Budgeting for Computer Hardware Replacement
Computer hardware and operating systems continue to evolve and need replacement due to old equipment and to meet new security standards. Sometimes it can come as a shock to see the expense involved in replacing office equipment. Computer hardware has a life expectancy, and operating systems are not supported indefinitely, so budgeting for replacement is a necessity.
Servers and workstations should be expected to last 5 years. An organization may choose to replace equipment more frequently, but generally no longer than that timeframe. As little as 15 years ago, a 3 year cycle was the norm for Windows based systems. Now, equipment can generally be expected to last longer. They may need replacement sooner, or may last longer in fortunate circumstances. However, the expectation should be 5 years; and that is helpful in determining a budget for this expense. An office may replace some equipment each year, or all at once; but allocating monetary funds should be done annually or even monthly. Plan for the eventual cost and try to keep abreast of current hardware pricing at least on an annual basis to avoid unpleasant surprises and adjust the budget as necessary. This reduces the burden of how to pay for new equipment when it is eventually replaced, and also grows a fund in case of equipment failure not covered by warranty before the scheduled replacement cycle.
Operating systems have a well-defined lifetime. These are generally broken into 5 year segments, which is another reason to adopt a 5 year replacement cycle. Microsoft generally allows 5 years of mainstream support and another 5 years of extended support. Mainstream support can include new features, while extended support is limited to defect corrections and security vulnerabilities. Windows Server 2008 R2, for example, is already out of mainstream support which ended January 13, 2015. Extended support for this operating system will end January 14, 2020. While this operating system can still be purchased from some vendors; it is becoming less attractive as a choice due to end of life in 4 ½ years. Windows server operating systems are released alongside client operating systems, generally a few months after the client system is released (Windows 7/Server 2008 R2, Windows 8.1/Server 2012 R2, Windows 10/Server 2016). Replacing both in the same general timeframe often works best, with workstations replaced in phases so users can get acclimated to newer operating systems.
A local technician or IT company should be able to assist you with evaluating your expected hardware and software upgrade needs for budgeting purposes.