When should you upgrade your computers? Should you go with the latest and greatest, or stick with tried and true? As with all business decisions, it comes down to a question of cost vs. benefit. But quantifying the costs and benefits of hardware can be difficult. Here are some factors to consider when you are debating whether or not to upgrade. Upgrading — the Hidden Costs The price tag of your new system isn’t the only cost. There is also the time, energy, and money to migrate your information to your new equipment and set everything up. And are you prepared if something should go wrong during the migration? Can you put a price tag on all your company’s data? Make sure there is a backup copy of your data before you begin transferring anything over. If you are thinking of upgrading just so you can have the latest gear loaded with all the bells and whistles, stop. Unless you have a solid business case for upgrading, your money will be better spent elsewhere. Temporary Measures Adding RAM, or random access memory, which is the memory that allows your computer to perform its tasks, is a great way to speed up your system, and it’s really simple. Most RAM retailers, have online configuration calculators to tell you exactly which RAM your system needs. Once you get the right RAM, it’s just a case of opening your computer case and snapping it in place. You can also add additional devices, such as CD drives and burners and additional hard drives, but these are a bit more complicated than the memory upgrade described previously. If you can’t do the upgrade yourself and need to ask a professional, weigh the costs carefully. Once you factor in the cost of the parts and the labor, you may be better off buying a whole new system. When to Upgrade The rule of thumb should be this: Upgrade when the cost of not upgrading exceeds the cost of upgrading. New hardware should help you work faster and more efficiently. Or maybe you need to upgrade your hardware to run new software applications that will improve productivity. If that is the case, upgrading is your best bet. Similar situations include a broken PC, one that crashes regularly, or one that keeps you from doing the work you need to do. Clearly, in each of these cases, it will cost you more to put off the upgrade than to go ahead with it. If you have crunched the numbers and you need to upgrade, do not just rush out and buy the coolest, fastest, priciest computer on the lot. The best way to put off the inevitable obsolescence of your next computer is to make sure it meets all your business needs. Take a look, not only at your current computing needs, but also at what your future requirements might be. Will you need a full-featured database program in the future? Will you run memory-hogging graphics programs or other special applications? And will your new machine integrate with your current network? Doing a little research at this stage may just save you a lot of money down the road. Also, avoid shopping at the big box stores for business computers. Ask your IT provider or a certified reseller about business class computers. TekTegrity is a certified Dell Premier Partner so we get discounted rates on business class equipment for our clients, your IT provider may be able to do the same. Russ Levanway is the CEO of TekTegrity, Inc. TekTegrity is an IT Strategies and Management firm that provides premium IT services to businesses, government, education and non-profit organization in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Monterey and Kern counties. TekTegrity’s goal is to become your organizations long-term strategic partner by supporting your IT infrastructure with your bottom line in mind. Some of TekTegrity’s services include System and Workstation Installation, Virtual Hosted Servers, Priority Backup, Off-Site Data Replication,, and Total Systems Management™ (TSM). TSM is an industry-leading managed services model that emphasizes proactive and preventative IT support at a predictable fixed monthly fee. For more information about TekTegrity, you can reach them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on the Web at www.tektegrity.com, or by telephone at 805-596-0135.