back to article Office workers: 'The best way to upgrade a PC is to smash it'

More than one in four European office workers believe that the quickest way to get a replacement phone or laptop is to destroy the one provided to them by their employer, according to a new study by online-backup provider, Mozy. "Shockingly, over a quarter of the office workers surveyed feel that the quickest and most …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    I spent a lot of time working on an IT service desk and I found it completely impossible to convince management that users' aging, failing laptops needed to be replaced, regardless of how much they were impeding productivity. Frankly I was so relieved when they brought them in smashed to smithereens that I never asked how it happened.

  2. John Tserkezis

    I don't know about the *best* way to upgade...

    ...but it's certainly the *fastest* way to upgrade, that's for sure.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Where I work and if your Laptop breaks you get a 3/4 year old discarded one in exchange.

    For example, I use a Lenovo T500. If that goes 'phut' I get an X31 in exchange.

    Upgrade? Yeah right.

    I'd guess that in these financially challenged times my company is not alone here.

    Thumbs down... Off with his head I say

  4. Eponymous Bastard


    So, in Blighty we have fewer defunct PCs to recycle than our EU counterparts. Then again we are probably depriving some poor bugger in India of a job, sweating & slaving over a motherboard extracting components whilst inhaling fumes which are probably carcinogenic. Hardware & software manufacturers, are culpable, but so is the consumer; we consume and then cast off what's no longer "good enough". Perhaps the economic woes we are experiencing now will reduce our greed for "new". I doubt it somehow, but one can wish.

  5. Floormeister

    Backward or Forward

    The first job I ever had 16 years ago had a lot faults but it had a really great upgrade policy for hardware. You got upgrades if you needed it for your job (basically the IT people knew what people did and gave them hardware and upgrades to fit their needs).

    Since then I have worked at places basically thought one size fits all even when it did not. This is done by unplanned and uncaring IT systems who basically think all users and business needs are the same. The most surprising was when I worked at a data center that should have been small enough to realize that some people need very different tools and upgrade schedule (and admins that do email and light word processing ended up with powerful machines that could do great multimedia slideshows of their favorite loved ones).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Not European

    I have found this to be true in the US as well. I'm about on a yearly Blackberry-replacement cycle (although the last time actually resulted in a downgrade--oops) due to to hardware destruction, and it's also how I got my laptop replaced. They haven't been exactly deliberate, but I'm way less careful with corporate resources than with my own.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    ... quicker that you can say "gross misconduct". After all, it's easy enough to "drop" a laptop, but how are you going to render a desktop machine unusable?

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD


      ^ Clearly needs to read more BOFH.

      1. Code Monkey

        @sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

        Appropriate that I've earned a keyboard upgrade this very lunchtime

    2. Suburban Inmate

      Agreed druid!

      Just never let on to IT that you actually know WTF you are doing with IT, simples! Then you can static up (a CRT TV or VDU works wonders. Failing that a van der graff generator, if you need to get the big guns out) or otherwise arse about with a box (be careful of the screw coatings) so long as you don't leave any clues. Done.

      There was a "retard with a hammer" BOFH I particularly enjoyed back in the mist/midst [I dunno] of time. Search it yourselves, It's 1:26 am and I can't be arsed!

      Oh well..... OK I'm in a good mood!


      [grenade: equally effective!]

    3. Peter Simpson 1

      Let me count the ways...

      Not that I'd ever engage in something like this <cough> but a screwdriver across the pins of a random chip would pretty much kill the motherboard. But watch out for the chassis intrusion detection...long (insulated) handled tool through the cooling vents on the back would be my advice.

    4. Hollerith 1


      ...I seem to have spilled coffee all over my CPU. However did that happen.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      replies to this post...

      ...have overflowed the inbox.

      Now we've deleted all those that include the phrase

      'it begins when you install windows'

      there's plenty of room

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. MeRp

    It seems...

    If you actually need the device to perform your work, then the fastest way would HAVE to be to break it. All of the other ways involve you continuing to be productive, so the company doesn't have to worry about lost time.

    That being said; it is also the riskiest, I think, since you would, most likely, be fired if you were caught, and the likelihood of being caught seems somewhat high.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    What do they mean by "past-it"?

    Most modern PCs browse the web and edit documents.

    By past-it, do they mean no longer able to run the resource-hogging OS that was last put onto it, or does the OS (probably WIndows) just need reinstalling?

    Certainly in the case of office desktop PCs, you would probably find that in the majority of cases, an upgrade is not actually necessary unless there are reliability issues.

    The issue is far more complex than this simplistic analysis would have us believe.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Sometimes, resources or tasks accumulate.

      Security updates may result in increased resource usage (particularly in areas like retail where the standards for security are necessarily high). Plus the number of things that must be managed or run can accumulate as more things get automated.

      Eventually, there comes a time when everything the PC needs to do causes it to drag and slow down, affecting productivity because we can't even go from menu to menu or run a simple graph without twiddling our thumbs.

      When that point hits, then it's time to consider an upgrade.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Or as I've found out

        on a laptop at work, is that users install their own crap on the things which all helps to slow the thing down to a crawl.

        mind you having vista for an OS does'nt help either.....

        As for new PC's, the clapped out piece of junk 2001 pc sitting next to me would more than likely do 90% of most offices users down to a t

        and back in 2001 it was a company's spiffy new work horse for doing everything from e.mails to the payroll.... just a shame the company went bust 3 months later and I got a bargin.

  10. Stevie Silver badge


    Talk is cheap. How many actual cases of Computericide have been documented?

    1. Naughtyhorse

      tons and tons...

      I used to be a bench engineer for a company that did about 1/3 of european warranty repairs for one of the big named mfrs.

      the <nudge-nudge wink-wink> deal was:

      10 you bought a new lappie,

      20 took the extended warranty.

      30 destroyed said lappy when warranty was nearing expiry date.

      40 got replacement lappie.

      50 goto 20

      the cost of the warranty was not a lot less than the cost of the machine

      punters feel good, cos they got one over on 'the man' and an upgraded lappie every few years. (okay this relies on lusers inability to count)

      we were happy, everyone kept their jobs and occasionally got a funny story to tell down t' pub (laptop fell in a bucket of turps anyone??)

      MFR was happy, they got to shift boxes and stay in the top 1/2/3/4 slot

      the only quibbles were - damaged screen (aka closing\slaming the lid with a pen left on the kbd) spills on the kbd (for pitty sake not 4 day old milk... again) which were damage, beyond that pretty much anything was accepted as accidental.

  11. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Mr. Hammer

    That's what my boss calls it, after he's seen me tear into many a malfunctioning piece of hardware with a 64oz sledge. I've even smashed cases after they've drawn blood one too many times. I smash power supplies and firewalls to ensure the broken damn things don't get fetched out of the garbage and reused to cause more grief. Especially network gear where it can cause tons of problems for everyone else on the network. I've also shattered a mismarked metric tap for the same reason.

    It's impossible to get something fixed, but it's a lot easier to get it replaced.

  12. DaWolf

    more than 1 in 4

    is >25%. How come for all 3 countrires on the graph, none of them reach 25%?

    I smell deliberate falsehood and/or stupidity,

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An upgrade is the last thing I want.

    I treat my aged laptop with kid gloves. All the new machines are locked down to such an extent that it would be impossible to get real development work done.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't work round here...

    Apart from the usual suspects who always get the newest kit when they want it (that would be senior management then) this particular tactic may well get you a downgrade round here. You get your new kit on the day you are due and not one day before. Break your exisiting kit and you'll get something that's been replaced in the most recent round of upgrades.

    The only way to get an upgrade out of the regular cycle is to fund it yourself.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    You are missing a major factor

    First, the level of workspace surveillance practiced in the UK is way above Germany (it will be outright illegal there) and France (while the Peugeot porn case did not create a precedent it certainly made IT managers think twice). As a result rather unsurprisingly Joe Average UK worker is expecting that his PC is keylogged and reporting every last keystroke all the way till the one before it broke to IT.

    Second, in France you are expected to deliver, not to clock hours. In fact the less hours it takes you the more cudos you get from your colleagues. This is the part which the Brits miserably fail to understand about the BIG LUNCH culture. You take a BIG LUNCH because you can and you manage to do your job in _LESS_ time than Joe Average overworked British office worker. So if your PC does not do the job you are actually royally screwed both in terms of getting the job done and in terms of pecking order within the company.

    Same in Germany. German expectation that business case as an argument works is rather unsurprising.

    In the UK however, you live by the timesheet and your manager gets an arousal from it. So having a crap PC is actually good for you. You still clock the same hours (usually 20%+ more than your French or German colleagues), you eat indigestible sandwiches at your desk, you bitch at people who take a proper lunch and overall - you do less work. A crap PC really helps you here by providing an excuse to do so.

    Overall, I am not surprised that the average UK worker is not taking a hammer to the PC in cases where his counterpart in Germany, France or USA would not hesitate for a second to do so.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Anonymous Coward

    the best way to an upgrade

    is with a screwdriver followed by

    1) some "nudges" to the hdd while copying a large file

    2) applying varying amounts of charge to the chips / dimms on the mobo,

    using a sledgehammer is just so passé

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh yes...

    Been there, suffered that!

    Being an existing, long standing member of staff means you sit there with the same ageing desktop trying to do software development and DB admin whilst new members of staff get a new PC and sit there manning the phones with at least twice as many cores and memory as us techie had... Worse still they didn't even appreciate it!

    Luckily I used to work late shifts and had a deal with the system admin. He'd give me a nod if there were any nice new machine in for deployment and I'd either swap our machines out or if our existing machines could support the hardware, do a RAM/CPU swap.

    Only had to kill a machine once, biro insert stuffed into the PSU fan does the trick after a few hours on a hot day - Nothing like a complete non-boot to convince the "powers that be" that the machine is completely dead ;-)

  18. Remy Redert

    re: Oh Yes...

    If you had an understanding with the system admin/tech guys, surely you could just unplug the motherboard, showing a complete non-boot and then store the undamaged machine just in case you ever need a temporary machine or want to see a computer burst into flames because you applied 230v AC to the motherboard and CPU?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: Oh Yes...

      Indeed, but the machine I was asked to "kill" wasn't mine, so it had to be a stealth murder ;-)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Desktop destruction made easy...

    Spill a soda/coffee/tea drink in a "proper" place. Very easy to do.

    Just be sure that there is an upgrade available, or you might be sitting on your hands for a while.

    Or: Go to the BIOS and fudge up some of those configuration variables a bit. Usually this is before the keyloggers have a chance to be functional.

  20. Peter Murphy

    Why use a sledgehammer?

    When a dropper will do?

    Just squeeze a Pasteur pipette full of salt water into the ventilator holes about where you reckon the CPU fan is located.

    1. Rattus Rattus

      Re: Why use a sledgehammer?

      The satisfaction?

  21. Richard 126


    # dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=512 count=1

    That worked on mine, IT couldn't work out why it kept killing hard drives and because it boots off USB the key logger never comes in.

  22. mtdnelson


    Do machines really need to be replaced that often? The first PC I ever built is now at least 13 years old, and is still going strong. My previous work laptop (IBM T41) was perfectly adequate, and still would be.

    The problem is not the hardware, it's the ever-more-bloated operating system and software upgrades. I've only recently discovered that my employer provides (almost) all of the software I need for work on a Linux repository, and that I won't be hassled for installing it myself... Problem (soon will be) solved.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      My 6 yr old Pentium 4 was still absolutely fine for all office tasks here, they upgraded me to the new hot shit, and i can barely notice a difference.

      Apart from performance in Minecraft, obviously.

  23. Barry Tabrah

    The joke's on them

    We've got stacks of old kit that we can replace broken and damaged kit with. You break it and you might end up with something that's even older. Just because you break it don't mean there's any money to replace it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Desktop destruction made easy...

    > Spill a soda/coffee/tea drink in a "proper" place. Very easy to do.

    And I've heard that described by a PCW/Dixons/Curry's salesdroid woh was having a hard time selling an extend warranty with a PC as the reasons why their "extended warranty" should be seen as a "cheap upgrade in 2 years" offer as if unfortunately you just happened to spill a cup of coffe over your PC just before the warranty elapsed then you'll get a new "equivalent PC" which will be much more powerful as all PCs will be by then ....

  25. skipper
    IT Angle

    Who's budget is it anyway

    I've found in companies I've worked for in the past that user PC's/laptops never got replaced as doing so came out of the business unit (sales, accounts, HR etc) budget for that employee, whereas the cost of maintaining an out of warranty PC came from IT's budget.

    Plus if you don't automatically replace machines after X years, once one person might get a new PC, everyone wants one. Which becomes a political, morale destroying minefield.

  26. dr john

    Have a closer look at the data...

    Because the graph shows that around 70% in Germany either put forward a business case or a requisition, while in France and the UK it's around 55% .

    Also since the graph shows 20% of the French workers claiming they would be destructive, and only 12.5% of uk and a mere 7.5% of Germans answering yes to that question, how on earth do they get 1 in 4 overall (that's 25%, for the journalist who can't count, and the weighted average has to be less than the max value of 20% claimed).

    Finally, the answer you give in a survey is not always the method that you use, it is likely to be a case of people showing annoyance and saying something extreme.

    Still, the article title served its purpose and got people reading, and those exposed us to the adverts on the page. But I didn't click on any adverts...

  27. Leona A

    Bad workmen

    always blame their tools.

  28. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Often plain old envy and the British disease

    Yes, some workers are saddled with PCs not up to the task which should be upgraded, but a lot is often pure envy that someone has something better which isn't actually necessary for their job.

    That is not an excuse though for the piss-poor, "use it until it totally fails", attitude of some tight-fisted British companies which makes one want to take a hammer to it or push it off the edge of a table. That often applies to infrastructure, furniture and vehicles as much as PCs.

    There's no greater incitement than directors and managers getting all they want and giving themselves massive bonuses while refusing to replace a dodgy mouse, a sticky keyboard, or a wonky chair.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Judicious application of power

    If you need to destroy a machine in a way that doesn't look too obvious, the use of a laptop power supply and a couple of bits of wire normally* does the trick.

    Most support staff have neither the inclination nor the tools to diagnose a motherboard failure in any detail. They certainly aren't going to start replacing individual chips.

    Before embarking on this course of action, it would be advisable to ensure that you won't be getting the oldest and crappest machine that IT can find covered in dust in the darkest recesses of their storage area as a replacement.

    * Not that I ever would do such a thing you understand, this suggestion is merely for "educational purposes".

  30. Shocked Jock
    Big Brother

    Blue pencil

    Surely this needs an edit:

    "Despite being saddled with more past-it PCs than others, UK office workers are far less likely to take a hammer to their phone or laptop than their Gallic peers."

    Corrected version:

    "UK office workers are being saddled with more past-it PCs than others because they are far less likely to take a hammer to their phone or laptop than their Gallic peers."

    Of course, in-work surveillance, as pointed out, makes it less likely. No wonder British industry is always said to be less efficient than that of France or Germany.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Warranties and the like

    Any company worth it's salt will have it's PC's and laptops under warranty (four years seems to be the standard for big suppliers these days) or some other maintenance contract. Bust your PC and it will probably just be a warranty job.

    When the engineer finds a dead mobo he might just replace it. Or he might look for evidence of what caused the damage.

  32. Fatman Silver badge

    Replacing `old` kit

    For several months, some members of `Damagement` have been beating the drums for new lappies. Executive Manglement said: "NO, tighten your belts. No new toys for you!!!!!"

    Well, it seems like one of those MBA's must have read this article, Why, you may ask???

    My office is on the 4th floor, and I was called down to the first floor stairwell. There, lying at the bottom of the stairs, were at least a dozen busted lappies. From the damage done to them, it looks like they took at least a one floor drop. From the labels on the back, some of them appeared to have been used by those complaining members of damagement. I just heard the chief executive mangler say that those busted lappies will NOT be replaced. There was something mentioned about digging out those old Amstrads that have been gathering dust; or they can buy a new one with their own money.

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