Okay so when is it time to buy new software? How does one go about making an educated decision on upgrading new software or hardware? What’s the real cost associated with it?

I hear this question a lot. Real good corporate environments cycle their computers every three years. A lot of small businesses you see using their computers into the fifth and sixth year. Windows XP still running today. 2016 on some. A lot though are on Windows 7 still and now we’re on Windows 10. I understand that though. Windows 7 is a great operating system.

When should you buy new software? If the software is critical to your business, you should be on the latest version or almost or second to latest version. You should be paying for support on that software.

The software we use for our business. We pay for support. If something breaks on it, we can call the company and say, “Hey listen. This isn’t working right. We need it to work.” We can work a support ticket immediately and get it working again. That’s the way it should be. That’s the way … If you want your business to be successful, that’s the way you should do it. Period.

When should you replace hardware? Unless you’re a one person show on a shoestring budget, you should really be replacing your hardware once every three or four years. You’re going to end up paying more in the long run with repairs. New equipment is just going to run better. You’re going to pay for repair costs if you’re going to be running longer.

The other question is, when I replace my computer, what should I get? Don’t go to Best Buy and buy the cheap … Or actually go to Walmart and buy the cheapest computer you can get. You’re going to spend $800-$1000 on a good business workstation. That’s what you should do. Buy from HP, Dell, buy their business grade products. Buy a Dell latitude laptop. Buy an elite book or a probook from HP. Get a business grade computer. They put better parts into them. It’s going to be better in the long run.

When you get the $400 computer you’re getting the cheapest parts, the cheapest everything. It’s going to break. It’s just going to break. You may have a home computer for 5 years but the business stuff is going to last you longer. It’s going to be more durable.

Warranties are up to you. Personally, on my personal stuff, I don’t buy extended warranties. I think they’re a scam but on the business stuff sometimes I buy warranties because I want that assurance. You know? If a tech drops a laptop, I want to be able to HP and get the next day service. If he drops a laptop and the screen breaks, they can send us a new screen the next day for an initial $300. Sometimes it’s up to you.

What’s the time cost for you and your business? I wish I could tell you. Replacing a computer … I wish I could tell you a hard number how much it’s going to be. Really you get a feel for it over the first few years of your business. You get a feel for how much is this going to cost me? What’s the time? What’s the value? Most small businesses that I know and that work with are like, “You know what? I just want stuff to work. Just tell me how much it’s going to be and we just want it to work.” Those are most of our customers. They’d rather invest a little more now because they know it pays dividends for them.