PCs Increasingly Find Their Way to the Trash Heap

August 18, 2005

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Relevant Review:
Opportunity Costs

As any PC user knows, it is incredibly easy for computers running the Windows operating system to become overwhelmed by malware (viruses, spyware, adware, trojan horses, worms, etc.). Often the problem becomes so serious that the machine becomes essentially useless, until the issues are resolved.

There are a variety of ways to cleanse a Windows computer of such problems (some more effective than others) but some PC users opt to simply throw away infected PCs and replace them with new systems.

The purpose of this simple article is to examine the economic rationale behind the decision to throw away even a relatively new, but infected, PC rather than resolving the problem. We won't be debating why computer users purchase Windows-based PCs knowing they are prone to these problems.1 Nor will we be discussing how best to avoid or remedy these problems if you do use a Windows-based computer. Our sole intent here is to understand the decision to replace a computer rather than resolve a correctable problem.2 The Flash animation below, and the accompanying discussion, consider a simple opportunity cost explanation for this behavior.

If you don't see a graphic below it means you do not have the Flash plug-in installed (you need Flash 6 or higher).
You may download the free plug-in here.

Click here to see the Flash movie in a separate browser window.


As of this writing, there are no known Macintosh OS X (the current Macintosh operating system) viruses, worms, Trojans etc. and almost none that affect Linux systems.


While not all virus removal software works perfectly, the problem can always be corrected by reformatting the hard drive(s) and reinstalling everything from the original disks.