even need to be exactly Windows 95, 98, or 2000.  It could just be a frontend that is designed to mimic windows 95, 98, 2000 in terms of running older software or games.



#10 UpgradeMe

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 11:33 PM

PCs are remarkably durable.  If you bubble wrapped the PC thoroughly and taped the wrap so that moisture could not get inside the wrapping, I think a PC could be stored for 30 years and used immediately when removed from the packaging.  Just make sure to add some of that popcorn filler to the box (actually that does help to absorb moisture I have heard).

 

As for how to keep a PC running, I think the main thing is to remember that a PC is a collection of parts.  If you remove the internal cables, there are only 5 of them.  Those are hard drive, RAM memory, motherboard, power supply, and CD/DVD (player/burner) (graphics card (If you have one)).  It's not complicated to replace the parts.  Motherboards are a little bit of a challenge, but, otherwise, it's very simple if you have a steady hand and good focus.

 

The biggest problem with durability is the problem of a failing motherboard.  Hard drives aren't very hard to find.  RAM is easily found.  For most PCs power supplies are easy to find, and CD/DVDs are not hard to replace at all.  Because older machines run the older OSes better, the only way to keep the OS is to image.  However, if your motherboard goes, you have to find an identical one, so that the drivers in your restorable image backup will work.  I have actually heard that a motherboard with the same chipset will sometimes work with an image, although I can't confirm that with personal experience.

 

I believe as time goes by, it will eventually become common practice to keep an aluminum storage box for PC parts.  This practice is such a relief I have found.  If anything goes wrong, I can fix the PC right now.  It's really cathartic to be able to do this.



#11 bludshot

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 06:07 AM

What game(s) is it? Have you tried dosbox?



#12 signofzeta

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 09:38 AM

What game(s) is it? Have you tried dosbox?

 

It is a game released in 2000.  Windows 95, 98, or 2000 era of gaming the worst when it comes to getting it to work on modern hardware and modern operating systems.  These games are too new for Dos, but too old and incompatible for windows Vista, 7, or 8.  Heck, some of these game even run too fast on modern hardware. Dosbox is great because I can finally retire my 486 PC, but I think it is time for a "Dosbox" for games in the Windows 95, 98, and 2000 era.  Most games should run on modern OS and hardware, as I tried with games like Quake, but there are some, ahem "You Don't Know Jack 5th Dementia", where the game skips.  I don't know what is causing it is skip.  So far, every time i run it on a newer OS, it skips.  I ran it on virtualbox, with XP installed, it also skips, but in a different way.  The only way to be able to run games that don't work on my newer computers is to run it on this 8 year old computer.  That's probably why I still have my windows 2000 computer and my windows 95 laptop laying around.  In case I find a game that can't work on newer hardware and newer operating systems.  Those computers are still operational.

 

Dosbox is great for me, use it all the time, but there are some old game enthusiasts that have to play their games on hardware of that era, so they keep their 486 PC's around.  Maybe I should have made a better thread title, because all I really want to know is how to extend the life of the hardware in an 8 year old desktop, not make it run forever, at least until an emulator for windows 95, 98, 2000 games exist. It's like this.  I would also so buy a boxed copy of windows 9 if it include a feature for games that is a "Dosbox" of the Windows 95, 98 and 2000 era.  That would be so cool.

 

I have my own reasons for keeping an older machine alive.  Heck, I don't even consider that 8 year old PC old.  My threshold between an old PC and a new PC is that if a PC is cream colored, uses floppy disks, has less than 100GB of total hard drive space, then that computer is old, but even then, this 8 year old computer will become old, although I don't think it is old.  I am one of those people stuck in the past.  It's got to be old games.  Those are quality.  I don't really like playing newer games.

 

What do you think are the reasons for some other people to try to maintain and keep their older hardware running even to this day?  Even not hardware, but older operating systems that already had their life ended by Microsoft?

 

Let's take another scenario, and I have seen some very old PC's in a lab.  How many years do you think a PC can last, hardware and software wise, if it is designed to be used and connected to lab equipment?



#13 bludshot

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 04:58 PM

They have a lot of you don't know jack titles on steam now. Presumably they have been reworked to run on modern computers. You could check to see if you can get it that way. I think GOG.com also reworks old games to run on modern computers.

 

Some games have new engines, sometimes from 3rd party open source mods and things like that, to make them run on newer OS's - sometimes with high res texture packs and things like that.

 

In my opinion, whenever possible I try to run a game with its most modern option (for example Quake 2 Evolved, Nquake, Doom Legacy, etc), or via dosbox.

 

The thing about keeping an old computer running as long as you can, is that it doesn't have that much to do with having an old OS running on a computer. You can install windows XP on a brand new computer. The time and cost involved in getting a copy of the OS is less than that of buying replacement parts for an old machine. If MS isn't selling an old OS anymore, then that means they cannot experience a lost sale of that OS when someone gets it elsewhere.

 

Off the top of my head, here are some things to keep an old machine alive:

 

- clean it out, don't have it caked in dust. clean it once a year to keep it relatively dust free

 

- don't bang it around or drop it or spill water on it, don't put magnets on it or have a giant speaker right next to it

 

- don't shock it with static, especially when working inside it

 

- don't plug it into the wall socket, plug it into a UPS. I'm fine with the kind in the 30 to 50 dollar range, but if you want to get technical, more pricey UPS's will give steadier cleaner power, so, technically, a more expensive UPS (I'm guessing in the 100 to 200 dollar range, would be your best bet for the most perfect non-spikey, non-brown-out-ish power you could give a machine.

 

- never plug the power wire into the PSU after plugging it into the power source (even if it's a power bar that is turned off) I did that once and blew out a PSU and a hard drive. I see no reason why that happened, but it did. Always plug the wire into the back of the computer first, then plug it into the power bar, then turn on the power bar.

 

- replace all the parts that need replacing. Make sure your cpu heatsink is making proper contact (you may need to re-do it with thermal paste and a new 3rd party cooler).

 

I mean, basically you can just keep replacing all the parts as they go bad. Eventually it won't have any of its original parts, so is it really the same computer, I don't know lol.

 

 

Oh and more to your question, Keep the computer in a temperature and humidity controlled lab, using hugely expensive equipment hooked up to backup batteries and generators. Then you can keep the temperature and humidity at the same perfect levels (perfect for a computer), forever. That will reduce the chances of condensation issues. It's also not remotely practical, but you asked :P


Edited by bludshot, 14 May 2014 - 04:59 PM.


#14 signofzeta

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 06:38 PM

I asked about the lab computers, because the ones I saw were so ancient that I had to transfer data from floppy disk to thumb drive using a not so old computer to do so.

 

As for the You Don't Know Jack series, as a YDKJ completionist, I would like it if every single YDKJ title could run on any computer that I own, and I will never ever discard a computer if it means one of the games doesn't work.  Jellyvision games, now Jackbox games, re-released 9 of the 12 PC CD-rom titles onto steam, well because asked for it, but that wasn't enough.  It should have been 12 of the 12.  The one game that only works on my 8 year old PC is You Don't Know Jack 5th dementia, with a patch to make it skip the DirectShow check so it can run on XP and newer operating systems.  The problem with the game is similar to when you watch a movie, and pieces of the movie are missing, or you listen to music, and the song skips.  What do you think may be causing this?  From my findings, everything points to the game not working on anything newer than XP.  I also tried this on XP on virtualbox, but the game still skips, so I don't really know.

 

I also make a schedule of which YDKJ game I play.  12 YDKJ, 12 days.  Well more like 14 YDKJ games, if you count the Playstation versions which I do.  I didn't want every Sunday to be the same 2 games which I made a 12 day cycle for 14 games.  The Playstation version also took questions from certain versions of the YDKJ games so rather than adding it to the list, I substitute certain versions in the list in the 12 day cycle once every 9 days, so it is really a 36 day cycle, where 8 of the 14 games are each played 3 days every 36 days, while 6 of the 14 are each played 2 days out of 36 days which is why I mention what happens if I leave it on for 12 days for every 12 day cycle, vs turning it off for 11 days and leaving it on for the 12th day in a 12 day cycle because I play that one game that only works on my 8 year old PC once every 12 days in a cycle.  If this game worked on my laptops that ran Vista or 8, then I wouldn't have to go to the cold basement to boot up this PC to run this game every 12th day.

 

Is there a difference between a PC you built and one you buy at a Best Buy in terms of life span?  By life span, I mean hardware life span.

 

What is the oldest PC you have that still works?  Mine is a 486 PC.  I don't have a working monitor for it though.

 

While I am talking about hardware, especially PSU's, I have another PC that is unplugged, and if I plugged it in, the PC would turn on for 5 seconds then turn off.  If I left it plugged in, it would turn on for 5 seconds and turn off without me touching anything.  What do you think could be the cause?  This PC already had it's PSU replaced, and used to run windows 98, but now runs windows 2000.  I haven't plugged it in and turned it on since 4 to 5 years ago.  This PC is the PC that can run all 12 PC cd-rom YDKJ games perfectly.  My 8 year old desktop has graphical problems with 2 of the 12 games, and my newer laptops have that skipping problem with 1 of the 12 games.  I don't really need to fire up that PC because I don't really care if one computer can run all 12 games perfectly, so long as there is something that I can use so I could play all 12 games.  I unplugged my windows 2000 15 year old PC because the automatic turn ons scare me while I sleep, like that computer was an animal roaring or something.

 

Also how do you know if a PSU is about to go out?  My 8 year old desktop sometime roars when it turns on, but sometimes the noise just gradually gets louder, like how it normally should.  When you turn off your computer, should the noise gradually decrease, or should there be some click sound?  Is the click sound when you power off your computer the sound of the hard drive head going into park position?


Edited by signofzeta, 14 May 2014 - 06:38 PM.


#15 bludshot

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 09:01 PM

I also make a schedule of which YDKJ game I play.  12 YDKJ, 12 days. [...]

 

There might be some kind of professional help for what you have :hysterical:

 

 

Is there a difference between a PC you built and one you buy at a Best Buy in terms of life span?  By life span, I mean hardware life span.

 

What is the oldest PC you have that still works?  Mine is a 486 PC.  I don't have a working monitor for it though.

 

Yeah there is a huge difference. Generally the kinds of pre-built PCs people buy are filled with the cheapest junk the company could find. Power supplies and cpu coolers (and everything else) can be much better in custom built PCs.

 

I throw out my oldest PCs while they still work. Because they last so long that I have no use for them anymore. And I'll have several newer ones kicking around that I barely have a use for, so might as well chuck the oldest one.

 

 

I can't say what the computers should sound like. Depends on your fans and stuff. I don't think you can know if the PSU is about to go out.






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