Keeping Laptops Past Their Useful Lifespan Costs More Than It Saves


Having worked in my fair share of small and medium-sized businesses, I am not at all unfamiliar with some of the practices that smaller organizations are often guilty of. For example, one common misdemeanor would be organizations making IT purchases only when the need arises rather than based on a discrete IT budget or planning.


Also, in an effort to just get things "to work" at the lowest possible cost, many SMBs purchase what are in effect consumer products - say a basic network switch - and then attempt to integrate them into a business-critical environment. In the latter example, I know of at least one instance in which a network switch would "crash" after transmitting a certain amount of traffic.


As troublesome as it is to troubleshoot strange and erratic problems on the SMB network, I have found that a worse problem is the bizarre notion that simply refusing to replace aging equipment would somehow create more value or resultant savings. With the current economic slowdown being a protracted one, this particular issue can only be set to worsen.


Those of you putting together a case to upgrade obsolete laptops will be glad to know that new research from J. Gold Associates has concluded that keeping laptops past their prime actually costs more than it saves. By using a cost model that analyzes the costs of various failures typical of a laptop throughout its operational life, the study worked out the actual cost of repairs, actual usage and failure rates, among other factors.


The key finding that the study uncovered is that the cost of keeping a machine for five years instead of three years actually exceeded the cost of purchasing a new laptop after the third year. Indeed, keeping a laptop computer in years four and five will cost a business an additional $1,050 per device deployed. With the steadily falling prices of new laptops, it does not take a rocket scientist to work out that it is likely to be more than the typical cost of a new laptop. And what's more, outdated equipment will cost an organization some $9,600 in lost user productivity.


Rather than luxuriating in the false satisfaction of saving money by not spending any, perhaps it would be more prudent to critically identify where lost productivity and mounting repair costs are gnawing away at profit margins.