Back story - I was hired by my current employer out of college as a web developer roughly 2 years ago. In that two years, I have taken on some of the roles of a system administrator as this position was non-existent before I started and we've now grown to 65 local/remote users. I've replaced much of the outdated server hardware and software that was causing a bottleneck within the organization, and implemented some policies (both server and user) to cope with much of the issues that were effecting the companies IT infrastructure. Much thanks to the SuperUser, StackOverflow and Severfault communities, by the way.

Anyways, Flash forward to today - We're hiring 4 more people and we need 4 new computers. I was hoping to purchase 65 new computers in the Summer of 2011 as our current machines are over 4 years old, and this is when the budget will allow me to do so. How common are company wide computer replacement policies?

I was hoping to implement a "replacement policy" whereby we will replace all machines after x years and buy identical machines for each user (as no special computer accommodations need to be made for our users).

I suppose my question is, how do I implement an efficient/effective computer replacement policy to provide a uniform software/hardware user experience, while dealing with my current need to purchase 4 machines? Do I set a standard for our computers now and follow it when purchasing for the next x years? What works, What doesn't, What do you folks think?


2 Answers 2


Your current computers are 4 years old, you'll be up to 69 employees (65 + 4 hires), and you're planning replacement next year? That means you're happy with a 5-year replacement schedule, and that's fine. But you'll really thank yourself if you don't do all 69 at once. 69/5 = ~14 machines. You should look to replace 14 machines every year, rather than 69 in one year. Or there might be an advantage to doing 28 machines every two years. But the point is that you want to spread this out. This will help you with budgeting and help you not kill yourself trying to move 70 PCs through your office all at once.

However, you've kind of backed yourself into a situation here where if you don't do the entire lot you'll be leaving some users with obsolete equipment. To handle this and help you settle yourself into a good replacement rotation more quickly, I would do a few things:

  1. Spread this first replacement out into two parts - one group near the beginning of the year and one group near the end. That will make some users wait a little longer, but helps divide users up. For rotation purposes later on you'll pretend each group had been replaced during a different year.

  2. Within those two groups, look at off-lease machines for half the group. You can get some nice equipment fairly cheaply this way. I'm currently buying 3-year-old Core 2 Duo's with 2GB of RAM for $240 each (no monitor). 2nd-Byte.com is my vendor for these — I'm not affiliated and will get no kickback. If you don't like this company there are lots of places you can look, and the main reason I use them is that I'm located physically near enough the orders have on occasion arrived the same day they were shipped, without needing to expedite anything.

    The point of this isn't to stick anyone with older or cheaper equipment. It's all about creating a rotation to improve budgeting and spread out the work load. The people who get the off-lease machines will be scheduled for replacement sooner. This gets you to 4 distinct groups. By the end of this, it sounds like you're growing enough you'll need another order anyway, and there's group #5. One group to replace every year.

  3. Talk to your boss about who is in which group, because there will be some politics involved here. Some users will whine that they were stuck with old stuff, others will make a stink because someone else got upgraded first. Still others will whine that you forced them to upgrade at all. You want to make sure your boss is the one holding the stick on those decisions.


Another advice: STANDARDIZE. Business class motherboards are available 4-5 years. AMD is more stable in it's processor sockets than Intel.

I have all workstations in my company on AMD motherboards from ASUS - 4 years old, STILL on sale and STILL able to run the current top of the line six core processor.

I use only one graphics card hardware provider (AMD in my case).

This means the amount of drivers and BIOS updates I deal with is VERY limited in variety. This makes maintenance a lot easier.

The next bunch of workstations due soon gets the next generation of business boards once they are available.

  • Agreed - standardizing goes without saying (so I didn't say it ;)
    – Joel Coel
    Sep 14, 2010 at 22:12

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