Hardware

When is it time to retire an old PC?

Classic computers aren't necessarily those that were built only the 80's and 90's. Even a computer made in 2004 can be considered a classic. When do you get rid of an old PC?

Classic computers aren't necessarily those that were built in the 80s and 90s. Even a computer made in 2004 can be considered a classic. When do you get rid of an old PC?

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Almost by default, I talk a lot about computers from the twentieth century here in Classics Rock. Old, outdated equipment isn't necessarily limited to stuff made in the 1900s. Even equipment that's as little as two or three years old can be considered obsolete.

This thought occurred to me the other day when TechRepublic's Jason Hiner walked into my office and noticed my main production machine. It's a CNET, standard-issue Dell Optiplex GX270 that I got back in 2004.

"You're still running one of the old Dells???" 

Compared to the Tandy 1000 sitting on the desk above it, it's practically fresh out of the box. But even so, it's a little long in the tooth compared to the IBM ThinkCentre and MacBook Pros, which are used by most folks around here.

As a matter of fact, I have three of those Optiplexes here. One of them is for production. Another is a Linux test machine that I effectively use for production when I'm in a Linux mood. The other is an old Art machine that I kept after we lost one of our artists. There are also a couple of 2000-era HP Kayaks that I also use for test machines. Plus there's the really old stuff.

The fact of the matter is that even though the Optiplex is a little old, it still gets the job done. I've had IT put some additional RAM in it, but other than that I haven't complained, and they haven't gotten to me yet. As far as I'm concerned a new machine wouldn't be fast enough to be worth the three days lost adjusting everything the way I want it.

Some organizations make a habit of constantly rotating machines on a regular basis. Every two to four years, they'll cycle equipment off of the desktop. Others will continue to use equipment until it can't be fixed anymore.

CNET/CBS Interactive rotates machines on a pretty regular basis. I just keep clinging to my old machines until something significantly faster becomes the standard. When I was a network administrator in a former life at Thomas Industries, we also had a pretty regular schedule for replacements. At the Police Department, however, where funds were tighter, we ran machines into the ground. We continued to use a piece of equipment until we couldn't get parts for it anymore. Likewise, I did some consulting for a local company that continued to use 1981 PC XTs until Windows 95 came out.

How long do you hang on to PCs?

How long does your organization hang on to a PC? Take the poll below to see how your organization compares with other TechRepublic members and sound off in the comment section if it makes sense.

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