Upgrade or Splash Out?

By: Ken O'Brien

Upgrading PCs or servers is not always a black and white issue. I had a call from someone recently asking me about an upgrade. His own IT support company was keen to get him to move on to the next generation of servers with all the associated costs. As it turned out he was his own worst enemy. The server itself was fine, but suffering from having long-forgotten projects from another long-forgotten server stored on it. With a bit of housekeeping it will be up to the task for at least another two years.
Still it made me wonder how much we IT companies feed this next-generation idea ourselves? It's almost like the three year trade up with a car. My own test machine goes back to 1998 and is still alive and kicking. I'd struggle to use it as a daily work machine but as long as I keep backing it up I can't see any reason why it won't get to double figures.
Given that many small businesses trust an IT "consultant" or "expert" how often would we look at giving it a spring clean and a little bit of upgrading? To my mind any machine that is 2-5 years old is worth considering in this way.

If a business is set on new equipment or if that is the only genuine option then there is no argument, however if the machines are functioning, albeit slowly, then the alternative option of hardware upgrades really needs to be pointed out.
Now I am not talking about full upgrades although some people love nothing better than to rip out the guts of a machine and rebuild it. I am talking about adding some extra horsepower to let the machine run for another few years. Considering that the cost of a new hard drive and extra memory will certainly come in under 200, whether we are talking euros, pounds or dollars, that could be an attractive alternative for some small businesses.
From a financial point of view this may not always seem prudent but I am in the business of building trust and developing long-term relationships. Attempting to extract as much profit as possible could prove short-sighted. Small business needs to be aware of options where they exist. Our knowledge of IT is the reason these companies talk to and trust us. If we only see the bottom dollar on every transaction we may not be providing the customer with the best service.
To that end we need to make sure that the recommendations we provide are based on all the factors that affect that customer because that makes good business sense.

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