Is old computer hardware costing your business a small fortune in lost revenue, reduced productivity and compliance costs? In this article, we examine the impact of continuing to use old, outdated computers and software for business purposes. We also discuss three tell-tale signs that your computer is probably past its prime, and needs replacing.
Waiting for a slow computer to do something is just mildly irritating, most of the time. However, research by YouGov1 found that old, slow computers cost the UK economy over £35 billion every year. That’s the equivalent of one day’s work lost every month.
Every delay costs money
Over the years, the graphics, processing power, storage, security and reliability of computers have steadily improved while the costs have come down. At the same time, the demands we make on our computers have greatly increased. Research by Pegasystems found that the average employee switches between 35 applications an astonishing 1,100 times every day2. Imagine a 3-second delay each time an employee switches between one task and another using an old PC. That is 3,300 seconds or 55 minutes lost productivity X every employee X every working day.
An expensive lesson
Let’s say, for example, you run a business that employs 10 office workers. You pay them an average £10 per hour. They work 8 hours a day for 220 days a year. Each worker loses an hour’s productivity every day due to legacy hardware and software. That’s the equivalent of £22,000 wasted annually. If your devices are out of warranty, and you don’t have access to technical support then you could be in big trouble when something goes wrong.
Three warnings signs
Computers are much more robust and reliable than they were 20-years ago. Nevertheless, as computers age their performance and reliability gradually degrades. Below you will find three common warning signs that your computers need replacing:
1. Slow startup, slow shutdown
If your computer takes a long time to boot up and shut down then it might need replacing. However, this can also be a symptom of your operating system running too many applications in the background. On closer examination, many of these programs might be running unnecessarily. It’s incredibly easy to switch off unneeded apps in Windows 10. Just go to Settings and then Startup. Switch off any apps you don’t need. If you are not sure, don’t disable anything. Ask your IT department or Service Desk for help.
2. Inability to multi-task
If your computer has difficulty running two or more applications simultaneously then it is probably time for a replacement. Similarly, if your computer has trouble switching between multiple open tabs on your browser then it’s a warning that something is wrong. Of course, some applications are just more resource hungry than others. Old computer hardware will often struggle to load and run the latest software applications.
3. Strange behaviour – it could be malware
If your computer suddenly develops performance issues or starts behaving erratically then it can be a sign of malware or a computer virus. Unfortunately, ageing hardware and software is increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attack. The longer a piece of hardware or software is publicly available, the more time cyber-criminals have to study it, and find weaknesses to exploit. Today, thousands of businesses and individuals continue to use Microsoft’s obsolete Windows 7 operating system. However, since January 2020 Microsoft stopped all technical support, upgrades and security patches. This makes Windows 7 increasingly vulnerable to attack. If you are still using Windows 7, now is the time to upgrade to Windows 10.
Penalties for non-compliance
Failing to use the latest, fully supported versions of hardware and software can land you in hot water with the regulator if you suffer a data breach. According to the UK’s Data Protection Act (DPA) 20183, organisations must implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to secure the data they hold.
Depending upon the nature of the data breach, there are two tiers of fines imposed upon organisations:
Up to €10 million or 2% of annual global turnover, whichever is greater.
Up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is greater.
Individuals, as well as organisations, can be prosecuted under the DPA, and receive a hefty financial penalty for non-compliance.
Repair or replace?
If your old computer is out of warranty, and it suddenly needs a repair, you might find the costs outweigh the benefits. The replacement cost of a single component including shipping and labour might exceed the price of a new computer. Computer leasing is an attractive business option for replacing multiple PCs. There is no large capital outlay, 24/7 technical support, next business day replacement, accidental damage cover, enterprise anti-virus, and web security protection as standard. Each new computer is setup to match the user’s requirements.
Finally, a ZenBusiness4 survey found 40% of respondents said they have thought about changing job because of the inadequate state of IT where they work. Keeping old computers and software limping along when they are long past their best is short-sighted, costly and generally bad for business.