How and why does electronics die?

Just like other living beings, the electronic devices also suffer aging process.

1. Hardware aging:

The electronic components like capacitors, etc. experience repeated cycles of contraction and expansion as they are subjected to fluctuating temperature, and just like rocks get whether over time due to changing atmosphere and temperature. Similarly capacitors, especially the cheaper ones, blow out with time and also the same thing can happen to soldering points that are responsible for keeping components physically connected, causing increased resistance or breakage. Further more, the flow of current caused by the electron flow, is another factor involved in  the aging  process. Each and every conductor used in electronic devices experience electron flow, and at the microscopic level, the vibrations caused by the flow of electrons cause cavities and fractures at micro scales. These cavities and fractures get summed up with time and constitute a major crack, causing circuit breakage and hence open circuit. These cracks accumulate and lead to the formation of large cracks. These cracks are sometimes not-visible to human eyes and hence makes device irreparable.

Secondly, keys on your keyboard can bear a million key strokes, and even the RAM & processor of your PC can afford million cycles of processing, which include read, write and erase. Hard disk drives being mechanical devices wear out their performance with time. Even SSDs, mother boards (military grade) have a limited life span. Then the question arises, why? Why can’t non mechanical parts like SSDs and motherboards last indefinitely.The reason is that the electrons that enter the SSDs or even motherboards get stuck inside the chips due to inter-electrode capacitance of the device, and eventually decrease the required operating voltage and effect the performance with time and ultimately the device becomes unusable with time and needs a replacement.

2. Software (planned obsolescence):

The operating systems of all the electronic devices are prone to obsolescence because the companies design their products to become obsolete as soon as their warranty expires. Software manufacturers keep on developing new and new software patches and eventually an upgrade is required to the end-user. Software may be updated to some extent, but in order to move forward, upgrade becomes necessary, which leads to the software obsolescence and makes them less useful over time, forcing us to buy new ones.

3. Human error:

Also known as human negligence or poor handling is another major cause. To make your electronic equipment last longer, proper care and good handling is required. For example, hard disk drives are known to be effected by be mechanical vibrations, and the electronics part should be protected against moisture and excessive temperature and the power supply source should be uninterrupted. Unless we take these precautionary measures, our electronic devices won’t last longer for sure. Cleanliness is also another major factor. Unless the mechanical parts and the electronic connections/sockets are not well cleaned, they wont work properly and we can’t get good performance.

So, from software to hardware perspective, and to poor handling and human error, these factors are totally responsible for the death of electronics.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *