Every three years. I know some IT professionals will say servers last longer, and some do. However, after the third year of ownership, the cost of supporting a server start to escalate dramatically. According to IDC, starting in the fourth year, support costs increase by approximately 40%. By year five, that has swelled to 200%. Hold on to the server for seven years and support costs hit a mind boggling 400%. At that point you’ve become more of a firefighter than a business owner! That means that the ideal time to replace your server is before the increase in support costs in year three. Additionally, many business owners replace a new server at that time because the warranty expired on the old equipment, and continually purchasing extended warranties on top of the escalating support costs is very expensive. Your company’s server may be humming along just fine, and I hope that’s the case. A server crash can be catastrophic to a business; a scenario best avoided for both your IT professional and your business. Replacing a running server is always preferable to replacing one that’s crashed, as a crashed server involves many more hours of labor and, potentially, even loss of data. Non-Supported Operating System Next month, Microsoft will pull the plug on support for Windows Server 2003. This means that it will stop receiving critical security updates, and that it’s probably time to replace your server’s hardware as well. This effectively nixes two problems before they can affect your business. It gives you an opportunity to move to modern, more efficient, and more powerful hardware. Slow Performance Slow performance can be difficult to define. Many employees learn to work around general “slowness.” Your server may be running reliably, but it may not be running optimally. This is where we help determine if a replacement is needed, or just a quick upgrade. Conclusion Your servers are the backbone of your company’s IT infrastructure. It’s wise to have a replacement plan for each one, so that you’re not scrambling to justify a surprise replacement cost when it crashes. You can help your company make wise decisions by remembering the inherent risk in forcing a server to perform critical functions well past their life cycle.