Just like every other piece of modern technological equipment, servers start out blazingly fast and slowly get less effective as they get older. Whether it’s because of aging hardware components or increasingly demanding server operating system software, there’s no denying that it soon becomes more financially viable to replace a server with a new model than to continue maintaining and upgrading and outdated model.
Many people, however, aren’t sure exactly when that point has been reached. Just like when a car’s repairs finally cost more than the car itself, these administrators will wait until a tragic and costly hardware failure to replace a server. By this time, the damage to productivity and data integrity is already done. Here’s how to know when it’s the server’s time go.
1. When It’s Really, Really Slow
In today’s fast-paced world, no one likes a slow car, a slow pedestrian, or a slower server. When a server is causing a business to put its work on hold, it’s time to start shopping for an adequate replacement. This happens for any number of reasons, but it’s usually the fault of a server operating system upgrade which adds new features that can over-tax older processors. It might be hard to notice at first, but consumers and employees will soon notice that it takes an excruciatingly long time to do routine things, like download emails from the server or share documents to a collaboration application hosted remotely. Sooner or later, they’ll find themselves staring at the dreaded hour glass or “beach ball” that signifies something is taking an excessively long time.
When a server has stopped performing its basic functions in an efficient way, it’s time to give it up and look for a new model. Most company employees will breathe a (quicker) sigh of relief.
2. When the Price of Repair or Upgrade Outpaces the Server’s Value or Replacement Cost
Servers typically run day in and day out, without so much as a few moments to turn off and cool down. This severely taxes the hardware components inside the machine. Even though server components are designed to withstand such constant stress, they do eventually succumb to the pressures of 24-hour operation. As a server ages, it will need to have parts replaced or upgraded in order to stay operational.
At a certain point, securing these parts and replacing them will actually become more costly than the simply buying a new server. Even if that doesn’t happen, constantly buying new parts is a waste of valuable money that could otherwise be spent to purchase a newer model entirely. Just like a car which slowly needs every one of its moving parts released, it’s time to trade in and trade up.
3. When the Server’s Warranty Runs Out
Speaking of installing new parts into a server, it’s worth noting that the best time to upgrade is when the manufacturer’s warranty has run out. While under warranty, the cost of a server’s failures and parts is covered by the company that produced the model. After that warranty runs out — typically in two or three years — the server’s owner will be forced to bear those costs without any compensation. That’s not ideal, certainly, and it’s a good time to consider an upgrade. Most servers are usually slowing down after about three years of use, anyway, so this might be a great way to ensure that the company never gets bogged down by either high costs or slow loading times.
4. When the Server Seems to Be Getting Louder Every Day
There are two moving parts in the typical server which produce the most noise. The first part is the fan that keeps everything inside the enclosure running at a cool temperature. Without the fan, everything would melt, and it’s generally a good thing to hear the fan going every so often. The other noise-generating moving part in most servers is the hard drive, unless the server has switched to a solid state drive. As the server ages, its hard drive will become louder and it will spin at high speeds more often. Not only is this annoying and intrusive in many corporate environments, but it’s a good indication that the hard drive is getting ready to bite the dust.
Hard drives are generally only rated for between three and five years of constant use. After that, the rate of hard drive failure nearly triples. The immediate pre-failure effects include more frequent hard drive noise, slower data access, and the kind of excess heat which will cause a fan to run more often. If the server seems to be hotter and more noisy lately, it’s time to duck, cover, and make a backup. Then, it’s time to go shopping for a new server with a better hard drive. This will save the operation form a tragic loss of data and company information.
5. When the Server is Full
In light of the conversation about hard drive failure, it should be noted that hard drives do actually fill up. In fact, in server-based corporate environments, this is a pretty common occurrence. The good news is that hard drive sizes have gotten exponentially bigger in the last few years without a significant increase in cost. That makes a new server, with even more space, a very affordable purchase that will ensure no one has to find a spare flash drive for their files and other data.
Of course, a full server hard drive will also prevent software updates and security patches from being downloaded and installed. This can put a business at risk, which is simply unnecessary. Find a newer, bigger, and faster server, and maintain corporate integrity while offering employees ample space to collaborate and store their files. Embrace the need to replace.
Servers are Rock-Solid, But Not Invincible
It’s worth noting that servers are some of the toughest computer hardware currently on the market. They’re like consumer PCs and laptops on steroids in many cases. But that doesn’t mean servers are invincible, or that they can be operated for extremely long periods of time without being properly replaced. If the server is old, slow, full of files, or noisy, it’s time to contact a leading electronics retailer and replace it before disaster strikes.
About the Author: David Malmborg works with Dell, writing about information technology. In his spare time, he enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his family. If you would like to learn more about Dell server solutions, click here.