Computer Hardware Won’t Last Forever
Aside from electrical components being prone to failure at any time from power problems and static, there are mechanical components that wear out too.
Hard drives spin and a high rate of speed and some machines especially servers are left on 100% of the time spinning 24 hour a day. Hard drive failure is not an “if” it’s a “when”.
Computing Power Increases But So Do The Software Requirements
Moore’s Law says that computing speeds double every 2 years or so and that may lead you to believe that new computers should run twice as fast but there are other factors to consider. Software manufactures take advantage of that speed to improve their software’s functionality and feature list eating up that increased speed. Getting new software and especially new operating systems and trying to run then on older equipment often has disappointing results.
When To Replace PCs
Because of the quick availability of replacement computers and that in most networks all the data resides on the server, we do not have a solid recommendation on when to replace PCs. We do however see PCs replaced on average between the 3rd and 5th year of use and more often than not, they are replaced due to slow performance or lack of computing power for new software. Keep in mind that if all your data is not on the server or backed up, it should be and you may also want to replace your PC proactively rather than wait for a failure which can be harder to retrieve and transfer setting from.
Don’t Wait On The Server Upgrade
Servers are often overlooked, especially servers that perform properly (the ones maintained by C-Net Systems), but that is a bad thing to overlook. Servers house all the data and enable end users to work and be productive as well as correspond with customers (when a server goes down email often goes with it). Server hard drives are also spinning away 100% of the time counting down to their eminent failure. Servers are not inexpensive but ignoring them can be much more costly. Aside from the downtime of the network and possible data loss, a server recovery is always more expensive than a planned server replacement or server upgrade. Aside from the cost of the equipment, labor and recovery, a business’s downtime needs to be factored in.
We recommend replacing servers between the 3rd and 4th year of service. All our servers have a 3 year warranty which is great during the warranty period but after that it become increasingly difficult to find identical replacement parts if something were to fail. Because of the complicated nature of the equipment and its interaction with the operating system it is often difficult to recover a server to different hardware, even from backups, in a disaster scenario. Data recovery is also a lot more time and labor intensive compared to a migration or upgrade often doubling the cost of labor. Proactive, planed server migrations and upgrades are easily done when properly thought out. The vast majority of our server upgrades and migrations take place over weekends and in most cases are virtually transparent to the end user aside from an improvement in performance.
Re-Tasking And Rotation
Sometimes the PC that needs to be replaced is not the one that need to most power. We often bring new computers in and give them to users that require more performance, rotating their old computers down to the PC needing replacement. Failed computers at a station that does not require a lot of performance can be turned into an upgrade for someone who needs it rather than be underutilized at a station that does not need the power.
We also try to utilize old servers as backup servers or turn them into Terminal Servers for occasional users. Just because we do not want to keep our mission critical data on them does not mean their useful life is over. Often an old server can provide a useful service that may not have been in the budget had a new server been required. When re-tasking old servers be sure to utilize them in a function that can be easily recovered and never put any mission critical data or applications on them.