Updating vs. upgrading

Updating vs. upgrading

This complex issue often boils down to risk vs. cost

If you're suffering from a recurring computer issue, you've probably wondered whether to update or upgrade. As with any business decision, cost is a major factor. And as with most business decisions, there is more than one cost to consider.

The resolution for many pain points involving your information systems will come down to this choice. Either you update to sustain an aging system or you upgrade to new software/hardware.

Sure, newer stuff will typically work better. That's why we buy it! But patching the problem is typically free, and free is hard to turn down.

Reliability and sustainability

For systems that are current and stable, updates are typically the way to go. Hardware and software components interact with each other constantly. So an update to the functionality of one component often prompts an update to another. This is very normal, and updates like these happen all the time. There are also security updates that even the newest systems need when vulnerabilities in software or hardware are discovered. The work it takes to produce these updates is one of the major reasons support is not perpetually provided for older operating systems, like Windows 7.

Something that is valuable to determine is how long you can sustain your current business operations if something should fail. Understand that the older a piece of equipment is, the more likely it is to have issues. Although as a disclaimer, this certainly is not always the case. We've seen our share of shiny new lemons fresh out of the box!

There is no set date for obsolescence, but we can infer this date by looking at the maximum-length warranties for servers and workstations. We call end-of-life on these systems at seven years for servers, and five years for workstations. And we encourage our clients to maintain the maximum warranties for these systems.

The hidden costs of unstable components

If you've decided to ride your systems into the ground, remember that these systems won't always die a quick and painless death. Productivity is significantly impacted by degrading business systems, not only affecting the time it takes to complete a task, but also the user's ability to focus.

In addition to the productivity cost, when computers go months or years in a significantly degraded state before being replaced, they often undergo extensive troubleshooting. This adds to the labor cost of these machines.

How can you mitigate these costs?

Want to control the costs of depreciating systems? Set a breaking point.

Many of us who have taken an old car to the mechanic can recall having a dollar figure in mind when asking for a repair estimate—a threshold at which point the vehicle would become more expensive to maintain than to replace. It's a good idea to create a similar threshold for computer hardware, to help you make the decision of whether to update or upgrade.

If you'd rather not do the research, weigh the pros and cons, and struggle with wondering if you made the best decision for your company, we can help you with this! We are familiar with the lifespan of hardware and software systems, and can help you choose when to repair and when to replace.

When it comes to decisions like these, having a team you can trust to make the right call for your company is a huge asset. Why go it alone? Let us know how we can help!