Question How to preserve old pc?

taghiramzi

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Nov 17, 2017
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hi,
I have an old Pentium 3 PC, fully working in good condition.
I want to keep it for at least 10 years to sell or display.
My biggest fear is that few years later I try to start it and it wouldn't work.

for now, I've removed bios battery and placed anti moisture silica gel packs inside.
As a regular normal user with some electrical knowledge, what can I do further to assure the safe preservation of this pc?
 

punkncat

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I am far from a preservation expert, but do know that the traces and connectors are made of metals that will corrode over time, have caps and such that can fail over time, and plastic aspects that break down with exposure to elements and light (etc.)
My thoughts would be along the line of trying to eliminate exposure to said. Probably would put it into a big bag, suck the air out with a vacuum, and put it into a safe dark place with low humidity and controlled temperatures. The vacuum bag would still leave enough air inside to be negligible as to the corrosion but would keep dust and critters out.

Edit- I actually just got rid of several really old early model Dell with the Pentium. All but one of the three I had were fully operational and one of them was running W7 just for the heck of it. I listed them on CL for a long time pretty much as a come get it free if you are interested and no one ever bit on them. I loaded them into a dumpster a couple of weeks ago while clearing out some room for more junk.
 

InvalidError

Titan
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I keep the original boxes of all the PCs that still are of any meaningful value to me. If I won't be using one of those PCs for an extended period of time, I remove the CMOS battery, put the whole PC in the box and shove the whole thing down the back of my closet until the next time I might need it. More or less the same thing with my even older PCs, without the box.

There isn't much you can do about long-term storage besides storing PCs in a clean, dry cool place.

BTW, EEPROMs and flash memories have a 10-30 years data retention period depending on the specific chip and storage conditions. It is entirely possible that at some point in the future, you will try booting the PC and some of its components won't be able to power-up because their firmware has been corrupted by data rot. While you may be able to prevent this on the main BIOS and other major components for which firmware images and related tools are available by re-flashing them every 10-15 years, that won't save you from other secondary controllers for which no firmware image or convenient flashing method are available eventually failing.

Long story short, even under the best of care, your P3 likely has less than 10 years of shelf life left before data rot bricks it.
 
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taghiramzi

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Nov 17, 2017
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I keep the original boxes of all the PCs that still are of any meaningful value to me. If I won't be using one of those PCs for an extended period of time, I remove the CMOS battery, put the whole PC in the box and shove the whole thing down the back of my closet until the next time I might need it. More or less the same thing with my even older PCs, without the box.

There isn't much you can do about long-term storage besides storing PCs in a clean, dry cool place.

BTW, EEPROMs and flash memories have a 10-30 years data retention period depending on the specific chip and storage conditions. It is entirely possible that at some point in the future, you will try booting the PC and some of its components won't be able to power-up because their firmware has been corrupted by data rot. While you may be able to prevent this on the main BIOS and other major components for which firmware images and related tools are available by re-flashing them every 10-15 years, that won't save you from other secondary controllers for which no firmware image or convenient flashing method are available eventually failing.

Long story short, even under the best of care, your P3 likely has less than 10 years of shelf life left before data rot bricks it.
While what you said makes me sad and disappointed, also makes me wondering, old devices like commodore 64's or Atari 2600's (which some are still usable after more than 30 years) are using another types of ROM or there is a luck factor involved?
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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While what you said makes me sad and disappointed, also makes me wondering, old devices like commodore 64's or Atari 2600's (which some are still usable after more than 30 years) are using another types of ROM or there is a luck factor involved?
Survivor bias.
What you see are the ones that DID survive. You don't hear about the thousands that ended up in the landfill.

I have a C-64, still runs, I think.
As well as its little brother, a VIC20.
Both still in the original box.

Your PIII is somewhere between 14-22 years old.
I have such a laptop out in the garage, Dell Latitude. I think it still runs, if I were bothered to locate the power cord for it.

But its not a lot of good. Sure, it runs, but there's not a lot one can do with it today.
Put a minimal Linux distro on it, and it is STILL dirt slow.
 
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InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
While what you said makes me sad and disappointed, also makes me wondering, old devices like commodore 64's or Atari 2600's (which some are still usable after more than 30 years) are using another types of ROM or there is a luck factor involved?
Old-school ROMs, like those found in early PCs and cartridge-based consoles at least up to the N64, are mask-programmed, meaning that the programming is baked directly into silicon. Those ROMs can last almost forever. Back then, the cost of EEPROM and flash memories were far too high to use in any significant amounts unless absolutely necessary.

Starting from the late 90s though, programmable general-purpose chips and updatable firmware became far more common. Those 20-years EEPROMs would be at the tail end of their data retention rating right about now, which means you can expect a growing number of people holding on to 20-25 years old devices to find them dead or having weird problems next time they try using them.
 
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