Whether you’re a small business owner that relies on technology to run your business or a tech geek that loves gadgets and wants the latest and greatest tech toys, technology affects just about every aspect of our lives.
Technology changes so rapidly that the joke is when you buy a new computer, by the time you set it up its outdated and there is already something faster and better available.
…the best indicator for deciding if it’s time to buy new equipment is if employee productivity has dropped as a result of the equipment provided to them…
With new technological developments, upgrades and the rapidly changing technology landscape, it’s difficult to know when it’s the right time to upgrade equipment and take advantage of the newer technology and when it is the best to wait and save money on another technology investment technology.
In my experience, the normal lifespan of a business class laptop or other equipment is about three years. This is consistent with what I’ve read in industry and trade publications. After three years, the cost of maintaining a laptop or a desktop becomes more expensive than buying a new one.
The three-year window is simply the average lifespan of computer and technical equipment. For me, the best indicator for deciding if it’s time to buy new equipment is if employee productivity has dropped as a result of the equipment provided to them. If an employee is unable to work for a full day due to a computer issue, the day’s loss of productivity is probably going to outweigh the $1,000 or so to buy a new laptop.
Over the course of a laptop’s or desktop’s lifetime, there are a few simple things you can do to extend the life of a computer, including:
- Free up memory whenever possible: Every app or piece of new software you add takes up space and slows the computer down. As computer apps and software improve there seems to be a disconnect between these upgrades and the space they take on a computer. Newer apps and software always take more space. Managing memory will keep the computer running fast. One important thing to remember is that if you have an app or software you don’t use, remove it from the computer and free some space up that way.
- Re-image your computer: Every computer will pick up or maintain programs, software and apps that aren’t being utilized or are outdated. By re-imaging your computer you create more space and optimize the computer’s performance.
- Reinstall or upgrade your operating system: This can be challenging as it takes time and if done improperly can cause issues with your machine’s performance. Some companies will do this once a year to eliminate any old or unwanted documents or software to free up space. If you choose this route, I recommend only reinstalling once a year.
- Invest in new batteries: Battery life, especially in laptops, is critical. I recommend looking at new batteries about every year-and-a-half or so. Batteries lose the ability to maintain a charge for extended periods over the course of time. A new battery will breathe new life into a computer and help increase or maintain a high level of productivity
In every aspect of assessing a business’ computer viability and the question of when to upgrade, I recommend asking the question, how much is productivity worth? Productivity should drive or at least play a significant factor in any business decision. If productivity is down and it’s due to a questionable computer and the tips listed above aren’t helping the issue, it’s probably time to upgrade or buy a new machine.
I usually start looking at potential replacement equipment at about the two-and-a-half year mark. If you can spread the purchasing out over time and do it in cycles, that will help save your business on the costs associated with purchasing new equipment. The key to any technology upgrade or new equipment purchase is to not let it have a negative impact on productivity.
Josh Linton is the Vice President of Technology at VLCM. In this role, Josh manages the company’s technical team that provides tech support and services to its clients.