People frequently ask us about the possibility of setting up an IT network with outdated hardware/software. Outdated tech tends to be pretty cheap, giving smaller companies and startups a chance to establish a good foundation. Unfortunately, there is just one problem: Outdated hardware and software are inherently less secure. Cybersecurity represents a never-ending arms race between hackers and those who attempt to stop them. Outdated tech will be way behind in that race. Outdated IT really is risky, so here are four good reasons to upgrade it immediately.
1. Malware Definitions
There are many security programs that make use of a known malware database. This is basically a list of files that have been known to contain malware. Such databases are constantly being updated as new viruses are found and old ones become obsolete. Not all software makes use of malware databases, but a lot of your important security software will. Antivirus software and firewalls are obviously the two most common examples. Such programs cannot do their jobs without updated database profiles.
However, that’s not the only problem. Malware is generally written to infect a specific operating system. Thus, there are Windows 10 viruses, Windows 8 viruses, Mac viruses (very rare but they do exist), and viruses that target various versions of Linux (even rarer). If you are running an outdated operating system, your malware database won’t do much good.
Let’s say you’re running Windows 7, for instance. Viruses that were written for Windows 10 are unlikely to infect your system, but your software won’t know that. You will get a lot of warnings for malware that isn’t dangerous to you. Because Windows 7 is so outdated, however, most of its viruses will no longer be found in those malware databases. The result is that it will alert you regarding false threats while ignoring the real ones. There are also numerous other security risks that come from the use of outdated software.
2. Higher Maintenance Costs
The use of outdated IT equipment can seem like a remarkably cheap option, but it does have some hidden costs. All IT equipment, no matter how well made, will need maintenance from time to time. This will include the replacement of hardware components (like new cables, parts for computers or servers, etc.) and the labor costs of any repairs that have to be made. Most professional IT technicians will not be trained to work with outdated hardware. They don’t encounter it very often, so it isn’t really worthwhile for the company to hire people who specialize in the use of old equipment.
In addition, spare parts for old machines can sometimes be hard to find. Even when you do find them, they are often second-hand parts. This makes them dubious at best, and a potential security risk at the worst. For instance, a secondhand hard drive could contain all sorts of nasty malware surprises. In a case like that, you would need to wipe and overwrite all data on the drive. In case you don’t know, that tends to be a long process. As for labor costs, technicians will probably have to do some research in order to service obsolete systems. That means more hours on the job and higher labor costs.
3. Lack Of Manufacturer Support
There is another problem that arises when you start trying to do maintenance and repair on outdated equipment. In many cases, the manufacturer will no longer support those devices or programs. This means that, when a problem arises, you are completely on your own. You cannot call the manufacturer for support, and any warranties will almost certainly have expired. Also, software or hardware updates will no longer be available. Trying to shoehorn new updates on old equipment is a recipe for disaster.
For desktops and laptops, this can lead to several other issues. First, the manufacturer will no longer offer drivers that are compatible with your equipment. Thus, it will become a lot harder to get all this outdated equipment to cooperate. Having decent equipment won’t help if it can’t work together in a cohesive way. Security certificates are another problem, as these will also be outdated with no new ones being released. A cert issue can make a particular device incapable of accessing the internet until it has been fixed.
4. Longer Project Times
Another problem with outdated equipment: It tends to be very laggy. A lot of people are too young to remember the days of dial-up internet when internet speeds were significantly lower than they are today. In fact, that’s putting it mildly. Dial-up generally gave a network speed of about 40-50 kilobytes per second. As you can see from these metrics, modern high-speed internet is capable of speeds as high as 200 megabytes (or 200,000 kilobytes) per second.
The difference isn’t usually that large, but you get the idea. Old equipment was made to run at slower speeds. Even something from the mid-2000s is likely to be a lot slower than modern hardware. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that new software often has a hard time running properly with older hardware. It will also be made worse by the mutual aggravation felt by everyone who has to work with obsolete (and slow) tools. All of this adds up to one thing: Your employees will not be able to work as fast, and they will probably be irritable and less cooperative. It will take them a lot longer to do certain things, and there will be nothing you can do except upgrading that old junk.
One common theme that can be found in all four of these reasons is Compatibility. Every aspect of the internet and its devices is made and tailored for current hardware. You just can’t expect to get the best performance from a square peg in a round hole. It simply doesn’t fit, and even the world’s best IT guy will not be able to fully remove that problem. The best they can do is to mitigate the problem, like someone plugging the holes in a sinking ship. Instead of doing that, you just need to invest in a better boat. If you would like to do that, you might start by calling PCH Technologies. We are your local IT support provider and can be reached at (856) 754-7500 for many kinds of IT support and services.