How long does a gaming PC last

How long will my hardware last?

Peter Stelzel-Morawietz

You cannot directly see its internal state of a device. With the right tricks, tools and secret codes, you can elicit information about runtime, wear and tear, load and much more from many products.

EnlargeHow long will my hardware last?
© mattkusb - Fotolia

How long will my devices last? This somewhat unfamiliar question sums up the issue of stress and strain, previous and expected operating times and thus the durability and service life of electronic devices. And it is precisely these aspects that we investigate in detail in this guide and highlight how long various devices and IT components are likely to continue to run.

This estimate can be important for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, of course, is the hard drive in the desktop PC and notebook, on which the personal data of your users is located. If these were lost, really important content would often be lost: contacts, pictures, videos, emails, documents and so on. A functioning data carrier is no substitute for a data backup, but this defines the first focus of this guide.

Tip:The best free diagnostic tools

Is a purchased device really new or has it already been used?

EnlargeMany hardware manufacturers offer an online check in which you can query the warranty status using the serial number. However, this can only be a guide, but the date of purchase is legally binding.

The question of durability is also of interest if a part or component is defective and needs to be replaced: is it still worth repairing? When buying a used device, you also want to know how much it has been used: in other words, the question of the “inner age” beyond the date of manufacture. Such questions are not limited to PC and IT components; they apply equally to consumer electronics such as televisions, modern household appliances and much more. In the printer, the number of pages printed is used as a measure of wear and tear. In many models it can be read out at any time, which has the following side effect: If you note the total number of pages when you insert a new toner or new ink, you can use the difference to check whether the manufacturer is adhering to its capacity specification.

Another component that ages more and more over time and thus loses performance is the battery in mobile devices. The battery in a notebook can often be easily replaced, so that when the capacity drops, investing in a new energy storage device is enough. The situation is different with tablets and smartphones, in which the battery is increasingly firmly integrated and can no longer be changed by yourself. If you know how to read out the condition and capacity of a battery, you can better assess used devices - and send them back if necessary after purchasing them online.

In the following, we will guide you through different scenarios and device types, provide you with analysis tools and explain how you can find out more about the previous use and the expected service life of a device.

By serial number to date of manufacture & Co.

The exact designation of a device does not always limit the date of manufacture. Especially not if the manufacturer does not bring a new model onto the market every year. Then the question arises of how old a specific device really is. There is no central website to look up, rather each manufacturer cooks its own soup, so that again only the individual search for manufacturer and / or device helps. In many cases you will find websites that decipher the serial numbers in terms of the month and year of production.

In addition, you can often use the serial number - in the case of smartphones, the IMEI number that the phone displays after the command "* # 06" - to check the manufacturer's warranty status. You can find the appropriate test pages with the search terms "Warranty check", "Guarantee check" or "Guarantee status" together with the manufacturer. There are always surprises here when the online status reports "Warranty expired", although the one, two or three year period from the date of purchase is de facto still running. The reason is that some manufacturers save the delivery of the goods to the dealer as the start date, but who may not sell the device to the customer until later. Legally, however, the manufacturer's guarantee - which, in contrast to the legal guarantee by the dealer, is a voluntary service - must not arbitrarily disadvantage the customer. So if the manufacturer advertises with a “two year guarantee”, he has to adhere to it. A start of the guarantee before the purchase date is not permitted: In case of doubt, the invoice date applies.

Check the condition and durability of SSDs and hard drives

EnlargeHDD Health reads out the SMART parameters and sounds an alarm if critical values ​​are exceeded. If you wish, you can also be notified by email.

Because the hard disk is the most critical computer component because of its data content, it is advisable to have it monitored automatically using "Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology". Practically all hard drives support this self-diagnosis system, abbreviated to SMART, which transmits hardware parameters such as temperature, read errors and more to software. If the parameters read out exceed the preset critical limit values, the program sounds an alarm.

HDD Health monitors the SMART values ​​of magnetic hard drives and SSD memories. The drive overview of the tool shows in the "Hard drives" tab whether everything is OK. This includes, in particular, the assessment of the status of the hard disk, "Excellent" in the figure above on the right. In addition, HDD Health offers the option of being informed by email in the event of critical values. Please note that the software always displays data from multiple data carriers in the PC separately. After all, it makes sense to check external data carriers at least from time to time - especially those with your data backup. In the case of a network storage (NAS), call up its user interface in the browser to check.

Crystaldiskinfo presents even more information, including, in the case of SSDs, the total amount of data previously written to the flash memory. You can compare this value shown under “Host writes” with the one guaranteed by the manufacturer. You can usually find this in the data sheet, often abbreviated as TBW for "Tera Bytes Written". In the specific case of a Samsung SSD 850 EVO with 250 GByte that has been in use in our editorial team for over a year, the manufacturer promises 75 TByte TBW. Crystaldiskinfo has only read just under 2.5 Tbytes so far, so there is still a decent cushion left. SSDLife even predicts the service life based on previous usage data.

EnlargeThe SSDLife program predicts 100% health and a service life until April 22, 2026 for the Samsung SDD of the type Evo 850 analyzed here.

In the case of SSDs, checking cannot do any harm, even if most data carriers do their job for many years with normal write loads in everyday life. And even if an application - like a certain version of the music streaming app Spotify once - actually causes an increased writing volume, this is in most cases not critical, so that you do not have to take any special measures. Magnetic hard drives are also becoming more and more reliable, as the current reliability statistics of the online backup service Backblaze show. However, in addition to many good ones, there are always individual hard disk models with a particularly high failure rate.

Regardless of all shelf life forecasts, we recommend that you make a regular backup. This is easy and convenient with the Aomei Backupper software, our online workshop guides you step by step through setup and operation.