When do you need to replace your computer?

Over time computers tend to experience hardware failures that can result in the catastrophic loss or damage of stored data. Computers should be replaced on a regular basis in order to maintain data integrity and full functionality. Typically, users should replace their computers every three to five years. Average users may be able to get an extra year or two of usage out of their workstations, whereas heavy computer usage usually merits replacing them a year or two earlier.

All of the components in a computer are subject to deterioration over time. To promote the reasoning for computer replacement, the following information will provide details concerning when components fail, and why they fail. While individual parts can be replaced over time, it is ultimately less expensive to simply purchase a newer model of computer.

Optical drives will eventually fail due to misalignment of the lasers that read discs, or they simply succumb to dust and grime. Optical drives tend to last up to five years depending on usage and the environment in which they are used. Cleaning kits are available for optical drives and will likely increase their lifespan.

Motherboards are dependent on their capacitors, which eventually fail after years of voltage conversion and regulation. Regular motherboard capacitors last around 20,000 hours, which is roughly around two years if you leave your computer turned on. Solid-state capacitors have a lifespan of around 50,000 hours, anywhere from five to six years if left turned on. 

Power supplies either fail to convert electricity over some time or suffer from surges in current. Power supplies are expected to last anywhere from five to seven years. Power supplies are easily destroyed by power surges, however, which can cut their operation time considerably.

Hard drives have many moving mechanical parts that will, over time, simply become misaligned and fail. Hard drives are typically guaranteed for three to five years, often backed by manufacturer warranties. Hard drives, like any component, are subject to electric damage.

Memory chips, solid-state drives, and most other computer components are very susceptible to damage from static electricity, and often do not react well to even minor changes. Barring any electrical surges, brown-outs, or discontinuation, these components have a lifespan of three to five years. The likelihood of computers experiencing changes in voltage over the years becomes increasingly high due to deterioration.

Almost all computer components have an average lifespan of three to five years, so it is generally a good idea to replace computers during that time-frame. Even if the computer has not failed at the end of five years, it is likely to fail soon.