The majority of businesses now rely on IT in some form or another. Even if your IT infrastructure equates to one PC it is important to ask yourself how critical is that PC for the running of your business?
Two common issues you may come across involve one part of your PC, the PCs hard disk. The first common problem relates to a failed hard disk (where the hard disk is physically broken) and the second is where a system requires rebuilding (where the disk works but requires being wiped and the software reinstalling). In each case it is very important to have a plan detailing how you would deal with either of these situations.
The first thing you will need in either case will be to reinstall the software. Ensuring all disks and licence keys are kept safe and accessible where required can make life easier should the worst happen. If some of you software was downloaded you can reduce downtime by saving a copy of the download somewhere safe (it may be wise to save it in more than one location / ensure you have a backup).
The next issue will be to get your files and databases back. Having one or more good backup solutions can be live saving in this situation. If you are forced to try and recover data from a failed hard disk the bill could be crippling, it will take time to achieve and you may not get all your data back anyway.
In the same way it is important to keep software and licences safe you may also want to include any network or security settings. Things like network or wireless passwords will all be required when setting up a new PC.
Once you know how you are going to deal with potential issues should they arise your next job is to reduce how often you will ever need to put that plan into action. Computers will age and eventually break. In most cases you can manage this rather than waiting till something breaks and risking it happening at a time when it will disrupt business the most.
Scheduling the regular replacement of hardware like PCs can put you in a position to budget for this and time it to ensure you limit the impact on day to day business. This will probably involve retiring perfectly good machines but it would then allow you to sell your old hardware and offset the proceeds against the cost of your new equipment (be sure to properly remove any data first). Another advantage of retiring a machine in good working order is that you can keep hold of some equipment so you have it spare.
The amount of time between upgrading hardware can vary dependant on the equipment and how it is used (for example desktops tend to last longer that laptops). You can increase how long a PC lasts be treating it well. Every time you remove software from a PC it can leave residual files and records on your PC. If you are installing and removing software quite regularly you may find this greatly reduces your PCs operational lifespan. Regularly defragmenting your hard disk, monitoring your systems performance and removing or archiving old data can all increase the life of your PC.