Regardless of how well maintained your PC’s, servers, printers and other equipment are they won’t last forever.
Most companies work on a ‘replace it when it breaks’ basis, however, a more proactive IT refresh process has distinct advantages.
Few companies have a formal process to refresh their IT equipment – although there are some good examples of policies available online, mainly from the education sector.
Having a formal policy is a good idea as this help a business to schedule when the refresh will happen, spreads out the cost and reduces disruption.
As a rough guide, the following would be a sensible set of timescales to base a refresh policy on:
Servers replaced after 5 years
Desktops replaced after 4 years
Laptops replaced after 3 years
Mobiles replaced after 2 years
However, this is just a rule of thumb. Some PC’s that are newer than this may still require replacing
How do you decide when it’s time to change?
There are some obvious signs that it’s time to buy some new equipment.
If you’re computers are running slowly then you can try some of our tips to speed them up but ultimately they may simply be too old and slow (unfortunately I know that feeling well!).
It may seem that keeping old equipment running saves money, but if computer performance is seriously degraded it will be reducing efficiency in the business – and this is likely to be costing a lot more money than the few hundred pounds for a new machine.
If you’ve got software that won’t run properly because of the limitations of your hardware e.g., not enough RAM, this is another sign that it’s time to renew.
Technology moves very quickly and if you are wanting to run the latest software on the latest operating systems you’re likely to need the latest hardware.
You should also consider your industry and competitors; are there software and hardware standards onto which new services are built and can your equipment handle these? Could the increased efficiency inherent with bringing in new equipment give you a competitive advantage?
Talk to your staff, they may have been quietly putting up with an issue or using workarounds because their machine doesn’t do what they need it to. They may even be delaying software upgrades which is a security issue.
Finally, your IT support provider will be monitoring your issues and if they spot a larger than normal volume of calls regarding a specific machine then they will let you know that that machine may need replacing. Nobody can keep a machine running indefinitely.
Upgrading each individual component really isn’t a practical solution!
You could look to upgrade your current hardware, installing more RAM or changing from a mechanical hard drive to a solid-state drive will almost certainly give performance a boost.
However, by the time you’ve done these upgrades, it may well have been cheaper to replace the whole machine!
So how do you go about doing an IT refresh?
First, carry out an audit. You need to know what you’ve got and how old it is.
If you work with an IT Support Company or MSP they may be able to give you this information – if you don’t then talking to one and supplying serial numbers will enable you to get a reasonable idea of the age.
They can also look at the age of the BIOS via System Information which will also give a reasonable indication of the age of the machine.
If you’ve not already got a policy then initially we’d recommend that you look to replace any machines that are more than 5 years old – and this isn’t a money-making scam from businesses like ours that supply hardware.
Margins on hardware are miniscule and if our business was built on simply replacing equipment we’d be out of business very quickly!
Laptops generally don’t last as long as desktops so any over 4 years old need urgent attention.
The benefits of faster performance and reduced downtime of a new machine against something that’s 5 or more years old should see you getting a real return on your investment.
Replace them all or do it in stages?
If all of your machines are over 5 years old then you’ve got a decision to make.
Do you replace them all or do you stage the replacements?
One advantage of doing everything in one fell swoop is the possibility of attracting grant funding.
You’ll avoid any ‘gadget jealousy’ as staff see others in their department getting new equipment when they’re still having to use an old PC. Everyone will also have the same equipment with the same spec and this will also mean no compatibility issues.
You’ll also know exactly when the next refresh is due and can plan for it.
If you choose to do a staged refresh you may face some of the issues we’ve described above, and you’re very unlikely to get any grant funding. However, it may aid with cash flow – especially if you’ve not budgeted for an IT refresh.
If you go for a staged refresh you need to develop a methodology to prioritise which machines you replace first.
Starting with the oldest machines is a sensible approach and of course, you should replace any that have recurring problems sooner rather than later.
If all your machines are getting on in years it might be better to prioritise based on risk. Which machines are the most vital to the business? It might be nice for the MD to have a shiny new toy but not if the accounts department can’t send out your invoices each month!
What do you need?
Once you’ve decided that you need to change and decided how you’re going to do it you then need to understand what you need.
Let’s look at an analogy;
Who’s likely to give you the best, most impartial advice on which car to buy? A car maker, a retailer or an independent garage?
The car maker will sell you their car, whether it suits you or not.
The retailer will sell you the car they have in stock that is closet to your need.
The independent garage will advise you what to go for based on your needs and their experience.
IT hardware is very similar;
IT Support Providers will be able to offer a range of solutions based on your needs, and they are experts – we know which manufacturers offer reliability as we spend all day fixing the ones that don’t!
And we don’t make our money selling hardware.
What’s it going to cost?
The million-dollar question. Well let’s hope not, it should be a bit cheaper than that!
The good news is a refresh will probably be cheaper than you think.
Cloud computing solutions have cut down on the requirements for more and more storage, so you may well be able to get a machine with a solid-state drive that offers less capacity but greatly enhanced performance at a lower cost.
You will also already have peripherals such as monitors, keyboards, mice etc. which should be perfectly compatible with any new equipment, so these won’t need to be purchased.
The price of a new desktop will, of course, be dependent on specification and prices vary significantly but a decent spec’d machine for a ‘light-medium’ user (general administration, working on the internet etc.) could start from as little as £500.
We would recommend getting as much RAM and the fastest processor you can get within your budget, this should ensure that you can cope with software and OS upgrades until it’s time to refresh again!
A final point worth considering is the safe disposal of your old equipment and the protection of your data.
If you need any help or advice with a refresh of your IT equipment we are happy to have an informal, no obligation chat.
Give our friendly Account Manager, Angus, a call free on 0800 0306520.