Recycling Corporate Computers

How Long Can A Computer Last Before It Needs To Be Recycled?

By Chris Keenan

What’s the longest running computer in the world?  I’ve heard tale of a ‘Novell NetWare 3 server’ that apparently ran for over 16 years.  It was finally shutdown in 2013 because of complaints about the noise its hard drive was making.

16 years seems a rather long time, especially given the fact that an average hard drive will tend to safely run for about 6 years.  Furthermore, laptop batteries and even the little batteries inside computers tend to need replacing every 5 to 10 years.  Other than hard drives and batteries, as long as the computers components are properly cooled and protected from electrical surges, “in theory” a computer should function indefinitely.  So why is it that computers fail?

More often than not, the reasons to why our computers die are not found in its hardware but miraculously in its software! That’s right, a million apps, a zillion program commands, a single operating system and a good old-fashioned bug here and a virus there is enough to give any computer the dreaded ‘fatal error’.

Let’s be honest, everything from our phones to our data centers is constantly receiving software updates and patches.  The truth is 99% of the time, a computers death is a by-product of ‘murder by software’ not death by organ failure.  Surely, rather than replacing a clunky old machine with a brand-new sparkling computer it must be cheaper to wipe the hard drive and reinstall all the software again?

Some might argue the cost saving in man hours is the reason for buying a new computer over doing a major reinstall.  However, on further analysis that argument is pretty weak and could probably be blown over by a chain-smoking asthmatic with the lung capacity of a small hamster.  So why do most IT directors tend to budget for a 5-year replacement of their computer tech? The answer is surprisingly simple.  In 1980 a GB of data storage would have cost a “life altering” $193,000.00! It’s hard to believe that most individual hard drives of the time could only store between 5 to 26 megabytes. Furthermore, despite their tiny memory storage one of those old computers filled an entire room!  Today, you can buy a 5TB external hard drive (which is 5 million megabytes) for roughly $100 and it’s about the size of a book. With this technology growth curve in mind it makes sense to upgrade every 5 years because you get more for less, i.e. more computer power and memory taking up less physical space and energy.

Let me put my green eco-friendly hat on for a moment and ask: “Surely, if we kept our old computers longer it would be better for the environment”?  Nope! Turns out that’s not how it works!  Two words: carbon footprint! Those old computers of yesteryear are incredibly inefficient energy guzzlers that pump out some real heat! There’s more, get ready for this: if you spend your time FaceTwiting or InstaGoogling you are actually killing the planet!  Your social media life is destroying everything! It turns out that the massive amounts of electricity required to power the servers that run social media, the cloud and search engines is single handily killing mother Earth by crushing her flat under the heel of a massive carbon footprint!

If you doubt what I’m saying, take a look at what Facebook did to combat the problem.   Facebook actually became so concerned about the environmental damage they were causing that ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ opened the super swanky and utterly gigantic Luleå server farm.  If server farms were people this place would be a super hi-tech hippy! It draws its green energy from renewable hydroelectrical dams and is partly cooled by the ARCTIC!  Plus, all the hardware is totally top spec and energy efficient.

In conclusion, don’t feel bad about buying new sparkly computers.  That said, you might want to start asking for more energy efficient machines, oh, and to be super eco-friendly, please use Newtech Recycling to dispose of your old tech, call: 732 564 3110 for more information.

Hope you enjoyed this months’ article?  Please let me know in the comments what the longest running computer is that you’ve come across.  Also, for freebies and articles like this please follow our LinkedIn page:

Chris Keenan


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