How often should business computers be upgraded?

January 12, 2018 by
How often should business computers be upgraded?
Lighthouse IT Solutions, Matthew Almendinger

Most people recognize the early warning signs of when a computer is on it's way out the door.

Whether it is crashing, freezing or just slow in general, it is obvious when a PC will need an upgrade, but understanding the balance between performance and budget is a must in a small business. First, it is important to know the difference between a consumer-grade PC and a business-grade machine. Business PCs will be built for reliability and should last 3-5 years, while consumer PCs will only last 2-3 years. Be sure to look for the distinction when buying. Business PCs bought in bulk are usually built to the order. If you want to buy pre-made models though, you will want to make sure that they all have an SSD with at least 180GB of storage, 8GB of memory (RAM), and a processor (CPU) with dual cores or higher. An intel i5 generally fits well in a business setting. These components will really make your computers last while greatly increasing productivity.

The sad reality of business computers is that every one of them in your office will eventually fail and need to be replaced. The good thing is that they are actually quite predictable. Three years in and you will start noticing issues, which is when you should begin thinking about replacing it. Do not wait longer than the five-year mark as they may actually lose you money in inefficient employees. Costly downtime, slow workstations, data loss, and repair costs are what to expect by not taking the need for a hardware refresh seriously. Remember that a catastrophic failure is hard to combat if it has already occurred. Total failures leave employees waiting around and scrambling to catch up. Loosing time as well as important customer or client data.

Hardware is a big investment, but you can go about investing in it through a few diverse ways.

Performance based is when you upgrade or replace your computers when they begin showing signs of degradation. This is common for workstations that need to always be at their peak. The bad part about this is that it can be costly.

Time based is when you have had the devices for a certain amount of time and then switch to new machines as a precaution. This may seem like a waste, but the government has given computers a working lifespan of 5 years. This means that if you go 3 years and decide to upgrade, you can give the old computers away to non-profits for a tax write-off. Thus, making purchasing new computers cheaper.

Failure based, which is when you only upgrade it something goes wrong. This is definitely not the best solution, but it can be cost effective in a short-term manner. This almost always catches up with you though, as it can be quite costly to try and move systems from very old to new. Not to mention the training that would need to come with employees jumping from old to new. Your replacement plan should really cover timing, cost and warranties. Waiting till something fails also hinders workflow as this will pretty much always cause some downtime.

Also note that if you are replacing an existing computer, the monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, printer, and other peripherals can usually be used with the new computer, so do not feel like you need to buy everything new, they can all be separately evaluated.

As computers advance (Moore's law) new software and upgrades to current programs will gradually require more and more resources to run smoothly. Improvements to your infrastructure mean employees spend less time dwelling on a frozen computer and more time on important activities. If your computer systems are currently 4 years or older it's time for an upgrade. We recommend running an assessment every year or two to stay up to date.

We even offer a FREE Network Risk Assessment here at Lighthouse IT Solutions.

Get In Touch With Us Here