As a rule of thumb, most small business owners plan on replacing their computers every five years. However, depending upon the type of business you have, or the software applications you use most, you may need to upgrade more often. In the world of business technology, a great deal can change in a couple of years. Here are a few questions that should help you determine if itís time to bite the bullet:
Take the Plunge
- Is your PC adequate for your current needs? Does it perform reliably? If you have the feeling your technology is limiting your business capabilities or if you face problems when itís time to share data, itís time for a change.
- Can your computer manage your future needs? If you donít see any changes ahead in the way you use your computer, your PC may be fine for a few more years. However, if there are new work processes that your computer canít handle, determine if the age of your PC is prohibiting you from using more efficient, effective, and cheaper ways to do various things.
- Can you easily find spare parts or add new peripherals to your PC? The older your hardware is, the more difficult and costly it becomes to find the software, peripherals, and technical support you need to keep it running. If you have special applications or proprietary hardware, it may not only be expensive to find a technician that can work on your PC, but the expertise you need may not be readily available anymore.
- What about support for the software that runs on your PC? Take a look at the programs your business relies upon most. Make sure they are not approaching the cut-off date for support from their manufacturers. You probably know that Microsoft is cutting off security support and product updates to your operating system for Win98 this summer, but you may have other applications that soon will have no manufacturer support. If you make use of proprietary file formats, what do you plan to do when the formats you use are outdated and not supported by any current application?
If it is time to invest in new hardware, take heart. If you havenít looked at prices lately, you might be surprised to see how much your hard-earned dollars can buy. If you look at the larger vendors, youíll see systems for around $300-$400 that are at least 5 times faster than your old system.
On the downside, it can be daunting to contemplate moving data from your old system to a new one. It may be a tedious task but it is important to tackle every few years. By upgrading and updating your entire system - hardware and software applications - when it is necessary, youíll ensure that your data remains viable and accessible in the future. After all, none of your data will be any use at all, if itís firmly locked inside old file formats that wonít yield to current software, or if you need help retrieving data and your software supplier is no longer in business. Better to tackle a tedious project now than wrestle with an impossible one later!