Tips on Maintaining Unused PCs

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WWGD

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Summary
Curious as to needed upkeep to prevent unused PCs from deteriorating.
Hi All,
I was reading about how to go about the upkeep of cars that are rarely used , e.g. stored long-term in a garage and wondered about similar issues with PCs, laptops actually. Specifically, I keep one as a backup just in case and it goes unused for long periods. A search did not provide much clarity, besides, difficult to know the expertise level of the writer. Any suggestions?
 
I would think keeping them in a cool dry area low in dust would be best. Also turning them on once in awhile might help. I don't know the principle but it always appears to me that electronics not used in a long time tend to fail once turned back on.
 

WWGD

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I would think keeping them in a cool dry area low in dust would be best. Also turning them on once in awhile might help. I don't know the principle but it always appears to me that electronics not used in a long time tend to fail once turned back on.
It seems so in my case. Nasty, blurry screen for around 20 min, then I breathed again when it came back. Stat!, Hold the screen firm and try to access event viewer! Pretty dramatic. Good thing it ultimately settled and it is working.
 
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Remove batteries (main battery and that little coin cell too) and store them separately.
Put it in an airtight bag with some desiccant. Keep it in a cool place (but above freezing point, of course).
Start it up regularly - once in every month or two.
If it is a spare one then keep it at minimal hardware by default.
 
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Drives can fail if not exercised to keep the lubricant from drying out.

Computers also need updates to protect against emerging threats.
 

Tom.G

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Keep a charge in the batteries, dead ones tend to stay that way. The sweet spot is 40% for Li-Ion. Ni-Cd and Ni-MH can be stored discharged but around 40% is slightly preferred, I've had some Ni-Cd that were stored discharged refuse to take a charge.

There is more than you want to know at:
 

WWGD

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Thanks. I try to combine searches with more "Real life" input, specially given the number of extremely well-qualified people in PF.
 

anorlunda

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Computers also need updates to protect against emerging threats.
Modern computers yes. But it trades one kind of risk for another. Cybersecurity people keep reminding us that corrupting the update process to inject malware is a very real threat. It is analogous to key distribution vulnerabilities in encryption.

Actually, pre-Internet era computers can be even more secure. They can't be updated with malware. They have no network connection. Physical access is required to threaten them.

But we also lose the understanding of ancient machines and the ability to re-analyze them for new threats. We found that during Y2K. Some systems were so old that nobody remembered what their purpose was or how they worked. Hackers would be just as powerless as owners. They had to be presumed insecure and discarded.

It reminds me of the Spy Verus Spy column in Mad Magazine.
 

Vanadium 50

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I don't know the principle but it always appears to me that electronics not used in a long time tend to fail once turned back on.
But you don't know that it wouldn't have failed had it been on all that time.

A common source of failure is leaking capacitors. If anything, that will have a lower failure rate if kept off (because they are cooler).
 

WWGD

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But you don't know that it wouldn't have failed had it been on all that time.

A common source of failure is leaking capacitors. If anything, that will have a lower failure rate if kept off (because they are cooler).
This is helpful in general, thanks, but not for PCs.
 
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Vanadium 50

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Why is this not helpful for PCs?
 

WWGD

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Why is this not helpful for PCs?
Most likely my ignorance in this are.Do PC capacitors leak? I never seen it happen and I assumed without much basis that this is representative.
 

Vanadium 50

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Sure. Ever have a power supply go out on you? That's usually why. The other reason is that the fan seized.
 
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Hmm. I suppose 'classic' PCs are shading into 'legacy computing' country...

IIRC, the 'retro tech' community --Computing, 'Ham' and HiFi-- may be able to suggest guidelines on eg testing / re-forming electrolytic capacitors without escape of 'Magic Smoke' or boiling electrolyte...

( IIRC, Apple ][ community 'wrote the book' on this... )

May I suggest eg disconnecting modular power supply and testing it with a 'PSU testing widget' then a 'dummy load' ? Then trying the mobo without drives ??
In effect, you're doing as we did with our wary home-builds...

Also, replacing the CMOS battery may prove problematic, as not all makers fitted them via a clip...
;-(
 

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