Computer is most likely to fail early in its use



How long are computers made to last, and how long do most of them last? They seem to be pretty reliable products for the most part. The manufacturers keep rolling out new systems every couple of years, and most people replace their still-working systems with bigger or faster systems that can run the latest software.

- Kevin Peacock

I have old machines in my basement that would work just fine if I tried them. Solid-state electronics is amazing. The biggest chances of failure are all up front. Most failures with a new computer come soon after it's out of the box. Once you get past that period, a computer can run for many years.

The weak spots are the parts of a computer that combine electronics and mechanical. (A hard disk would be a good example. Another is the power switch - you'd be surprised how often that goes.) Another weak spot is the power supply. But as far as the circuitry, I'd hate to guess how long it could last.

A friend told me there is a way to clean the jets of an inkjet printer. However, my efforts have been unsuccessful.

- Ron Kukulski

Most inkjet printers that I have seen come with a small program that does all the work of cleaning the jets. So look at the programs associated with your printer and try to locate that program.

You can also clean the printing head on some printers. On others, the printing head is part of the cartridge itself. You'd need to check the manufacturer's Web page to find out if your print head can be cleaned. Truth is, unless you are very handy, I don't recommend taking on the job.

I just had a new PC built, and my technician is wondering what anti-virus software we should use. He read in PC Magazine that Norton was on the bottom of the list. He also told me it would slow down my computer. (McAfee really did. That's why I had it taken off.) What do you suggest?

- Patty Warner

Patty, I love the free anti-virus program (updates are frequent and free as well) at free.

Bill Husted writes for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

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