How Often Should I Upgrade IT Equipment? (& Tips to Make Them Last)
Investing in tech isn’t cheap - and you deserve to get your money’s worth.
So, when it comes to upgrading your tech, how do you make the right decisions without sacrificing practicality or security?
As a managed IT service provider (MSP), we grapple with this question everyday. At Intelligent Technical Solutions (ITS), we want to provide the best IT security for the best value, and it’s often a delicate balancing act. For over 20 years, we’ve looked for the right ways to keep our clients secure without unnecessary resources.
So in this article, we invited ITS’ Director of Operations, Peter Swarowski, to share how we found success in this balancing act. Based on our company’s experience, we’ll answer questions such as:
- How often should you upgrade IT equipment?
- What impacts the longevity of IT equipment?
- How can you make your equipment last?
By the end of this article, you’ll have everything you need to evaluate the state of your IT infrastructure and the power to answer the question: do I really need to upgrade?
How Often Should You Upgrade IT Equipment?
As a general guideline, Swarowski recommends upgrading IT equipment every five to seven years to keep up with the latest technology and avoid any performance issues or security vulnerabilities.
However, certain equipment like laptops, smartphones, or tablets may need more frequent upgrades as they are more frequently used and can quickly become outdated. These may need upgrading every three to five years.
In contrast, equipment like servers, networking devices, or storage solutions can have a longer lifespan, and upgrading them isn’t as urgent. They can often go a full seven years (or more) provided certain conditions - discussed later in this article - are met.
When to Upgrade
Portable/mobile equipment (e.g., laptops, smartphones, and tablets)
Servers, networking devices, or storage solutions
Take note that it’s still essential to assess the performance and functionality of IT equipment regularly. These guidelines are just that – guidelines.
Consider upgrading or replacing it when it:
- Starts to show signs of wear and tear
- Becomes slow or outdated, or
- Can no longer keep up with your business requirements.
What Impacts Your IT Equipment’s Lifespan?
Several factors, according to Swarowski, can impact the lifespan of your IT equipment, including:
1. Quality of the equipment
The quality of the equipment is a significant factor that affects its lifespan. High-quality equipment is generally designed to last longer and withstand wear and tear than lower-quality equipment.
Companies – especially larger and government-regulated companies – should get business-grade equipment instead of consumer-grade.
2. Usage and maintenance
The way you use and maintain your IT equipment directly impacts its lifespan. Proper maintenance, such as regular cleaning, updates, and repairs, can help extend the life of your equipment.
On the other hand, mishandling equipment, dropping, or exposing it to water or other liquids can cause physical damage that may shorten its lifespan.
3. Environmental factors
Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and dust can affect the lifespan of your IT equipment. Extreme temperature changes, high humidity, and exposure to dust and other contaminants can cause equipment to degrade faster.
4. Technology advancements
Technology advancements are also a big factor in the longevity of your IT equipment. As technology advances, older equipment may become outdated and unable to keep up with the latest software and applications. Outdated tech is more likely to experience failures that affect your business productivity, efficiency, and bottom line. In addition, it can’t handle new and sophisticated forms of cybercrime.
5. Company needs
Lastly, your company's needs directly affect the lifespan of your equipment.
“You may not get that full lifetime out of something like a firewall because your needs may change,” Swarowski said.
Even if a piece of equipment is still perfectly functional, if your company grows beyond the equipment’s capacity, it’ll need to be replaced. You must upgrade if you also have new compliance requirements that your old equipment can’t meet.
5 Tips to Make IT Equipment Last
If you want to make your equipment last, here are some tips to help you:
1. Regular maintenance
Perform regular maintenance of your IT equipment, including cleaning, software updates, and virus scans. This will help keep your equipment running smoothly and avoid any performance issues.
2. Proper handling and storage
Handle your equipment with care and store it in a clean and safe environment. Avoid exposing your equipment to extreme temperatures, humidity, or other damaging elements.
3. Upgrade and replace components
Consider upgrading or replacing hard drives, memory, or batteries, as they may become outdated or worn out over time.
4. Use surge protectors
Protect your equipment from power surges by using surge protectors. Power surges can damage your equipment and shorten its lifespan.
5. Avoid overworking your equipment
Don't overwork your equipment by running too many applications or programs simultaneously, as this can cause your equipment to overheat and wear out faster.
6. Invest in high-quality equipment
Investing in high-quality equipment can help ensure that your equipment lasts longer and performs better.
Need to Upgrade Your IT Equipment?
In conclusion, the frequency of upgrading IT equipment varies depending on various factors, such as the type of equipment, its usage, and technological advancements.
As a general rule, it is recommended that companies upgrade their IT equipment every five to seven years to keep up with the latest technology and avoid any performance issues or security vulnerabilities.
However, you should regularly assess the performance and functionality of IT equipment and consider upgrading or replacing it when it starts to show signs of wear and tear or can no longer keep up with your business requirements.
This is why, as a company in charge of keeping other companies’ IT in the best possible shape, we’ve created other IT resources to help businesses maintain their IT network.
Here are some of our free IT equipment resources:
- 5 Signs You Need to Upgrade Your IT Equipment
- Buying Your Own Equipment vs. Buying from an MSP (Pros & Cons)
- Why Should You Upgrade Your Network This 2023? (5 Crucial Advantages)
But if you want immediate, expert advice about your IT equipment, set up a meeting with our IT team so they can walk you through your current IT status.