You know your hardware and software is outdated and needs to be replaced.  But you’re not sure where to start because it’s been years since you’ve made any changes.  An outsourced IT services firm can help.

There are a variety of reasons why small businesses don’t update their IT.  Maybe an old, unsupported software package is still “perfect” for your needs and you don’t have time or money to deal with the disruption of a change.  Your staff may even be resistant to learning something new. 

But the moment of reckoning comes for everyone, usually when something major goes wrong.  Then, an update that would otherwise have been a minor inconvenience turns into a big, expensive project. 

Here are some ideas to help you prioritize your IT projects:

Start with Advice  

 If you’ve been handling your IT yourself or with minimal outside help, now might be the time to hire an outsourced IT services firm.  Use their expertise to get you on the right track!

An outsourced IT services firm has the ability to see your IT in the full context of your overall business goals.  You’ll receive options to help you make the best decision for your business in both technology and budget. 

Over time, you’ll protect your business by sticking to a proactive plan that includes ongoing technology reviews and plans for incremental updates.  

Servers and Workstations

5 years is about the limit for servers and workstations.  Computers include mechanical components.  Over time, they just wear out. 

Software ages out, too.  Workstations running Microsoft XP and servers running Microsoft Small Business Server or Windows Server 2003 or older are unsupported, not secure, and need to be replaced.  If you’re using specialized software in your business, you’ll usually receive plenty of warning before it’s phased out, so pay attention and make plans to update. 

It’s not a good idea to install new software on old hardware. You’ll kick the can down the road, but an old machine won’t last any longer just because it’s running new software. 

Also, consider whether or not you need to keep servers in your office.  Maybe some services could go to the cloud or it would make more sense for you to colocate your servers offsite.  Your outsourced IT services firm can guide you through these decisions.

Firewalls

If you have a firewall that was installed 5 years ago and hasn’t been touched since, it’s too old and needs to be replaced.  Without updates and patches against current threats, it was most effective the day it was installed.

Even if you keep your firewall updated and patched by the manufacturer, you should be looking at a new device after 5 years.  Technology develops quickly and threats are created even faster, so stay current.

Wireless Access Points

Like firewalls, access points need to be updated regularly as radio frequencies are updated and vulnerabilities are fixed.  These devices should be replaced every 3-5 years.

A Backup Might Not Help

If you’re running an older system, you may think you’re safe because you have a backup. However, a backup can typically only be restored to the same or similar environment.  If your server crashes and it won’t reboot, you would need to build a new “old” server and install the old operating system to restore your backup.  That’s challenging when parts and old operating systems are unavailable. 

There are companies that will help you restore a backup from an older system, but it takes significant time and expense. 

It’s Never Too Late

An outsourced IT services firm can help you prioritize projects to get caught up and more secure.  You may not be able to do everything at once.  But with the right plan in place, you’ll position your company to take advantage of new technologies and stay one step ahead of your competition.

If you’d like to know more about how CRU Solutions can help with your business IT, contact us