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Tech Helproom

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Computer Reliability


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My tower PC, only purchased at the end of October last year, suffered a corrupted hard disc drive at the beginning of last week. After being with the PC repair shop (from whom I had bought it) for several days, I have only just completed reinstalling all programs on the hard drive. (Fortunately, my data was backed up, so I haven't lost any of this).

What I would like to know is whether there is any information on PC reliability.

This is the THIRD time in two years that I have had a PC fail on me, such that I have needed to reinstall all programs and data. Reinstalling everything takes about 2 days, as I make quite heavy use of the PC.

Putting it mildly, I am totally fed up with having to go through this PC recovery process as regularly as this. Although my data is backed-up, it is still a total pain getting back under way again.

Is this failure rate unusual? Are there any ways in which I can make it less painful? Any hints as to how to ensure that a tower PC can run for many months / years without the hard drive or motherboard failing?

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I would think that you have just been unlucky. I have only just 'retired' my 12year old desktop, but not because it did not work or was giving problems, I just decided I would prefer a new 'latest' laptop instead. During its 12 years with me (I had bought it originally 2nd hand) I only changed mother board and hard drive in order to upgrade it, not because they were faulty in any way - and those changes were made many years ago anyway.

As far as backups are concerned, Acronis True Image is IMHO the way to go, recovering a True Image backup takes only about 20 minutes!

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Failures are usually considered where you have to replace a part.

Corruption is not uncommon and is usually fixable.

Such tools as System Restore allows restoring your computer to the last Restore Point, which may be minutes, days or weeks old. Hopefully a working condition.

Drive partitions can be checked for errors (See C: Properties/Tools for example.)

Windows can be checked for errors (Google sfc /scannow)

A Repair Install (aka W7 In-Place Upgrade) can be made if the above fail.

It's a good idea to have a Windows 7 repair Disk (if you haven't already made one).

Start Search Backup and Restore and see top left.

Clean Installs are recommended sometimes, perhaps every year or two. Depends on how much random software you install and uninstall and if your computer picks up lots of viruses.

The best guard against having to do this, though, is to 'Image' the whole system to an external drive.

Popular free programs to do it are Easeus Todo Backup and Macrium Reflect Free (as well as Acronis mentioned above).

Each of these allows you to create a boot CD too.

Make an Image when clean and Windows just setup as you like it with all updates and a few apps installed.

You should be able to get that on 3 DVDs instead of ext drive.

Make regular extra images to the ext drive as you fill the main drive with more and more of your stuff. It no longer becomes convenient to Image to DVD then.

In case of corruption, just boot from the CD you burned and recover one of the Images (usually the latest).

In case you just want an old file or folder, an Image can be 'Mounted' and those copied over.

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Same as previous poster - my PC is about 10 years old, was Win 98 then XP and is still going but I do run it from a UPS because where it is used we have a lot of short power outages. The cost of a battery every two years is affordable insurance. It was backed up to an external drive weekly using Acronis True Image but I dont bother now as most of my work has been moved off the machine.

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