This is a question we get asked all the time here at RoundWorks IT! Naturally, all computer equipment has a finite lifespan (all good things must come to an end, right?), especially with the never-ending stream of new and enhanced technologies entering the market.
Unfortunately for business owners, the decision to upgrade a machine or throw it in the bin isn’t always straightforward. In this article, we’ll look at some of the things to consider, to help you make the right choices for your business.
Is the equipment on its last legs?
Tell-tale signs include running super-slowly, frequent crashing and regular appearances by the dreaded “blue screen of death”. Whilst it may be possible to upgrade the machine, your best bet is probably to replace it. Otherwise, there’s a risk it could fail completely – resulting in data and productivity losses that could outweigh the cost of buying new kit.
Will the equipment meet your needs in, say, 5 years’ time?
If you’re expecting your business to grow rapidly in the next few years, it could be the right time to invest in new hardware and/or software to support this. The last thing you want is for your ambitious development plans to be held back by creaking IT systems that aren’t fit for purpose. You could also find that the latest software applications simply won’t work on older machines or operating systems.
Is the device unsupported or approaching ‘end of life’?
If you’re running an operating system or software that’s no longer supported, such as Windows Server 2003 or Office 2007, you need to upgrade – and fast. Running systems that have reached the end of life means you won’t get any upgrades or security fixes, leaving your business wide open to cybercrime. You could also find that software vendors withdraw their support, and/or your data storage processes aren’t GDPR-compliant. Eek!
Are your staff being driven to distraction?
It’s very frustrating trying to work effectively when computers are running slowly or keep crashing, or printers are constantly giving up the ghost. Your staff are your biggest asset, so it makes sense to keep them happy by giving them the tools they need to do their jobs. Investing in upgraded or new equipment will increase productivity and efficiency, too.
Are the machines out of warranty?
Whilst equipment that’s out of warranty may work perfectly for years to come, a breakdown could end up costing you a packet. Moving parts like fans and hard disc drives often fail after a few years, and the machine will be offline until they’re put right. Rather than take the risk, you may like to buy new equipment that’s under guarantee.
Could you move some systems into the cloud?
If you have a physical server that’s on its last legs, why not consider replacing it with a virtual, cloud-based server instead? It’s not necessarily a cheaper option, but you’ll have the reassurance of knowing your sensitive data is safely stored in the cloud and can be accessed from any location. You’ll save space in your office, too!
There are also lots of applications that can be moved into the cloud. If you’re running traditional Microsoft Office software, for example, switching to Office 365 could save you money. This is because it’s priced ‘per user’ rather than ‘per device’, so each staff member can use the same licence for a desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone.
Another option is to migrate to G Suite, a complete business management package provided by Google. G Suite includes Gmail and calendar applications and a wealth of other functions including documents, spreadsheets, slides and online chat.
Could you save money by swapping old for new?
OK, it may sound odd, but the price of some technologies has actually fallen in recent years. For example, some of our clients who lease their equipment have been offered newer, better devices at a lower monthly price than before! So it’s worth asking your own suppliers if you could save some cash.
At the same time, you should consider whether or not you actually need all your equipment. If a printer or scanner is sat in the corner gathering dust, it might be an idea to cancel the lease. Or, if you own it, file it under ‘B’ (following WEEE recycling rules, of course!)
Are you on a very tight IT budget?
If your main problem is slow machines or lack of storage space, there are some cost-effective ways to get around this. These include replacing the hard disc drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD), which will speed up the machine as it doesn’t have any moving parts. SSDs work with Mac, Linux and Windows operating systems.
Other options include upgrading the Random Access Memory (RAM) or using removable hard disc drives, USBs or DVDs to store additional data. You could also consider moving your data to a free or low-cost online storage or file sharing services such as Google Filestream or Dropbox. Make sure your chosen option is GDPR-compliant, though.
Not sure what to do? Let the RoundWorks IT experts help!
Our experienced IT consultants are here to help you make the right decisions about upgrading or investing in new kit. We’ll assess your current set-up and discuss your plans for the future to see whether it meets your needs. If not, we’ll help you plan and implement your new IT infrastructure to keep your business fighting fit well into the future.