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What Is Software Aging?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Software aging is a phenomenon that occurs in all types of software, regardless of who created it or how powerful the software was when first purchased. Software aging is the gradual degradation of coding in which fragmentation begins manifesting itself, leading to slower performance and decreased output. Software rejuvenation is aimed at correcting the errors of aging, but it only offers a limited fix to the problem. Continual upgrades to the software also exacerbate the aging effects and the original coding becomes warped. Most users find it easier, and less time consuming, to buy new software instead of trying to maintain aging software.

Software being used for the first time is fresh and has not been introduced to any degrading code, nor has its information been fragmented. This means the program can run quickly, without problems. As software aging progresses, the operating system will be able to feed fewer resources into the program. With fewer resources and degrading code, the software starts to cause lags or may automatically shutdown.

Upgrades, while seemingly good, can have devastating effects on aging software. An upgrade introduces new code. This new code can further the effects, or visibility, of fragmented code. The upgrade also introduces more code, which increases the size of the program. This means even more resources are needed to produce the same output as before the upgrade was added.

Software rejuvenation has been employed to correct the damaging effects of software aging. There are many types of software rejuvenation techniques but, overall, they aim to ease fragmentation and return the software back to its original coding. Software rejuvenation offers a limited fix, because it cannot correct all the errors, and is best used on software that shows from low to medium signs of aging.

Years after getting a piece of software, the effects of software aging will become unavoidable. The amount of time is not set, because it depends on how well the program was made, but 10 years is usually the upper range of when the effects of aging make the program nearly unusable. Software rejuvenation can correct some of the errors when the software gets to this point, but the aging effects will still make it difficult to use the program.

When the software aging effects are unavoidable, most users opt to purchase new software. The new software will not need the same upkeep until later in its life and will be able to produce a better output than the aged software. Purchasing newer software, especially for businesses, frees up human resources to work on other tasks or projects.

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