The eternal question for many small business owners who want to get every bead of sweat out of their IT assets before having to replace them.

So how long should your IT equipment last?

The answer is, of course, it depends (again). However, let’s explore a few different factors to consider when determining the shelf life of your servers and other IT equipment.

A good guide to consider is the manufacturer’s warranty. This tells us how long the manufacturer is prepared to support and warrant their own products. Any more than that and your equipment is batting above its average.

Now most of the warranties are quite short and this does not mean your equipment will not last longer but is quite simply past its absolute best in terms of maximum performance and reliability.

Now, of course, different pieces of IT equipment come with different lengths of warranty. But on average here is a guide on what you can expect from the major brands and for a server that is looked after and maintained.

Servers: 3–5 years

Laptops :3 years

Desktop PCs: 3-5 years

Printers: 3 years

Networking equipment: 3–5 years

Mobile Phones: 2-3 years


Another factor that many business owners factor in when considering replacing servers and other IT equipment is how many years they depreciate the asset. This does not always mean you should recycle a server when it is fully depreciated if it is working fine, but it will give you a good idea. It may mean that you use that server for something else, perhaps a different workload that is not quite as critical to your business.

The bottom line

I am not talking about your profit margins, although getting this wrong could impact on that. What I mean by “the bottom line” is this:  what is poor performing/faulty/tired/unreliable IT equipment costing your business?

How long could your business survive if your server stopped working overnight? Sure you can buy a new one and have all your backups restored (you have tested/working backups right?) but that could take days. Could you operate without a key server for 3-5 days? How long are your staff waiting around for PCs to load in the morning? How many more times is that printer going to break and cause more headaches in the office?

So when is a good time to replace all of this?

There is, of course, an optimum time to replace equipment based upon usability and reliability and it not always possible to predict this. However, we have a pretty good idea as by monitoring these things, we can see how they are performing and how often they may be failing. This is just the kind of thing our Net Admin team are looking out for.

So how do you budget for this?

The best way to manage and budget for this is to plan at the time of purchase. By having a refresh plan in place will allow you plan well in advance and enable you to budget and plan. This removes the nasty surprise and pain of a server failing and needing replacing or slow PCs and unhappy users.

There is nothing worse for a company to all of a sudden try and find the money for a new server when it fails and the business wholly relies on that server to operate.

Things to avoid

There are times when you have to but where possible you want to avoid sticking plasters on things in the vain hope it will resolve the problem and give you another 1 or 2 years’ life out of a failing server. The same can be said of PCs and even more so out of laptops. The longer you leave these things that higher the risk of a major failure and potential data loss.

If you calculate the cost of lost time and productivity from such incidents it really is not worth stretching out the useable life out of any of your IT equipment.

How BCS help our clients manage this process

There are two ways BCS will help our clients manage this process:

  • Our Quarterly Business reviews will help you plan and understand your IT assets and where they are in their useable expected life and when to start planning for a refresh.

Our Managed Services Support also ensures that we are monitoring and supporting your IT equipment 24/7 365 days a year and we more often than not identify a fault before it happens. This will ensure you get the very most out of your assets and with the help of our Net Admin team ensure that you get every single penny’s worth of value.

To learn more about our managed services and our Support plus plans click here.



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