Factors You Need to Consider When Replacing Aging Laptops

NEWS ANALYSIS: When it's time to buy news laptops for your business does it make sense to pay for a touch screen or do you need a docking station? And are ultrabooks worth it?

Replacing Old Laptops 2

This is one of those problems that presents itself to most companies every year. What to do about laptop computers that are reaching the end of their useful life? For that matter, how do you even determine the useful life of a laptop computer?

For most companies, the end of life is more of an economic decision than it is a technology issue. Today’s business laptops are usually rugged enough that the wear and tear of daily use and travel don’t bother them.

I’ve seen plenty of those machines that are still going strong after five or six years. And while they're no longer the most powerful or advanced machines that they may have been when they were new, they’re fully capable of providing good service.

Of course there are also reasons to replace laptops even if they’re not particularly old, including damage of one sort or another. And there are computers that just aren't reliable enough for productive use, a situation that affected one of my employers several years ago when we sent back all the organization's newly purchased laptops because they just required too much support to be economical.

In general, the end of service with a laptop computer comes when it’s no longer supported by its manufacturer, meaning when you can’t even purchase a support contract. It may also happen when technology has changed to the point where it doesn’t support the software you need to run or it won’t connect to the peripherals you need to use. You may even find a situation like one I ran across where the laptop’s WiFi wouldn’t meet current security standards.

The details of when a laptop needs replacing, as in the case of any other computer or capital equipment, are up to the company that’s using it. But if your support staff is getting bogged down with requests for help for a particular laptop model, that’s a good indication.

So what do you do next? Most of the time, it’s a good idea to start with whatever your company has chosen as its standard laptop in the past. Since your support team is already familiar with the maker, you may be able to reuse some of the accessories such as docking stations or port replicators and the manufacturer may offer attractive trade-in options.

But it may be that you will need to move on. This may be because you had no standard in the past, but now you want one. Or your previous standard can’t be used for some reason. A good example of this is laptop computers made in China, which can’t be used by some federal government contractors. So if your company was using Lenovo computers, you’ll need to change to something else if you land a federal contract.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...