Extending the Lifecycle of Computer Hardware

Anyone who uses computers for work should want their hardware to last as long as possible. Even successful businesses that can upgrade their computer hardware every year would be well served to extend their hardware lifecycle. When the time comes to replace parts or machines from a discontinued product line, we can come in and source these sometimes hard to find items. However, there are ways to extend the life of your machines before you even need to come to us.

Environmental Impacts: More Reasons to Extend Hardware Life

  • Every computer is made with toxic chemicals that can harm the environment when improperly disposed. They can also taint water supplies and make people ill, cause birth defects, and kill nearby citizens.
  • It takes over 2,200 gallons of water to make one integrated circuit. One computer can have several of these circuits.
  • More than 40 different elements go into building computer hardware. Mining and recovering these elements is often damaging to the earth, and some mineral harvesting takes place in corrupt or third-world countries.

How to Extend Hardware’s Life: Three Simple Steps

There are several things a person or business can do to extend the life and use of computers. Some are simple and cost effective:

  • Perform updates as recommended. It can be simpler and save time to not do updates, but updates can make the computer run more efficiently. Updates can keep “bad guys” from easily accessing a program or infecting a computer with viruses or malware. Ignoring updates can make software less efficient, which can mean you will need to upgrade your computer faster than you had hoped.
  • Keep your computer clean. Think of movies and television shows with people building electronics wearing white jumpsuits, surgical masks, and gloves. You may be watching fiction, but the idea is based on reality—cleanliness is very important when building computer parts and computers. Just because the computer is out of the factory doesn’t mean you should eat your cookies and sandwiches right next to the CPU or keyboard. Keep your computer clean and it will last longer.
  • Before you throw away an old computer, open it up and look at the tiny parts and wires that make it work. Show those parts and wires to employees and anyone else using your computers. Moving computers should be done infrequently, and laptops need to be treated like a carton of eggs in a grocery bag. Moving computers risks jarring, dropping, and bumps, which can shorten its life. Moving any computer can shift part of wire just enough to mess everything up. Computers do need to be moved periodically, but never move desktop computers when they are turned on.

Other Steps to Make Your Computer and Tech Last Longer

  • Update software. There is an example that software is more like milk than wine. One is great to use (drink) when it ages, the other less so. You can make software last longer if you follow through with recommended updates. Skip a couple of updates, and future updates may take longer to install, or it may speed the process of making software useless.
  • Look for files that can be deleted. Getting rid of old files makes machines run more smoothly, creates space for used files, and provides fewer places for malware to latch on. There are free apps that can go through data in five to thirty minutes. Do a search like this and you could free up gigabytes.
  • Install malware protection. Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur, it just takes one tiny window of opportunity for malware to get into your computer. Then you’re in trouble with data potentially being lost if you haven’t appropriately backed it up. If you work with people who just can’t seem to learn that opening every email is dangerous, you really need malware protection.
  • Have your IT professional, or hire a consultant that you trust, look to see if adding RAM to current machines will be worth the expense. Have them do a cost breakdown, then determine if adding RAM will add longevity to your system.  Sometimes, the computer works mostly as a conduit to the cloud, but it can still get slower over time. Adding RAM may make it faster, which makes employees and customers happier. Just remember, IT employees prefer to work on newer equipment (who wouldn’t?), so read between the lines and ask pointed questions when they do an evaluation of adding RAM.
  • Finally, use a surge protector for every machine you cannot afford to lose. If you’re like most businesses, you cannot afford to lose any data, so every computer should be surge protected. As a final warning, power strips are not surge protectors, though surge protectors can operate as power strips. Ask before you trust your technology and data to just anything that looks like a surge protector.

Taking steps to make your hardware last longer will pay off for your bottom line. It will also help protect the environment by increasing the life of your hardware. This removes some risk of your electronics ending up in a landfill and causing pollution.