Computers are a piece of equipment and, like any equipment, will eventually fail. They aren’t intended to last forever. Just like you wouldn’t expect your washing machine, your refrigerator, or your car to last a lifetime, a computer needs regular replacement, as well.
That’s why it’s important to have a maintenance or replacement plan in place to more successfully and effectively run your business. If you keep in mind that your computers will absolutely wear out one day, you can plan ahead and keep them well maintained so that they have a long and useful life, while also being prepared for their eventual replacement.
Because, yes, replacement is necessary. Computers are a commodity now and the expense of continually investing in repairs on your old machines will eventually surpass the expense of getting new machines. And with new machines, you get the added benefit of new technology, higher quality equipment, and better software that will keep you running at peak performance.
So, how do you know when the time has come to upgrade your computers at work?
When Should You Replace Your Work Computers?
1. When Your Computers Are Slowing You Down
Most small businesses might not replace their computers until they break and therefore absolutely have to be replaced. The problem is, until you reach that point, you might not realize how much productivity is being lost on older, slower computers.
The slower your machines, the slower your productivity. If you’re spending copious amounts of time waiting for machines to power up, load pages, or run programs, you’re wasting valuable time you could be investing elsewhere. If your computers are no longer serving their purpose of maximizing productivity, it’s time to consider upgrading or replacing them entirely.
If you’re a Windows user, you might be familiar with something colloquially known as “Windows rot.” As time passes, Windows machines start becoming less responsive and their performance gradually degrades. You might experience more freezing or “blue screens.” The reason for this is extended, regular, heavy use and there’s really no way to avoid it. It’s due in large part to the deterioration of the Windows Registry. The Registry is worn down over time due to an abundance of installed software or applications that don’t clean up after themselves.
While it’s frustrating that your computers inevitably slow down, accepting this as a fact of life and instigating a plan for regular upgrades and replacements can save you a lot of wasted time, energy, and money trying to repair machines that are at the end of their life cycle.
2. When Your Computers Are Out of Warranty
If you’ve reached the end of your work computers’ warranty, then you no longer have coverage if anything goes wrong. Part of properly maintaining your machines is keep them under warranty so that you have access to maintenance and even replacement when trouble arises. An out of warranty machine costs you extra money in repairs in the long run than replacing it with a machine that is fully covered.
3. When Your Computers Are Older Than 5 Years
That might sound like a short amount of time, but technology evolves quickly. Software and operating systems are constantly changing, quickly outdating old machines. In order to achieve peak efficiency, your computers should be relatively new. This makes you eligible for the latest software and applications and keeps your business “up to date” with current technology. Not only will your computers run more effectively, but new equipment makes a statement to employees and clients alike that you care about the performance of your business.
Don’t try to cut corners by only purchasing new computers for the boss or leadership team, while passing off hand-me-downs to the next staff in line. Cascading your computers like this can lead to unpredictable maintenance, repairs, and outdated software that creates a bigger headache than it’s worth. Cultivating some uniformity across your computers will help you create a streamlined maintenance and replacement plan, as well as a predictable budget.
4. When Your Operating System (OS) is No Longer Supported
Operating Systems like Windows XP and Windows 7 are no longer supported, which means no new updates will ever again be available for those systems. That means you’ve lost access to developer updates and fixes that are meant to keep your machines running at maximum efficiency. This can make your computers slower and ultimately slow down and frustrate you and your staff.
How Often Should I Upgrade My Computers?
It’s one thing to decide that now is the time to upgrade or replace your computers, but it’s another to formulate a plan for regularly doing so.
Ideally you should have a 3, 4, or 5 year plan for replacing 33%, 25%, or 20% of your computers every year. You don’t have to do it every year and you don’t have to do it all at once! It takes regular, consistent investment.
This helps you maintain a predictable and balanced budget. You’ll always know which machines are due for an upgrade and have an expected annual cost for maintaining your computers.
The best thing you can do for your business is ensure you and your employees have the equipment you need to get the job done well. It’s not enough to simply have computers; you want computers that run efficiently, maximize productivity, and ultimately enhance your business — not hinder it.