Replacing Your Kit: The 5-4-3-2 Rule

IT hardware doesn’t last forever, no matter how well you keep it maintained. New versions of laptops, PCs, servers, etc. are released frequently, with software being updated all the time. Usually, so long as it is kept updated, a piece of hardware can last a long time, but keeping yourself current can oftentimes be a money-saver in the long run, as you can avoid paying out large bulk sums to update your end-of-life kit.

It works! Why would I replace it?

Three words: Better Faster Stronger


Older machines are prone to failure, which can lead not only to data loss, but also negative customer relations. You spend time and money repairing your old PC, while unable to assist a customer due to your computer being down.

It also becomes disheartening for employees who rely on their equipment to get their jobs done; a felled server or slow laptop can spoil an otherwise good workday.

Software developers run on the belief that your hardware is up to par with the newer models, and so push updates to suit. Previous generations of kit, whether this be laptops, PCs, servers, switches, etc. struggle to keep up, and end up updates behind, which decreases the running speed.

According to this article from CSO, around 65,000 attempts to hack SMBs occur in the UK every day. Of those attempts, approximately 4,500 are successful. Older computers hold a high risk of being hacked, as they are typically running older software, which not only lacks the frequent updates newer programs benefit from, but also means that hackers have had longer to learn exploitable flaws.


So, when should it be replaced?

A good guide to follow when thinking about upgrading is the 5-4-3-2 rule.

  • Server and Network replaced after 5 years
  • Desktop replaced after 4 years
  • Laptop replaced after 3 years
  • Mobile replaced after 2 years

This does also depend largely on the kit you’ve got. Some machines may need replacing sooner, while others were built to last longer. Usually, there are obvious signs (speed, lack of disk space, ceasing of updates) that it’s time for an upgrade, but getting an idea ahead of time can help with planning and budgeting. If you’re not sure, try to get an audit done of your existing hardware to see what kind of longevity you’re dealing with.

Do I have to replace everything at once?

If you’re not sure what needs replacing, you should always start with an audit. This can be done either by using the serial number on your devices or looking at the age of the BIOS via System Information. Then, you should start by replacing anything that is more than 5 years old and review other devices according to the 5-4-3-2 rule and/or your own experience with the machine.

The actual replacement can either be approached in stages or all at once. Both approaches have their upsides and downsides, and you must decide which is best for your business.

Staged Approach

If opting for the staged approach, you must also remember to prioritise based on age, performance, and whether any machines have ongoing issues.

All At Once

What is this going to cost?

The good news is – not as much as you’d think! There are so many solutions out there now that are geared toward SMBs, making them more affordable and manageable, not to mention scalable, for your business. Need to replace your servers? Try a cloud solution instead , and save on hardware costs while utilising Office 365 licensing you probably already have. Laptops on their last legs? Bulk-buying can offer discounts. There are so many ways to restructure your IT hardware to better suit your business and budget.

EnablesIT has a vested interest in recommending hardware that works. With our engineers spending their time working on and repairing IT kit, we know what performs and what doesn’t. We also hold partnerships with Dell, Microsoft, Cisco, HP, and more, and can offer the best pricing with experienced engineers to install.

If you have any hardware requirements, or questions about your existing kit, give us a call on +44 (0)1483 388 100 or email

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