Four Ways to Tell When Your IT Needs Upgrading For Business
by Robert McNicholas on June, 13 2014
Computers can be like old shoes: we like them so much that we’re reluctant to replace them. We’re used to them; we know how they work, and we don’t want to break in a new pair (or a new PC). But also like old shoes, your IT system has a definite lifespan. How can you know when it is time to start upgrading to a newer model?
Of course, one major factor will be your budget. Few of us have the resources to buy a shiny new computer or redo our networks every year or two. If you’re not sure about what you can afford at this point, apply the following signs on an item-by-item basis to your current setup.
Is Your IT Holding Your Business Back?
This is the million-dollar question: is your IT helping you meet your business goals, or is it hindering your progress? Here are a few ways to tell if your system is due for an upgrade:
- Time: Is your system s-l-o-w? If it seems to take a decade or so for pages to load on your web browser, this could be an Internet speed problem, or it could signify that your computer isn’t up to the demands of today’s technology. How can you eliminate poor Internet service as a potential cause? Load several programs at once—for example, a word processor, a browser, a music player, and your antivirus program. A relatively new computer will allow you to open these programs and will switch between them with very little lag. If your computer struggles to run multiple programs at one time, it could be time for an upgrade. If your PC breezes through this test, but your browser is still slow, check out your network or your Internet connection (or have a pro do it for you).
- Space: Have you outgrown your IT? With modern hard drives being measured in TBs and GBs, storage shouldn’t be a problem for the average small business. And if it is, there are cloud-based and onsite archive solutions that can help you out. But if you have more people than you have functioning workstations to put them, you may need to consider expanding or updating your IT structure. It’s a brave new world of IT out there; this expansion can give you an opportunity to move into an even more efficient and secure IT setup.
- Sound: Can you hear your PC complaining? Some noise is normal for your average laptop or desktop. You’ll usually hear the fan come on or the DVD drive spin around. But if your computer starts getting louder or hotter, or if it develops new noises, this could be a sign that internal parts are nearing the end of their lifespan. Again, have a pro check it out for you.
- Compatibility: Can you run standard programs and operating systems? If you’re feeling left out because you’re running an XP-based laptop, you’re not alone. But once a program is no longer supported by its maker (provided with regular updates and improvements), it quickly becomes a security liability. Rather than risk losing data or functionality, it may be time to move to a system or app that is fully up to date.
Upgrading your IT system can be done piecemeal as you fix whatever needs it most, or it can be done in one wide sweep. Before you make the final decision, ask yourself:
- Do I have room in my budget to upgrade all my IT, or should I perhaps work it in over the course of the fiscal year?
- What really needs to be upgraded, and what can I live with?
- If I upgrade to a new operating system or start using some unfamiliar software, how much time and training will it take to get my staff on board?
Don’t let underperforming IT slow your business down. Like a new pair of shoes, an upgraded IT system can have you running faster than ever.