While it’s easy to ask: “Do I need a new computer?” when looking at your personal device, it’s a lot harder to tell when computers need to be replaced at work. There are many more computers to oversee, and replacing everything at once can be cost-prohibitive and impact productivity. Plus, slow or freezing computers can sometimes be solved by removing bloatware or running a few speed hacks. So, how can you tell when to buy new computers for your business? Let’s talk through five signs your employees need new computers:

5 Crucial Signs You Need New Computers for Your Staff

1. Your warranties are out of date

While the standard manufacturer warranty is typically one year, other computer warranties can extend to two or three years. It’s obviously not fiscally sound to replace all laptops every year, so we typically advise our clients to rotate 25% of computers each fiscal year, which will eventually put you in a cycle of replacing all computers every four years.

2. Logging in takes a lot of time

Unless a computer is going through a major software update, starting up and shutting down should take no longer than a minute or two. For Windows 11, the average boot time is 63 seconds. For Mac OS, computers take an average of 30 seconds to start up. If each of these processes takes five minutes or more to finish, your machine may be a little too old.

Don’t get us wrong—extended startup and shutdown times can be caused by other factors, like a necessary software update. But if deleting unnecessary files or uninstalling redundant applications results in little to no improvement, you should consider purchasing a newer, faster computer.

3. You want to save on desk space

Newer computer models are now available that take up much less desk space, freeing up valuable real estate throughout your office. These mini-computers are about as large as a hardback book and are just as powerful as the traditional tower computer models.

Plus, these mini-computers can often be installed at the back of a monitor, allowing you to use one power cord and one power button for each unit. This leads to a simpler and faster hard shut down process (in the rare event it’s needed) and a cleaner desk. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your desk space, ditch the cable overload and opt for one of these smaller models.

4. Your hardware is insufficient or experiencing glitches

As hardware has gotten more powerful, so have our expectations for computer speed and performance. If you’re running computers in your business with less than 16GB of RAM or that don’t have an SSD, it’s time to replace them.

While the occasional glitch is no cause for alarm, if your employees are dealing with hardware or software glitches regularly, it’s a sign to start looking for replacements. These glitches can be frustrating for employee morale and can add up to substantial productivity losses.

5. Your computers are running old software

The newest Windows and Mac operating system (OS) versions pack more security features than their predecessors but may be too heavy for old computers or require newer hardware. If you’re still running Windows 10 on your PC because your computers do not have TPM chips or other hardware resources needed for upgrading to Windows 11, you may not be as secure as possible. TPM chips are used for disc encryption as an example. Lack of TPM which was not required for Windows 10 puts you at greater risk of suffering a cyberattack. The most recent Mac OS update is to 14.3, and getting too far behind on updating your Mac OS can put you at a significant security risk. Apple updates almost always include security patches, so not only are you doing your device a disservice by running an old software, but you’re also putting yourself at greater risk for security breach. If the most updated software is no longer compatible with your device, that’s a sure sign that it’s time to upgrade.

New computers can run updated operating systems and more recent versions of essential cybersecurity tools, which are critical to keeping you safe from cyberthreats.

How Long Should You Wait Before You Buy New Computers?

The lifespan of your computers will depend on several factors, including their make, components, and how often they’re used. On average, laptops have a lifespan of three to five years. Desktops may last longer—PC desktops can last five to eight years—depending on the hardware being used with them and the maintenance they’re getting. In many cases, these machines are replaced not because they don’t work, but because they are no longer as efficient as they need to be. Computers can run longer than the “average” lifespan, but the tasks they’re able to complete will decrease significantly.

Should You Throw Away Your Old Computers?

We often get asked what you can do with an old Mac or PC. Many businesses donate their old computers to libraries, schools, and nonprofits. You can do the same or repurpose them into guest computers, network-attached servers, and more. This lets you get more from your computers and helps reduce the number of machines that end up in landfills each year. Just remember to sanitize any computers prior to donating as businesses have been known to suffer embarrassing data loss from leaving information on a donated computer.