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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | Repairs, Returns and Refunds | Determining the Feasibility of Repair ]

System and Component Life

To help you assess your situation when hardware problems occur, I have included in this section a table that lists the major component types and some typical information about their likelihood of experiencing an "infant mortality" (early failure), reliable use lifespan, and how much time they are generally considered at or near the cutting edge technologically.

Now, putting together a table of this sort isn't easy, because everyone's PC is different and there is absolutely no way that you can conclude from what's in this section that your hard disk will last X years or anything like that. So please don't send me email asking why your particular unit didn't last as long as it says here, or I'll just end up taking this section out. :^P The table below is not clear-cut. It is not absolute, and I have no hard data to back it up. It is just my subjective impressions based on using a large amount of older hardware and seeing how it tends to hold up. I hope that's now clear. :^)

Here are some assumptions and notes about the table below:

  • I am assuming that you are dealing with high-quality, name-brand components. Obviously if you use junk, you're going to end up with more problems.
  • "Infant Mortality Rate" is a relative indicator. A value of "High" just means that that component is more likely to experience an early failure than a component with a value of "Low". Even the "High" items really don't fail all that often.
  • "Typical Time to Wearout" gives an indicator of how many years a component of this sort will last before you can expect to see the rate of failure increase. In other words, the serviceable useful life of the component before you enter the wearout period. In practice, this depends a lot on how well you take care of your equipment, how much you use it, and also on how lucky you are.
  • "Likelihood of Obsolescence Before Wearout" gives an indication of how prone the component is to becoming obsolete due to advances in technology. In turn, this says how likely most people are to want to replace a failed component of this type with a new one that is more advanced. In practice, this depends entirely on what is important to you, of course. I'm not a big believer in replacing good components just because they're no longer the latest and greatest, but I don't think repairing obsolete equipment makes much sense in many cases either.
  • The longest time value is "7+" years. It gets very dicey beyond that time period to even guess at what will happen.

Here's the table:

Component

Infant Mortality Rate

Typical Time to Wearout (years)

Likelihood of Failure Before Wearout

Likelihood of Obsolescence Before Wearout

Power Supply

Low

3-6

Moderate

Very Low

Motherboard

Moderate

4-7

Low

High

Processor

Low

7+

Very Low

Very High

System Memory

Moderate to High

7+

Very Low

High

Video Card

Low to Moderate

5-7

Low

High

Monitor

Low to Moderate

5-7+

Moderate to High

Very Low

Hard Disk Drive

Moderate to High

3-5

Moderate to High

Moderate

Floppy Disk Drive

Low

7+

Low

Low

CD-ROM Drive

Moderate

3-5

Moderate

High

Modem

Low

5-7+

Low

High

Keyboard

Very Low

3-5

Moderate

Low

Mouse

Very Low

1-4

Moderate to High

Very Low

Next: Reparability of Various Components


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