PC longevity: what usually causes PCs to malfunction?

vbimport

#1

in all my years i’ve never had a desktop pc broken down on me while its turned on, but i’ve had 2 desktop pcs when i was younger and they all malfunctioned whenever i had turned them off and back on again, the agonizing series of beeps when the bios boot would usually indicate a failure in hardrive or mobo…even though every component was working fine the day before when i had turned it off. Most of my friends’ desktop pcs broke in a similar manner to mine; they were all perfectly functional, but when the next time they are turned on, something in the mobo breaks/malfunction/fries, and so within less than 24 hours, a perfectly fine and healthy pc, dies.

i’ve read that heat will shorten a desktop pc’s lifespan, and that a pc left turned on continuously will experience a shorter lifespan compared to pcs who are regularly turned off and cooled down, however i’ve learnt from a friend who works in the local library that the internet pcs there for the past 5 years have never been turned off since all 80 or so of them are secured and locked inside the desk drawer and they decided that it would take too much time to have to manually turn them on on each floor one by one. for the record mainframe/severs they are only putted on Sleep mode and its been like this since the library opened 5 years ago and they’ve only had 6 pcs broken down, meanwhile all my classmates and friends at the university,most with branded pcs like hp and dell all had their pcs replaced on avarge by the third year from when they purchased it, ALL of them having their pc simply malfunctioning when they turned it back on again, and as for me i’ve own 2 pcs in the past and they were all working one day and when i turned them off and back on again, something always goes wrong and would require hardware and parts replaced entirely, (the HD mysteriously failed, nvidia stopped working, continuous reboots, cd drive…dead! mobo? yup, dead!) but in all my experience i’ve never ever seen a pc Hardrive failing when its turned on, i’ve never seen a video card failing outright when i’m watching movie, nor motherboard frying up, nor rebooting continuously, nor anything! simply put, when my pc is turned on, everything is always ok, its when i turned it off, something will break when i turn it on again!

so i’ve got a couple of things i’d like to ask.

1: are desktop pcs designed to be turned on for even years and years? if there is sufficient cooling?

2: do you think sleep mode is better than shutting down the pc? and is it true that heat is harmful to desktop pcs? (i know it is for notebooks)

3: how many ppl here actually have a component, like video card, mobo, hardrive…etc on their desktop breaking down/failing on them on them while their pc is still turned on?

4: and how many ppl here have their pcs malfunctioning when they turned it back on again even though it was previously in good working order?

5: overall, do you prefer to leave your pc on or would prefer to using sleep mode than shutting down?

6: what do you think decides a pc’s life expectancy?

thanks for sharing your thoughts!

~cheers


#2

I have had so many systems over the years I can’t remember details about them all. Overall, I would say most components are very durable. The biggest headaches I have had result from failure of the power supply. A bad power supply can take out multiple components. Components that seem to fail the most for me is hard drives, then power supplies, then fans, maybe memory is next. CPUs seem to be the most durable items followed by video cards.

I have computers that I leave on 24/7 and some I turn off. I don’t notice any difference in longevity between them. As for what provides a long life expectancy for a PC, I would say a good uninteruptable power supply (i.e. battery backup) and a high quality power supply in the case. Power supplies are probably the most overlooked item when building a PC. People will spend big bucks on parts and then buy a cheap power supply.


#3

Power supplies and Hard drives are the most likely to fail these days. On older PC static charge could fry a MB, but not as likely on a new PC. Its best to clean out a computer case yearly with compressed air. Having a good surge suppressor is must these day to protect from lightening and bad power from the power company.

When switching on a PC there is a larger than normal power draw on the power supply, and other components are stressed too, which lead to their failure.

There are a lot of electronics in a PC and their is a failure rate for everyone of them! :smiley:


#4

I have noticed that Brand computers seem to have a shorter life than home built ones. I have 10 now all running 24/7 that I put together myself.

I take each one down every couple months long enough to clean them out and then boot them back up and go.

The PSU does seem to be the biggest problem with brand built computers, they really all seem to use the cheapest ones that they can get away with.

AS far as cooling I always add a couple fans to each computer to help it along.


#5

One other thing I forgot to mention is the durability of the CPUs I have used considering I overclock them to the max they can deliver. This includes increasing core voltage 5-10% above specification. I can only remember one CPU failing on me and I think it was due to a power supply issue and not necessarily the CPU failing. I just upgraded an older computer this weekend with an Intel E3300 CPU and it overclocked to 4ghz using the stock fan and a voltage bump of 5%. That is a 60% overclock and it will likely run for years that way. For as complex as they are a CPU is a very impressive piece of hardware, IMO.


#6

IMHO (I’ve built / rebuilt dozens of PCs over the years for Friends and Family) most folks don’t treat their PC very well. They put them on the floor where they suck up dirt via their cooling fans and rarely do they ever get cleaned out unless there is a failure. Then they blame the Box. I see this more so with Folks who leave their PCs on 24/7. (If you are building a new box - specifiy one with incoming, reuseable, air filters.)

Other folks have poor incoming power (they don’t even know about) which can age electronic components faster than a clean stable sinusoidial source. Some folks have to live with voltage spikes from electrical storms, or Utility Transformer switching (or failures) nearby or electrical noise caused by other machines, vfds, etc. All of this adds to the mix of failure points for the humble PC.

I agree Hard Drives fail first, then power supplies, but then video cards, optical drives, and finally memory in that order. I suggest keeping the Box clean (inside and out) is your first line of defence. Getting it off the floor will cut the grime in half.

Next work on the power end. Don’t buy cheap PSUs if you are rebuilding or specifying a new machine. (I agree when a PSU fails it can, and often does, take out => or damage => other components that fail immediately => or later.) Then get some surge suppression. But save your money and install a whole house unit that plugs into your Breaker Panel. A decent power bar type (usually pricey - lots of crap ones out there) only protects what’s plugged into it whereas a “breaker” type unit protects the whole house (think TV’s, Home Theater, multiple PCs, etc.) A lot of time it’s much cheaper too!

And finally shut the Box down when you are not using it for more than an hour or so. Almost all PC components life (MTBF) is measured in powered on hours. Thermal aging occurs even if you are not actively using the Box. So the more time a PC is on the closer you are to something / everything failing. When the Box is on (unused) you are also wasting power ($$) and adding to your heat inside the house. In the warm summertime this is a big deal with multiple machines in non air conditioned rooms. (In an air conditioned room these PC add significantly to the Heat Load costing $$)

Oh and one last thing (while I’m on my soapbox) if you are into multiple Hard Drives consider having a drawer (SATA Mobile Rack) installed and run the PC off one “Core” drive. Then plug in you data drives only when you need them. You’ll find their powered on (aging) hours drop significantly adding years to their life. It also keeps them away from viruses and PSU failures that occur that could damage them and your precious Data. You also cut the power consumption, heat, & noise of the PC. All good things.

At least I think so…:iagree:


#7

The most errors i’ve seen are due to cheap harddisks, cheap power supplies and other cheap ass crap. Another big cause is dust.


#8

like others above for more major stuff in the PC to fail i seem to have power supplies go bad.

in fact, i had more power supplies go bad on me than hard drives. (i generally get quality stuff to as i hear it’s a bad idea to get a cheap PSU if you want a stable system.)

in fact, recently (about a couple weeks ago) my main PC’s PSU failed and it was a 500watt Enermax Liberty which i paid $109.99 back in March 2006 from newegg so it lasted a little over 4 years before failing but my PC typically runs 24/7. the replacement i got for it i went with a reasonably priced one this time which costs me 56 dollars out the door on newegg and it was a Rosewill 630watt continuous @ 40c (i.e. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182200 ) and i checked a random review on Google and it seems like a good bang for the buck PSU.

i had 1 hard drive fail on me and 2 power supplies. ( i typically leave my primary PC on 24/7 ) … but i would say at minimum if you leave your PC on 24/7 especially if it has high air flow with no filters etc you will probably have to clean out your PC 4 times a year because i just cleaned out a friends a handful of hours ago (which i built back around March of 2010) and it was fairly bad as he has a Intel core i5 CPU with stock heatsink and the thing was damn near all blocked off with dust and that plastic type filter in the front of the case was blocked off pretty bad to and the GPU (Geforce GTX 275) a whole a lot of dust went flying out when i hit it with air etc etc.

my case seems to be much less dust in that same time frame but then again i only have 1 120mm fan that sucks air out of the case besides the PSU’s fan. where as his seems to have 4 (2 in and 2 out)

my current main PC i clean out about 2-3 times a year with air compressor.

p.s. my current main motherboard (Asus A8N32-Sli Deluxe) i noticed 2 capacitors on the motherboard are starting to slightly swell :frowning: (so far the system is very stable but if those eventually fail odds are my system will start becoming unstable)

For as complex as they are a CPU is a very impressive piece of hardware, IMO.

Agreed. CPU’s seem rock solid as the least likely to fail even under a reasonable overclock assuming the PSU is good etc.

p.s. i recently got a AMD Athlon X2 3600+ CPU for my aging system which has a single core AMD Athlon64 3500+ in it and i overclocked it from it’s stock of 2.0ghz to 2.4ghz and ran Prime95 on it for 2-3 hours and it was stable with NO CPU voltage increase needed :wink:


#9

[QUOTE=NBR;2535053]p.s. i recently got a AMD Athlon X2 3600+ CPU for my aging system which has a single core AMD Athlon64 3500+ in it and i overclocked it from it’s stock of 2.0ghz to 2.4ghz and ran Prime95 on it for 2-3 hours and it was stable with NO CPU voltage increase needed ;)[/QUOTE]

I have an Athlon 2.2ghz I overclocked for 2-3 years to 2.8ghz with 2 gig of DDR400 RAM I overclocked to DDR500 specs. I recently retired it and for an Intel E3300 that overclocked to 4ghz with a 5% voltage bump using the box heat sink and fan. That is the best overclock I have seen (60%) from a CPU. It might have more left in it but I stopped at 4ghz. It is a screaming demon at that speed. Considering I paid $40 for it at Microcenter it is a terrific value. I was so impressed with it that I bought an E5400 for another system and overclocked it to 3.6ghz with no voltage increase and using the box heat sink and fan. I am sure it would do 4ghz if the MB it sits in allowed for voltage increases in the BIOS. The overclocking ability of today’s CPUs are incredible and shows even better just how durable they are.


#10

[QUOTE=Mr. Belvedere;2532770]The most errors i’ve seen are due to cheap harddisks, cheap power supplies and other cheap ass crap. Another big cause is dust.[/QUOTE]

This ^


#11

…dust and overheating is the SLOW death of any computer related device.


#12

Let’s not forget if you overclock can limit the life of a PC too. Dusting the PC with a can of air at least monthly is a good ideal.


#13

[QUOTE=tomoyoafter;2532226]in all my years i’ve never had a desktop pc broken down on me while its turned on, but i’ve had 2 desktop pcs when i was younger and they all malfunctioned whenever i had turned them off and back on again, the agonizing series of beeps when the bios boot would usually indicate a failure in hardrive or mobo…even though every component was working fine the day before when i had turned it off. Most of my friends’ desktop pcs broke in a similar manner to mine; they were all perfectly functional, but when the next time they are turned on, something in the mobo breaks/malfunction/fries, and so within less than 24 hours, a perfectly fine and healthy pc, dies.

i’ve read that heat will shorten a desktop pc’s lifespan, and that a pc left turned on continuously will experience a shorter lifespan compared to pcs who are regularly turned off and cooled down, however i’ve learnt from a friend who works in the local library that the internet pcs there for the past 5 years have never been turned off since all 80 or so of them are secured and locked inside the desk drawer and they decided that it would take too much time to have to manually turn them on on each floor one by one. for the record mainframe/severs they are only putted on Sleep mode and its been like this since the library opened 5 years ago and they’ve only had 6 pcs broken down, meanwhile all my classmates and friends at the university,most with branded pcs like hp and dell all had their pcs replaced on avarge by the third year from when they purchased it, ALL of them having their pc simply malfunctioning when they turned it back on again, and as for me i’ve own 2 pcs in the past and they were all working one day and when i turned them off and back on again, something always goes wrong and would require hardware and parts replaced entirely, (the HD mysteriously failed, nvidia stopped working, continuous reboots, cd drive…dead! mobo? yup, dead!) but in all my experience i’ve never ever seen a pc Hardrive failing when its turned on, i’ve never seen a video card failing outright when i’m watching movie, nor motherboard frying up, nor rebooting continuously, nor anything! simply put, when my pc is turned on, everything is always ok, its when i turned it off, something will break when i turn it on again!

so i’ve got a couple of things i’d like to ask.

1: are desktop pcs designed to be turned on for even years and years? if there is sufficient cooling?

2: do you think sleep mode is better than shutting down the pc? and is it true that heat is harmful to desktop pcs? (i know it is for notebooks)

3: how many ppl here actually have a component, like video card, mobo, hardrive…etc on their desktop breaking down/failing on them on them while their pc is still turned on?

4: and how many ppl here have their pcs malfunctioning when they turned it back on again even though it was previously in good working order?

5: overall, do you prefer to leave your pc on or would prefer to using sleep mode than shutting down?

6: what do you think decides a pc’s life expectancy?

thanks for sharing your thoughts!

~cheers[/QUOTE]

I always put my computer into sleep mode overnight - so I can have my PC on near-instantly. When I want to keep writing my documents, I don’t want to wait another two to three minutes for it to boot up - it’s not necessary.

If I’m in an area known for power surges, I’ll stick it into hibernate - but the golden rule for me is to save my work before I do either of these things - just in case Windows can’t recover from sleep / hibernate (happened to me before, and I hadn’t saved my work :frowning: :doh: )

Desktops aren’t designed to be running year after year after year of constant switch on switch offs. As far as I know, switching them on and off causes more damage than necessary - whereas recovery from sleep avoids this step :slight_smile:

I did have a malfuction a while ago with a crappy eMachines 420 my parents bought in the fall of 2003. Shut the PC down as normal. Tried to turn it on the next morning, the amber logo kept flashing repeatedly, making FUT FUT FUT noises. It was only upon investigation that the awful power supply they installed in it (a feature known to be bad in the eMachines 420) took down the motherboard as well :frowning:


#14

Using a UPS system and blowing it out at least once every 3 months ( once a month if sitting on the floor) . So all in all I’ld say an early death is caused by power fluctuation and heat from dust covered components.MHO


#15

[QUOTE=tomoyoafter;2532226]1: are desktop pcs designed to be turned on for even years and years? if there is sufficient cooling?[/QUOTE]

They can be turned on and off or hibernate or sleep but alot depends on the O/S your using XP wasn’t very good at power save and :sad:Vista and :cool: Windows7 were alot better at power save and power managements thus saving the lifespan of the desktop. But since we now very little about the history/hardware or O/S installed on those desktop any guess as to why and when they failed is meaningless at this point in time. All I would say it how once takes care of the computer and dust out the insides or what hardware they use can determine the lifespan of the desktop. So as others have mentioned on here how one takes care of the computer will directly affect the longevity of the computer.

[QUOTE=tomoyoafter;2532226]2: do you think sleep mode is better than shutting down the pc? and is it true that heat is harmful to desktop pcs? (i know it is for notebooks)[/QUOTE]

That depends alot on the environment you use it in if it needs to be able to be accessed 24/7 then sleep mode would be best used in this situation and if not turning it off doesn’t hurt it as it is also made to be turned on and off. How do you know it is harmful to laptops??? The laptop if installed correctly it would go to sleep thus rendering heat as your mentioning not the cause of it failing more likely a component or some liquid was introduced to the laptop causing a electrical failure. Heat isn’t the only enemy of laptop…

[QUOTE=tomoyoafter;2532226]3: how many ppl here actually have a component, like video card, mobo, hardrive…etc on their desktop breaking down/failing on them on them while their pc is still turned on?[/QUOTE]

Only time my motherboard failed was after 9 years of usage and the PS also went as well but all these were custom built components which I hand picked and research to give me the best returns for my usage. So a lot depends on the QC of the components go cheap and you will get short lifespan usage. Want longer and better usage get better components that will deliver better results. As with anything electrical components can fail the very next day that is the nature of electrical and hardware components nothing last forever but getting custom components that have better performance improves your chances of have a better overall system in the end that will last longer then brand store products.

[QUOTE=tomoyoafter;2532226]4: and how many ppl here have their pcs malfunctioning when they turned it back on again even though it was previously in good working order?[/QUOTE]

This is a vague question. First off if they don’t take care of the computer block the air vents don’t dust out the dust bunnies then you can expect a failure in the near future. It comes down to how do they take care of the computer brand store or custom. Just that custom can take a little more abuse but not alot more. Treat and take care of it and it will last for the lifespan til it goes out or abuse it and guess what it will die at the most unlikely time.

[QUOTE=tomoyoafter;2532226]5: overall, do you prefer to leave your pc on or would prefer to using sleep mode than shutting down?[/QUOTE]

On or sleep shouldn’t matter if you have Vista :Z or Windows 7 :bow:. It comes down to how often do you need it to get going right away or you don’t need to use it all the time. It comes down to rapid use or I can use it later…>>???

[QUOTE=tomoyoafter;2532226]6: what do you think decides a pc’s life expectancy?[/QUOTE]

My PC desktop lasted 9 years with the custom components regular store bought would vary depending on the manufacture and what kinda components they put into it. And least and not least those store bought components are not roughed enough like custom hardware to last but they can be made to last if the owner takes the time to understand the hardware and maintenance the computer and know that it is a store bought and can never compete with a hardware rig that is custom built for gaming or hard use.


#16

[QUOTE=coolcolors;2652333]They can be turned on and off or hibernate or sleep but alot depends on the O/S your using XP wasn’t very good at power save and :sad:Vista and :cool: Windows7 were alot better at power save and power managements thus saving the lifespan of the desktop.

On or sleep shouldn’t matter if you have Vista :Z or Windows 7 :bow:. It comes down to how often do you need it to get going right away or you don’t need to use it all the time. It comes down to rapid use or I can use it later…>>??? [/QUOTE]

Really!? That does surprise me. XP was always rock solid when it come to putting my computer into sleep or hibernate - just like Vista was, in my experience :eek:

Vista was a nightmare to get going though - but it always ran like a dog, and sleep / hibernation sucked just as much.

7 is a completely new breed though. Instant on as soon as I flick my mouse :clap:


#17

:Z[QUOTE=Chad_Bronson;2652335]Really!? That does surprise me. XP was always rock solid when it come to putting my computer into sleep or hibernate - just like Vista was, in my experience :eek:

Vista was a nightmare to get going though - but it always ran like a dog, and sleep / hibernation sucked just as much.

7 is a completely new breed though. Instant on as soon as I flick my mouse :clap:[/QUOTE]

XP wasn’t good when used on laptop to save on battery life it tended to kill the battery sooner then the other two later O/S did. That was the problem with XP not on desktop but compared to power saving and battery life Vista :Z and Windows 7 :bow: did a better job for the laptop battery and giving a better lifespan. I had XP for the longest time til I switched to Windows 7 and haven’t looked back. Funny thing is try to go and use a XP machine after using 7 for since it came out be frustrating as though it wasn’t such a change the going back to a older O/S caused more headache just trying to use XP again. Windows 7 embodies both XP and Vista something of which got good parts of both world but I am guess did bring along some bad parts but overall 7 was a change that was desparately needed after Vista debacle…


#18

XP wasn’t good when used on laptop to save on battery life it tended to kill the battery sooner then the other two later O/S did. That was the problem with XP not on desktop but compared to power saving and battery life Vista :Z and Windows 7 :bow: did a better job for the laptop battery and giving a better lifespan. I had XP for the longest time til I switched to Windows 7 and haven’t looked back. Funny thing is try to go and use a XP machine after using 7 for since it came out be frustrating as though it wasn’t such a change the going back to a older O/S caused more headache just trying to use XP again. Windows 7 embodies both XP and Vista something of which got good parts of both world but I am guess did bring along some bad parts but overall 7 was a change that was desparately needed after Vista debacle…[/QUOTE]

+1 Absolutely agree about going back to XP. The reality is, there wasn’t a great deal wrong with Windows XP once you got it going. It was rock solid - and for stability, Windows Vista was even better. IMO Vista presented some obvious changes to jump the XP ship - But Vista just ran too slow, crashed too many times, and for the people who didn’t benefit from the gloss and additional features Vista gave, was no reason for them to migrate.

Windows 7 was merely just a sleeker version of Vista, IMO, and should have been given free to the irate consumers of Vista. Much better than XP in reliability and performance though - and works a treat if you’re all kitted out. No hunting for drivers, everything just… Works with Windows 7.


#19

For longgevity I have a backup desktop IBM made in 1999 . It has XP & although I don’t boot it that often (maybe once a month) . It always boots & works.

The old XP machine will read a -VR mode recorded DVD .
Neither my tower with Vista or laptop with Windows 7 will .
It is an unusual mode most DVD recorders don’t have the option to record it in .
The unit I have that does is now mothballed . I doubt I will use it unless broadcast flags get too bad. If you have access to a DVD recorded in -VR mode give it a try in Windows 7 .
On Vista & Windows 7 IsoBuster can open it but not Windows Explorer.
I’ve already had a couple of threads on this & for me it was never solved.
So no need to get deep into it here.


#20

[QUOTE=cholla;2652343]For longgevity I have a backup desktop [B]IBM [/B]made in 1999 . It has XP & although I don’t boot it that often (maybe once a month) . It always boots & works.

The old XP machine will read a -VR mode recorded DVD .
Neither my tower with Vista or laptop with Windows 7 will .
It is an unusual mode most DVD recorders don’t have the option to record it in .
The unit I have that does is now mothballed . I doubt I will use it unless broadcast flags get too bad. If you have access to a DVD recorded in -VR mode give it a try in Windows 7 .
On Vista & Windows 7 IsoBuster can open it but not Windows Explorer.
I’ve already had a couple of threads on this & for me it was never solved.
So no need to get deep into it here.[/QUOTE]

IBM, really? :eek: When did they depart the computer manufacturing industry (or consumer PCs at the likes of PC World, etc)? :confused: