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How often should you replace your business computers?

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How often should I replace my computer? Unfortunately, this is a question we get asked a lot, even more so since the recent announcement from Microsoft on the End of Support for Microsoft Windows 7.


There are no hard and fast rules. That said, in-house here at The Tech Lounge, we replace our business laptops every 3 years and our business desktops every 5 years.


These time frames are based on experience, but if you look around, you will see that most other IT companies work on the same basis. However, before we get too deep into this, let’s first distinguish between business and consumer computers.


Consumer-grade computers are built to be specifically priced for consumer outlets and use. The components used to make these laptops are typically from the cheaper end of the spectrum, with minimal quality or reliability. These types of computers ship with a lower general specification than business-grade computers and with a “Home” version of the operating system.


The warranties offered with consumer-grade computers are usually delivered via the outlet or on a return to base basis with the manufacturer.  These are generally 12-month warranties, with no guaranteed turnaround time. 


Typical consumer-grade configuration:

  • Intel i3/i5 CPU
  • 4-8GB RAM
  • 500GB Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
  • Microsoft Windows 7/10 Home Edition


Business-grade computers are built with the higher demands of business users in mind. They may be built to order or pre-built using common configurations. The components used to make these laptops are generally more expensive and tested to a much higher standard. These computers ship with a “Professional” or “Enterprise” version of the operating system and are designed to handle the day to day use that business users demand.


The warranties offered with business-grade computers is usually 2-3 years and includes onsite support within a specified time period.


Typical consumer-grade configuration:

  • Intel i5/i7 CPU
  • 8-16GB RAM or higher
  • 256GB Solid State Disk (SSD) or higher
  • Microsoft Windows 7/10 Professional/Enterprise Edition


Over time all computers, consumer and business start to show their age. Aesthetically, due to wear and tear, computers can start to look battered and bruised. Laptops, especially if they are moved from location to location. 


The performance will inevitably also become an issue. Performance slows down as new software is added or existing software is updated. Disk space becomes an issue, as memory as newer applications demand more resources, and we collect and store more data.


Whatever way you look at it, computers don’t last forever. The key is finding the right balance. As we see it, the secret is to replace your equipment before it starts to cost you or your business money. 


This may be in sales. Who hasn’t had the salesperson with the disgusting beaten up laptop on-site to do a presentation, only for them to ask for a 10-minute head start while their laptop starts up? How does old equipment reflect on your business?


It may be in productivity. Slow workstations are estimated to drop productivity by 2.75% (13 minutes per day, 5.5 days per year*). 


There is also an increased likelihood of failure from ageing equipment. It’s not a question of IF it will fail, but WHEN!


There are, of course, steps you can take to prolong the life of your IT equipment, such as regular patching and maintenance


It’s may also possible to upgrade your computers. Desktop computers are typically more upgradable than laptop computers. Hence the longer lifespan, but it’s worth speaking with your IT provider as the costs of upgrading can often be 50%+ of the cost of a new machine.

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