Cycles, Cells and Platters: An Empirical Analysis of Hardware Failures on a Million Consumer PCs – Microsoft Research

If your Windows PC has ever crashed, you might have noticed that there’s an option to send crash reports to Microsoft. They’ve since accumulated the results (of over 1 million PC’s) and published a paper on PC hardware reliability, with some common-sense and surprising results. It’s a long read, and here are the main points that I could pick out with a quick skim:

* If a machine crashes once, it’s FAR more likely to crash again within 10 days with the same issue, repeatedly. 
* Overclocked CPU’s are more unreliable than non-OC’ed ones. (1 in 21 crashes over 30 days of usage, vs 1 in 400).
* Underclocked CPU’s are more reliable than non-UC’ed ones.  (1 in 460 vs 1 in 330).
* Overclocked RAM is more unreliable than non-OC’ed RAM. (1 in 560 vs 1 in 2800).  
* Laptops are moderately more reliable than desktops. 
* Laptop hard drives are more reliable than desktop hard drives.
* Brand name PC’s are more reliable than custom-built ones (marginally).
* Machines with more RAM have more RAM failures, but less disk failures. 
* Majority of PC’s that crash are 18+ months old. 

Cycles, Cells and Platters: An Empirical Analysis of Hardware Failures on a Million Consumer PCs – Microsoft Research

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