3 Ways Old Computers Tax Your Business

Every tool in business has a lifecycle. Your desk chair will eventually lose its spring, launching you backward when you try to sit. You’ll recycle it and buy a new one. Your printer will jam one time too many and one day the paper won’t feed at all, so you’ll replace it. Even company cars rotate every few years. But what about that most omnipotent of tools, the work computer? Of all the tools that drive a business, is any more crucial or shorter-lived? What is the useful-to-you life of a computer? The span of its warranty? Two or three years and then a replacement? When should your business let go of your old computers?

Unlike a desk chair or company car, our old computers are carriers of the secret sauce recipe, of our identities. They hold the DNA of the enterprise. For the sake of legal and personal liability, they’re not easily disposed of.

That very fact makes retiring old computer hardware a damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t kind of issue.

The things about old computers..

They’re bound to sit, vulnerable, until you come to some consensus on what to do with your machines. Sure, laptop hard drives can be destroyed and the pieces recycled, although even that means someone needs to handle scheduling, managing and documenting. But we’re talking about relatively new laptops which have hardly outlived their actual useful life-cycle, just the useful-to-you lifecycle. Seems a waste to discard them out of hand. Even older machines could be incredibly valuable to kids in under-funded schools, people in developing countries, or local charity organizations. But say you choose this path; it begs the questions: Which organizations, which people? How?

And in the meantime, the reality is that hardware which come out of use is immediately a problem, for these 3 reasons:

#1: Cost in Space

When a user returns their old computer and is provisioned a new one, where does that returned computer live? Where does its hard drive go? A storage closet? An unused office? An office that people are trying to use, around an ever growing stack of machines living in data limbo? Wherever it is, it’s real estate you pay for. Is storing unusable gear really the most efficient and best use for the money you’re spending for that space? Could you be getting a better return on that space another way?

#2: Data Liability

Wherever you keep your retiring, end-of-life gear, there’s no avoiding the fact that it’s sitting there with critical data on it, for as long as it takes for it to filter on to whatever its next destination, be that destruction or sanitization and re-purposing. Every day and every machine puts you at risk.

#3: Dollars Lost

Who does it fall to, on your staff, to manage this issue and how many hours does it and will it cost? More importantly, is this the best and most financially expedient use of these employees’ time and skills? More than likely, no. More than likely, it’s a necessary evil that gets delegated to someone because someone has to do it.


Do you have old computers, laptops and other IT hardware left in the dust, awaiting someone, anyone, to deal with them? How do you properly handle these machines? That’s a question we’ll explore in depth on our next post.