Extending the Service Life of your Computer Equipment

Extending equipment service life is a great way to minimize on cost. Following is a summary of what to do to help extend the life of computer and network hardware. We are happy to help you with any of the following.

Network Hardware

Keeping computer and network equipment cool is the best way to prolong it’s service life.

When used in a typical office environment, network hardware such as routers, firewalls, network switches, print servers and similar items have a service life of about 3 to 5 years. When one of these fails, it can be a problem. Sometimes the hardware is highly specialized. When this is the case, it is a good idea to keep a spare on hand. In any event, you will help yourself by replacing this kind of equipment on a 3 to 5 year basis. It is also a great idea to conspicuously note the date a piece of network equipment was placed in service. This way you can plan for the time to replace.

Computer Workstations and Servers

There are several ways you can extend the service life of your computer equipment. Following is a brief and general overview.
Perform a detailed scan and removal of viruses, spyware, unneeded utility software and disable non-vital updates. Performance degradation due to added programs, viruses spyware, and pointless updates are among of the main reasons people replace computers.

Periodically remove unneeded temp files. Make sure there is about 15% or more overall free space on your computer’s hard drives. Being short on drive space can cause the computer to slow drastically.

Add RAM up to the practical limit of the computer or OS. All computers get a performance increase from adding as much RAM as is practical for the computer's use. RAM is the single best way to increase performance.

On computers which large files are often used, it helps performance to defragment the hard drive every few months. This can be automated.

Add a 2nd drive to use for temp and swap files. Many programs such as Photoshop, AutoCAD, and even Windows itself get a noteworthy performance boost when they can send their temp files to a fast separate local hard drive.

Replace the following components after about 4 years:

Power supplies.
Cooling fans.
Computer hard drives.

The items above have a fairly predictable life and one can get a significant increase in longevity by replacing these items. Every couple of years it is also a good idea to clean the dust from computer fans. This helps to keep them spinning at the right speed, keeping the computer cooler. The fans used on many video adapter cards are often 1" to 2" in size and they tend to fail after a couple of years.

Rebuilding the operating system

Generally you would rebuild or replace the operating system to solve problems that can’t be otherwise resolved in a timely manner.

If the computer’s drive is more than 2 years old, and you are going to do a rebuild anyway, it is always worth while to replace the drive at this time. If performance gains are a goal, use the latest generation of SSD drives. You'll be pleasantly surprised by how much faster a computer is with one or two of these drives.

What to do for Notebooks

Notebook computers can benefit from the same features that benefits desktop computers. The best single thing to do to extend the life of notebook computers is to replace the cooling fans after about 3-4 years. In addition, cleaning dust from the computer fan and anything that accumulates under the keyboard can add a lot to the service life. When working with notebook computers go with OEM parts if at all possible. After market parts are often quirky and fail too quickly.

What to do for Servers

The method for extending the life of servers is similar to what is noted above. They have a practical service life of 4 to 5 years. After this replace parts as noted above. Servers can be very complex in their impact on a company. It is a very good idea to get an impartial assessment of particular needs for servers if they are in service 4 years old or more.

Maintaining reliable backups is a core ingredient of extending the service life for computers. Backups should be tested periodically but few do.

Helping to extend the service life and reliability of your network is one of our specialties!

Call TSL Systems at 206-763-8874 and schedule an appointment.