The question businesses and individuals fail to ask as often as they should is "Is the hardware outdated?" Surprising as it may seem to some people, many do not understand that computer hardware can become outdated or that outdated hardware could shut down their business for some period of time. Especially in a time when such a large portion of everyone's business is tied up with the internet or with their networks and systems, old hardware can cause problems.
The current rule of thumb about the life of a computer is 3 years. I think that can depend on how you use the computer or the network in your business. Back in the days when computers were used primarily for word processing functions or simple database applications, outdated hardware might not matter too much. But in today's business environment â€“ in fact, even in personal use environments â€“ your hardware can make or break your business.
Let's consider some of the ways outdated hardware can affect your business.
1. Your monitor fades or flickers. This is incredibly irritating. Either your monitor or your graphics board could be the problem. Monitors wear out, just like TVs. An old graphics board might not have the sophistication or power to handle the more enhanced graphics used today.
2. Your computer keeps shutting down. How much work have you lost because your computer shut down while you were in the middle of something? How many sales did you lose because your system was down for 6 hours? Where do you have accessories plugged in? Does the port have its own power source? Is that power source adequate to run the accessory?
3. You keep losing your internet connection. Do you really think all those websites are having that many problems? It might not be your internet service provider. The problem might be outdated DSL hardware. We are communicating faster and faster every year. An old DSL modem can easily cause connection problems.
4. Your files start looking like someone translated them into Cyrillic or something. This is probably a symptom of a dying hard drive. When a hard drive dies, you stand to lose some or all of your files â€“ program files and data files.
5. Does your computer slow down or lock up when you have three programs open? If so, you are probably running low on memory. Memory is another capacity of computers that is being upgraded constantly. Don't confuse storage with memory. The more sophisticated and complex the graphics and other files become, the more memory they require. Chances are that an older system will have far less memory than newer models.
6. Your printer can't understand what your computer is telling it to do. This problem can reside in the printer, in the cable connecting the computer to the printer, in the print drivers, or in the printer memory. Don't you just hate finishing a spectacular report and not being able to print it?
7. It takes forever for your programs to do as instructed. It is very frustrating to sit and wait while you computer saves a file or updates something. If you find that your programs are running exceptionally slowly, it could be because you don't have enough memory, or because your processor is outdated. Older systems have less memory and slow processors.
8. The flyer you just approved seems to have different colors or the lines are not as sharp. You probably have an old graphics card; or your monitor may be low-resolution. Either can cause color distortion and loss of sharpness.
9. You are working away fine until your computer suddenly locks up. This can result from any of several causes. Your computer could be overheating, or you could be out of hard drive space, or you could be using outdated software. You probably find that the only solution is to shut down the computer and reboot. But you'll probably lose what you were working on.
10. If your computer locks up without any error message or other apparent explanation, it could be a sign of a RAM (Random Access Memory) problem. But it could also be an indication that there is a problem in the system board.
These are just some of the ways outdated hardware can cause problems for system users and for businesses. Keeping your system up to date and having it checked regularly can help you avoid expensive problems.
Thomas Burns, founder and CEO of Intelligent Networks Services (INS) has been an industry expert in computer network and technology for over 20 years. Under his careful supervision, INS has become a leading, full service IT support company servicing small to mid-sized businesses in Silicon Valley. For more information go to: http://www.intelligentns.com/subscribe and receive a complimentary network evaluation.