The popular saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” can be harmful when it comes to technology. Outdated hardware and software may seem functional to the average employee or business owner, but the consequences are inevitable if left unaddressed. Outdated technology risks your business’ operations, security, and productivity.
“The older your computer gets, the more broken it becomes,” says Jason Monroe, Director of Solution Consulting at Bit-Wizards. “The 10 percent that you see on the screen doesn’t tell the whole story. The other 90 percent is the actual hardware, which could be open to security vulnerabilities and processing issues.”
Even though purchasing new hardware may seem expensive, it is far more costly to maintain older systems and deal with possible losses in productivity, downtime, and security-related fallout. As your equipment ages, hardware outages and failure rates increase significantly over time.
How often does hardware need to be updated?
Monroe says it’s best practice to update your hardware every 3 to 5 years, but that frequency can change depending on the needs of your business. If your computer uses more simple programs like Microsoft Word, there’s more flexibility in stretches between updates. For computers that operate programs like Adobe Creative Suite or QuickBooks that require more storage and processing space, more frequent updates may be needed to keep up with the program’s increased demand.
“A quick way to check if your processing performance is degrading is to review your computer’s resource management,” says Monroe. “If your hard drive, CPU, or RAM usage levels are at 75 percent or higher, then it’s time to consider a hardware upgrade.”
Once you decide to upgrade your business’ hardware, the best approach is to update equipment in phases rather than all at once. Instead of spending thousands of dollars to upgrade every piece of hardware within a year, split the upgrades into phases over several years. This phasing will make building the cost into your budget easier without paying to maintain outdated hardware.
The consequences of outdated hardware
Outages and failure rates for outdated hardware increase significantly if your equipment is older. These issues can affect both the productivity and security of your devices.
“On the hardware side, there are built-in security features that protect your data from intruders,” says Monroe. “Older hardware doesn’t have that kind of encryption.”
The lack of built-in protection leaves your computer more susceptible to cyberattacks, and your IT team will spend more time and money maintaining outdated machines instead of meeting the needs of your business. If your business falls victim to a cyberattack, the repercussions are even more impactful.
Another consequence of prolonging a hardware update is a decline in employee productivity. A 2019 survey from ZenBusiness found that employees lost an average of 40 minutes of their workday to outdated technology.
“If I spend even 12 minutes a day fighting with my computer, that’s more than a week of downtime throughout the whole year,” says Monroe. “It may not seem like much when it happens, but the true cost of lost productivity adds up quickly.”
Even though it seems insignificant, a software update can be the difference between protecting and exposing your business operations and information.
“Keeping your software up to date is extremely important,” explains Monroe. “If you’re using software that hasn’t been updated in quite a long time, you are more susceptible to security vulnerabilities."
How often does software need to be updated?
Unlike hardware updates, it is more readily apparent when software updates are needed. Most operating systems and programs notify you when an update is ready to be installed. In general, you should update your software whenever an update is released. An easy solution to stay on top of software updates is to use the auto-update function or set a reminder to check for updates once a week.
The consequences of outdated software
Although it seems harmless, ignoring the latest update for your program or operating system can have catastrophic consequences. Updates often detail what features are changing, and your business is more vulnerable to cyberattacks if the updates include security measures.
“For example, Microsoft puts out an update with a change log that details what’s going to change during the software update,” says Monroe. “If attackers see that the vulnerability is significant, they can use it to get into your system if you don’t update.”
Besides security concerns, avoiding software updates can lead to issues with the compatibility and functionality of programs that fuel your business. Legacy programs that require a cloud connection may only work if your software is updated. If your system operates on an old version of a program or operating system, employees and customers can be affected when compatibility issues lead to crashes and downtime.
Where to go for help
Between hardware and software alone, keeping track of what your business needs can be a full-time job. A managed services provider (MSP) helps by removing the guesswork of maintaining your hardware, software, infrastructure, and more, while you focus on running your business.
The Bit-Wizards Managed IT Services (MITS) team takes it a step further by developing and implementing a network or hardware deployment plan. This planning puts your business ahead of the learning curve for updates and improvements.
“We complete inventory management to know what model of laptop or computer you have, what kind of resources are being utilized on that device, and what devices will need replacement,” says Monroe. “We can see which devices aren’t functioning well and recommend replacements.”
Our IT professionals are proactive in assessing and providing solutions to your business. As trusted advisors, our team strives to be more than just an MSP.
“Our goal is to be the trusted partner for your business, not just a provider or vendor,” Monroe says.
Are you ready to optimize your hardware and software? Get in touch.