Planning a Hardware Refresh? (2023)

Refresh? Upgrade? Did you know that while they’re often used interchangeably, there’s a very real difference between a hardware upgrade and a hardware refresh? This article answers these questions and also offers you 5 tips for best practices for hardware refreshes and upgrade plans.

Loads of organizations seem to think that as long as their hardware is still working, there’s no need to improve it. However, this simply isn’t the case. Whether it’s a computer, a server or the indispensable performance applications that keep the company moving, plenty of companies neglect updates and refreshes, but they do so at their peril.

So, how often should you be performing these upgrades and refreshes — and are you doing them right?

These are questions that keep an IT administrator up at night. Thankfully, we’ve got answers. You can achieve peace of mind that you’re creating and implementing a server refresh cycle that’s as cost-effective as it is operationally effective. So, let’s dive in.

The Difference Between a Refresh and an Upgrade

Many IT departments use the terms “upgrade” and “refresh” interchangeably when they’re actually two separate entities that mean different things for your business.

Planning a Hardware Refresh? (1)

1. What Is a Hardware Upgrade?

Hardware upgrades add to or swap a device’s supplementary components to improve its overall performance capacity, such as storage space or internal device temperature controls. It does not replace the whole unit or device.

Server upgradesare a hot topic in the industry and very prevalent across businesses.It’s also more cost-effectivethan completelyreplacing your servers every few years. Common upgrades to servers include installing new or enhanced:

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  • RAM and other memory drives
  • Hard disks
  • Power supplies
  • Data acquisition engines (DAEs)
  • Disk shelves

2. What Is a Hardware Refresh?

A hardware refreshreplacesan entire storage or computing system, typically by swapping your suite of storage hardware with the latest version of the equipment.

Ahardware refresh projectoccurs whenorganizations execute a strategic IT infrastructure overhaul across its storage servers and related network devices. Many refresh project plans address on-premises servers, cloud-based ones and those in managed or co-located data centers — or a hybrid approach involving all.

Other popular reasons for enterprises to conduct server refreshes include:

  • The hardware has reached its end-of-life (EOL) stage, with performance metrics like load tests indicating a need for a thorough overhaul.
  • Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) warranties are expiring, with the OEM no longer supporting your server version.
  • Companies need to meet their industry’s IT regulations regarding equipment and data storage.
  • Significant business expansion requires an overhaul in data storage devices and related capabilities.

Largest Considerations in a Hardware Refresh Project Plan

Successful hardware refresh projects require a perfect understanding of timing. Re-do your organization’s IT infrastructure too early,and you’re throwing away money. Push servers too far past their lifecycles, though, and risk the computing and storage systems underpinning your core business operation.Consider your server’s official End-of-Life (EOL) date, if the manufacturer has issued one. Are you far past that and stretching your hardware out on life support? If so, it’s probably time for a change.

Work smarter — not harder — inplanning a manageable hardware refresh cycle by prioritizingthe followingtasks when reviewing your IT infrastructure.Many of these tips will overlap with considerations for upgrading.

1.Reviewing Your Windows Servers

Both upgrades and refreshes can solve problems with Windows servers, and they can giveyour core IT suite a spring cleaning.

Many organizations conduct Windows serverupgradeswhen experiencing the following:

  • Configurations went awry, and the server isn’t starting or restarting.
  • You’re restarting the entire server after a backup.
  • A virus has irreparably infected the server.

While upgrades often solve issues, they can also point toward the need for a full refresh. Another aspect that typically calls for a refresh is a change to your system drive or server files.A Windows server upgrade, such as upgrading Windows Server 2008 to 2016 or Windows 10, will more likely occur duringthe followingtwo situations and can be planned proactively as part of your wider server refresh cycle.

  • Upgrading, restoring or swapping the Window’s system drive
  • Upgrading, restoring or swapping server files and folders

2.Optimizing Your Data Center Environment

IT managers and CIOs can unwittingly waste time or money with inefficient data centers. To prevent this, periodically compare the costs, convenience and amenities of your current environment with an alternative. For example, if you’ve been using on-premises servers, compare it to the latest in off-premise servers.

Today, there are two dominant forms of server hosting to consider, and which form you choose affects the frequency and direct oversight involved in your server upgrades and refreshes:

  • Co-location:In a co-located server environment, your organization’s servers operate in a shared data center alongside dozens, if not hundreds, of other companies’ servers. The owner of the co-location facility is tasked with properly maintaining the facility’s physical and digital safeguards and network connectivity, while you — the customer — directallserver-controlled applications and operating systemsremotely fromyour place of business. Only in a fully outsourced managed service provider (MSP) relationship will your facility partner take care of the latter.
  • Cloud:Cloud servers offer a modern, non-physically dependent server environment withmany advantages, including up-front cost savings. However, it bears noting that both cloud and physically on-premises servers typically carry similar lifetime costs across a three-to-five-year refresh cycle. The up-front capital required for cloud-based servers will be cheaper, but additional maintenance, support expenditures and IT personnel capacities in the long-term will determine the more prudent structure for your organization.

You can also use both in a hybrid approach.

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Reviewing the most fitting server storage or hosting type often means deeply considering your future storage needs. When scaling is on the horizon, experts recommend an estimated server storage expansion plan by at least four times your current capacity. From that figure, you can begin to determine the exact server architecture needed to deliver that boost in capabilities and performance.Then you cantransition to planning if upgrades or full refresh is necessary.

3.AuditingOther Devices

Of course, the server isn’t the only thing you need to analyze. A hardware refresh project plan is incomplete without a broader, complementary device audit.You must reviewhardware devices for their speeds, reliabilities and security robustness, particularly their functionality with your Windows operating system.

Consider a hardware audit at the onset of your general hardware refresh cycle timeline, analyzing performance metrics across the following:

  • Office computer devices
  • Office mobile devices
  • Peripheral devices, such as monitors, printers and copiers
  • Network devices, including routers, switches and network printers
  • Network infrastructure, like cabling and internet connection

For good measure, some IT teams include a formal review of the cybersecurity components integrated into the servers. This means prorating tests around each of the following during server upgrade plan stages:

  • Firewalls
  • Spam filters
  • Authentications
  • Traffic monitoring and controls
  • IDS appliances

How Often Should Servers Be Replaced?

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer surrounding how long your servers should last.

For example, major OEMs generally recommend a refresh cycle every five years. These projections work off the assumption that server hardware has a three to five-year lifespan before encountering performance issues. Once they reach this stage, lags increase whilecertaincapabilities decrease, meaning your organization may see a substantial uptick inserver hardware servicing costs.

In short:

  • Servers nearing a five-year mark should be analyzed for retirement.
  • Individual server components with slowing capabilities or failures signal it’s time for a refresh, not just an upgrade.
  • Full failures lead to removing servers or going offline — the very issues you’re trying to avoid with an institutionalized refresh cycle.

How Often Should You Reevaluate Your Server Environment?

Manufacturers recommend server refreshesevery three to five years. However, testing and evaluating the performance of your servers should happen far more frequently.Runload tests on a specific application environment during low traffic timesto ensure everything works as it should.

Planning a Hardware Refresh? (2)

The frequency of performing these server and server environment tests likely depends on where your servers are stored — in your own dedicated data center, in the cloud or fully outsourced to an MSP’s facility.

  • If managing your own premises or cloud servers:You’ll want to run continual server tests. Test findings will funnel into your larger server upgrade and refresh calendar by objectively displayingwhichcomponents and systems are working as designed and whichonesneed attention,along withwhat kinds of attention.
  • If using a co-location or outsourced cloud service:Your provider will be responsible for orchestrating load tests and making component or full-infrastructure swaps, the details and schedules of which should be referenced in a service-level agreement. Generally speaking, working with an off-premise partner provides access to the latest servers and storage equipment, since these brands rely on cutting-edge offerings to stay ahead of their own competitors.

What About Server Warranties?

The typical server hardware warranty lasts three years from the date of equipment delivery.

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The most common warranty offerings within that three-year window include next-day equipment or replacement delivery, though, depending on your company’s location, that can be even faster — sometimes five hours or less. With that replacement guarantee, your OEM promises to have specific, upgrade-compatible parts for your hardware, preventingsubstantialdowntimes as well as the more expensive refresh route.

After your initial three-year warranty, your OEM will likely offer you a renewal period option of another one, two or three more years. Seven to eight years after your initial contract, though, all warranty offers will expire, as the hardware will be too old for the OEM to continue supporting.

It’s important to note that out-of-warranty servers and related devices will — understandably — be harder to source upgraded components for. It’s another hardware refresh best practice to transition to alternative solutions from third-party partners before your warranty date lapses, or simply consider re-upping your contract, even if you never experienced a replacement incident.

The pros to server warranties include protection from expensive and overwhelming server hardware replacements that can take days to install and configure appropriately in a production environment. However, awarranty can’t recover lost data or files, an entirely different server expense altogether.For that, you’ll need to consider your data backup plan and whether that cost can be better managed with another service.

Best Practices forHardware Refreshes and Upgrade Plans

By definition, upgrades are smaller, less expensive and more frequent than refreshes. The manner in which you handle upgrades can affect the execution and efficiency of the next refresh. You canimprove the planning and execution of your refresh cyclesby applying the following best practices to your upgrades:

1.PerformRegularAudits. Seriously.

Auditing remains one of the most vigilant ways to assess the health and functionality of your overall server environment. Many organizations perform them but still might overlook some core variables indicating it’s time toupgradeservers.

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Common red flags in your audits include lagging:

Each of these variables dramatically affects the performance capabilities of your servers. From there, you can begin constructing a realistic picture of add-on server power, storage or capabilities needed for your organization, as well as preemptively spot maintenance and virtualization spots extending what you do currently use.

2. Check Your Link Dependencies

Every category has a string of applications likely interconnected to it. For example, configuring an application at the productivity level isn’t possible unless you first upgrade your operating system. If your organization currently maintains legacy equipment, then you may not even be able to get the latest versions of that operating system in the first place, either.

Consider adding a formal dependency log into your auditing procedures. These logs help track and manage reconfiguration histories and schedules and ensure every application layer runs cohesively. It also means fewer headaches for everyone down the road when a dependency is somehow overlooked, halting a specific business function.

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3. Roll out Upgradesin Phases

After someinitial non-production tests, have a team pilotupgrades in a production environment. This level quickly checks cross-system compatibility and functionality. Consider having support staff on-hand for this phase if issues arise, ensuring all-hands-on-deck to work through any bugs without disrupting too many other colleagues’ workloads.

After the production-environment test, you can move on to rolling out the newtechnologyto the entire organization, providing training or assistance along the way.

4. Prioritize Upgrades and Refreshes Based on Downtime Tolerance

When planning for an upgrade or refresh, think about the importance that various components have on day-to-day operations and whether an upgrade is enough to keep it running smoothly.Build yourserver refresh cycleor upgrade plansaround how catastrophic things would be in the office if one of these computer systems goes down.

For example, these pieces of a company’s IT ecosystem control some of the most important activities in proper server functions, and should, therefore, have downtimes kept to a minimum:

  • Application servers or any similar extension of your web servers
  • Domain controllers
  • SQL server
  • Any related layers permitting business-critical operations to function, such as file access and email

In these critical production environments, servers need to be upgraded and back in operation as swiftly as possible. It’s also this layer where most experts agree the three to five-year refresh schedule is the gold standard. Such critical infrastructure should, at the very least, receive drive or power supply enhancements in this time frame, keeping them running in peak condition as long as possible, but not leaving you exposed when their end-of-life signals trickle in.

5. Know There’s Still Hope

Even when performance drops or the end a server’s recommended lifespan nears, it doesn’t necessarily need to be removed from a critical environment — or taken off production layers all together.

In fact, thereare multipleoptions when it comes to reworking server applications or next-best-use cases without a complete — and expensive — overhaul. Small failures or bugs in the production environment can alert you to transitioning over to a lab or developmental environment instead. Other applications can even be reconfigured to handle specific traffic, routing or firewall defense roles. Just remember these adaptions might require a new hard disk, drive or power source to get up-and-running in its new place — which still remains more cost-effective than a complete refresh.

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Planning a Hardware Refresh? (4)


How do you plan a hardware refresh? ›

How to plan for a hardware refresh? Take a strategic look at your current plan: address infrastructure needs and specific objectives. Consider timing and frequency of your hardware refresh cycle: target disruptive coverage gaps and determine cost-cutting tactics.

What are the benefits of hardware refresh? ›

A: Improved system performance, greater productivity and reduced risk of downtime are three big advantages that can come from consistent from a hardware refresh service like ours. In addition, the service will allow you to better budget for future hardware expenses.

What is hardware refresh cycle policy? ›

What is a Hardware Refresh Cycle? A hardware refresh cycle is a process of upgrading a businesses' hardware and software. Previously it was suggested to have a three to five-year refresh cycle. However, that is only a rough estimate since every business has a different set of needs and priorities.

What is a hardware strategy? ›

A Hardware Refresh Strategy is an ongoing process to assess your current business hardware, future needs and contingencies in case of obsolescence or failure.

What are the five maintenance procedures for hardware? ›

Hardware maintenance tips.
  • Shutdown, then power off the system before changing any part or plug (exceptions: serial port devices and ethernet interfaces)
  • Use anti-static mat and/or wrist strap.
  • Be firm but gentle when seating boards, chips, connectors, etc.
  • Keep it clean, especially air filters & ventilation paths.

What is the best way to refresh? ›

11 ways to refresh your soul and mind in 15 minutes
  1. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking one glass of water. ...
  2. Stretch out. ...
  3. Go outside. ...
  4. Meditate. ...
  5. Listen to calming music. ...
  6. Treat yourself. ...
  7. Have your favorite snack. ...
  8. Take a nap.
Jun 23, 2020

What is the purpose of refresh? ›

The refresh button, also known as the refresh option, is a function of all Internet browsers. It is used to ask the browser to send you the most updated version of the page you're viewing. See the browser page for additional information about this term and related links.

What is the main function of refresh? ›

The Refresh function retrieves a fresh copy of a data source.

What is the purpose of refresh operation? ›

A refresh cycle is an occasionally repeated procedure or cycle that the random access memory (RAM) undergoes. It reads and then rewrites the contents of a dynamic memory device. This is done to ensure that the information within the RAM will not disappear.

What are the four main stages of a hardware life cycle? ›

IT Hardware Lifecycle Stages
  • Procurement. The initial step in any hardware lifecycle is the purchase of the device itself. ...
  • Deploy & Install. After hardware is procured, it will then need to be installed and integrated with existing systems. ...
  • Maintenance. ...
  • Upgrades. ...
  • Buy-Back or Trade-In. ...
  • Disposal & Refresh.
Jul 1, 2022

What is refresh method? ›

The Refresh method immediately updates the records in the underlying record source for a specified form or datasheet to reflect changes made to the data by you and other users in a multiuser environment.

What is hardware refresh rate? ›

The refresh rate of your display refers to how many times per second the display is able to draw a new image. This is measured in Hertz (Hz). For example, if your display has a refresh rate of 144Hz, it is refreshing the image 144 times per second.

What are the 4 four strategy elements? ›

The four Ps are a “marketing mix” comprised of four key elements—product, price, place, and promotion—used when marketing a product or service. Typically, businesses consider the four Ps when creating marketing plans and strategies to effectively market to their target audience.

What are the 7 elements of strategy? ›

How to Strategic Plan in 7 Steps
  • Step 1: Environmental Scan. ...
  • Step 2: Internal Analysis. ...
  • Step 3: Strategic Direction. ...
  • Step 4: Develop Goals and Objectives. ...
  • Step 5: Define Metrics, Set Timelines, and Track Progress. ...
  • Step 6: Write and Publish a Strategic Plan. ...
  • Step 7: Plan for Implementation and the Future.
Apr 26, 2022

What are the 4 fundamentals of a strategy? ›

A coherent strategy should include four separate and distinct components: long-term goals, a defined scope, a description of your competitive advantage and, finally, the logic by which you plan to achieve your goals.

What is basic hardware maintenance? ›

What does hardware maintenance mean? Hardware maintenance is a term used to reference the variety of support services provided for the optimization and/or repair of server, network and storage hardware. These services might include contract maintenance, installation, hourly technical consulting services and parts.

What are the four 4 successful maintenance program? ›

Four general types of maintenance philosophies can be identified, namely corrective, preventive, risk-based and condition-based maintenance.

What are methods of maintaining hardware? ›

10 Essential Computer Maintenance Tips
  • Protect with padding. ...
  • Organize cords. ...
  • Update your operating system. ...
  • Unplug to avoid overcharging. ...
  • Purge your system of junk files and programs. ...
  • Run regular antivirus scans. ...
  • Clean the keyboard and case. ...
  • Update your passwords.
Aug 13, 2019

How many types of refresh are there? ›

The first three (soft refresh, normal refresh, and hard refresh) are common operations to keep the content in the browser retrieved from the server up to date. The other two (harder refresh and hardest refresh) are fictional operations to perform refresh operations on remote resources.

What happens when you hard refresh? ›

A hard refresh clears your browser cache for a specific page, which forces it to load the most recent version of that page. This could include new scripts, styles or features.

What is the synonym of refresh? ›

Some common synonyms of refresh are rejuvenate, renew, renovate, and restore. While all these words mean "to make like new," refresh implies the supplying of something necessary to restore lost strength, animation, or power. a refreshing drink.

Why is technology refresh important? ›

A technology refresh refers to updating or upgrading key systems to maintain or improve their functionality. You can replace old hardware and software with technology that's faster, more secure and easier to handle.

How often should you refresh your computer? ›

there's no set rule for refreshing computers - be it a reboot or reset to factory state. people normally go for factory reset whenever they think the computer is running slow or just have too much clutter from past application installs etc - normal run of things - 18months or 2 years.

What control is refresh? ›

Other shortcuts: Ctrl + Shift + r or Ctrl + F5. This operation is the same on most modern browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Brave, Edge, …).

What are the steps for hardware development? ›

The hardware product development lifecycle can be divided into seven phases: Requirements or ideation→ Design→ Manufacturing→ Testing→ Distribution→ Use and maintenance→ Disposal.

What are the phases of a hardware project? ›

The 6 Stages of Any Hardware Product Lifecycle
  • PRD – Product Requirements Documentation.
  • EVT – Engineering Validation and Testing.
  • DVT – Design Validation and Testing.
  • PVT – Production Validation and Testing.
  • MP – Mass Production.
  • EOL – End of Life.
Jan 4, 2017

What are the 5 lifecycle stages? ›

The 5 stages of the product life cycle
  • The product life cycle is the progression of a product through 5 distinct stages—development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. ...
  • Market research plays an integral role in each stage of the product life cycle. ...
  • The first stage in the product life cycle is development.

How do you use auto refresh? ›

Right-click the tab that you want to refresh automatically and select Reload Tab. Set the interval you want for refreshing the page. Verify that the page refreshes automatically within the selected interval.

How do you calculate refresh frequency? ›

The refresh rate can be calculated from the horizontal scan rate by dividing the scanning frequency by the number of horizontal lines, plus some amount of time to allow for the beam to return to the top. By convention, this is a 1.05x multiplier.

What is fast refresh vs complete refresh? ›

The “Complete” refresh (7.75 mins) is more faster than the “Fast” refresh (48.9 mins), The parameter “atomic_refresh=FALSE” works only with “complete” refresh, so “truncate” is only possible with “complete“.

What is a good refresh rate? ›

What Is Refresh Rate? When comparing 60 Hz vs 75 Hz refresh rates, the answer is quite clear: 75 Hz is better. A refresh rate measures how many times a screen can update in one second. Higher refresh rates are associated with better video quality, reduced eye strain, and even improved gaming experiences.

What should I set my refresh rate to? ›

The refresh rate you should choose will depend on what application you will be using. For daily computing tasks, the ideal rate is 60Hz. For visually intensive tasks like gaming, the recommended rates are 144Hz or 240Hz.

What are the most common refresh rates? ›

Refresh rates of 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz are common on today's smartphones, though some can go up to 144Hz, 165Hz, or even 240Hz.

How do I make a computer maintenance schedule? ›

Let's take a look at these 10 essential maintenance tips, so your PC will see many more years of powerful performance and sleek appeal.
  1. Protect with padding. ...
  2. Organize cords. ...
  3. Update your operating system. ...
  4. Unplug to avoid overcharging. ...
  5. Purge your system of junk files and programs. ...
  6. Run regular antivirus scans.
Aug 13, 2019

How do you refresh a device? ›

Refresh device information
  1. Click Device Management > Devices.
  2. Use one of the following methods to display the Properties page: Select a device and then click Properties in the toolbar. Right-click a device to display the short-cut menu and then click the Properties menu option.
  3. Click Refresh in the toolbar.
Aug 15, 2018

What is technology refresh plan? ›

Tech refresh is the cycle of regularly updating key elements of your IT infrastructure to maximize system performance. Instead of using systems until they can no longer function, many companies choose to upgrade or replace certain infrastructure on a regular schedule.

How do I refresh my computer and maintain performance? ›

7 Ways to Improve Your Computer Performance
  1. Uninstall unnecessary software. ...
  2. Limit the programs at startup. ...
  3. Add more RAM to your PC. ...
  4. Check for spyware and viruses. ...
  5. Use Disk Cleanup and defragmentation. ...
  6. Consider a startup SSD. ...
  7. Take a look at your web browser.
Dec 26, 2018

What are the 7 tasks that you should do regularly for Windows maintenance? ›

7 Vital Windows Maintenance Tasks You Should Do More Often
  • Update Windows and Software. ...
  • Manage Your Email. ...
  • Back Up Your Data. ...
  • Delete Unnecessary Files and Programs. ...
  • Perform Windows Maintenance Scans. ...
  • Double-Check Important Settings. ...
  • Clean Your Hardware.
Jul 17, 2019

What are the three most common ways to organize a maintenance department? ›

The Top 3 Ways to Streamline Your Maintenance Management Using Software
  • Organize Your Physical Space.
  • Become Mobile.
  • Schedule Preventative Maintenance.
Aug 28, 2018


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