3 Years is a Lifetime

We used to consider three to five years as the useful lifetime for a desktop/laptop computer and five to seven years as the useful lifetime for a server. Forget about mobile devices, which seem to become obsolete before you buy them. For computers and servers, a lifetime is getting shorter.

Since the dawn of the computer age, hardware and software have always had a push-pull effect on each other. When one party makes a significant advance in capability and/or speed, the other is forced to catch up – and maybe raise the ante. Faster, more sophisticated application software requires faster, more powerful computing systems to give you all the productivity benefits that can increase your profitability. Faster, more powerful computing systems can make you wonder why your application software is slow, leading you to demand more robust software from publishers. It just goes on and on.

For business and home users, we’re looking at three years now for the useful service life of a computer, and for businesses, we’re looking at shorter lifetimes for peripherals, such as printers. Some companies may tend to keep printers around longer because their basic function hasn’t changed. They print documents, and most printers in use today have enough speed to satisfy most offices.

But they don’t have enough processing speed to satisfy the software systems that feed them the files to print. With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, there is less and less “backward compatibility” to handle older printer drivers or to upgrade printer drivers for newer computers or software. As a result, you need to look at the useful operating life of your printers in addition to your operating system, your application software and your computer. At some point, you’ll be looking at security, too, because your OS and your printer drivers will no longer be supported with bug fixes and security patches.

At some point, too, your computer system and your Wi-Fi system will not match the speed of your Internet connection. Gigabit speeds are becoming more readily available from multiple providers, and competition will ratchet up the speed and cut the price. In practical terms, you are going to demand more speed from your equipment and network because it will increase your business’ productivity or because it will better handle all the streaming needs in your home – such as movies, TV programs and educational and gaming activities.

We can fine-tune equipment only up to a point. After that, you are going to need new hardware and maybe new software. And then, you will begin the cycle again.

As for mobile devices, they are changing rapidly, too. And as companies such as Apple and Samsung wage performance and feature wars, there will be more pressure on each of them to make significant improvements with each new upgrade they release. We’re already seeing how this war affects a company’s stock price, resulting in shareholder pressure as well as customer pressure to be better and cheaper in a shorter product-rollout cycle.Whether at home or at the office, you need to start looking at a three-year cycle for most of your hardware and software – and look at how your systems integrate with mobile devices, which are being used increasingly for tasks normally done on a computer. We can help you with a technology assessment of your business, your home or both – and look at how your systems need to integrate with mobile devices. Our assessment will give you a planning guide to devise a timetable and budget to keep your systems current with your needs. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to set up an appointment.