Office Technology Replacement Guide

Maintaining your computer equipment is a high priority. Your company spends thousands of dollars every time you upgrade your equipment, so of course you want to keep it running at peak operational efficiency for as long as possible. You also need to know when it’s time to update, which will vary between types of equipment. Servers, for example, generally have a longer lifespan than desktop computers, and Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) depend on batteries which will need to be replaced over time. Your IT systems are the backbone of operations at your company, they keep you connected and many components are vital to daily activity. You may find yourself asking; when should I replace that laptop, modem or surveillance system? Below you will find an IT Maintenance Guide answering all of those questions.

Computers and Laptops

Desktop computers and laptops serve as workstations for employees. They are used almost every day and are not always in the most forgiving environments. Most tech experts agree that the lifespan for desktops and laptops ranges from 3-5 years. Several factors play into this though, like what you need the computer to do. For example, if desktops only need to meet basic requirements like word processing and light web browsing, they will be able to do those tasks well longer than running graphic-intensive software. Your computer’s life span ends when it no longer meets your needs and upgrading is more expensive than buying a new computer. Often, you have the option to upgrade the computer’s internal hardware to help prolong its usefulness. A new hard drive and RAM upgrade will boost performance significantly. With desktops you also have the option to upgrade the graphics card, laptops aren’t usually as easy to upgrade. You should be sure to keep software up to date, it will help reduce bugs and glitches. This is an important step in protecting against viruses, along with running virus scanning software to check for malware. Driver and BIOS updates will also fix known problems, solve compatibility issues and improve functionality. Keeping the computer clean with regular dusting and maintenance will keep it running at peak operational efficiency. Finally, keep in mind that the quality of computer you buy to begin with matters. An inexpensive notebook will need to be replaced before a high-end business laptop. Always check expert and customer reviews before purchasing a new computer.

Servers

When it comes to servers, life expectancy can vary greatly. Companies that run graphic and RAM intensive software will likely need replacement sooner, as the technology and software demands change. Servers are built to high standards, and most components are upgrade-able. Generally, a server’s lifespan is 3-6 years. Sometimes, with considerable upgrades, servers last as long at 10 years. Recently there has been a shift toward virtual machines and cloud computing, which changes how storage is managed across the network. If your company has multiple servers you may be able to extend their life span by having them share the workload. As with desktop workstations, regular maintenance like dusting, and updates to software and operating systems are a must. When the server is no longer handling your needs you may be able to re-purpose it as a backup machine or to run less intensive software.

Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS)

Uninterruptible Power Supplies can last a long time. There are two main components, the electronics and the batteries. The batteries will often ware out long before the electronics. Battery lifespan is usually only 2-3 years, but they can be replaced. With battery replacements every few years a UPS can last up to 10 years. If you need features that your current UPS doesn’t have, such as SNMP support, then it’s time for a new one.

Routers/Modems

Routers and modems usually last 3-6 years. Sometimes the power adapters or cables fail before the actual units do, so be sure to check those first. Lightning strikes and power surges can also kill them well before that time so be sure to use a surge protector. You will know that it’s time for a replacement router when you have to reset it constantly to keep it working or your wireless will “work” but you’ll see your connection rate at 1mbps no matter how close you get to the router. Modems have similar failures, you will usually lose your ability to connect.

Phone Systems

There are two main phone systems being used today, Hosted PBX systems and on-premise IP PBX. Both have their advantages and drawbacks. The average lifespan of an on-premise system is 7-10 years. The phones themselves can last as long as 20 years, everyone has seen the typical ancient desk phone still in use. When your phone system is Hosted PBX the company you are paying for service is maintaining all equipment other than the phones, and perhaps a connection box themselves. Many small business are using on-premise IP PBX, also known as VOIP, the only regular maintenance on these systems is usually replacing a damaged cord or phone line. As long as the equipment is treated with care phone systems will last many years.

Headsets

In a business setting headsets can last 5-7 years. The technology does not change very rapidly, although changes to style are more frequent. Sometimes they need replacement ear pads or microphone pads. Handling them with some care will help them last.

Digital Surveillance Systems

Modern surveillance systems are quite reliable. Cameras are the main part and their life span depends mostly on where they are located, whether indoors or outside. Cameras located outside are built with durability in mind, but they are exposed to all the elements. In either place, regular maintenance of a fixed camera usually consists of cleaning the outside lens and occasional re-positioning to correct the viewing angle. The camera’s housing will offer protection from dust and dirt, but the outside lens will need to be cleaned. Dome enclosed ceiling-mounted cameras, which can usually pan, tilt and zoom require little maintenance. Usually only an occasional cleaning is needed. The average life span of a solid-state camera is greater than 5 years. Often camera failures occur early in the camera’s life, meaning most camera’s with defects can be replaced under warranty. Cameras also have microphones built-in and these have few issues, they should last as long as the camera. Security software will need periodic updates to fix any bugs. Generally security software will be usable for 3-5 years. Most of the time surveillance systems will need to be replaced due to updated hardware before you replace them due to failure.

Sound Masking

Sound masking systems have a life span of 10-20 years. They are affected by the work space design including the furnishings and materials used. Changes to the layout of the work space usually happen within that 10-20 years so it is important to make adjustments afterwards, verifying that the overall volume is not too low in some areas, affecting speech privacy and noise control, or too high in others, affecting comfort. Older analog masking systems need to be checked periodically, however newer digital systems have consistent output over time. Digital systems allow for fast as easy adjustments from a central control panel or through software.

Speakers for Sound and Paging Systems

The life span of a speaker greatly depends on build quality. The materials used during construction are the determining factor. For example, foam surrounds will likely fail within 10 years. Speakers made with quality rubber and electronic components will last 20 years on average. Like sound masking systems, sound and paging systems need little maintenance. Usually they should be upgraded after 15-20 years due to changes in capabilities and technology.

With all technology investments, proper maintenance will make sure that components stay functional for as long as possible. It is always advisable to read reviews and consult an expert when making new purchases to make sure you are buying a quality product. Our team is available to help! For a free IT consultation, contact us at (630) 518-9600 or e-mail sales@tienational.com today!

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