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Computer life

 
steward
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No not computer lifestyle, but computer life span or expectancy.

My wife and I have a Mac, and it turns out we purchased it in 2012. That's probably ancient in computer years. Here's my lament: This thing has gotten slower than frozen molasses. It used to be fast, and it was fast just 12 or 18 months ago, but not any more. Here's an example. I click on the NYTimes website, walk away and scoop cat litter boxes while the spinning rainbow of waiting turns while the web page loads. Come back a few minutes later to select to print todays crossword puzzle. Walk away and go start some water on the stove top for tea while more spinning rainbow circle turns. New page loads with the puzzle, then I ctrl-P to print, walk away to make tea. Come back after a few minutes, the print window has loaded, I select print then go to start another task. Somewhere between 5-7 minutes later, the printer has what it needs and prints a single page. The process takes 12-15 minutes.

Here's my suspicion: It seems to have gotten really bad in the last 12 months, maybe a little more, and I think Apple includes their own malicious code in the system updates that artificially slows the computer to frustrate owners to the point that they cave and buy a new one. It gets slower and slower after each system update. Remember when Apple got busted for including malicious code in their iPhone updates that cause fake poor battery performance to get owners to toss them and buy a new iPhone? I suspect, but have no proof, that they could be doing the same thing to their desktop machines.

Things I should note: There are no viruses or malware on this computer, it's clean. All apps, photos, etc are stored on an auxiliary drive and only the OS is installed on the computer itself.

I don't want to buy a new computer, I just want this one to work like it used to.

Let's take an informal poll. How old is your computer, regardless of brand or operating system?

 
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<shake my head> ...my sympothiies, that's gotta be annoying. I run MS operating sytems, some are 20+ year old that operate fine (none newer that win7)  ...as long as I don't try to connect to the internet, that is.
Two words come to mind: planned obsolescence.
 
gardener
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That sounds irksome for sure. Wouldn't put it past Apple...I had an iphone 3 and despite being still totally solid, it all the sudden "no longer supported texted and calling" according to the folks at the phone store, who suggested I just buy a fancy new phone. Grrrr...I find planned obsolescence of gadgets with such a big ecological footprint reprehensible. Would love to find a phone and/or computer that will really last!
Our computer was made in 2005. Alas, its battery seems to be having issues and struggles to turn on. It's a Lenovo running windows, for what it's worth.
 
pollinator
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Yep it is a thing with Apple. they paid 500 million for slowing down phones.


https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51706635


I moved to Linux, but I am a tech.    It was a painful 3 month process of learning new programs to replace my old ones.       But looking back it was worth it for me.     Some people can't move to Linux because they have that one program they cannot live without,  but that was my solution.

MX Linux worked for me,  learning curve, but got thru it, no more Windows automatic updates for me YEAH...

I want nothing to do with Apple products,  you can't swap the screen out on the phone as it is all keyed via Apple's evil software.    

I feel your pain,  it is hard to find a computer that does what you want to do in the computer jungle out there.
 
gardener
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My friend has a Mac which is nearly as old. They do not let it do auto updates to my knowledge. I do recall her IT husband installing something newly lately which caused a problem but he started from scratch rather than "mirroring" (maybe? I could ask?) and I haven't heard any complaints since.

In other words, I'd try to score a "modern" operating system and install it fresh with other stuff deleted. The problem with updates is that they tend to be a patch, on a patch, on a patch which could easily be eating up electrons you'd prefer to be using for actual computing.

Remember - this is Dinosaur Jay writing here! The two gurus I live with talk all about this stuff and I absorb some through osmosis, but much of it goes over my head.

Good luck! Even if this works, it will still be "slow". My computer is 10 years old, and I can't update most programs (Windows Vista) and there are somethings that simply won't run. But I can do what you see here on permies and both email and word processing and spreadsheets work and I don't really need anything more.
 
pollinator
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Our main home computer is a Gateway laptop....NV76R model.  Must have purchased it around 2012-2014.  It came with Windows 7, but it was 64-bit so we were able to upgrade to Win10.  It's getting old.....as I'm typing this, the numbers "one" and "three" on the keyboard have stopped working, either due to an incompatibility between a Win10 driver issue with the old hardware or because so much dust has collected under the keys they've stopped working.  When you noted that " There are no viruses or malware on this computer, it's clean." .... how do you monitor this?  Is it through antivirus software on your computer or have you recently taken it to a professional shop that made that assessment?  As an old Mac/Powerbook fan, it's a shame to hear of this decline in your performance.

At any rate, with the exception of some minor irritations, we are cautiously pleased with the performance of this legacy Gateway computer given its age.  Because of the rapidly changing nature of virus/malware out there, outside of rather simple and free antivirus protection, when we suspect something amiss, we just bring it in to a shop that can run the latest antivirus scans and removal....which we would not have a clue as to how to run.
 
steward & bricolagier
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I'm with Peter Podurgiel on the "not after win 7" thought. I run a laptop with win 7 on it (and I wish I didn't have to, haven't got time/energy to put linux on it) that I bought used in 2014. Looking online, I see a review from 2007, no telling how old this thing is. I am not a fan of laptops, but needed one for complex reasons, and then ms quit doing security updates for my XP system, and now it's the one I use on the net. Win 7 is too modern for me, I want XP back.

My desktop machine (which is only turned on as needed, this house has really dirty power) runs XP, was used when I got it in 2011. I needed to finally replace the used one I had run since 1998 or so, when I went back to school and needed a Win 95 machine. That one replaced my Amiga 3000, that I bought used in 1992.

So, yeah, I run old hardware, always have :D  

The XP box has all my good graphics programs on it, no, they are not as updated as they could be, I don't need them to be. There are only so many things you can do with a graphic, before you are wanking (whoo, make it move in and out, nope, not gonna do it) and they are in the programs I have. After the ones I got they mostly went to monthly or annual subscription, and their main system is cloud based, so you don't own it, if you don't pay, it goes away. And if you are on limited data and bandwith like I am, cloud anything just eats data. I will be VERY sad the day that machine dies, part of why is spends most of it's time physically unplugged in this rental with power issues. And  why I bought drives to Virtual Machine it.

And I have an Iphone 4s ... I run old phones too :) This is my second of them, and I have a replacement one ready to go if I need it :D First one was bought used for $6.00  in 2014, and I just replaced it last fall, with a used one. Got one more stashed, that was never even used at all.  
 
Pearl Sutton
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Heather Sharpe wrote: Alas, its battery seems to be having issues and struggles to turn on. It's a Lenovo running windows, for what it's worth.


Batteries are cheap and not hard to replace. :D
 
pollinator
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Which OS are you running? My Mac is from 2008 and I stopped at El Capitan. I think the hardware would be too bogged down after that. I just use it for pretty basic stuff, but it browses the internet with waaaay too many tabs open and runs a VPN just fine.
 
James Freyr
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John Weiland wrote:  When you noted that " There are no viruses or malware on this computer, it's clean." .... how do you monitor this?  Is it through antivirus software on your computer ...



Yes, an up to date installment of Kaspersky monitors this.
 
James Freyr
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Jan White wrote:Which OS are you running?



It's running Mojave.
 
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If you are not a videogamer, a PC should last more than ten years. My current one has only seven years, but I have a functional laptop that is 12 years old.
First thing I would do is to check your fans. Most computers slow down when the fans get dusty. You see, when the fans are not optimal, your equipment gets hot, and if it is somewhat modern, it will reduce power consumption to prevent overheating. Best thing to prevent this problem is to invest in a good case with washable and removable filters.
Unless you have a laptop, cleaning the fans should be easy with some pressurized air.

Next, once you are sure your moving parts are clean, check other devices sanity. It could be a problem in your CPU or even your hard disk. There are a few tools that will say if they are working properly, but I don't know them in Apple.

Even if you say your PC does not have any viruses, it won't do any harm to run a couple of antiviruses and antimalware software, just in case.

Then, if nothing has surfaced so far, you can suspect misbehaviour on the operating system provider. In this case, if you really want ever lasting operating systems, not the ones that force you to upgrade your computer, then you have to switch to Linux. I don't know what kind of software you are using, but all the basic stuff is provided in every linux distribution, and even a few Microsoft programs can be run with an emulator.
Beware that running a Linux sytem, if you are not tech savvy, might imply to reinstall your operating system every couple of years. Not a big hussle, it's just a few hours downloading the iso, then installing the software and configuring your system. On the other hand, using a Linux system nowadays is braindead simple, as long as you don't try exotic stuff.
My preferred Linux distribution is Manjaro, since it is a rolling release, meaning it gets almost daily updates, but these updates have been tested before by the brave Arch linux users. It should not fail in decades, but now and then the upgrade has failed me, forcing me to install it again in 2 or 3 years. Then you have Ubuntu, which is the most popular release, that upgrades itself every 6 months or 2 years in the Long Term Release. The upgrade should not fail, but alas, things happen now and then. I don't reccommend to stay with an operating system that is connected to the internet and not have it updated. It is not only for security, but also you'll find that some web pages will not load if you are using an old web browser.
The only way you can stay forever with the same operating system is by not letting it connect to the internet. If you are fine with the current set of programs you have installed, and none of them needs to be online, then you can safely block updates and live with it. But even then, you'll find that in a few years, for example, docx will no longer be in use and a new format will replace it, but your office suit will not be able to handle that new format because you are preventing the updates in your system.

 
pollinator
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I recommend installing linux on a flashdrive or CD and booting from it. If the computer is still slow, you likely have a hardware issue. If it's fast again, I say it's software. It doesn't really solve your problem unless you like linux, in which case I'd consider installing it, but it'll probably let you make an informed decision.
 
pollinator
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Our laptop is 13 years old now, it's running windows 7 which has been reinstalled several times but other than that it's exactly was it was when bought. Everything works as it should, other than the battery which of course is shot, it only manages about 10 minutes these days. The desktops are both well a mix, the motherboards are 8/9 years old, the hard drives are up to 15 years old, but graphics cards are between 4 and 2.. processors well it's all over the place as you can see, both run win7 and both run at the speed they should. Windows machines often slow down with age and the easiest way to reset them is to do a new install and a reformat it just shifts a lot of the bloat.

I should say that none of the computers run windows updates. they have service pack 2 I believe and nothing past that.
 
James Freyr
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James Freyr wrote:
I don't want to buy a new computer, I just want this one to work like it used to.



Uncle! We bought a new computer with the free funny money the gub'ment sent us a few weeks back. We got another Mac. It is blistering fast. Things launch and open and run and close and print as fast as I can click the mouse. And the first order of the day setting it up was disabling apple analytics, Siri, and a host of other things, including the dreaded   automatic updates.
 
pollinator
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I'm curious now that you have a new one if you cleaned out old one if it would act better. I'm running a 2011 Mac and a year ago we had to run several debug software programs and opened it up and cleaned out all the dust that was in the laptop and it started acting normal again. SO had to open his 2012 and clean out all the dust and whatnot and redo the thermal paste that acts as a bridge between the CPU and the heatsink and it started acting normal too. (Both are laptops).
 
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Hi, My mac 4 runs fine. I'm with others on this post. Take the case off and clean everything physically. Only use alcohol on soldier joints. keep case off and  run the computer. If it works fine great. If not run antivirus and anti malware. Check majorgeeks.com for free ones. If it is still slow then backup all data onto external drive or thumb drives. Then delete everything and reload original operating system. If you are not tech savy a computer shop can help with this. Good luck
 
T Melville
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Apple for the majorgeeks.com recommendation. My favorite site for clean (of mal-ware) downloads. Lots of software, decent descriptions, can sort by license so freeware shows at the top of the list. Always my first choice for PC software.
 
James Freyr
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Denise Kersting wrote:... clean out all the dust and whatnot and redo the thermal paste...



Arthur Angaran wrote:Take the case off and clean everything physically. Only use alcohol on soldier joints. keep case off and  run the computer. If it works fine great. If not run antivirus and anti malware. Check majorgeeks.com for free ones. If it is still slow then backup all data onto external drive or thumb drives. Then delete everything and reload original operating system. If you are not tech savy a computer shop can help with this. Good luck



I appreciate the suggestions and this is quite challenging. I have an iMac, and I looked online how to do this. Basically, they're designed to not be opened. They can be opened, and from what I read it requires a putty knife and prying the the case apart at the glue seam around the screen, and according to those who have done it, the screen and case never look the same again. It's not just my computer, it's my wife's computer too.
 
pollinator
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It doesn’t seem to be mentioned above, but some component of computers do have an operating life after which they start mechanically failing.

Hard drives - they are have a physically spinning disc. The motors, bearings etc wear out. Also, the actual disc degrades over time - usually measures on read/write cycles. Either of these can lead to gradual slow down, and frequently indicate a catastrophic drive failure is coming.

IS YOUR DATA BACKED UP?!?

On laptops and phones, the chemical composition of the batteries (typically a lithium polymer) chemically and irreversibly degrades. Most of LiPo cells work on 3 years or around 1000 charge/discharge cycles. They lose capacity and discharge rate gradually over time, and as they lose performance the devices slow down - this is often a software managed slow down, aimed at prioritising extending battery life at the expense of operating speed.

Batteries are cheap to replace, but on some devices might need a technician with appropriate tools to manage. You can buy the battery packs for most laptops and phone online if you know the serial number of the machine to google it.

Elsewhere in a PC you can find other physical parts that age poorly, but can be maintained.

Noisy fans can be clogged with dirt, or have worn bearings. A fan is about £6.00 and easy to replace in most cases. They are essential for dissipating heat from the case and an inefficient or failed fan can force a pc to throttle use to limit temperature.

PC processor chips need a large metal heat sink to keep them at a safe operating temperature. They use a thermally conductive paste to ensure good thermal contact between the chip and the heat sink. Over time this paste can dry out/degrade and the connection gets less efficient. Removing the heat sink, carefully cleaning off the old paste residue, and reapplying a new good quality paste can help. Again, if the CPU temperature rises too high the machine will slow down to lower power usage.

We like to imagine that electronics should “just work” but in practice they wear out like all things, and some parts need to be repaired or replaced if you want the machine to live a long time.

Beyond all of those considerations, modern programmes are more demanding as they tend to be written for machines with higher specifications. If you only plan on using old versions of the software, contemporary with the age of the PC it self, you will find they may run better. But this comes with risks as old operating systems and software is vulnerable to hacks/viruses.
 
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