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When to Upgrade Your Computer Hardware

When to Upgrade Your Computer Hardware

Andreas Krebs | SmallBizLink

November 11, 2009

Businesses big and small hate having to answer the question, “Is it time to upgrade hardware?” Even trickier is the quandary of upgrading to current industry standards (if they haven’t dipped below it yet), or to project ahead and buy what will still be useful years down into the future.

Technological advances in computers and in networking hardware has rapidly exploded from the computer’s early days. Whereas before, machines could be in place, last for years down the road and still be productive, today’s technology marches forward so quickly that a lot of machines dating as recently as five years ago can be deemed obsolete. When one considers the money that some invest in a computer system, hundreds of dollars can be a pricey sum given that several computes will be needed to fuel a company right. That also hasn’t even factored in the need for newer software, such as upgrades to a new suite of tools for a new generation.

This rapid rate of obsolescence is worrying for firms who need to improve to better machines. It can dramatically alter the way they work, for one. If a set of PCs are all still running on Windows XP, for example, they may find to their surprise compatibility problems with *.docx files from Microsoft Word running on Windows Vista, for example.

Here are some useful pointers to bear in mind before deciding to upgrade.

Age – how old are the computers, inside and out?

The basic rule of thumb is this: What matters isn’t so much the hardware, but the software. It doesn’t always matter what the hardware is like, as long as it can still run the software.

That being said, you have to take that question a step further: can the hardware run the software quickly, efficiently, effectively? To that, it depends: an advanced video production firm will need faster, higher-end machines than a company that needs computers merely as word processors.

A lot of last-generation computers can experience trouble powering up software that it lacks the specifications for. It can be the lack of a proper graphics rendering card for a visual arts computer program. It can be a shortage of RAM to handle fast processes. It can be a LAN card that is a touch slower than the rest. Whatever these concerns, one has to gauge performance.

What needs retooling?

Not all upgrades need to be total lobotomies of the machine. Sometimes, the best approach is to find something that needs improving. It can be a shortage of hard drive memory. It can be upgrading RAM, or replacing a processor. Often times improving one component is massively more efficient in terms of final output than overhauling the entire computer.

The other rule of thumb: so long as the motherboard is working properly and is not totally out of date, you can still handle more advanced components. Once the next generation arrives and a need for better software and hardware comes, that’s when you may need to procure a new computer. Of course, this is bearing in mind how badly one needs optimum performance on software. Like is your company ready for the switch to Window 7 or could virtualization help reduce your server sprawl?

How does one tell what kind of parts to upgrade? Some components have more obvious implications (sound cards, I/O devices) than others (RAM). Consulting with experts and professionals can be useful. Many of them can be reached by telephone, and they can readily answer questions.

Budgets and costs?

As mentioned earlier, different businesses will have different priority sets for their IT divisions, and different sizes of companies will have varied sizes for budgets as well. One of the best ways to go about dealing with hardware procurement will be to take on the help of experts who know how to bring out the best performance with minimal costs on the company’s end. All Covered can help you with your IT strategy as well as your procurement needs. Contact us at All Covered at 866-446-1133