Good news: you probably don’t need a three-year refresh cycle on company desktops and laptops anymore. There are plenty of reasons that hardware refresh cycles are expanding. More and more software is operating through the cloud – the server does all of the calculations, and sends the results to the user’s desktop or laptop. Most software isn’t pushing hardware all that hard these days because hardware capabilities have really expanded in the last decade.

In fact, the companies most likely to need a three-year hardware refresh are those that haven’t purchased business-class hardware.  Cheap, consumer-class technology runs fast and fails even faster.  It isn’t that consumer hardware is “slower” – in many cases, it has the same processor.  It just isn’t built as well. The power supplies, capacitors, and motherboard circuitry are cheaper and less reliable.

While extended refresh cycles are great news for businesses, it’s not a license to ignore hardware refresh cycles entirely.  A refresh cycle does two major things for a business: mitigates risk and provides an opportunity to rethink what you should demand from your technology.  Without a refresh cycle, you’ll likely pay twice when things start falling apart – once to stabilize your failing network, and again to replace it.

Many businesses are shifting to a 5-year hardware refresh cycle for desktops and laptops, but this may be too much time for some businesses.  Here are three questions CEOs and CFOs should ask to determine if you should extend your refresh cycle timelines.

How long is our warranty?

There are two reasons warrantied hardware matters.

First, if your hardware isn’t warrantied, the provider may not have the replacement hardware available if it fails.  If a motherboard fails and is under warranty, the hardware provider will quickly ship you a new one.  If a non-warrantied motherboard fails, that could lead to an extended outage while an entire new computer is specced out, shipped, and configured by your IT provider.  In fact, for your most mission-critical hardware, it’s actually a good idea to pre-purchase spare hardware, in the unlikely event that overnight shipping doesn’t turn out to be overnight after all.

Second, the length of warranty available is a sign of how long a company expects the hardware to last.  If your computer manufacturer doesn’t even offer a five year warranty, that’s probably because so many computers would fail during that time period that they couldn’t make money selling warranties at a price anyone would pay.  That’s obviously a bad sign.

How critical is technology to our core product or service offering?

If technology is at the center of what you offer to customers, you want to make sure that your employees have access to the latest and greatest.  If technology is only used to communicate with customers and store information, refreshes are less important.  Most companies fall in the middle – for professionals like lawyers and accountants, for instance, technology plays a key role in their ability to perform their job duties, but isn’t necessarily the core of what they offer to their clients.

How quickly am I growing?

Technology moves quickly; it’s always cheaper to buy compute capability or storage later than it is today.  If your company is growing quickly, it’s probably worth more rapid refresh cycles simply to avoid having to massively over-buy to prepare for the level of growth that you anticipate five-years out.  Plus, if you don’t quite achieve the growth you anticipate, you haven’t paid for technology that goes unused.  This is one circumstance where three-year hardware refresh cycles can end up saving money over time.

To learn how WingSwept can help you make the best long-term technology decisions for your company, call us at 919.779.0954 or email us at and ask about our Managed Service offering.