1. You constantly have to troubleshoot and fine-tune your network. This not only cuts into your productivity, but also your free time. Business technology has matured to a point where a properly configured network should run stably with little to no unscheduled maintenance. You’d be surprised how quickly a new piece of hardware can pay for itself in reduced downtime.
2. Your network’s performance makes you fondly recall the days of dial-up. Hardware performance degrades as it nears capacity. This is especially true of hard drives, RAM, and network bandwidth. If you notice things taking way longer than they should, you might want to consider hardware with more breathing room.
3. You’re losing data. When data starts disappearing from your server or client PCs, the blame might rest with one or more hard drives (assuming the loss isn’t caused by a virus or other malware). Hard drives with bad sectors lose the ability to read and write data from the damaged areas. Furthermore, this behavior also often precedes total drive failure.
4. Your hardware is no longer supported by its manufacturer. All hardware (and software, for that matter) has what’s called a “support cycle.” This is the window between when a company first offers the product to the public and when it ceases support (such as releasing new drivers, patches and firmware) for that product. The window usually lasts several years. Hackers uncover new vulnerabilities in existing hardware every day, and companies cannot afford to assess each threat to every single item in their product history indefinitely. Even if that gateway you’ve been running since the Clinton administration exhibits no signs of trouble, it might make you vulnerable to attacks if the manufacturer no longer provides updates.
5. Your equipment is getting noisy. Most hardware needs to move air in order to stay within its optimal operating-temperature range. Hardware design engineers generally accomplish this through the use of cooling fans. Over time, components may collect dust or other debris that slowly impedes a fan’s ability to maintain proper airflow. As a result, fans go into overdrive trying to push more air, which increases noise levels. Often times, a simple cleaning may alleviate the problem. However, sometimes increased fan speeds are caused by more serious problems, like a bad temperature diode or loss of thermal contact between the CPU cooler and the processor. When components overheat, they either shut down abruptly to avoid damage, or fail completely—neither of which you want to happen while working on an important document.