Every few months, operating system updates are being rolled out. In the past, these updates were only released every 3-4 years and just a percentage of users would upgrade due to the cost and overall hassle. Today, these updates must be installed immediately to ensure data security. If an update or patch is missed, it could lead to catastrophic consequences like we saw in the Equifax data breach.
When older hardware is no longer supported these updates it becomes outdated, reducing it's performance and ultimately making it obsolete. This leads to shorter equipment refresh cycles than ever before. However, new devices can be expensive, and many organizations try to hold onto their devices for as long as possible.
Companies need to take the risks of downtime or failure into account when deciding how long to keep technology before it becomes obsolete. We've put together a basic guideline of equipment lifespans to help organizations decide when the time to upgrade is right.
Average Lifespan of Technology Devices:
- Computers: 3-6 years. With regular software updates, patches, and upgrades, desktop and laptop computers have an average lifespan of three to six years..
- Cell Phones: 1-4 years. Users can easily get three to four years out of a smartphone device, however the average refresh rate is two years.
- CRT Monitors: 5-10 years. A quality Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) can remain in use for five years or more, with an average lifespan of 25,000 to 30,000 hours. However, LCDs have almost completely replaced CRTs and any remaining are most likely on their last leg.
- LCD Monitors: 10-20 years. At 30,000 to 60,000 hours of use, an average Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) can easily last up to 20 years if well maintained. However, although LCDs are smaller and lighter, they are not as durable as CRT monitors, making them more fragile and very easily damaged.
- Printers and Copiers: 5 years. Depending on how often a printer is used and what type of environment it's kept in, the average lifespan of both inkjet and laser printers is around five years. When it comes to floor standing copiers, five years is the generally accepted lifespan as well.
- Hard Drives: 1-6 years. Based on how often an external drive is used, about 80% will last up to four years or longer, and the remaining 20% will sadly live a shorter life. In net hours, a hard disk has a useful life of 20,000 hours. Many different factors contribute to unexpected hard drive failure so backups are always a good idea. Hard drives that see constant up-time like those in servers will wear out sooner. Hard drives in mechanical laptops also see shorter lifespans due to their mobility with bumps and drops, although newer models are coming with solid-state drives which are much more stable.
- Solid State Drives: 3-5+ years. Under normal use, SSDs survive writing and reading over 700TB of data and usually come with a three to five year warranty, but should last much, much longer. That doesn’t mean these drives can't fail due to other reasons, so again, it's important to keep a backup of your data.
- Servers: 3-5 years. On average, a server's lifespan is three to five years. However, it's important to take into account the age of the software. To prevent data loss or unplanned downtime, companies should replace servers before they become unsupported or completely break down.
- Networking Equipment: 3-5 years. Network infrastructure usually lasts about lasts about three to five years to ensure things are up and running efficiently. If you wait much longer than that to refresh your equipment, your risk of downtime skyrockets.
- UPS Devices and Batteries: 3-6 years. A UPS devices usually has a lifespan of four to six years, however the battery typically lasts about three years and should be checked every few months for signs of leakage. Once batteries reach 80% of their initial rating, they rapidly begin to fail.
In with the New, Out with the Old
When it's time to upgrade, it's critical for organizations to have a plan for the old computer equipment. Choosing to retire your IT devices responsibly will help you move forward and thrive with your new equipment, while reaping the benefits of secure, timely and efficient disposal of the old.
If companies refresh their equipment prior to device obsolescence, reuse and resale opportunities are much more likely. Devices in good, working condition can be resold by IT resellers and recyclers to help you recover value. Because electronics depreciate in value so quickly, turnaround time is key. Look for an IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) company who can collect your equipment as soon as it comes offline to ensure the resale value can be taken advantage of immediately.
Securing data on obsolete equipment should also be at the top of your list when deciding how to dispose of devices. The potential for a data breach is equal to if not greater than a protected system still on the network. Choosing a certified ITAD partner will guarantee all data is secured, wiped or destroyed before being resold or recycled. Make sure any data destruction is backed by third-party, audited proof. Any company can provide a "certificate of destruction" on paper and tell you they are certified, so it's important to verify their claim by looking them up in the e-Stewards or Seri's R2 directories.
Avoiding the Risks
Choosing the wrong disposal method for your company's data-bearing devices can be catastrophic. Risks to think about include legal compliance, data security, environmental accountability and stewardship. With multiple laws governing data disposal, regulatory compliance is one area you do not want to mess around with. Your organization is held accountable for all data you've created, collected or stored, even after it leaves your possession. When it comes to environmental risks, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) holds the original generator liable for improperly disposed equipment, no matter who was used as the recycler or broker.
Working with an R2 or e-Stewards certified electronics recycler or resale company will protect your data and keep you in compliance. Whichever route you take, a safe and secure disposal plan for your organization's obsolete IT equipment will protect your company, your customers and your community.
At SEAM, we are certified by both R2 and e-Stewards to handle obsolete technology devices. If you are planning an equipment refresh or just have a stockpile of older IT assets to clear out in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Iowa or Nebraska, let us safely and securely manage the disposal process. Contact us for a free quote to remove, recycle or resell your equipment.