Your server sits in the corner, humming away and gathering dust — until it breaks down. Chances are you don’t remember the exact year you bought it. But if your server is the same age as your 13-year-old, it’s time for a new one. Servers need to be replaced every four years. You may be able to stretch it to five years at the absolute maximum.
If it’s been more than five years, expect it to break down any moment, a failure that will cost you much more than a proactive replacement. There’s a reason servers only come with three-year warranties — they are designed to fail. There are entire positions at manufacturing companies devoted to predicting when a server will fail, and when the warranty should expire.
When your server fails, your business systems fail
In addition to losing valuable data, you may not have time to choose the hardware you actually want. You’ll have to go with whatever is available in the moment, and will get you up and running again as quickly as possible. Emergency measures are almost always more expensive than preventative measures. We see people wait too long to upgrade their servers because they haven’t failed yet. Maybe you had no idea your server was so old. It’s understandable. Replacing your server is a costly and time-consuming task. But we still think it’s better to prevent the spill than spend your time cleaning up the mess.
4 signs it's time for a new server:
1. It’s slow and noisy. Beyond this being a sign that you need a new server, a slow system also hinders your productivity. Your employees will take longer to perform simple tasks on your network, reducing your billable hours and increasing your frustration. As your server ages, it will also start to make more noise. You’ll start hearing your fan drive and hard drive working hard. Use this as a sign you need to back up your data and start shopping for a server replacement.
2. You spend too much time troubleshooting. If you spend the first hour of your day coping with server crashes, employees getting kicked off the network and other problems, it’s time for a new server. Your server should run seamlessly in the background, not dominate your day.
3. It fails. This is the obvious one. If it starts smoking or melting or goes completely dead, it’s gone for good. You’ll pay more fixing this emergency than you would if you just replaced your server. You’ll also pay for the time your employees spend offline.
4. It’s just old. Even if your server appears to be working well, it could be on the verge of failing. In fact, it gets closer to failing every day. Manufacturers build hardware to fail after warranty and have statisticians help them calculate what’s called mean time between failure (MTBF). This just means the number of hours the server will work until it doesn't anymore.
Server support comes down to productivity
Most businesses rely on computers to accomplish everything, whether it be ringing in sales, taking orders or completing a balance sheet. Without computers, we are stuck. If your employees can’t work because of a malfunctioning server, you’ll lose money. You’ll pay your staff their regular salaries to do menial work that doesn’t involve a computer.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you have 10 staff members and they make an average of $30 per hour for an eight-hour day, five days a week. 10 x 8 = 80 hours per day x $30/hour = $2,400 per day in lost productivity. You should also know that it can take up to 10 days to acquire new hardware if your server warranty has expired. Hardware shortages like we experienced in 2013 could extend the wait. During that wait, you could miss out on a big order from a customer, who will probably march over to your competitor.
Even if you do back up your system often, a server crash could compromise data from the last day’s work.
What to consider before replacing your server
Consider the cloud. Before purchasing a new server, consider moving your network to the cloud. Instead of physically storing your data and applications on a server in your office (or the basement of your office), you’ll store these assets in the cloud. You’ll avoid having to update your server every four or five years. All that said, the cloud can be expensive for a small business owner because you need to cover the cost of backup and data security.
Try leasing. If you do decide to buy another server, consider buying more data capacity and power than you need so that you’ll have room to grow. Assume that your business will expand, seeing as that’s probably already your goal. If the prospect of purchasing a new server outright is too costly, look into the option of leasing. You will have to make monthly payments but at the end of your contract, you can decide whether you’d like to keep the server or upgrade to a new one.
Plan for disaster. Even if your server is brand new, you should plan for worst case scenarios such as fire, flood or loss of power. Can your employees work remotely in these cases?
Overwhelmed with decisions?
Drop us a line. We’re happy to chat about server support, the cloud and disaster recovery. Our clients benefit from not having to worry about when to replace their servers — we cover that in our strategic planning.
Topics: Business Continuity
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