In Response offers a weekly roundup of feedback from TechRepublic members intended to help inform you and your peers about critical issues in the world of IT. This week, TechRepublic members share their views on the life cycles of PCs.
PC life cycle: How long should I keep my PCs?
A recent Gartner Research Note examined the PC life cycle and made recommendations about how long you should keep your PC. Gartner research suggested that users keep laptop between 24-30 months and desktops for 36 months. In response to this article, we received lots of discussion comments and e-mail. Unfortunately, due to the volume of feedback, it’s not possible to publish every response. However, I believe I have presented the best balance of all the posts and e-mails below. Thanks to everyone who responded!

TechRepublic members respond…
Jeff D.
“Rule 1, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If the system is functioning well and still does the job for which it was purchased, why replace it? Seems as though we are all being conned into buying new gear on an annual basis, even though the requirement may not have changed. Do we replace our TVs just because a new model has come on to the market? Do we consign a two-year-old car to the scrap heap, just because a slightly different model has appeared? Do we move out of our house because the bath needs cleaning? Why does the IT industry feel that they can fool people into spending money for no good reason?”

“If you bought the latest technology, the answer is five years. If not, the answer is less depending on how low end you purchased. This includes upgrading during that time. Speaking of life, I wonder how many desktops are more powerful than the servers that serve them? Computer retirement with just a little Social Security can be as fun and exciting as a backup machine at Backup Manor!”

“I am firmly committed to the concept of ‘If it is doing the job, leave it alone.’ But remember that as computers age, there is an increased risk of failure. So make sure that you have provisions for data backup and also some hardware so that you are not running without equipment should something go wrong. The key is to have some redundancy. A little not needed is a whole bunch better than a little needed but not available.”

“If you stay with big name manufacturers, every six months you’ll be buying bigger, better equipment. Every time you have to add PCs, you have to buy a newer model because they simply no longer sell the last model you purchased six months ago. I seem to spend a lot of my time figuring out who is going to get the latest and greatest. I don’t feel right giving it to the new man on the block, and playing the PC ‘switcharoo’ every two to three months is so time consuming. Once, I tried (at management’s request) purchasing systems from a lesser-known manufacturer, and I found myself spending 80 percent of my time keeping these computers functional. So back to the name brands and the ‘musical computer’ games.”
Thanks to everyone who responded to this In Response! If you feel strongly about this topic, join the discussion. Are there topics you’d like to see discussed in future editions of In Response? Let us hear about it. Post a comment below or send us an e-mail.