One of the undeniable realities of technology is that the hardware we build is intrinsically frail. It all eventually fails. The Romans built roads and buildings that lasted millennia, but our tablets, phones, laptops, and desktops are brittle and, under the best of circumstances, will last only a few short years. The device you are using to read this article will fail, and maybe soon. And when it does, the user who has a contingency plan will be far better off than someone who didn’t plan for the inevitable failure. Is your business ready for hardware failures?
All of the information your company uses on a daily basis is stored on a device somewhere. That device may be in your office, a server closet or hosted somewhere in the cloud, and you can be certain, one day, that device will fail. It is inevitable. The data on your devices is your most important intangible asset, and it can be very difficult or impossible to replace if lost. It is the lifeblood of your business and, for some companies, data is the only real differentiator.
The difficulty businesses face is that there is no way to predict the exact time of failure. Every device type has an expected lifespan, but variations in travel, ambient heat, quality of manufacturing, humidity etc., all affect the actual life of a device. There are many stories of laptops that seem to last forever, but there are far more stories of devices failing or having an unexpected accident that puts their data at risk – even some that are new.
People are naturally optimistic and push off preparing for failure because they expect they are the exception and their device will last a little longer. It is the same reason so many people are caught off guard without flood or life insurance. They never contemplated a worst-case scenario or ask the question, “What if the worst happens?”
So, what will happen if your server or laptop crashes and the data is unrecoverable? The first step in preparing for the inevitability of hardware failure is to ensure you have copies of all your data. It is by far the most important step, and it is a key part of a full disaster recovery plan. Data is not just the Excel and Word documents. It is your customer data, audio, video, contact information, emails etc.; it is everything you use to conduct business.
A little preparation now will go a long way towards preventing a business catastrophe later in the event of a sudden failure. After regularly backing up your data, it can be cost effective to replace all of your hardware on a schedule to reduce your overall long-term support costs and the risk of extended downtime and loss of productivity in the event of an unexpected failure.
Below are some hardware replacement recommendations:
- Desktops: three to four years
- Laptops: two to three years
- Servers: three to four years
- Switches, routers, wireless devices: four to five years
While your devices may last longer, a replacement schedule will help prevent unpleasant surprises and reduce costs. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. . . and likely to be much cheaper in this case.