Report: Enterprise PC Lifecycle Should Last Three Years

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The cost of keeping an old PC instead of upgrading to a new one is impacting businesses around the world, according to a survey by Techaisle

A survey of small to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) from market research and consulting company Techaisle found that such companies spend between $326 (£200.50) to $401 (£246.63) per PC on repairs on systems that are older than three years old.

The survey, conducted across seven countries and 630 companies in March 2009, suggested SMEs’ average cost to repair PCs more than three years old can be 1.65 times as expensive as repairing PCs under three years old.

The survey showed on average only 26 percent of businesses within the 1-19 employee size segment have warranties on their PCs that are greater than three years old. The survey also found that the cost to repair and upgrade a PC jumps to $545 (£335.20) for small businesses if the PC being repaired is without warranty and has been upgraded, and the average upgrade cost is $99 (£60.89) per PC.

When asked what the top upgrades were, SMEs mostly cited “adding memory” followed by “adding disk drive capacity”. The top reasons given for upgrading their PCs were “PCs running slow” and “applications demanding more memory”. In addition, respondents said desktops that have been in use for more than three years are more susceptible to attacks from malware and viruses (28 percent), while notebooks are 58 percent more likely to weather a virus attack.

Techaisle also found hardware failure, followed by software crashes, was highest in PCs greater than three years old. Small business respondents with PCs older than three years experienced network card failures nearly eight times that of PCs less than three years old. This was followed by power supply failures, motherboard failures, software crashes and virus attacks. Mid-market respondents experienced a similar trend, with network card failures at six times followed, by power supply failures and motherboard failures.

“While within small businesses, preventive maintenance is left to individual employees, the mid-market businesses rely more on their IT staff and departments to use management tools for effective preventive maintenance,” said Techaisle managing partner and senior vice president, Abhijeet Rane. “What SMEs need to really think about is the planned retirement of PCs to keep their IT systems secure and running optimally.”

A similar survey, released earlier this year by technology analyst firm, J. Gold Associates found many companies are extending the useful life of their laptop computers from the recommended three years to five years in an effort to save on replacement costs. The company said keeping notebooks an additional two years (into years four and five) actually costs $960 (£590.44) per machine, which is equivalent to a typical replacement cost. Further, J. Gold Associates estimated outdated equipment will cost organizations $9,600 (£5,904.44) in lost end-user productivity.

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