Why our electronics break: what we can learn from nearly 10 years of repairs over 50k broken items

We now have data on over 21,000 broken items and what was done to fix them. This information comes from volunteers at our own events and others who use our community repair platform, restarters.net.

Thanks to our partners in the Open Repair Alliance who also collect this kind of data, we were able to include extra data from other networks around the world.

Together, this brought the total to nearly 50,000 broken items.

Want to see this data for yourself? Download the full dataset here
(Note: Links to the datasets that contain fault types are further down this page)

That’s a lot of data. So to analyse it, we focused on three types of products that the European Commission would be investigating:

  • Printers
  • Tablets
  • The batteries that power many of our gadgets.


Thanks to this collective effort, we were able to identify the most common reasons printers, tablets and batteries become unusable.

A diagram showing the most common tablet problems
These findings are based on the analysis of problems in 647 tablets brought to community repair events, but don’t include 131 tablets with poor data quality, making it impossible to confirm the main fault.

In addition, many of the items we looked at were fairly old, demonstrating that people really want to keep using their devices for longer.

But we also found that there are lots of barriers to repair that make this tricky. Some of the biggest are the lack of spare parts and repair documentation as well as designs that make opening the product difficult without causing extra damage.

You can see our full results and download the data for yourself here:


We want rules that make products easier to fix. And we’re already using data to push for a real Right to Repair. Just recently, we used previous findings to undermine an industry lobbyist’s anti-repair arguments in an EU policy meeting about upcoming regulations for smartphone and tablet repairability.

As a follow up, we also contributed our findings on common fault types in tablets, making the case for the need for better access to spare parts and repair information for this product category as well.

Next, we hope to increase the pressure on European policymakers for regulating printer repairability and battery-related issues in consumer products. For printers, the European Commission is considering rejecting a “voluntary agreement” proposed by industry, which ignores repairability for consumer printers.

And as for batteries, European institutions are working towards a Batteries Regulation, which must prioritise user-replaceability as well as the availability of spare parts.


Source: Why our electronics break: what we can learn from nearly 10 years of repairs – The Restart Project

Robin Edgar

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