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In the past, I have simply waited for a hard drive failure to replace a PC. A friend pointed out that perhaps this was not the most optimal strategy, since it involved downtime, panic and hair-pulling. What is a reasonable timetable for PC replacement? To give you an idea of my current machines, one is Vista and one is Fedora Core 11.

Clarification: This is for a small business.

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Is this for your home computers, or a replacement strategy in a corporate environment? It sounds like you mean for home, in which case this question is off-topic here on Server Fault. – Ben Pilbrow Jul 24 '11 at 11:16
Fedora 11 should have been replaced as soon as CentOS 6 was available. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jul 24 '11 at 11:31
Also, the last "Fedora Core" was Fedora Core 6. "Since Fedora 7, there no longer are separate Core and Extras repositories." – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jul 24 '11 at 11:36

It all depends on what your required MTTR is, and how much money you've got to throw around. In all honesty, though, in most cases PC hardware, properly maintained, is reliable enough over it's useful lifetime (the time until it becomes obsolete from a performance standpoint) that there's no point along the curve you can say "the risk of this component failing is now unacceptably risky".

If you need resilience from hardware failures, you either want hot spares and good backups. If you're only trying to guard against hard drive failures, RAID-1, properly implemented, can be a reasonable mitigation strategy (be warned, though: done badly, you'll have more failures because of RAID than it prevents).

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What is a reasonable expectation then of the useful lifetime of a PC? – Scott Wilson Jul 24 '11 at 12:13
@Scott: The rule of thumb I use is that I buy middle-class systems with lot of RAM and use them about 4-5 years for typical office workloads. After that time, one ends up with doing too many compromises, as newer software versions tend to have higher requirements and failure rates begin to raise (which is a more anecdotical than scientific statement...). – Sven Jul 24 '11 at 14:15
I certainly agree that after 5 years, it's time for a refresh. I guess my question is whether it should be done sooner, like after 3 years. – Scott Wilson Jul 24 '11 at 16:10

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