Small businesses running just three older PCs in their offices can lose out on both employee productivity and money for repairs – potentially racking up costs of about $4,000 per year, according to a new study.

About 36 per cent of respondents are using PCs that are four years old or older, with each PC potentially costing a company about $440 a year just for repairs. That’s about 1.3 times as much as a PC that’s less than four years old, says a report by Techaisle LLC, a research company specializing in following small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) in IT. The report polled 736 SMBs in six countries – the U.S., Brazil, China, Russia, Germany, and India.

The report also found that the smaller business, the higher costs will spiral for PC repairs. To put this into perspective, Techaisle did some calculations, estimating how much it might cost a small business to run older PCs to avoid the upfront costs of buying newer ones.

(Image: Techaisle). Chart comparing costs of running three old PCs versus three new PCs. Amounts in U.S. dollars.
(Image: Techaisle). Chart comparing costs of running three old PCs versus three new PCs. Amounts in U.S. dollars.

It found for organizations with 50 to 99 employees, the average cost of repairing a PC four years or older tallied up to about $540. Plus, small businesses are stuck with upgrading about a quarter of these older PCs every year, adding about $140 more to the cost of maintaining them.

And beyond the cost of physically repairing PCs, there’s also a cost to productivity as well. On average, SMBs lose about 42 hours of productivity per PC when they need to take it in for a tune-up for issues like slow boot-up time, decreased application performance, or the inability to connect to mobile devices. And older PCs may also be more vulnerable to malware attacks.

Still, for businesses who are in a tight spot financially, it can be hard to make a good case for upgrading to newer PCs. However, not only do newer PCs improve on areas like productivity, manageability, efficiency, security and mobility, they also get a performance boost. On average, older PCs can run about five applications at the same time, while newer ones can run about eight without suffering any slowdowns or performance degradation.

In its report, Techaisle gave the example of a small business running three PCs, each more than four years old. With maintenance and repair costs, each of those three PCs could rack up about $440 each, meaning they could cost a small business about $1,320. And if you add in upgrade costs of about $140 per computer, three PCs could cost about $420 to bring up to speed, meaning direct costs of repairs and upgrades could total about $1,740.

These PCs are likely to cause about 126 hours of downtime in one year, compared to just 63 hours of downtime for computers less than four years older. So if an employee on these PCs is paid about $20 an hour, that’s a total of $2,520 lost per year in productivity, something Techaisle defines as an “invisible cost.” The combined cost of repairs and lost productivity could reach roughly $4,260 – a hefty sum for a small business to incur over older PCs.

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