Simply put, your business should replace computers when the cost of retaining old computers exceeds the cost of replacing them. What many overlook, however, are the underlying costs of retaining aging equipment. In practical terms we see these aging equipment costs exceed replacement costs anywhere between the three and five year mark. Because business computers are tools for production and revenue generation, the consequences of slow, insecure, or failed machines are significantly heighten in a business environment compared to a personal use device.
This is one common objection to the 3-5 year time frame. When someone has a laptop at home that is pushing 7-10 years, they assume the same lifespan should apply to their business devices. But personal computers on average have significantly less use than business devices. Not only that, the consequences of your laptop dying or experiencing other age-related problems are limited to your personal lost time, frustration, or data loss.
Here are 5 Additional Reasons Why You Should Replace Business Computer Equipment Every 3-5 Years.
1. Downtime Risk
This is often the most prevalent and costly risk which heightens with aging computers. Think of the costs and lost production associated with your computers going down? Think of the tasks your business and employees won’t be able to do without the use of their computers. Examples include, accessing customer/patient information, processing payments, producing content, etc. And not only will your ability to make money be hindered, but typically your staff costs continue to accumulate despite the fact they are now just sitting around on their phones waiting for systems to be restored.
2. IT Support Expense
It’s no secret older computers experience more software and hardware problems than newer computers. Additional age-related failures are cause for additional IT intervention which has additional costs associated with it. Not only that but manufacturer warranties may expire requiring out-of-pocket expense for parts replacement.
3. Performance Degradation
Computer performance slows over time. Years of heat and dust can have an effect on processing power. In addition a phenomenon called “software bloat” typically occurs over the life of the equipment in which more programs and processes accumulate on a device over time to slow systems significantly. We have seen some cases where staff members literally are waiting 5-10 seconds after a click for the computer to respond accordingly. Not only is this frustrating and a hit to morale, but it’s wasting time and productive capacity. Users are able to get half as much done in the same period of time. Think of chopping wood with a dull ax.
4. Compatibility Risk
Oftentimes if one piece of technology doesn’t keep pace with the other components, you will run into a compatibility issue. We see this happen in dental offices especially with digital imaging devices. Either the imaging devices will be too old for new computers, or the computers will be too old for a new imaging device. This typically leads to a significant unexpected expense to get these two pieces of technology in compatible alignment.
5. Security Risk
Older hardware and software will eventually have greater risk of security breach. The best example of this was the recent Windows 7 end-of-life. The Windows 7 operating system was found to be twice as likely to be breached as a Windows 10 device. Not only do vendors typically stop pushing out security updates after a point, but older technology has been in production long enough for cyber criminals to experiment and discover the best tactics and methods for accessing those devices.
We have commonly heard the mantra “I’ll replace it when it stops working.” This mindset often fails to account for the above risks associated with aging computer equipment and leads to an emergency scenario when devices go down. As Benjamin Franklin said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” If you keep production business equipment beyond the recommended time frame, plan for increased downtime, lost production, and increased security and compatibility risks.
In summary, business computers should be on a regular update and replacement schedule, update your software at least once a month, and replace your hardware at least every 5 years or so. For effective life cycle management of your business computers from initial install to end of productive life, check out our TechFresh program which was designed specifically for small businesses.