2/2011

Do computers run slower with age?

Computer

 

Is it possible to stop computers from slowing down? Is the only solution to buy a new computer every few years?

Contrary to popular belief, age does not contribute to the overall speed of a computer.

Computer processors and memory components that are important in terms of performance can keep running almost indefinitely. Even the hard disk will wear out and break sooner than slow down with age. The reason for the perceived slowdown is not, so to speak, the body of the computer; it is the mind.

The operating system is ultimately responsible for giving commands to the computer. Windows that dominates the market is fraught with problems and errors that pile up over time. Unnecessary programmes are installed on the computer and run in the background: useless multimedia applications, ironically named "accelerators", and malware such as viruses. The system may be littered with hundreds of bugs, so reinstalling the operating system and necessary programmes is often the simplest way to bring the computer back to life.

Accessing word processing software took less time in the 1980s than it does today, even though computer performance has increased ten thousand-fold.

Regular software upgrades are another reason why computers become obsolete. Manufacturers may feel that they are improving their products, but software upgrades may force consumers to upgrade to bigger and better hardware, too - old dogs can't learn new tricks. For example, accessing word processing software took less time in the 1980s than it does today, even though computer performance has increased ten thousand-fold. Users may actually find themselves worse off after installing new software.

Tech-savvy users can tweak their computers to keep them running at peak performance, but usually the easiest option is to buy a new computer every once in a while. But how ecological is it to throw away fully-functional computers just because of obsolete software?

 

Text: Antti Alhonen
Photo: TUT´s archive 

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