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Tips for extending PC life to the max?

By galahad04 ·

I have an older 1998 PC system that for hardware compatibility reasons is irreplaceable to me and would like some suggestions as to how to extend its life for as long as possible -- ideally for the indefinite future. Specifically, I have a few questions to address this:

(1) When and/or how frequently do I need to change the PC internal battery? (I have been running on the same original battery since 1998, which is still functional.) I have read about the numerous horror stories that can occur if the battery dies, but could not find any specific info on when to replace it.

(2) How long can the internal hardware components (i.e., sound card, CD drive, hard disk) be reasonably expected to work properly without needing replacement parts? (I did buy a brand-new hard drive in late 2004.)

(3) For discontinued hardware parts that are no longer newly manufactured, what are the rules of thumb on buying these to as replacement parts?

(4) If the PC does become defective or stops working properly due to its age, does anyone have any suggestions as to the best way to obtain repairs/services for obsolete PCs?

(5) Is there anything else besides having the PC cleaned periodically and avoiding frequently turning it on/off that you can suggest for maintaining a long life span?

Unfortunately, I cannot simply buy any brand of older PC if mine breaks down, since I need the drivers provided by the vendor of this specific model for its own custom hardware configuration. E-bay listings for this item are also extremely rare as I have only seen one come up in the past 3 years.


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by jdmercha In reply to Tips for extending PC lif ...

1) Even with a dead battery the PC will probably still function. You may have to go into the BIOS at every boot-up to get it to work though. I'd keepa spare on hand and replcae it when it dies.

2)Some parts will run forever. RAM usually has a lifetime gaurantee. I've got a "specialized" PC from 1990 that is still running strong.

3) Google tha part number or earch Ebay.

4) Search the web for computer collectors. They amy at least have connections for you.

5) Standard stuff, keep food and liquids away from it. Make sure it is always in a controlled environment.

So does the vedor still exist? CAn they repair it for you? Do they have an up-to-date replacement? What does it do? Does somebody eles have a suitable replacement?

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by galahad04 In reply to

Thanks -- for answers to your questions about the PC itself, please see my response to Answer #5.

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by TheChas In reply to Tips for extending PC lif ...


On an ATX system that is on all the time, or at least plugged in all the time, the CMOS battery should hardly ever see any usage.
If you wish to maintain CMOS settings, replace the battery every 5 to 7 years.

Hardware, drives and fans are your biggest concerns. Followed by modems and network cards.
Plan for 5 years MTBF for a hard drive. Buy NEW drives NOW based on the desired length of service.

Parts, try the used and surplus parts sellers such as:

Buy a compatible motherboard, CPU, and video card.
Try contacting Gateway Service and see if you can buy a replacement motherboard. Don't tell them it's for a spare. Tell them you need to repair the PC.

Anything else::::
Add filtered case fans set to **** air into the case. You will extend hardware by keeping dust out of drives and by keeping everything running cooler.
Surge Protection!
Use a very good name brand surge protector such as APC, Tripp-Lite or SG Waber. Along with a UPS for brownout protection.


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by galahad04 In reply to
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by willcomp In reply to Tips for extending PC lif ...

If parts are needed in the future, check with local PC repair shops. I've been in business for over 15 years and have accumulated a number of vintage parts, some of which are new-in-box. It's not uncommon for shops in business 10 years or more to have quite a few older parts.

You may contact me by peer mail for specific questions.


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by galahad04 In reply to

Poster rated this answer.

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by dmiles In reply to Tips for extending PC lif ...

Generally speaking it is difficult to tell the future,think of older computers as you would vintage cars.

1)Generally the battery life could last as computer,unless you start to lose time on your computer which is the first sign that battery needs to be replaced,I would not anticipate replacing it

2)Discontinued parts will be hard to find,try such sites as ebay,,or garage sales,network the computer stores that may have old computers around.It may not cost much to stock inventory of parts that you can find to replace the parts as they break or as needed.

Do a general maintenance on system such as spring cleaning by opening the case and using a can of compressed air to clean out the dust bunnies,make sure all fans are dusted as well especially the power supply vent,maintain in well ventilated area,protect against overheating

Check around for computer repair shops in the area and with friends that know someone that does computer repairs.

Maintaining a long life span,well that one would be hard pressed in that mechanical and electronics are man made products,so the fail rate would be difficult to determined

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by galahad04 In reply to
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by sgt_shultz In reply to Tips for extending PC lif ...

less is more. don't touch too much...
if on floor with dog and cat find better place for it to live, *gently* vacuum it out with *static protected* vac or *gently* **** it out particular attention to fans and heat sinks. thereafter, only vac when in box for some other oh, please do tell what the special drivers are. i am like so wondering what this system is?? and the hardware you need so badly. some 'special' dongle you don't know how you will replace. these guys here are rabid make-doers and could tell you how exactly how and when to stock spares/replacements if you will give us exact part numbers. they are all mentally reviewing their old parts and wondering if they could get rid of any. because their wives would probably pay you to take it. you may need to ask questions if you can't find the model numbers on everything. eventually you should have a partnbr for everythign. that is first step.
my 2 cents is: take static precautions always when box is open. (when closed, also, near exposed connectors). static damage is cumulative and will shorten the life of the electronics. don't blast too hard with canned 'air'. one reason for mechanical damage but big one is blowing really cold air and if you system has been on recently you might thermal shock somehting into failure.

static precautions
thermal even-ness
don't move box with power on.
keep the airflow as originally engineered. ie, don't operate for long periods with box open. plug unused bays and slots with appropriate covers. if fan goes, don't operate system wiithout it. keep environment around pc clean (dust and such) floor bad. under window bad. in closet bad. on desktop good. naturally you do not use it as tv table.
put on ups (battery) for lightning and put modem and if possible network cable on lightning protection also.
spring is almost here. have you seen how the trees are budding out. you will see a robin soon, betcha. life is mysterious. don't be too serious. kay?

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by galahad04 In reply to

It's mostly the hardware configuration of the PC that's important: can fit two full-length ISA cards (e.g., LAPC); CPU clock speed not too fast to adversely affect older programs and hardware that become problematic at higher speeds; can use both gameport/midi and USB slots; can run older ISA-based Sound Blaster Pro II and AWE 64 for older/classic gaming compatibility. Also can run both newer and older OSs at the same time with appropriate boot-loader program. Uses an ISA architecture (rather than PCI) which can cause problems for older hardware and games that require ISA to work correctly.

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