Be proactive: plan your hardware replacement cycle.
Replacement cycle plan sounds intimidating, but it shouldn’t. It’s simply making sure that you have a general idea of how long your devices will be used.
“Devices?” you might ask, “I don’t use ‘devices’. I have a server and workstations.”
You may be using PC’s and servers, but in the general scope of things, they are devices. Devices also include smartphones, and newer things that haven’t been unleashed on the corporate or business environment.
16 years ago, an iPod could only be used for listening to music. Today, iPhones, iPads, Galaxy Pads, and Windows phones are used regularly along side PC’s and servers to accomplish important business tasks. One thing they all share in common is that at some point, they will no longer be usable.
Whether it is through obsolescence, failure, or outside forces damaging them, all electronics have a shelf life.
I adhere to the “5 year replacement” rule, and use it along with other elements to help businesses predict and control technology spending.
We use the following additional principles to determine how long a piece of equipment will be usable.
1) Technical Age
Many re-sellers offer inexpensive computers that seem too good to be true. $300 dollars for a complete computer system with the latest operating system may seem like a great deal. However, most of those systems have parts that were designed 2-3 years ago. The parts are new, but they could be slower and reach end of usability faster. One year behind on technology is one fifth the life of the technology.
2) Memory Usage and Obsolescence
People expect their programs to be functional and responsive. Every function that you add comes at a price: higher memory usage. For example, if you want a program to send an alert when your friend mentions your name on social media while making you a fresh pot of coffee, that will require more memory than allowing you to type an email. Combine this with the other features built into the operating system, and you are using most of your available memory. Add antivirus, games, and chat programs and your computer will quickly use up to 80 percent of its resources.
Most developers are programming with the expectation that people are using the newest technology, not a computer from 5 years ago. They test on older hardware, but often that’s with their software installed, and doesn’t take into account that you could possibly want to install other applications.
Operating systems have a limited amount of hardware they can support. Your 8 year old computer isn’t likely to have drivers for the new operating system. Going back to an older versions could leave you vulnerable to security flaws, program incompatibility, and poor performance. Although newer programs have their flaws, they generally perform better than older versions.
A new computer of comparable technology will likely perform much better. You simply can’t buy a $300 computer to replace your $10,000 system, and get a performance gain. Likewise, you can’t replace a real server with a laptop and expect to be impressed. That’s not how any of this works.
Humans have been using technology since the beginning of civilization. When somebody discovered a flat rock worked better than a bulky rock, we began the search for better, faster and cheaper. Today is no different than when textile companies planned for loom failure. All equipment breaks over time. The best way to face this is to have a plan. The best plans use a combination of experience, research and forethought. This is true in all facets of business, and device replacement is no exception.