How I’ve Managed to Get 10 Years from my Computer and How You Can Too

inside a computerHello, my name is Joe and my computer is 10 years old.

I work in the IT field in my day job, so an admission like that is often greeted as though I am admitting to suffering from alcoholism or some terminal illness. Many of my coworkers habitually upgrade their PCs every 2 years or so.

I used to live the tech glam lifestyle too. I bought the latest and greatest hardware and software. I ran on the gaming treadmill: constantly upgrading my hardware so I could play the latest game. What happened?

I got smart.

Well, OK, I had kids and my wife left the workforce to care for the kids. Living on a single income has a way of focusing a person on what they find to be most important, and I could no lo


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55 Responses to How I’ve Managed to Get 10 Years from my Computer and How You Can Too

  1. ThiNg says:

    Good to hear Gerald. Didn’t want to seem stubborn.

    The machines don’t come installed with XP, they usually just give you the CD and key and COA. They charge an additional $25-40 to install XP for you.

    I would have thought that it would be easier in the US to find stuff (more businesses) and you can get most stuff shipped in the continental US for a very small price.

    Everything I want is always available in the US and noone ships here!

    I guess it’s a grass is greener thing…

  2. Tim Williams says:

    Thanks so much for this article. In addition to all the things you and others have mentioned to stretch the life of a computer, how about switching to a slimmer OS. My old dog of a laptop now has a new lease on life, not to mention my wallet. I put Ubuntu Linux on it and oh man is it fast (in comparison) and you can’t beat the price (free). I’m not a tech guy I just read the help pages on their website and was guided through the whole process. Installing software couldn’t be easier either. I was already using open office, gimp, firefox etc. due to their (lack of) cost. I can even run most windows programs from it using an extension called wine. As opposed to whine, which a few previous posters have done. In addition to being much faster (than XP or vista), It closes the security holes of obsolete software.

  3. Tony says:

    Get a battery backup as a surge protector only, I use and recommend APC. They are good for power surges – that’s all! When you hear lightning and / or thunder in your area do not solely trust that the surge unit will protect your computers. Be safe and unplug the computer, printer, computer power supply cords, printer cords, and telephone cords. This WILL save you massive amount of head aches and DOLLARS. There is NO truth is advertising in the power supply industry industry whatsoever!!

  4. Keith Wyatt says:

    Great article! The techniques you have posted will keep the Operating System running well beyond even the 10 years, if the hardware holds up. However as was pointed out (most notably by Gerald), there comes a point when the Operating System is no longer supported and it becomes vuneralbe to exploits. Specifically Windows, which has been consistantly a target for malicious software. At that point it is time to move to another Operating System. In many cases that requires the purchase of newer hardware to support the OS or the investment in software to replace the ones currently in use. Out of the 8 computers in my home, 4 are 10 years old or older and 1 is pushing 6. The 4 that are 10+ are running various flavors of Linux (quite well) and the 6 year old laptop dual boots Linux and XP.
    The older machines are primarily file/media servers (Ive upgraded the hard drives in them to a minimum total of 500G). These machines will continue to serve my purposes for as long as the hardware lasts.

  5. Robbyt says:

    I have another to keep a computer longer. Of course you want to do all then things mentioned here, but something I did enabled me to keep a Gateway desktop running Pentium 4 and XP for 10 years. I got it in late 2001. I don’t even dust the thing out that often which incidentally, you should do.

    I carefully waited before buying it. I let Windows 98, 2000, etc trickle by. I looked at the specs from time to time on how computers were changing and read some articles. When processors speeds and handling sort of bottomed out and big advances got slim, I made my move. Gateway offered an almost flat screen with a Boston Acoustics 3 piece sound system for under a $1000. Granted, it wasn’t going to handle fancy graphics etc, but for an everyday web browser and basic file handling it was just the ticket. Fast forward 10 years, even today my computer is faster on basic stuff like loading programs, navigation, streaming content than dual and tri-core Windows 7 products. The interface is nicer and operation is smoother on new computers, but I can run around my XP against anyone doing basic stuff. I can also dig in and change things in the registry and root directories while most people are still trying to find My Computer.

    The only upgrade was adding a 512Mb ram chip. That’s it. I use Firefox 4.0 and it’s still going. Knock on wood. Here’s a tip. We’re at that juncture again. Windows 7. Just by the latest cost effective multi-cored (discounted)laptop or desktop with the largest screen that’s feasible for you. You’ll get 10 years easy barring a major mishap or mishandling. Apple isn’t my thing, but I think the same goes there if you can afford one.

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