Q&A Monday: How often to replace a buisness Mac


Hey Jim,
I am a small business owner and I am constantly struggling with how often do I replace the Apple computers in my office.  I do have some PC’s in the office which I lease on a 3 year cycle, but I’m not sure if I should replace the Apple’s as often as I do the PC’s.  Is there a standard rule for replacing Apple computers in the office?
Keith Veras
Seattle, WA


I think this is a question that ever administrator or manager deals with at one time or another.  Though my expertise isn’t in the Apple field, there are some things I know should apply to both PCs and Macs.  Though there isn’t a single answer on how often you should replace it, but a series of factors you should be taken into consideration.

  • How old is the machine?
    The older a system is, the more likely it is to have parts replaced or service called out to have something worked on.  It’s typically known that if you have a system that is 4 years old, if you hold onto it for 2 years, you would have spent enough maintaining  that system, to pay for a new system.  This is caused by installing and removing programs, patching of the system, hardware getting older and failing or just the out-dating of the software or hardware.
  • How Critical is the Machine?
    If you are talking about a machine, that your company can’t afford to be down for more than a couple of hours, I say that machine should be no older than 3 years, and you should get the extended AppleCare support for that product (which I think is up to 3 years) so that if needed you can get that serviced quickly.
  • Is Performance Important?
    For most of the business world performance isn’t at their top of their need list for a system.  Yet if you work with Video or Audio editing than performance is something that you worry about.  The same rule should apply as above, every 3 years, this also makes sure that your hardware can match the current trend in the software technology to make thing run smoothly for you.
  • Do you need a predictable budget?
    I’ve made the suggestions to  some of the companies that I’ve done business with, that you should replace about 25% of your computers every year.  This means you will never had a system that is older than 4 years old, and you’ll hopefully keep the service costs down.  This also keeps the budget steady from year to year, without the spike ever 4 years to replace all the systems (or the technological hassle of it either)

Now I’m positive that there are many different formulas out there on how to decide when you should replace the PCs or Macs in your office, but this is what I’ve found most effective and keeps your business up with technology.  Now there are things you can do to attempt to squeeze every last life out of your systems, but honestly I don’t think it really pans out in the long run.  I hope that pointed you in the direction of your answer.

If  you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at
me@jimguckin.com , and he’ll try to answer your question.  Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and during the rest of the week for other technical insights.

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