The MBA Guide to IT

Episode 7 – How often should I refresh my hardware?

I once had a clerk offer me a $10 service plan on a $20 pair of headphones.  I said no.

So, how often should I refresh my hardware, and when does a service plan make sense?

That computer you bought last year won’t last forever and often it becomes obsolete before it breaks.  When budgeting, you should plan for a specific life cycle for each piece of hardware or software you purchase.

For PCs, your power users may need a new PC every 3 years.  For employees who mainly access the web, 5 years or more is not uncommon.  One of the things the cloud has done is moved the computing from your desktop to the cloud so it’s not uncommon to see a 7-year old PC that’s running fine.

Servers vary depending on use.  5 years is common.  Major companies that are compute-intensive purchase new servers every time a new CPU comes out because it makes them more efficient.

When your HW breaks, what happens next?

If it’s mission critical equipment like a server, you need a service plan that restores operation within a set time span, perhaps just a few hours.  You may hear this called your “Recovery Time Objective.”  It depends a lot on whether you have other equipment ready to pick up the slack and the chance that the 2nd piece of equipment will fail while you’re fixing the first one.

PCs can be much looser.  You can buy a warranty, buy a few spares, or run out and buy a new one.  (Just don’t put business data on a consumer PC – you need the right operating system and you need a security chip called a TPM.)  A common middle ground is to buy a 3-year warranty and plan to replace any PC that dies after that.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the real money sink….software.

Episode #7 – 12/19/2018

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