Is the IT in your small business way behind?  It depends on your definition.  If you only replace what’s broken, that’s different than figuring out when it’s time to plan for IT upgrades, even though your machines may still turn on in the morning. 

Maybe this sounds familiar to you -  the ERP application you use has been discontinued so there’s no support or security patches anymore, but it still meets your business needs so you keep it.  Or, you notice that when you open your email, it takes a long time before you can actually open a message.

How do you know when the IT in your small business is way behind and how old is too old?

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 definitely too old.

Almost every business uses specialized software that meets specific needs.  There’s usually plenty of warning when a software package is being phased out.  When a software package is no longer available or the end-of-support notice is issued, that software is too old and it’s time to make a change. 

It’s not a good idea to install new software on old hardware.  You could put a new operating system on a 5-year-old workstation, but you’ll only kick the can down the road a short way.  An old machine won’t last any longer just because it’s running new software. 

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 to protect your network you must remain 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 your business data is 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. 

Be Proactive

If your business IT is way behind, there are ways to get you caught up and more secure.  Be proactive in replacing workstations, servers, and software, and keep everything patched and updated.   

If your business needs help managing IT, contact CRU Solutions