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Thread: Extending the life of your current machines...

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    Senior Member MysteriouX's Avatar
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    Default Extending the life of your current machines...

    Ok I know SPCNET isn't mainly a Tech forum, however I thought we should have a thread which talks a little bit about this.

    Now many of us own at least 1 computer, some even own two and quite a few probably own more.

    Now we all know that every few months or so new hardware come out which makes our current ones seem pale in comparison, but not many of us can afford to keep up to date with all the new gadgets due to prices, and it's common sense not to spend money each time something new comes out. We usually wait at least a year or so before upgrading.

    And there are still many of us who would like to have used the machine they bought for their money's worth.

    So lets talk about how we can extend the lifetime of our current machines by a few more years and save some money.


    This is one way which I just did for my ASUS A6JC laptop.

    Now ASUS is one of the best brands of laptops I've used in my life and trust me I've used many brands before (DELL, HP, Compaq, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Sony) and from my experience, Asian brands are better in terms of style, usability and durability. And I think the reason for it is because brands like DELL, HP, Compaq are already famous and lots of organizations and businesses buy them so they don't have to rely too much on personal home users to keep their business running, however Asian brands are still trying to become as widespread and famous as DELL, HP, etc so they focus more on satisfying the requirements of the single users. Hence better quality for personal home users.

    Now when I bought my laptop 2 years ago, it cost me 1700 CHF (swiss francs) without TVA (VAT, tax) due to my diplomatic status.

    The specs then were:

    Centrino Core duo T2300 1.66ghz
    80gb hdd
    nVidia GeForce go 7300 with 256mb dedicated, 256mb shared via hypercache (total 512mb)
    1gb RAM
    dvd dual layer
    15.4" Wide Screen, the glossy screen
    and all the usual stuff like wi-fi, sound, etc.

    So that was 2 years ago, and since then new better laptops have come out with faster processors and better memory, etc.

    However after having spent 30,000 on my university fees and moving around 4 different countries I don't want to spend 2000 on a new laptop which will once again become outdated, instead until the end of this year (when the new 8-core processor will be released) or the next (when we may see cheaper Blu-ray drives in laptops) I want to still use my current ASUS laptop.

    So here is what I did to extend it's life.

    1: upgraded the RAM to max, it went from 1gb 553mhz to 2gb (2X 1GB) at 667mhz

    2) upgraded the 80gb hdd to 250gb hdd (made 2 partitions on it, 1 primarily for windows and application installation, the second for storage) Also to prevent windows from becomming corrupted with all the installations and uninstallations of software that I may try out, I got VMware's Workstation and created a Virtual machine for another Windows XP Pro installation and Linux Ubuntu. That way any new software I wish to try out gets tested inside the Virtual Machine first, and only if I think I will need it for long term, I will install it on the laptop's main windows. Otherwise it will only be the virtual machine which gets messed up.

    3) now ok I still have my old ram chips which I haven't found any use yet so either I give them away to a friend who needs them or sell them (I actually bought my new RAM cards at the university store which cost me 50 GBP-british pounds (100CHF), for both cards while outside in a large retailer store it costs 99GBP for each 1gb card. Both the same kingston brand and both the same 667mhz bus speed, but university computer services buys items directly from the manufacturer/distributer so prices are cheaper.

    4) now for my old 80gb hdd, I found this little nifty device which costs only 50CHF (swiss francs again) which lets me turn any 2.5" IDE, 3.5" IDE and 3.5" SATA into an external drive via USB connection. And I got the new 250gb hdd for only 130CHF and it's a Western Digital hdd.

    So all in all, I spent 300CHF (~300 dollars, 150GBP) to extend the life of my computer for another year or two.

    Not to mention that reinstalling windows always makes the machine fresh again.

    Of course by the time I get my new laptop, I will get (an ASUS again) one which would allow me to make more upgrade options such as graphics cards, processors, optical drives etc.

    Also, I stopped using desktops since I was 18, but for those who use desktops, similar to what I did for my laptop, you can do for your desktops + other new upgrades and save money from buying a new computer soon.
    Last edited by MysteriouX; 03-30-08 at 01:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member PJ's Avatar
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    Good topic.

    In many cases, computers run slowly not due to hardware limitations, but because the operating system is cluttered with unnecessary processes. My #1 recommendation for making your computer faster is to keep it lean and clean. Some tips are given here.

    Reformatting is not a bad idea if you can can afford to.
    忽见柳荫下两个小孩子在哀哀痛哭,瞧模样正是武敦儒、武修文兄弟。郭芙大声叫道:「喂,你们在干甚麽?」武 修文回头见是郭芙,哭道:「我们在哭,你不见麽?」

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    Truth be told, unless you're a serious gamer, or use your computer as a workstation (sound/music recording, ripping, editing, video editing, etc.), even a 2-3 year old computer probably doesn't need too much updating. With the exception of the above-mentioned, hardware development has significantly outpaced software development for a long time now.
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    Senior Member mich's Avatar
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    Yuh...unless you are a serious gamer and your livelihood is dependent on your computer, you could still use your dated machine till it refused to work.

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    Senior Member Extremer88's Avatar
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    I think turning off your computer completely (especially laptops) when not using and making sure the components doesn't get overheated would be the most easy way to "extend the life" of laptop machines.
    ..ext88

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    Senior Member oGaKirA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Extremer88 View Post
    I think turning off your computer completely (especially laptops) when not using and making sure the components doesn't get overheated would be the most easy way to "extend the life" of laptop machines.
    Depending on how hot it gets. Leaving it on is less damaging then turning it on and off. Like a light bulb...

    I agree with the rest, there is no need to worry about a computer's life unless you need a powerhouse puter. Surfing the internet and email, just need an El Cheapo. Computers are soo cheap now anyways.

    Finally, anyone could afford reformatting. First of all you need to partition your drive. Or have a drive for the OS and the other for data backup. I have my primary drive partitioned with ~60GB for the OS and programs. Whenever I need to reformat, I simply nuke the C: without touching the rest.
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    Senior Member PJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oGaKirA View Post
    Finally, anyone could afford reformatting.
    It might not be worth the effort if it requires 5 weeks (~ 100 hours) to get everything back up and running the way it was before formatting, AND there's a 50% chance that something important will be lost and become irresurrectable.

    It's much easier and safer to just keep adding storage and memory until you reach the maximum capacity allowed by the computer.
    Last edited by PJ; 03-31-08 at 01:47 PM.
    忽见柳荫下两个小孩子在哀哀痛哭,瞧模样正是武敦儒、武修文兄弟。郭芙大声叫道:「喂,你们在干甚麽?」武 修文回头见是郭芙,哭道:「我们在哭,你不见麽?」

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    Senior Member KeongJai's Avatar
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    I've extended the life of my machine by not playing games on it anymore.

    I might have to replace it in the next few years because there's a notable difference in the performance of Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2005.

    Other than that I don't see a need to upgrade. Requirements for viewing websites has not jumped in the last 5-10 years like it did when sites were just text or text + images and then progressed to using flash animation sites.

    I think upgrading my internet connection would be a higher priority than upgrading my 4 year old computer.

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    5 weeks to reformat a PC?

    i refresh my PC every 6 months and it takes me at most 2 hours to backup my personal files and re-ghost the hard disk.

    and if you like messing with your PC, then i suggest u create a sandbox (virtual PC) to play around. if u screw that up at least your main PC is still lean and clean.

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    Senior Member oGaKirA's Avatar
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    well reformating and upgrading is two different things. reformatting to get rid of all the loose crap.

    I don't know anyone who needs 5 weeks to reformat and get back up. Anyone needing that long will already be runin RAID, have remote backup, or ghost image.
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    Senior Member PJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oGaKirA View Post
    I don't know anyone who needs 5 weeks to reformat and get back up. Anyone needing that long will already be runin RAID, have remote backup, or ghost image.
    By 5 weeks, I mean it is needed to get everything exactly like before. All the settings will be reapplied, all the errors will be investigated, etc.

    If everything goes well, it should only take a few days. But we know that something always breaks. And when you have a lot of stuff, quite a few things will break.
    忽见柳荫下两个小孩子在哀哀痛哭,瞧模样正是武敦儒、武修文兄弟。郭芙大声叫道:「喂,你们在干甚麽?」武 修文回头见是郭芙,哭道:「我们在哭,你不见麽?」

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    Senior Member remember_Cedric's Avatar
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    Extending the life of my computer sounded like a good idea. But I think since it is becoming more noisy, day by day....I suggest to say goodbye to it. Any idea on how to extend a human's life?

    At first glance, I thought this was about extending one's life. Then I realised, it's under Tech.
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    Senior Member gqonmars2's Avatar
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    I think I have the answer ...

    get a Notebook Cooler.

    To me, I understand that the #1 killer of machines is heat, so to prolong the life of a laptop, you must cool it more than that stupid little fan. If you ever put a laptop on your lap, its hot. So, if you get a notebook cooler, you will kill 2 birds with one stone.

    1) cool off the laptop, extending the life span. (I have Antec USB-Powered Notebook Cooler and I notice that the temp has drop dramatically) I have it on 24/7.

    2) keep your lap from burning up. Before I got the cooler, I thought the heat from the laptop may stop me from having children...
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    Senior Member tweety365's Avatar
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    Well, 5 wks sounds like a really long time. However, it did took me 1 week to reformat and have my computer running exactly like before. First time ever to reformat all by myself . Not very computer savvy, so I'm quite proud of myself...

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    Quote Originally Posted by gqonmars2 View Post
    I have it on 24/7.
    shutting down your laptop (or PC) when not in use is a pretty good way to preserve your machines life span

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    i actually always keep my laptop on even tho im not on it most of the time, but its still working fine for me (crosses fingers), my laptop is 2 years old btw

    imo best way to keep ur comp good is not to use torrents, but use megauploads/rapidshare/sendspace to dl ur daily musics/movies

    torrents really kills ur comp (it killed my desktop which was only 1 1/2 year old)
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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    I keep wondering if I want to keep my iPod's battery operational longer, should I charge it more often or less often?

    I mean, I could charge it constantly, but would that shorten the battery's long-term life?

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    Senior Member beansprouts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    I keep wondering if I want to keep my iPod's battery operational longer, should I charge it more often or less often?

    I mean, I could charge it constantly, but would that shorten the battery's long-term life?
    You might find this site helpful. Charging it constantly would reduce the battery life since batteries have limited charge cycles.

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    Senior Member gqonmars2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    I keep wondering if I want to keep my iPod's battery operational longer, should I charge it more often or less often?

    I mean, I could charge it constantly, but would that shorten the battery's long-term life?

    Although people say the new lithium ion batteries are much better and you need not worry about charing, I still think its BS.

    I still believe that use it until its almost completely drained, then charge. This will prolong the life of any battery. Like most cell phone batteries, its only rated at 500-700 charges. Same with Dell laptop batteries. Even the ancient 1.44 floppy was rate to have only a write life of 800-100 writes.

    (remember; every time you plug in the charger and it starts charging, it still counts as ONE charge. Even if the change is not complete or you only plug it in for a few mins.)

    There can only be so many chemical reaction before the material fades in strength.
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    Senior Member MysteriouX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gqonmars2 View Post
    Although people say the new lithium ion batteries are much better and you need not worry about charing, I still think its BS.

    I still believe that use it until its almost completely drained, then charge. This will prolong the life of any battery. Like most cell phone batteries, its only rated at 500-700 charges. Same with Dell laptop batteries. Even the ancient 1.44 floppy was rate to have only a write life of 800-100 writes.

    (remember; every time you plug in the charger and it starts charging, it still counts as ONE charge. Even if the change is not complete or you only plug it in for a few mins.)

    There can only be so many chemical reaction before the material fades in strength.

    I don't know, some tech forums and specialists say that draining your battery completely and recharging often shortens the life instead of extending it. Personally the best way is to remove the battery when you are able to use your power adaptor.


    Ok another thing I think that needs to be added to this tread:

    What tools (I am not talking about software tools) and kits do you use to maintain your computer?

    My typical maintenance kit is:

    1x Swiss army knife cybertool
    1x can of compressed air
    1x can of foam cleaning solution
    1x lcd/tft cleaning solution and specially made cleaning cloth
    some soft nylon bristle brushes of various sizes or cleaning brushes from camera kits
    a few pairs of latex gloves (non-powdered ones) or static free gloves
    headband magnifier

    and other tools I keep in hand just in case:
    multimeter
    plastic weld or modelling cement (great for fixing cracks in the fiber or pastic parts of cases)


    Also another tip:

    Ok we all know how great windows vista looks (visually) though we also know it isn't yet completely trustworthy nor is it compatible with our needs yet. So for those who have given your old machines a new life with upgrades and maintenance and you wish to have the look of windows vista on your XP here are a few tips:

    1) Don't go for windows blinds or other tools, they may be easy to configure but when trying to remove them it can be messy, so instead search on google for "BricoPacks" and install their Vista Inspirit 2. It gives you most of the looks of Vista and has the logon screen, skin, icons, etc configured for you.

    2) Get TuneUp Utilities 2008, it has other visual design features to change XP into Vista style.
    Last edited by MysteriouX; 04-13-08 at 02:56 PM.

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