PCs

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 Old, outdated equipment isn't necessarily limited to stuff made in the 1900s.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.

64 comments
bmitol
bmitol

I had intended to post a reply here but actually started a new one under Paleotechnology. I will attempt to repost it here.

kahnt
kahnt

I have a client that still specifies a standard desktop of Windows 2000 on a 128 MB system with a P3, and if it can still be found, a HD of only 10 GB. They only agreed to allow machines to be imaged with XP when MS stopped supporting it. These boxes were rolled out seven years ago, and they generally do the job, but the client is now paying too much to support these when it would be vastly cheaper to bring in new low end boxes rather than trying to fix obsolete parts. Okay, for another department at that company, we did put in new boxes, and the old ones are our parts for the rest of the company. Not the most reassuring way to support the rest of the company, but the only way to get these obsolete parts.

Chashew
Chashew

You have my vote on this one-I help people revamp old machines and they drive me crazy when it takes a month just to boot up and don't talk to me about the loonngggg nights scanning. But some people can't afford to upgrade let alone buy new.And windows vista--juiced up machines can't help that slow poke.

malignedtruth
malignedtruth

Since 1996, many Leap-CF.org members have refurbed old systems with Linux and given them to school aged children for their homework tool. Since 2003, GiftFromGodComputerFoundation.org has recycled thousands of "Old" systems, and many servers, to children, and to other non-profit organizations. In 2007, 1400+ computers (private and Corporate donations) went to children of school age. Sponsored by Palm Tree computing, Oviedo, Florida, MAR licenses are issued for those systems that need Microsoft, while many are issued with the FREE and Open Source GNU/Linux. The latest added project puts 233 to 550 MHz systems running Ubuntu Linux into DayCare centers, with all the great FREE and Open source educational programs, many games, Child's Play, and learning tools, for children aged 3 to 7! Another use for 486-20 through 300MHz systems is IPCOP boxes on SOHO networks.

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

Finally a man after my own heart, John. I cant detach myself from my old equipment either. You just reminded me that I've got a couple of HP Kayaks hanging around. Been wondering what to do with them. I've also wanted some test machines for Linux but never thought about the Kayaks (I must be getting old) for that purpose. So thanks, mate, you've just solved two problems for me in one foul swoop. Keep happy - keep old eqiupment running.

richard
richard

When it can not be used anymore. Some have become step stools, others door stops and still others (pentium pro 200s) have become routers,Still in use by the way.

landen99
landen99

Getting the latest is always an improvement, especially when it has become a standard, but the two factors of cost and performance are always dancing in our minds. We wait for a significant improvement in an area of need and wait for the price to fall to retail trends for similar equipment.

mkoelsch
mkoelsch

1) When it cannot run the software the user's need. 2) Consider it when the machine is out of warranty, or when it becomes obvious that a pc of particular age beyond warranty is becoming too costly to maintain. 3) When it becomes clear that a new system will allow your user to perform their job much more efficiently.

robert.boyle
robert.boyle

Depends on what you do. In my business we charge by the hour for our work. I did a quick calculation and found that if I could save 20 minutes a day with a faster computer we could generate $500k in revenue a year by buying $30,000 in new computers. The key is what impact, revenue-wise, does a slower computer cost your company. The other key is to charge for the service on a value basis not just on the time saved so that the company makes the revenue.

stu.metzler
stu.metzler

This comment was removed for business advertisement. - Tammy :-) Message was edited by: tcavadias

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

At home, practically never. Most computers, as a unit, are capable of a form of immortality to those with the talent to rebuild them. I've got one system I bought back in 1992 still running Windows 98; although replacement parts are getting harder to find. I keep it around mostly to use as an old media converter. I have other systems that have had parts removed, replaced, or upgraded for over 10 years. The big question is, if you replace a system's motherboard, is it still the same system or is it a new PC? If it was a human being and you removed the brain and replaced it with another, that question is fairly easy to answer; NO, it's not the same system anymore, it's a new one.

robspcfixerupper
robspcfixerupper

I'm convinced my system at work is the oldest in the company (about 150 systems) - a Dell L433C. It has a 4 GB hard drive and 512 MB of Ram. It's running 98SE, not even 2000. My entire branch has XP. I back stuff up regularly (every month or so) on my personal 4 GB flash drive. I'm one of the few "IT guys" not in IT, so I guess they figure it'll be ok in my care. I can act like a typical housewife and not do any maintenance or backup, but then I could be out of my personal data files for weeks on end. I've tried running Seagate's diagnostic tool on this thing, but the screen just gets scrambled when it gets to the menu screen. How long can an 8 year old drive work? My email takes up 1/4 of the drive space. The system's bios date is 11/08/2000. Somebody kill it, please.

pkrdk
pkrdk

Privately I dump them when they crash the HW beyond repair. Generally that happens in 5-6 years time. We can do that because we don't upgrade SW when the supplier says so, but when we can see a benefit from it. Many years as an IT pro (+35) have learned me that it if works, don't fix it. Professionally we don't replace PC's, as we dumped the PC many years ago, an don't feel inclined to participate in the global experiment again. Except for very specific cases we run thin clients in a Citrix environment on windows servers in a failsafe cluster. We have to be very hard hit, a bomb in two serverrooms simultaneously, to make IT unavailable to users. We run 5000+ users with an it-staff of 12, we have very few errors and all maintenance can be done in daytime. If a thion client dies, we simply giv user a new one and connect the cables. When power comes on, they log on and continue with the work they were doing before the client died - which is very seldom. The PC as a general office tool is as dead as the dodo, and it happened many years ago.

softwareFlunky
softwareFlunky

At work, it's every three years. That way, the cost of maintaining the computer's less in the long run. At home, there are incremental upgrades and repairs. My 64 bit Ahtlon has had a memory upgrade, new DVD and, just recently, a new power supply installed It's 3.5 years old and still pretty snappy, though soon I'll make it my backup machine - at 3.5 years old, I consider it outside the bathtub curve for reliability.

mitzampt
mitzampt

Until we remplace them.... This is not a regular cycle, it involves having such old equipment that it barely does the job and new funds that ask for a purpose...

daryl_holt
daryl_holt

OK... I'm sure it's a conspiracy to get us all to shell-out more bucks to buy newer equipment (to keep up). I like to recycle my systems to something better suited and/or upgrade and optimize the hell out of them to the point that they out-perform the newer models. Am I dumb... or looking after my job security. If I say something can't be fixed (or it's "UN-economical", I suddenly find I have a couple of days off, (to fund the purchase of a new system) if you know what I mean.

ttocsmij
ttocsmij

1. When M$ convinces your IT VP to "upgrade" to the new OS; which always requires a new machine to get the speed required to support all the new bloatware therein. 2. When you get a new boss; because the new guy has to change something so it may as well be new tools all around. Yeah! Better than playing musical cubes any day, eh! :-)

wasato
wasato

When the users are ready to pony up money for a new one.

billrigbymanor
billrigbymanor

When it is no longer repairable, or it packs it in to often and get kind of like kicking a dead horse!

lconsidine
lconsidine

We replace every three years on a rotating basis. Usually by then there is both new hardware and software that needs the capacity of newer systems. Operating systems, dlls, drivers, etc. sometimes are created to take advantage of the newer hardware.

ellsanto
ellsanto

I have a building full of the Optiplex GX270s which we just upgraded to XP from 2000 two months ago, along with a RAM upgrade. I have had to replace a HDD here and an optical drive there, but besides that these workhorses are still chugging along. I figure I can get at least another year out of most of them. Then on to Vista...but thats another discussion.

jagwilliams
jagwilliams

At work, according to schedule and budgets, and home, when the software demands make the PC obsolete.

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

Clients think that when a newer machine can do the job faster, it should be replaced. Myself, when parts are no longer available it's time to replace it. Invariably it will become obsolete but if it still works, no need to replace it. I never get rid of a working PC, it will get passed on to one of the younger children or given to the younger set as a game machine. Once they break down, I may use it as a teaching tool and they often get destroyed in the process. Many units will get relegated to some meanial duty as long as they work they can still be useful.

LyleTaylor
LyleTaylor

Realistically, it all boils down to the fact that you replace it when you need to. The question of when you "need" to is a bit sticky, I suppose, and will depend on you or your organization's needs. Personally, I replace a machine when it no longer does what I need (want :-)). For an organization, the financial aspect probably has the largest impact on when that happens. I suppose it depends on whether the organization feels that they get more financial benefit by keeping things up to date and consistent or by waiting until things absolutely need to be replaced. I lean towards the former, as I believe a proactive approach with consistent configurations leads to a more stable and supportable environment, which ultimately leads to lower costs than trying to support very old and dieing systems when well managed.

LyleTaylor
LyleTaylor

Realistically, it all boils down to the fact that you replace it when you need to. The question of when you "need" to is a bit sticky, I suppose, and will depend on you or your organization's needs. Personally, I replace a machine when it no longer does what I need (want :-)). For an organization, the financial aspect probably has the largest impact on when that happens. I suppose it depends on whether the organization feels that they get more financial benefit by keeping things up to date and consistent or by waiting until things absolutely need to be replaced. I lean towards the former, as I believe a proactive approach with consistent configurations leads to a more stable and supportable environment, which ultimately leads to lower costs than trying to support very old and dieing systems when well managed.

LyleTaylor
LyleTaylor

Realistically, it all boils down to the fact that you replace it when you need to. The question of when you "need" to is a bit sticky, I suppose, and will depend on you or your organization's needs. Personally, I replace a machine when it no longer does what I need (want :-)). For an organization, the financial aspect probably has the largest impact on when that happens. I suppose it depends on whether the organization feels that they get more financial benefit by keeping things up to date and consistent or by waiting until things absolutely need to be replaced. I lean towards the former, as I believe a proactive approach with consistent configurations leads to a more stable and supportable environment, which ultimately leads to lower costs than trying to support very old and dieing systems when well managed.

jt
jt

In most cases, we replace upon failure, or inability to secure continuing sources of support. In all cases, an ROI must be generated. While a staffer with a 4 year old laptop may clearly 'need' a replacement, its often difficult to justify doing so based on the ROI of compiling code X% faster.

jck
jck

On a professional level: When they don't meet the business need or begin to cost more to maintain per lifecycle than new. On a personal level: When I can't get a part on Ebay to fix em anymore lol :^0 I have a Commodore 64 with 3 1541 floppy drives anda 1702 monitor and an MPS-801 dot matrix 3-pin printer that all still work. I just don't know if my floppies are still good anymore. lol :^0 I still have P1, P2, and P4 hardware at my house working...and...a P-120 laptop with 80MB of ram and a 20GB disk (hard drive software needed to work with that bios lol) on Windows 95(C) OSR 2.5 for USB support lol.

bmitol
bmitol

Much of my work is in field service, rust belt field service. I have encountered control scenarios that could shiver anyone's timbers. At one end of a process line is controlled by the latest version of Infalink or Wonder-ware with a wireless OPC server and at the other end is an MG set with Clark relays controlling its field to control line speed. In between there is a Square D PLC that will only communicate with an OLD version of RS232 and a DOS version of its software. Rather than retire old PCs Ive had to pull them from dumpsters to replace old school HMIs. I could go on with stories about plant managers wont even stop production to do maintenance let alone upgrade. They claim "If it ain't broke don't fix it"! I enter plants with a Tecra in one hand and a 386 luggable in the other. Just last year I upgraded a CNC control running on a 8088 that would only run the CNC software in the slow (4.7 Mhz) mode. He needed an 87 chip to be able to smooth out some of his radius operations. I would not be at all surprised to walk into an office that was running Word-star on a Kaypro with a closet full of 5 1/4s. And by the way the 88 machine used 5 1/4s. I have often thought of sending in some dinosaurs to the TechRepublic just to find out that "I'm gonna need them". It's a jungle out there.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

The Kayaks I have running as test machines are dual-processor Pentium IIIs @ 800Mhz each. They've got the Elsa Synergy-II video cards which has the Riva TNT chip from NVidia. Only 512MB of RAM, but that's only because they use RAMBUS memory which is hard to find cheaply anymore. One is running SuSe Linux 10.2 and the other is currently running eCommStation, which is an OS/2 derived operating system. Both run really well even though the computers are ancient.

groon
groon

So let me get this straight: You charge by the hour, and a faster computer will give you more hours in the day? Cool. I need one of those faster computers, too!

I_Borg
I_Borg

Dude - I would have bought my own by now and replace that POS... You are wasting whole Man Days just waiting for the machine to paint the screen. It depreciated from the books years ago and the taxes the company is paying on it still as a asset far outstrip the cost of a new machine and the revenue that greater productivity would generate. Your company must not have heard of Sarbanes-Oxley because Windows SE doesn't make the security grade. You must really love pain...

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

These particular units were the ones that Dell had problems with in the capacitors popping. I think we replaced the system board on every unit. My main Windows production machine has had the system board replaced 3 times. Once for the blown out capacitor problem and twice for power supplies that crapped out. It was this entire model line that I think convinced CNET to go from the Dell to the ThinkCentre as being the standard desktop.

glgruver
glgruver

At work, I still need to keep a 386 machine around to program certain radio equipment that we still have in service. I also keep a P-166 Thinkpad around for programming pagers and certain pieces of radio equipment. In my ham shack, I still run some logging programs on a 286 machine, but getting 5" floppies is becoming more difficult. One of these days I am going to have to upgrade to the '90s LOL. At the other end, I have a one year old laptop that does everything I need at home and I have a 1.2 Gig desktop machine that I use to play with Linux.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The first thing I did when put infront of this machine was check the specs and what work I was doing with it. I then confirmed with my direct report before emailing our IT support folks asking for more ram. They said it was outside of the standard system build for staff workstations. I pointed out that I moved large amounts of data around and required the processing power and memory resources because the tools I used kept becoming overwelmed (512 does not make a good heavy data processing machine). I made a point of mentioning it too each new manager that came in above me when they asked about office tools though my own manager couldn't get a system upgrade when clearly needed. Eventually the company standard for memory went up and they braught me fresh ram chips. That simple upgrade doubled my systems output and reduced the number of software crashes to only when IE or Excel's crap memory management gets overwelmed. All I could think at the times was; "Seriously? I've been telling you I needed that for over a year now." The moral; sometimes you should take a moment to consider the use of the workstation rather than just if it fits in the one size fits all jobs mold. Even if the ROI justification isn't as clear as "this upgrade will give us X more dollars in return."

half
half

We do a lot of builds for people and we sometimes get their old one, or people buy a new laptop and find their old desktop surplus We check them out ,replace the HDD and hand them on to someone who is starting out or needs a machine for word or something for the HDD cost Our own desktop is like grandpas axe, it has the same box as it had when we built it in 2000, but all of the internals have been replaced a few times and it is an ongoing project. Usually about 6 months behind the new flash stuff, give it time to have all the bugs removed or found

cnieves
cnieves

i replace my machines with the os. my first machine was 386 with windows 3.1. then a new one with windows 95 then 98 then xp then vista. having hardware that works with the new os keeps trouble away and it has worked well for me. now some old machines make great printer servers and firewall/routers so some old machine end up being astaro firewalls since linux has low overhead. since i provide computer support for many platforms i have windows 2000 xp and vista in my office and an old imac too. i am expected to know it all when i get called. some of my customers are strong people. but i have a new policy that i introduced on 2006. i do not do any NT or windows 98 or lower. i do not entertain those old OSses any more. people have to be pushed sometimes into the new ages at some point. i mean mac people upgrade everytime there is a version of mac os x and they do not complain. only pc users wnat to keep a machine 8 plus years.

kirk_reed
kirk_reed

Last week I made a trip to our supplier to backup and take an assesment on our testers supplying us components. I was shocked to see a 486 66 MHZ running Win 3.1. There had been an attempt to update it a number of years ago, but that computer gave them problems so they kept using the old 486. I will be updating it, but it was out of sight out of mind and the vendor kept it running.

mark.potter
mark.potter

Once machines from our work expire, either through old age, broken, or not quick enough. That is when you can start using the parts or whole for media pc's, mame machines or the such like. They come in quite handy that way. You just have to take the view point that it is not going to run Crysis or anything like that, but when those pesky Space Invaders come marching down the screen an older machine is more than up to the job.

davidt
davidt

Most of our systems date to 2004 (when I first came on board to modernize the network), and we are just now replacing them because our accounting and other software won't run on them - even with the RAM maxed out. I wanted to go 64-bit, but the money is just not there....

drl.techrepub
drl.techrepub

My 1.6GHz machine would not run Vista at-all well, hardware or software wise, and compile times were getting very frustrating so I effectively had my arm twisted out of its socket to upgrade by the OS and upgraded to a dual core 2.4GHz machine. I also got a 22inch widescreen and a dual port video card with the package and discovered the delights of using a second monitor for the properties, solution and class explorer windows, leaving the 22inch real estate for the code and project GUI. I was just trying to find a use for my old monitor but it turned out that it made far more of a difference to my development environment than I had expected. I'd recomment trying a dual screen system if the opportunity arises. Only problem is the new machine is max'd out regarding ram, and even now I'm noticing that some tasks take a frustrating amount of time, especially if I'm working on a project in ASP.NET where the start up times during debugging can be on the torturous side. It's not just the fact that it can take 10 seconds or more to compile and run on the virtual web server in Visual Studio, it's more to do with the number of times this has to be done when fixing minor bugs or tweaking the GUI. I think an update to an old saying is required: "A watched compiler never compiles". It's fair enough to ask "Just how much processing power do you think you need to display your document on the screen and handle your keyboard?", but if the program they are using is bloated and they work at high speed then they'll be forever hitting the limitations of their environment, and their experience of that computer with be that it is inadequate for their purpose. I believe the solution to many such problems is not hardware but software. Ah... ahem... that's our department!

imrees
imrees

I came in computers early when it was fun, Texas TI99, Dragon 32, BBCB, Spectrums and moved on to 286, 386, 486, etc when they became second hand and affordable.I devoured the subject imperfect as it was then. I invested a lot of time in DOS and BASIC, avoiding Windows for many years. I designed equipment using parallel and serial interfaces and wrote software in Borland Turbo Basic converting the finished product to EXE. Still working in control electronics I use DOS and Basic for a lot of my current work instead of PIC and PLC. New machines are expensive overkill for many of my projects and do not support the ports I find convenient. PC's that fail are broken down for spares. There is a host of old hardware and software no longer supported which can only be used in older slower machines. My youngest grandchildren are now using software from the 80's and 90's which their older siblings enjoyed when it was new.

etruss
etruss

I also have three Dell OptiPlexes in my cubicle for personnel use - two GX260s and a GX150. The two better machines are for development and builds. The GX150 is connected to the production system for looking at reported issues. ... and my machines are some of the newest around. A lot of the people out on the floor using my software are still using Dell OptiPlex GX110s. These are Pentium 3 machines with 128MB running Windows 2000. They probably won't replace those machines until they die or they have to because needs require it.

alan
alan

For the past year I have not purchased any new equip. I part out anything that dies to ressurect any new patients in the shop. Until the economy turns the corner I will not be getting any new toys...

SerrJ215
SerrJ215

Most of the companies I have worked for I had to use a shoe-string budget. I got money when stuff broke or didnt work anymore and most of my users didn't want new systems or new equipment espcailly if it ment changing the way they did things. So I I learned that there is no such thing as a useless PC. Print servers, Department file servers, spare parts, and test networks. (atleast before they came out with MS V.server.) The only reason why a user got a new computer was when it completly failed or if they complained enough to managment that they needed to shut them up.

jsaubert
jsaubert

At work were on a schedule of every 4 years because that is longest next-day warranty we can get. We don't replace them all alt once thought, each division is on a different four year rotation starting from October 1. That schedule goes for nearly all our computers, the servers, switches and others network goodies are on a separate plan and are replaces based on use and cost. Some we can or have to replace every two years some have never been replaced. That system seems to work well because we've only going to have to buy and replace 65 PCs, 42 laptops, 10 Baystacks and 4 servers this year ... which is a lot easier that trying to do it all at once. For my personal use I normally go about 2 1/2 years on a PC and about 1 1/2 years for a laptop. The old PC get's donated to my parents, the old laptop gets donated to my aunt. Their old systems gets used for parts, donated again to some one else or if they system is not working it's given to the "Junk Man" who is a local artist that makes statues out of trash.

Peconet Tietokoneet-217038187993258194678069903632
Peconet Tietokoneet-217038187993258194678069903632

When i retire a pc it is usually the components soldered too many times or i can not get the right components to put more life into/onto the motherboard(s). If,(and only if), the computer still works then i get it to work as a firewall, do not need much in the way of power usage or/and a printer server. :)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

At work it's by schedualled life expectancy though I've aregued more than once that the job possition should be taken into account when discussing hardare needs. At home and for general purpose machines, when the cost of repair outweighs the cost of replacement. - a RAM upgrade for a relatives machine is worth more than buying a new machine with newer hardware and resource limits At home and for specialty functions, when the functional requirnments are no longer met. - gaming rig no longer pushes current game titles - workstation no longer pushes current software versions; for me, that means it won't push as many VM at the same time as I'd like.

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

Mine obviously are a little older than yours. 266 Slot 1 (been a while since I've had them open/connected). ..... ok, just checked one of the boxes: its a Kayak XA6/266DT - with inboard graphics and sound and from memory its got 128mb of sdram installed. As what version of Windows is installed - hey gimme a break, its been about 2/3 years since i've looked at these boxes - but i suspect that they came with win98se. (Now, what can i do with 10 IBM PC300s running at 166/200 with 64mb of EDO Ram?)

SkyWlf77
SkyWlf77

I work in a data processing center. My boss doesn't believe in spending money on upgrades. All of our machines except 2 are Dell Dimension L700CX or L700CXE models. These are Intel Celeron 700MHz machines running 128MB RAM and Windows 2000 Professional. We have 50 of them. Several have duct tape on them to hold them together. Several have spliced wiring inside the case and one is currently using a Power Supply that is ON TOP OF the case with the wires running inside to the motherboard through the hole where the original power supply used to be (these machines use small power supplies and standard ATX replacements don't fit). Our servers are Dell PowerEdge 1400SC models using single 800MHz Pentium 3 Processors -- one is using 256MB RAM and the other is using 512MB RAM -- running Windows Server 2000. I have been able to get the upgrades to make the servers Dual 933's and 1GB RAM each, but the bosses won't pay for it. The desktops are running 20GB hard drives and our servers are running 4GB OS drives and 73GB Data drives. I spend a lot of time cleaning off information so that we have space available for the next day's work. It's ridiculous. I've gotten used to it, though and have managed to keep the office running (albeit very slowly).

ellsanto
ellsanto

Interesting. I had some chipset heat sinks break loose from a couple Dell dimension 4600c's. Had to replace the boards on those. But the Optiflex units have been great. Go figure.

LyleTaylor
LyleTaylor

In fact, I think you should always consider the use of the workstation to determine requirements. Standard configurations are fine, but different standards apply to different users as each user's or group of users' needs are different. In other words, multiple configurations should be available in order to meet the various needs of different users. I don't know that developers always need a top of the line machine (depends on what you're working on), and their ability to work efficiently has to do with more than just how quickly they can compile code, but a responsive machine that can give them a quick turnaround on things like compiles can have much larger impact on their productivity that you might think.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

.. well, autonomy over my own workstation anyhow. It's also one of the few places I've worked with a keyboard outside of the IT structure. As a result, I respectfully play by the company rules. Anything that requires an admin password (or explenation when security comes to "visit") I keep my fingers out of. (My crash count for TR alone today is 4 session lockups thanks to Flash adds. Excel hasn't crashed out on me yet today though so it's still a good day.)

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

You have my sympathy. Fortunately, where I work now I can do pretty much what I like. My work system rivals my home system. Yes, the Net is too heavily Flash-infested. I have a saying: "There is a special place in Hell for marketing people." I usually say it with a smile...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The browser here isn't my choice due to webapp lock-in and whatever other reasons exist. I am but a humble end user during the day. At home, FF does just fine though my issue with Flash there is Adobe's failure to yet compile a 64bit player. Until I do some gymnastics with the firefox plugin wrapper, I'm screwed for Flash there too. On one hand, it's very nice. I see the animaged GIF versions of all these adds from home. On the other hand, for the Flash wrapped video content I want to see, I have to use Mandriva One on a 32bit machine since it includes the player or I boot a Windows box with it's flash player. You just can't freaking win with this over saturated Flash internet. Someone needs to uninvite marketing reps too the developer meeting and stop drawing entire websites in Adobe's flash editor. We used to do most of this stuff through raw html, a bit of scripting and animaged .gif and somehow, it all ran better on smaller screens, less processor and modem connections to the ISP. Now, the other up side is how comfortable and functional my own machine is after using the work issued machine all day. It truly is like getting out of the work truck with bench seat, bad springs with loose breaks and steering then sitting down into a personal performance car with bucket seats and F1 tuned controls for the enjoyable ride home.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Re your TR/flash ad problem: That is why I use Firefox with Adblock. I never see that crap. I agree about the slower machine thing. When I worked at Packard Bell, one of the web developers kept a 640x480 bitmap on the screen to remind him to code to that size (this was back when that size was common).

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Open the site with IE, Netscape (used standalone) and any other expected browser I could get hands on. Open the site at 800x600, 1024x768 and make sure it fits both resolutions. Use centering tags so you don't have an 8x6 site with five inches of white space on the right for a larger screen. And a few others but these are such simple little things to do if one pulls there head away from the 32 inch 16 core developer beast and considers what the viewer will be running the code/site against. Bah.. yes marking guys want there say in the implementation and budgets/deadlines have to be met but there are just too many sites that focus on WTF levels of bling and flash at the expense of the content. TR has taken my browser down once already today with some badly done Flash fed to them from the third party advertisment database.

EliSko
EliSko

One of my pet peeves when doing back-end web programming is that the graphic artist or web designer has a front end that only looks good on 25" monitor in 1600x1280 full screen mode. I had a site last month where I was given color values that were simply illegible on my old 19" MAG CRT. The graphic artist kept insisting that the colors were okay until I took a photo of my screen and emailed it to her ... then she told me how "real" users would have already replaced the old monitor because the colors weren't corrected. What am I, chopped liver? :)

etruss
etruss

I've always thought the same thing. Give the developers the slowest machines and they will give you code that will run faster than if they have machines that are faster than the typical user machine. Even back when I worked on mainframes, we always developed on the minimum machine so that we knew the code would run OK on the bigger and better machines in the field.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

"but the websites loads perfectly and quickly on my quade core 8 gigs of ram from the server over there across the gig switch; what's the problem?" 'well skippy, us mortal users outside the ISP that have to hit your creation from modem or highspeed on machines with average resources don't get that same kind of performance; does it all need to be done in flash?' I understand to a degree why people develop no monster machines for local code as closed source is usually developed for a long term lifespan (Vista is meant for computers available two years from now, not current hardware). For websites, it's even more important that developers test it themselves through humble machines. It really wasn't so hard to have the four major browsers installed for testing my websites back in the day when that paid the bills and IE hadn't fully currupted the html standards.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

I've always thought that developers should be forced to code on or at least TO machines that are 2 - 3 years old. Giving them machines which are faster and more powerful than the ones used by the average user merely encourages them to create 'bloated' code. The programs work great on their whiz-bang units, but then drags on the slower production machines. Microsoft programmers should code on nothing but Pentium IIs...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Hardware isn't an issue at work though I could due with a larger monitor. The issues now are purely thanks to Microsoft's excelent development work. IE blows it's memory management and starts returning "server unreachable" or with flash, just locks completely. Excel blows it's memory management and either forgets it's print settings (each cell become a page) or formula recalculation hangs eventually even releasing the cpu while still reporting that it's reclaculating. I hit one of those every two days or so when I forget to close everything and reopen it with clean resource space.