How old is my computer?

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

In a previous and evolving blog post,, I outline why persisting with old computers is poor economics.

If you Google "how old is an old PC" you'll see a lot of results confirming what the above blog post says i.e. laptops 2-3 years, All-in-ones 3-4 years, desktops 4-5 years.

In those search results you'll see a snippet of text which reads: "The biggest indicator of an old computer is its ability to handle the newest generation of software. There is a rule of computing that every two years, the average computer will double in its computing ability. Therefore, an eight year old computer is 6% as quick as than a new computer."

Imagine if our cars slowed down at that rate.

Most of us would be tootling around at about 20klms/hr or less all the time!

There's no way we'd pay someone to keep a car running at that level of performance.

NOTE: It isn't so much that old computers slow down, which they do to various degrees, but it is more that they can't keep up with modern requirements e.g. software demands, security demands and storage demands to name just a few.

NOTE 2: It isn't just about speed either. Computers have a 100% failure rate and as they approach and exceed the average use-by date this probability grows exponentially. Sure you may have had a laptop that lasted 7 years...but someone else has had one that only lasted 18 months (or less).

NOTE 3: When people tell me the age of their computer they usually underestimate it by at least a year or two. This isn't a figure I have plucked out of thin air. When I am able to verify a computer's age for a customer, there is usually quite a discrepancy between reality and recollection. Your computer is quite probably somewhat older than you think. Only the people with purchase receipts in their hands get it right :-)

I am often called by people about fixing very old machines and when I advise them to replace it rather than throw good money away.

They usually lament that it's "hardly been used" and "it is in very good condition" and so on.

I get it. I've been in this game for over 35 years and I keep many old computers running beyond their average use by date.

But it costs me time and money to do so.

If I was paying for my labour I would not be persisting with old computers.

I am also able to do hardware upgrades and nurse machines along with full awareness of the risks and ramifications.

There are plenty of machines that I've realised aren't worth any effort and these are quickly recycled, parted out and disposed of.

If you can do those things yourself, then great, have at it.

But if you want to spend hard earned money on an old PC then you need to do so knowing that maybe just burning the money would be of better value.

Every now and then someone get's upset, or insists, or can't afford, or berates or guilts me into helping them with a "too old" machine.

I take on charity cases with my eyes open but...

  • While it may save you money (in the very short term) to have me fix your old pc, it actually costs me money to do this.

  • I end up spending more time than I can charge for - this is not good for business.

  • Parts and software are scarce or lost which turns into more time looking for them.

  • The battles I have with these machines far outweighs what I can charge for repair.

  • And when I do (under)charge for the repair there's an almost 100% chance that the machine was irreparable, failed during repair or will fail again very soon anyway...

  • ...and as a result no-one ends up happy...

  •'ve paid money, I've wasted my time.

I have to eat and carry my weight in my household budget.

I just can't make that work doing charity jobs on old (and otherwise obsolete) machines.

You may not like to hear this. In fact I know many people don't like hearing it...they tell me.

But I don't like having to argue the point even more and I especially hate the fact that I know you are going to be even unhappier when your machine is still cactus and your wallet is now lighter.

It sucks, but please believe me.

Honesty seems to be rarely rewarded in this world.

Reward yourself by taking on-board my honest assessment of your computer.


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