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I got this old box with windows xp home. It works perfectly, except the occasional blue-screen when shutting down the machine.

How long should I expect this, or any, machine to work, when will the hardware start failing and should I worry about silly things like upgrading the os?

What is the TTL on HW you purchase today?

Followup question: Is the HDD the weakest part of your hardware?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

As another poster said, hardware seems to last longer than people find it useful. I have several old parts sitting around my home that still work great, but aren't needed.

The OS, however, will probably cease to be useful much sooner. Since XP is proprietary, when MS stops their support it will be hard to maintain. Many older machines can't run Windows 7. For me, the answer is a FOSS OS. I have a really old computer (only 128M RAM) that can't handle XP. Instead of throwing it out, I have installed Arch Linux and run it as a server at home. I did add one HDD to hold some files that it is serving and an extra NIC, but all of the old parts still work great.

Even though many parts can last quite a long time, some break that are even new. Always back up your data and expect parts to fail.

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The hardware will probably work for longer than you want to use it. The software is developing and soon you will find that the old machine is not powerful enough.

By the way, I am still using my Commodore 64 from late 80'th.

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yes but C64 much simpler than todays machines. – Makach May 7 '10 at 23:32
@Makach: the point is that properly maintained circuitry can last for decades. the hardware's rated life expectancy is a statistic, and any single sample can break your statistic-based expectations. – quack quixote May 7 '10 at 23:59

The IT answer is...

Don't expect it to work, expect it to fail!

Have a backup plan, if anything other than the hard drive fails (without a backup) then it should be fixable for as long as ebay has parts, assuming it doesn't caught fire or something extraordinary...

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Well, your system consists of multiple components: Motherboard, CPU, Memory, Hard drive, CMOS battery. If you know how to troubleshoot these and replace them, you can keep it going for at least 3 years.

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3?? try 10. or more. of course, the older a part is, the more expensive it is to find a new replacement. – quack quixote May 7 '10 at 22:41
I think, cost is the most important aspect. That's the best reason to get rid of old hardware. – RainDoctor May 8 '10 at 4:31

The problem might not be hardware. If you have problems only during shutdown, it could well be a software issue. Even if the blue screen occurs at other times, it could still be software. It's not a bad idea to reinstall windows every once in a while anyway, I have found that over the period of a year or so Win 95/2000/XP/Vista tends to degrade.

You could try running chkdsk, reinstalling a clean version of xp, running some other hard disk analysis software like that from

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