Have you ever felt that just after you upgraded your organization’s PCs with, for example, Pentium IIIs, Intel’s release of the Pentium 4 was imminent? Technology evolves quickly, making it difficult for organizations and IT managers to provide users with the latest advancements.

Managers know that upgrading PCs should occur on a regular basis, but what strategy is best to stretch a PC as far as possible before new machines are needed? TechRepublic members have a few opinions about how you should go about replacing outdated PCs.

Recently, a TechRepublic member going by the name of Looking for Help started a session in TechRepublic’s Technical Q&A forums asking for advice on creating a strategy for upgrading PCs and lengthening a PC’s life cycle. Here’s a sample of how other TechRepublic members responded.

What you’re saying
Many organizations keep their fleet of PCs fresh by leasing machines from vendors and technology suppliers. TechRepublic members who recommend leasing PCs say this option has two advantages:

  1. 1.      Purchased PCs depreciate, while leased machines are constantly refreshed.
  2. 2.      Many lease agreements include service provisions for maintenance, which keeps IT teams free from repairing broken machines.

The leasing option
TechRepublic member ckilday, a network analyst for the Computer Task Group (CTG), said a CTG client with approximately 2,000 employees has had success leasing PCs.

The unnamed client supports PCs and laptops and uses a lease to replace one-third of the organization’s older PCs with new, leased machines each year. “[Leasing] made sense to them from a tax standpoint, since the purchased machines depreciated so rapidly. With the lease, they don’t have to worry about what to do with old machines,” said ckilday.

Member gwfay1963 is also a supporter of PC leasing. His organization of approximately 2,000 users replaces a third of the organization’s old machines each year with new, leased PCs.

The leasing option serves gwfay1963’s organization in three ways:

  1. 1.      Each leased machine comes with a three-year warranty. These warranties provide for maintenance and service of the PCs, which frees up the IT team to attend to other issues.
  2. 2.      Leasing computers means the organization never worries about what to do with old machines.
  3. 3.      Leasing machines makes hardware and PC audits easier.

Member gwfay1963 also said the lease option is helpful to users who may not be next on the list for a new machine. His organization replaces a third of its machines each year and uses a “trickle down” method to rotate machines to other users. This ensures that the latest PC technology goes to the organization’s power users while others requesting more powerful machines are also accommodated with used, but not outdated, equipment.

Visit the TechRepublic forums

Have a question you think other managers will know the answer to? Post in TechRepublic’s Technical Q&A center.

Why buy?
Leasing is not always the best option. There are TechRepublic members who choose to buy PCs rather than lease them. Members whose organizations buy machines do so for three main reasons:

  1. 1.      You can manipulate or change a PC anyway you want if it is owned by the organization.
  2. 2.      Old machines can be rotated from high-end users to low-end users.
  3. 3.      When PCs have completed a full user-rotation cycle, they can be sold.

“Leasing does not sound good to me,” said TechRepublic member highlander718. “You just end up paying almost the entire price of the equipment…”

Member highlander718 suggested that if an organization owns its PCs, managers can “operate” on them without restrictions. This includes upgrading machines on the organization’s schedule and testing applications in the organization before distributing them to each machine.

Swapping PCs between different levels of users can also benefit organizations that buy their own machines. To extend the life of his machines, TechRepublic member rrama_swamy rotates PCs from high-end users to low-end users.

Rotating machines in this way can result in a lower investment in hardware, said rrama_swamy. “You will be able to retain old PCs for more time by upgrading,” he suggested.

Member md_hashim also rotates PCs with a high-to-low strategy but not from a user standpoint. “We normally plan on upgrades to the machines with high-end configurations.” Any spare hardware that results from the rotation is used to upgrade machines that are next in line to be upgraded.

Tell us what you do

How do you extend the life of the PCs in your organization? What strategies do you employ to keep users happy with their machines? Let us know by dropping us a line or starting a discussion below.