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Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to Keep your Old Computer Alive and Kicking

We may be on the second decade of the new millennium and many expect that everyone on this planet has already thrown away their old computer. By computer or technology standard old computer means you computer is more than one year old. But this is not what i am getting into my old computer means ten years or more, yup those Pentium 11, 111 and 4 or it's equivalent in other manufacturer.

Yup somewhere in this planet there are organization that still uses this computer simple because they do not have the financial budget to have a new computer and software. These organization mostly relay on donation by other organization or corporation. Their financial resources are better spend on their main goal or mission.So they cannot afford to but a new computer let alone a new software.

80386 & Pentium computersImage by sammyfung via Flickr

Now if your organization falls under these categories and you as the sole IT guy in there need to make sure that everything is all well with this old computer. There is still hope for this old computer as long as those dreaded hardware failure those not creep in. 

How to go about this?

Determine the case to case basis need of every employee of the organization. This should be easy for small organization since there small number of workers and each assign task for them is pretty simple.

Most office works only need a spreadsheet and word processing software. Most of this software can still run on the machine like Pentium II, especially the older software version. These application does not need a lot of memory, 128 or 256 memory is decent enough for the computer to get up and running and storage capacity so a 20 to 40 Gigs of hard disk is enough for this application to work. 

Pentium BacksideImage via Wikipedia

Give this computer to those whose job is to create documentation and records. Now another life saving and extending measure for you old computer is to prevent or minimize electrical or power outages. To minimize these make sure to check all your electrical outlet for proper grounding. Also use a low priced but quality surge suppressor to minimize power outages. Also regularly cleaning the inside by removing the dust that build up can make the air circulation more effective thereby reducing heat inside the case.

English: IBM 300 PL with Pentium 1 MMXImage via Wikipedia

Now that we have done all we can for the hardware lets now focus on the software. In the long run more software is added in the computer, where this software is not really needed by the user. We need to determined which is the need and the want for the software. Removed all software that are not needed and keep only those that is really needed. In this way we can also save valuable hard disk space for storing more files. Also software that run when computer start-up can occupy large amount of memory. removed or disable this software so that much needed memory resources can be used.

Another thing is do not install new software in the old computer. Yes it might install correctly in this computer but will it run properly. Can your hardware resources handle such an application. It is like driving a sport car, even if you know how to drive standard cars yet if you do not have the abilities to drive and handle this fast pace sport car then do not try one. The same is true with computer do not put high end software on a low end hardware, it will not produced the necessary result. You will just get frustrated.

The first developers of IBM PC computers negle...Image via Wikipedia

Another potential software problem is viruses and spyware. These menace can easily be downloaded and install in seconds if your computer is not properly protected from online treat. This can be prevented or minimize by educating your workers and regularly updating your operating system and anti-virus software to combat these things. Also it will help to keep the hard disk in top shape by regularly scanning and fragmenting them, this is needed to fix loose registry files and correcting file fragmentation.

Another use for old computer is making them terminals where  a new high single computer is used for the server and all information is stored in that server. We only need a network to connect all terminals, and these terminal cam be used to access the information on the server. All the processing and storage is done on the server. The terminals do not need computing and processing power also they do not need storage capability since they will only be used to open files from the the server.

These old computer ca still be used productively we just need to define and find them in our organization, they can still be used longer until the dreaded hardware failure comes in and really end the life of the machine we know as the computer.

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