Revive Old Computer Or Retire It?

November 18, 2013

Computer RepairI ran into an interesting problem recently and I have yet to decide the best course of action. There is an old computer in our office that first came online in 2006. It isn’t a computer we actively use and it hadn’t even been turned on in several months. I was going to use it as a guinea pig for installing Windows 8.1 since it would need to be upgraded from Windows XP in the next few months.

That’s where I discovered a big problem. When I flipped the power switch, nothing happened. I checked the plug to make sure it wasn’t as simple as plugging it in. Unfortunately, there was still no power. Before I make a final decision, I’ll check a few more things just to make sure. What is likely the problem? I’m guessing the power supply is dead.

Back in February, I wrote Provide Adequate Power to Your Computer and listed four different power supplies based on the amount of power you need. If I want to revive this old computer, I’ll likely need to buy a new power supply. Without taking inventory of the parts in the computer, I’m not sure if the 650 Watt power supply I suggested would provide enough power. If so, it might be worth spending the $80 to give the computer a heartbeat again.

I have a feeling more power is needed and that brings the price of a power supply to at least $145 and I’m not sure I want to spend that much to bring a seven year old, rarely used computer back to life. Heck, that’s more than enough to buy the latest Kindle Fire HD 7″ tablet and I’m pretty sure the tablet would get used a lot more!

What would you do?

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14 Comments

  1. Janet

    Are you absolutely certain that your 7-year-old system will be adequate to run Windows 8.1? Assuming that you could get Windows 8.1 running on your old system, would you start using it on a regularly basis again? If so, I would probably buy the better power supply.

    Reply
  2. Foster D. Coburn III

    I am confident the system will run Windows 8.1. Would the computer be used on a regular basis? No, it won’t.

    Reply
  3. Rick Perkins

    I would buy a refurbished power supply from my local MicroCenter. A Kingwin 600W Modular Extreme Power Supply – Refurbished currently $45 would make it a no-brainer.

    Reply
  4. Foster D. Coburn III

    I really doubt a 600W power supply provides enough power. This computer is pretty fulled loaded.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    I would suggest just using a data recovery cable connection to the hard drive and copy everything you feel you may need, or just like to save, then donate the computer to a veterans charity organization.

    Reply
  6. Foster D. Coburn III

    There is no important data on the computer as it hasn’t been actively used in more than three years. Donating the computer may be the best bet.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Can you get the needed drivers? Without the drivers, things won’t work and odds are that not all of the drivers for your 7 year old hardware have been updated to work with Windows 8.

    Reply
  8. Foster D. Coburn III

    I have researched drivers for most of the hardware in the computer and there are drivers available for Windows 8.1. Not positive about every single item, but am certainly willing to install Windows 8.1 and find out. Just not sure spending money on a power supply is worth it for a computer that will rarely be used.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    I loaded up all my dysfunctional computers and gave them away. Good riddance.

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    Donate it if you are sure there is nothing of value to a hacker. I have tried up dating old computers in the past and find that once I calculate the total expense including valuable time, it is tuff to justify the end result. We often do not consider our time as valuable as we should, not to mention the stress factor. My suggestion would be to use the saved time to work on something that will generate profit and invest that in a Windows 8 computer.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    If it were mine, I would borrow a power supply from another computer to make sure that that was the problem. Then replace it Cost would only be time to make the exchanges.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    I just junked an old computer tht wouldn’t spin up. I was going to replace a suspected bad power supply when I noticed that capacitors were falling off the mainboard. Best guess is that the old power supply died with a last burst of current that took out the mainboard. So, a good quick look-see is in order (if you haven’t already opened the case). I doubt thta you’ll find anything like I did so I would the go ahead and try a new power supply. If it doesn’t fix the problem (though it probably will) you have a spare on hand for a future repair. Not the worst thing, if you ask me.

    Reply
  13. Randall J. Currie

    Good points here. If you can borrow a power supply from a newer system, I’d install it into the old system and see if it powers up before investing in a refurbished power supply (minimum 700W). That way you’ll know if the main board is functional or scrap metal before investing a dime.

    BTW, discovered CorelDraw at version 4. However, due to being on the Autism Spectrum and a less than solid work history, I’ve only used 4, 6, 7, X5, & X6. Hoping Technical Design Suite X7 comes out before I am done my second Bachelor’s degree (IT this time, Sociology the first time around, which was a mistake) as it includes Designer as well as everything in the CorelDraw Graphics Suite. And that’s assuming a box version is available. Adobe has gone subscription only, which means monthly bills just to use their software and more money for them. The way I figure it, Corel’s boxed product line will probably end around X7 or X8 before going subscription only (much like Adobe started their subscription service alongside their boxed products first).

    Reply
  14. DickD

    old computer, latest win version? why? ok, it is fun to play.
    in the past we found that sometimes an old operating system is necessary to run a needed peripheral. we had an excellent vinyl plotter/cutter that was fast. accurate and a real workhorse. the problem? it was older, abandoned by the maker and no new drivers. if i remember it was for win98. so we had an old computer we plugged into the network to receive the plotter files and run the plotter. the computer sat right by the plotter, handy for control, and super cheap.
    an old computer/os will often not run the latest design software. you need the newer, faster and flashier computers are for.
    winxp runs all our machines now. each has their own computer acting as control console. once the designs are done on a pumped up workstation the slower xp’s do just fine managing the output.

    also have not upgraded any of the workstations from win7. they are fast, more than capable of the lastest from corel. we are not ready to go to win 8 yet.

    Reply

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Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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