Purchasing refurbished computer equipment can be a safe way for small and midsize businesses to help cope with the fierce economic pressures in today’s climate of reduced sales and high operating costs. It is a growing practice that saves money and reduces equipment-acquisition time while still providing the performance needed for most business applications.
Aventis Systems Inc., an Atlanta-based firm specializing in refurbished IT equipment, offers the following argument for the benefits of refurbished servers, hardware, routers and other IT systems and infrastructure.
Refurbished IT equipment is pre-owned equipment that has been cleaned, tested, reconfigured and warranted for further use. One of the reasons refurbished equipment is a good bargain is that servers, routers and other devices are generally robust pieces of electronic equipment that are likely to become obsolete in terms of performance and capabilities long before the end of their useful lifespan. Experts agree that the useful lifetime of these components is at least six years, and sometimes more.
There's a big difference between equipment that is simply “used” and equipment that is “refurbished.” During the process of refurbishing a server, for example, the unit is cleaned on the outside to restore its look and cleaned on the inside to remove accumulated dust that may cause it to run hotter than normal and shorten its life. Then the unit is tested in a burn-in process similar to that when it was manufactured. This identifies any damaged or weak components, which are then replaced before the unit is installed in any application. Finally, the unit is reconfigured for a client’s application. This thorough process allows refurbishing companies to offer warranties that are as much as three times longer than those offered by the original manufacturer.
A dependable company that offers refurbished IT equipment will also offer a wide range of services for customers and provide prompt repair or replacement of any equipment that may develop a problem. While refurbished equipment generally doesn't fail any more often than new equipment, it is important for customers to select a refurbished-IT-equipment supplier that offers a good warranty and has an exemplary reputation for prompt, responsive service.
Additional benefits to a company beyond lower costs include:
* Reliability – Most refurbished equipment is only about two to three years old and has had time to have all the bugs worked out of it. Experience has shown that when properly cleaned, tested and reconfigured, refurbished equipment is just as reliable as new equipment. In fact, the best refurbishing companies offer warranties that rival or exceed the original manufacturers.'
* Performance – Because of cost savings, users are usually able to purchase higher-performing equipment than they otherwise would be able to afford. Also, most refurbished equipment comes with its original software and its certificate of authenticity, and savings on equipment can free up budget to purchase higher-grade software for other applications.
* Availability – There is a large pool of like-new refurbished equipment readily available in many markets around the country. When you order equipment, it is usually available immediately. When purchased new, equipment may have to be built, which can delay implementation of a project.
According to Aventis Systems, here are some things to look for when deciding which vendor to work with:
* Warranties – Some suppliers offer 30-day, “sell and run” warranties that expose customers to the risks of failing equipment. Look for suppliers that offer as much as a three-year warranty on servers and storage units, and at least a one-year warranty on desktop and laptop computers. Memory should be covered under a lifetime warranty, while hard drives and CPUs should come with at least a one-year warranty.
* Certified technicians – Look for suppliers that have technicians who are certified by the manufacturer. Dell and Hewlett-Packard have developed certification programs that all resellers should have completed before working on their hardware. Testing, repair and service are such important IT-support issues that you need to be sure that qualified technicians are working on your equipment.
* Customer service – Choose a supplier with a good record of customer service in terms of responsiveness, short turnaround time and knowledge. Ask for customer references.