The Importance of a Warranty on IT Equipment

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Today many people who manage their company’s IT infrastructure understand the importance of server warranties. To make it easier, most retailers attach a basic warranty to servers for 3 years. One problem is that these individuals may not look deeper at what that warranty covers. Whenever a new server or any IT hardware is purchased, there should be a basic review of the importance of that hardware and the cost in time and productivity that would be lost over time.

When looking at server warranties, the “included” 3-year warranty sounds good on the surface. However, in many cases, the coverage is not up to par. The typical basic warranty covers next business day repair AFTER a remote diagnosis. This means a phone call to support and spending time, sometimes hours, running tests, and gathering logs that will be reviewed by the remote support technician. Once that is complete and the issue identified, they will dispatch whatever parts are needed and send an onsite technician to come in and do the repair work. Keep in mind that many of these warranties are 8-5, meaning they will dispatch that tech during normal business hours. This can be okay if the server is hard down and unusable, but if the failure is only partial, the server will have to be taken fully offline for the repair.

Because the warranty is next business day, that also means that if the fault occurs on a Friday, that onsite tech will not arrive until some time on Monday. This means that next day coverage can leave you out of service for up to 4 days. The 24/7 warranty with pro support does cost twice as much or more, but it would likely have the server back online the same day. Before committing to this cost, ask how important the server is as well as how much time, productivity, or money will be lost in those extra days that it will be down.

This is a choice that can be made on a per-server basis as well. Some servers may be more critical than others, so it is important when budgeting the cost of a server to know if your business will be negatively impacted in the event of a failure.

It’s not only the server warranties that are important

The warranties concept is also not limited to servers, and this is another area that is frequently overlooked. Networking hardware can have just as much of an impact as a server or more as a core network switch failure could potentially take down access to all servers. A properly redundant network can mitigate this, but even then, having a redundant system with a path down can cause increased load and potential latency for the whole network.

End-user workstations and laptops are another concern. The basic workstation warranties tend to be for one year, but the operational life can be four to five years. While many companies keep spare workstations and laptops to account for this, it is not always possible or cost-effective. The other point to be aware of is the type of warranty. Many basic workstation or laptop warranties require the device to be shipped to the vendor to repair. This can and has taken weeks before the repaired machine returns to the end-user.

For laptops and workstations, a similar evaluation should be done like that of servers. Evaluate the risk by looking at the end user’s work role and the potential loss if that user is unable to work. Workstations and Laptops offer similar upgrades for service and can be extended beyond the first year for an additional cost. Some manufacturers also offer accidental damage coverage that will repair or replace a machine even if the failure is related to an accident, like a cracked screen caused by dropping a laptop.

There may even be requirements for coverage options based on the data stored on the device. One example is when a hard drive in a machine fails. Typically the data remains on the physical media. Standard warranties require you to return the “bad” part after replacement, thereby delivering potentially sensitive data to an outside entity. Most vendors will offer an option to retain any bad hard disks so they can be stored or properly destroyed to protect from any data leaks.

In summary, not every situation is the same. While you should have some form of warranty coverage for your equipment, the level of that coverage should be decided by carefully reviewing the risk and choosing the most appropriate option.

Have any questions about your server warranties and what you should do? Feel free to contact us at any time!

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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