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Personal computer failure rates reduce

Is the kit more reliable - or users more careful?

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PCs are more reliable than they used to be, market watcher Gartner has claimed. Desktops and notebooks bought in the period 2003-2004 were more likely to experience hardware failures than those purchased in 2005 and 2006, the researcher said this week.

Gartner records a hardware failure as any incident that requires a component to be replaced. Unsurprisingly, vendors like to keep the numbers private, but Gartner said it gleaned enough data from third-parties and its clients to put a number to failure rates.

First, desktops. Systems bought in 2003 and 2004 had a seven per cent likelihood of failure in the first year, rising to 15 per cent by the fourth year of usage. The year-one failure rate fell to five per cent for systems bought in 2005 and 2006, Gartner said. It's projecting a year-four failure rate of 12 per cent for these machines.

Notebooks are less reliable than desktops, but that's only to be expected, but the reliability improvement is better. Notebooks bought in 2003 and 2004 had a failure rate of 20 per cent, rising to 28 per cent by year four. Laptops acquired since then have a 15 per cent likelihood of failure in the first year, and Gartner projects a four-year failure rate of 22 per cent.

Hardware failures centre on the usual suspects. For both notebooks and desktops, motherboards and hard drives are the most likely components to fail. With laptops, you can add latches, hinges, feet, cases, keyboards and screens, in that order, to the list.

Screens used to top the list, so it's clear notebook makers are getting better at making more robust displays. Either that, or once bitten, twice shy users are being more careful with their machines these days. ®

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