A new lease of life for an aging processor
I've had similar experiences with a desktop machine which I converted to a web and file server for development purposes at home.
This particular machine (an AMD XP 3000+) was forever failing on me. First it told me that the hard drives had gone. Not having the cash to buy new drives, I was in a bit of a panic about this until for some unknown reason I decided to try replacing the IDE cable instead. Funnily enough, this solved the fact the drives had seemingly packed up. Never did work out why I decided to try changing the IDE cable but I'm glad I did. A cable is a damn sight cheaper than 2 new hard drives and the frustration of restoring 200GB of data from backup
Around the same time as this happened the system started to shut itself down, freeze, reboot and do all kinds of peculiar things. At first it would only do these things when it was hot. I was forever cleaning it out from dust and grime (I was living in a pretty grotty hole when this started). Some times it would run for weeks or months on end without incident and others it would fail 8 or 9 times a day.
My initial thoughts were that it was likely to be an overheating problem. Most of the time it played up was during hot or humid weather although the fans never seemed to be working unduely hard. With this in mind I began to suspect that perhaps the temperature sensor on the MB had packed up or was in the process of failing.
This problem has been going on for about 3 years (yes, I'm still that skint I cant afford a new system yet) although since march it had been getting much much worst to the point I actually couldn't boot the system for more than an hour at a time or until I tried to open any applications.
About 2 months ago I decided to look more closely at the matter.
After careful thought I concluded that the system only crashed on me during hot weather or when I was placing undue load on the system. This narrowed it down to one of two things. Either memory or the CPU. Seeing as the memory had been upgraded, I wondered about the CPU.
Rather than replace the CPU itself (again through lack of money) I thought to try throttling it back. The clock base defaults at 166MHz. I brought this down to 100MHz and it was stable over the weekend. Wanting to find out how much the system could handle, I took it up to 150MHz and the system was stable overnight but died in the morning with a bios error relating to clock frequency. I've now dropped it down to 140MHz and its been stable for just under 2 months, and has taken everything I've thrown at it so far including indexing over 110GB of audio tracks, a feat that has not been completed in a single session in nigh on 3 years.
So now its time for a new processor although this one is currently performing quite nicely even though it is on its last legs.
I probably could have solved this a long time ago but to be honest, until March I wasn't all that bothered. I rarely use it as a desktop itself, preferring to do most of my work from my laptop and just use it as a server, and whilst it was frustrating at times, I could live with the occasional 5 minutes downtime whilst it reset and cooled enough to boot up again.