Learn just how much older hardware can effect

It’s understandable why many veterinary practice owners and managers believe their computer hardware will last 5 to 7 years. However, in a busy practice with constant use and in an environment with excessive pet hair and dander, reality is it may last only 3 to 5 years.

Older computers are also unlikely to support newer operating systems, which can slow your computer’s performance over time and drastically affect your staff’s daily workflow. This can cause delays in the waiting room, a poor customer experience, and even customer attrition.

And, in the case of your servers, a hardware failure could be disastrous – leading to the loss of vital customer, operational and financial data.

Four ways to tell your hardware is reaching the end of its life

  1. You can’t install the latest operating system. With each new operating system update, there will likely be an increase in the minimum hardware specifications needed to run it. Sooner or later, your computer will no longer be up to the task.
  2. It’s running progressively slower, or crashing. This could mean it takes several minutes to boot up, or it slows to a halt when you’re trying to do basic tasks.
  3. You’re running out of space. If your hard drive is squeezed for space, your system monitor will show the RAM is all in use when you’ve only got a few apps open, and your CPU usage will routinely hit 80% or more.
  4. It’s becoming noisy. Over time, a PC or server becomes louder. It may be because the CPU is working harder than it used to, there are problems with components overheating, or the fan is about to break.

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What is a senior server?

”Senior servers” are those that are reaching the end of their productive working life and may be slowing down a bit ahead of retirement. This is also when your hardware tends to reach the end of its support lifecycle and is no longer being updated or maintained by the manufacturer. At this point automatic fixes, updates and technical assistance are coming to an end, as well as vital security updates. And with it comes an elevated risk to your practice’s ability to perform its essential duties.

Here are answers to some important questions about senior servers:

How do you tell your server hardware is outdated?

Your server’s life is coming to an end if you are running an outdated operating system like Windows 7 or older, Server OS 2008 or 2008_R2, or older. It’s also a sign if you notice any of the symptoms described above. Typically, anything over 5 years old is running on borrowed time.

How does older hardware impact your business, staff, and patients?

Older hardware can slow down and cause your network to lag. This means it may take longer than usual to load patient records, which creates a poor customer experience and frustration for veterinary staff.  It may also take a long time to pull up imagery, including x-rays. Slow hardware at the front desk can also inconvenience customers when they are checking out. The biggest impact is if your server crashes and cannot be rebooted. You could lose all the valuable data entered since your last backup and suffer many days of downtime while the server is repaired or replaced.

How should you plan and budget for purchasing replacement hardware?

It’s recommended that a veterinary clinic budgets approximately 7% annually for IT infrastructure.  Setting funds aside regularly for hardware is a lot easier on your practice finances than having to come up with a large lump sum should a server crash. This is where it pays to have a technology partner who provides managed services, can preconfigure hardware to your specific needs then ship, and accommodate remote install or on-site installation. This can often save thousands of dollars in IT costs and potential downtime at your clinic.

What should you look for when purchasing hardware?

As developers of practice management software Covetrus knows what to look for and how to determine which hardware will work best for each clinic.  Too often we see practices purchasing incorrect hardware themselves and getting underpowered machines, or incorrect operating systems. We also see clinics purchasing servers from local IT companies who are not familiar with the required specifications for running software in a veterinary practice.

Don’t let your infrastructure and applications go unprotected. We’re here to help you update your hardware and operating systems to current versions. Get in touch with us Covetrus by completing the form at the top of the page.