Old technology is not always cheaper.

Today I spend several hours trying to get data off an old Windows 98 notebook.  It is often thought that older technology is less expensive.  Yes it does not cost you much cash, but if you factor in your time, they get expensive quickly.  The worst possible situation is to have an old notebook computer.  Not only do things happen slowly, you have fewer options.

In my case the floppy drive did not work well.  Most of the time I could not read files on a different machine.  This made it difficult, not only did I have to find a machine with a working floppy, I had to try to copy the files several times before they were successful.   The network connection used to work, but not now, and I no longer have any replacements notebook network cards.  I even tried moving the hard drive to a notebook hard drive adapter on another machine.  It could not read the the hard drive.  We are used to using USB drives to move data between machines, but with Windows 98 you need to find drivers.

After several hours I was able to find a Windows 98 USB driver and am copying the files to a USB drive.  Oh it is USB 1.1 so very slow, it is copying files while I rest for the night.  Hopefully I will have a copy of the files on a USB drive when I arrive in the morning.

This got me thinking about computer obsolescence and technology.  The way technology changes, there is a finite life on a computer.  Desktops last longer than notebooks, but they are only usable for a period of time.  It is average to have a notebook computer usable for 3 years.  After 3 years, if you have a hardware failure it will cost you most of the price of a new machine to repair the notebook.  Your machine will seem sluggish with the current operating systems and applications.  You will be at the same place on a desktop computer after 4 to 5 years.  You can upgrade older machines but the parts are more expensive and all you will end up with is a slightly faster machine.

If your machine is older than this and usable for you, great, just do not think there is something easy and cheap to keep up with the latest technology.  One of the issues is something called the economy of scale.  One of the upgrades that will make the most difference in the computer performance is RAM.  It sounds good to upgrade your RAM, but after about 6 months the new machines will use a newer faster RAM and the old RAM you need starts to get more expensive.  So you get your computer planning on upgrading the RAM in a couple years, only to find out this will cost you almost as much as a new computer.  It may be a better idea to buy a little more than you need with your machine rather than planning on upgrading.

If you are going to use a computer just realize it is a constant process to keep your hardware up to speed.


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