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Industry standards for component failure

By neil.wyrchowny ·
I'm currently arguing with a vendor (who shall remain nameless for now) regarding their support of our desktop computers. We have purchased over 2000 of these systems over the last couple of years and they are supposed to be "business class" machines, but we have had as much as a 60% failure rate on some of the older (almost 3 years) models and the newer ones are starting to trend upwards.

The question is, what is "acceptable"?

Does anyone know (and can point to a reputable source) what the industry expected mean time between failure is for hard drives, motherboards and powersupplies? In other words, should over 30% of one model of computers have the motherboards pack it in on one year... and another 30% have hard drive failures?


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by timwalsh In reply to Industry standards for co ...

Any computer is only as good as the components used to build it.

First, there is no "industry standard" for what delineates a "business class" component from a standard consumer component. Usually one "expects" more exacting manufactering standards and higher MTBF. Occasionally, even the best manufacturers will end up with a bad lot of components. This is where the component manufacturer's warranty and reputation come into play. Usually, the higher the grade of component, the longer the warranty.

Second, there is no "industry standard" on what delineates a "business class" computer from a standard consumer-class system. Again, one would "expect" the business-class system to use a higher grade of components.

Many of the "better" large vendors establish relationships with well known component vendors and always use components from the same vendors. Other large vendors treat components in their computers as commodities. They buy and install whatever they can get the best deal on. Computers of the same model purchased only months apart can have vastly differing components, even though they may have the same specs.

60% percent failure rate is way high for any class of system. Are the failed components the same model? Do components differ between the same model of computer bought at different times?

BTW, there is no harm in telling us the vendors name. It's possible that some of has have experienced the same problems with the same vendor. If so, you would then know that it is indeed a vendor problem and not just an extended string of bad luck.

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by TheChas In reply to Industry standards for co ...

A 30% first year failure rate for ANY PC component is not acceptable.

I have worked for years in electronics manufacturing, and anything less than 90% reliability is not accepted.

Just a guess, but it sounds like your vendor is cutting corners with insufficient cooling and / or power supplies.

The life cycle of the hardware inside a PC depends on the environment where the PC is installed.

The stability and cleanliness of the AC power can be a big factor.
If you get a lot of voltage spikes or brownouts and do not have proper UPS and surge protection, ANY PC will have a shortened life.

The next biggest problem is heat and dust.

That said, the electronics should operate for at least 10 years, the drives for a minimum of 5 years.

Where I work, some of our 10 year old systems, that are running 24/7, are just starting to have hard drive failures.

We use a combination of UPS, voltage stabilizers, and surge protectors on these systems.
We also have dust filters on all fans, and follow a regular PM schedule to service the filters.


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by donmars In reply to Industry standards for co ...

The priority was to protect yourself by researching and authoring a standard (SOP) that you demand and, negotiate an iron clad contract with a supplier who will not only supply your product needs but will be responsible for maintenance, upgrades and upkeep. The ball will forever be in their court so long as you operate the equipment within manufacturers guidelines. A less expensive contract may require you to take on the responsibility of maintenance and so forth yourself. In this case the Manufacturer warranty applies. Given this latter scenario you would use reputable names, preferably direct marketing companies such as DELL, maybe certified IBM BUSINESS PARTNERS and even GATEWAY. These brands are known for longer warranty periods and strong support. Non of this addresses your problem now however, so with reference to that I recommend you locate the manufacturer of the known components in the systems, go to the associated web sites and you should be able to get the MTBF and other indices that you can use in your arguments. Example, if you go to the MAXTOR site and type MTBF in their search box you will get information pertaining to that. Apply this technique to the components in your system and assemble a well written document for presentation to your supplier. You could invest a small sum with independent research firms who will assemble a report specifically for your equipment and situation. Such a document presented with a letter from an attorney, along with the threat of taking your business elsewhere, should set any provider back on course to serve his customer FIRST. Consumer Reports offers a self help alternative which should be adequate for now. Start here: (copy and paste in the browser address bar)
Use the ACTION PLAN, ACTION LIBRARY and ACTION COMMUNICATION features to form a problem resolution.
Good luck, keep us informed.

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by donmars In reply to

NOTE! If the link above does not work go to and click on the computers tab, then click HELP FOR PROBLEM PCs under FREE HIGHLIGHTS.

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by richard_barsby In reply to Industry standards for co ...

Hi I am sorry if I am the bearer of doom and gloom.

We as consumers are our own worst enemies. We search around for the best price for everything.

The manufacturers are pushed to cut costs to the minimum to keep competative in the market place also a computer in this day and age has a considered life span of about a year by which time it is out of date so why make the last 3, 5 or 10 years.

Things like hard drives are manufactured for the mass market not for HP,Compaq or Dell so they get what everyone else gets.

How many nonames are manufactured compared to the well know names probably 10:1 or higher.

You gets what you pay for and most want cheap so thats what everyone gets.

I have been a monitor repair eng since 1978 and Sonys fail as much as anyone elses.

LCD's are worse because if they fail it is a dustbin job unless it is an inverter fault then only if you can get the spares 50% of the manufacturers do not even list the inverter as they class as part of the panel.

Who's talking about being green we throw everything away now how green is that.

Thats my thoughts for what it is worth

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