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The Cost of Old IT Equipment

When it comes to your business, watching expenses is crucial. Each and every cost needs to be understood and assessed regularly. In today’s world, we know that IT is a necessary expense, but there’s a hidden cost many businesses may overlook – the cost of using old IT.

When I meet with a client, it’s my job to make sure they understand how IT plays a role in their business. It’s also expected that I provide recommendations so that their IT budgets are maximized. Among the many factors that lead to increased IT costs is keeping and using old technology.

Many businesses may take the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach; however we’ve seen that this can be a costly mistake. As a computer gets older, it will require more and more maintenance to keep running properly. Maintenance costs include the cost of repairing issues and malfunctions, ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting, and lost time spent addressing repeated issues/problems.

Total cost of ownership (TCO) refers to the complete cost of owning something, such as an IT asset. Whether that’s a computer, phone system or software package, the costs of purchasing and installing the product is a direct cost. Managing, updating, fixing and generally using the asset are indirect costs. This all adds up to a total cost of ownership. This value needs to be understood so that decisions can be made on how to best manage an IT asset.

Small businesses are spending on average, $427 per year on older PCs. These costs are commonly ignored or are not taken in to consideration, slowly draining cash flow and adding to the small businesses operating costs, which they then find difficult to afford.

Maybe the computer has slowed down and you hire someone to perform maintenance that speeds it up. Maybe a little later down the road, the hard drive fails. A technician comes in and replaces the hard drive, reloads ALL the information and programs, and gets things up and going. Over the next week, the technician assists with little tweaks here and there to finish and configurations that might have been needed.

Then, your financial software needs to be upgraded, but your desktop computer (now 4 years old) needs a memory upgrade to meet the system requirements. Even with the memory upgrade, you still have to wait for the cursor to respond while the software chugs away. And for some reason you have to reboot twice a day

With each interaction, the costs keep adding up and in the end – you still don’t have a system that can keep up with work demands. The older a PC is, the longer a repair can take, leaving the computer unavailable and your staff non-productive.

Old IT can also leave your business vulnerable to a data breach or cyberattack, like more than 50% of small businesses in the US. Besides increasing your vulnerability to hackers, viruses, malware, and other cyberthreats, using old, outdated hardware puts you at risk of irretrievably losing data and information.

While every business should have a comprehensive, redundant data backup and data recovery plan, many still don’t. Old computers and software are more prone to bugs, crashes, and failures that can mean your precious and irreplaceable data is gone forever.

When your business network is down, how much does it cost you? Lost revenue from missed opportunities, paying employees to sit around while things get fixed, and impact on customer satisfaction can be expensive. Downtime is costly, so replacing old equipment before it fails is a good way to avoid this.

Devices over 5 years old are past their prime, performing 2.5x slower, with 3x less battery life, and wake up from sleep mode 4x slower than new Windows 10 devices.

Keeping software current is important to maximize its efficiency. Software developers work to improve their software by fixing bugs, improving performance and hardening security. These upgrades can improve productivity, add features that help you do your job more efficiently, and keep up with latest security practices. Although there is usually a cost to upgrading your software, the cost of NOT upgrading is usually much higher.

I once had a client who ran a very old software application. They liked it, it did what they needed it to do, and they were used to it. After a number of years, the software broke. They called the software vendor for help – and were told it was “no longer supported”. Desperate, they contacted me for help. After looking into the issue, the team was eventually able to get things working again – but the cost was more than double what upgrading the software would have been.

When considering your IT budget, be thinking about the hidden cost of old IT and consider making a plan to upgrade on your terms and within your budget.

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Matt Rice, CTO

Matt is a graduate of Central Maine Technical College. He has been with Burgess since 2001, acting as Service Manager, then General Manager, before becoming an owner. Matt focuses on developing and delivering technologies that fit best with customer needs.

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