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Component Failures, Infant Mortality, and the Bathtub Curve
PC components, and in fact many electronic devices in general, tend to fail in a particular way. Understanding how this works is important in helping you decide how you want to deal with problems and component failures within your PC. The standard impression that many people who are less familiar with computers have, is that failures of components are roughly linear. A certain percentage of all components fail, and this failure rate is consistent within the life of the product, although it increases as the product gets older. This is in fact not the case. The failure rate of most components is remarkably non-linear.
PC component failures actually fall into three main periods, chronologically:
If you examine a graph of failure rate versus time elapsed since a product was installed, you will see a large number of failures early on, then very few, with the number starting to increase as the wearout period is entered. This is often called a bathtub curve due to the approximate shape it makes (but note that the right-hand part of the curve usually has a much more gradual slope, because wearout takes time).