Nine symptoms for diagnosing ailing IT

From tired hardware, to expired support contracts and creaking networks, the tell-tale signs that suggest urgent treatment may sound all too familiar

Topic: Networking
1 of 9 Jack Wallen/ZDNet

Login screen

We often have good reasons for ignoring the warning signs. Technological change can disrupt work, create overtime and cause unplanned bulges in the budget. But eventually, there'll be no choice but to upgrade. Before the inevitable is forced on you, it's best to take the symptoms seriously. Here are nine clear indications that your IT needs to change.

1. Lost or forgotten passwords
When equipment reaches a certain age, you never know if a factory reset will bring it back to life. So, you should take it very seriously when passwords for security equipment have been forgotten, but you daren't reset to factory defaults because you fear the hardware will no longer function. Of course, the lesson here is never to forget security information. But that issue aside, when passwords are lost, it could be a sign that it's time to start replacing your ancient hardware.

2 of 9 Jack Wallen/ZDNet

Skeleton at keyboard

2. Expired support contracts
Some companies depend on support contracts for the smooth running of the business. Others rely on them only for particular pieces of software or hardware — especially costly ones. And another group only uses them when absolutely necessary. Regardless of the camp your organisation falls into, expired support contracts are a good sign that your technology is out of date and in need of upgrading.

3 of 9 Microsoft

Windows 95

3. Ancient software
When was the last time you audited the organisation to find out what versions of various software products were deployed? When you conducted that exercise, did you see anything seriously out of date? You'd be surprised at what's still out there. On occasion, I see Windows 98 or NT machines, or Windows XP machines running Office 2000. Ancient software can cause far more issues than some people realise — especially when users are collaborating with other companies, which are unlikely to be running Microsoft Office 98 or StarOffice.

4 of 9 Jack Wallen/ZDNet

Thief at a cabinet

4. Security breaches
Depending on what is being targeted, if you keep getting hacked, ancient software could be your weak spot. Of course, the breaches could be either hardware or software related, and you may be suffering from poorly configured security hardware, buggy or outdated software, or lax security policies. But while one break-in is understandable, multiple hacks suggest it is time for a major overhaul.

5 of 9 Jack Wallen/ZDNet


5. Uncompetitive IT
When rival companies overtake you in terms of technology, they can offer customers features and products that are closed to you. Your competition may have taken advantage of the latest technology or perhaps they're exploiting their systems and resources more effectively. Meanwhile, you have stuck with what works for so long, that it no longer works. Losing out to rivals in business should be a signal to step back and examine your technology to find out why you're being left behind.

6 of 9 Jack Wallen/ZDNet

Feet up on desk

6. Network slowdowns
How often do your end users complain of network slowdowns? Can your clients get quick access to your services or sites? If complaints are coming in faster than you can troubleshoot them, it might be time to reassess the backbone. The amount of data being transferred through your pipes isn't the same as it was five or 10 years ago. With so many more web-based tools in play, data usage has gone through the roof. Slow data means slow workers and a slowdown on profit. Share that idea with the board or the CEO and see how quickly they move on upgrading those data pipes.

7 of 9 Ben Woods

Motorola phone in hand

7. Block on mobile devices
If you are still stopping users from getting email on their smartphones, or not allowing wireless on the network, it's time to wake up to the new world order. Not only do you need to enable the use of these devices, you need to open Exchange to iOS and Android.

8 of 9 Jack Wallen/ZDNet

Waving goodbye

8. Poor staff retention
Employees leave for many reasons, but when you learn they are citing poor IT and support, it's time for a rethink. Of course, end users should not dictate IT policies, but neither should policies be a contributing factor to high employee attrition.

9 of 9 Jack Wallen/ZDNet

Using a laptop on a mountain

9. No support for mobile workers
Staff need to be able work anywhere. Managing that facility is nowhere near as difficult as it once was, yet some businesses still refuse to provide it. In some cases, their network infrastructure is simply not up to the task. If yours can't handle a few telecommuters, you urgently need to upgrade.

Time for a change
Does your IT meet contemporary needs and follow best practice in today's tech-centric world? If not, it's time to take a hard look at what needs to change. If any of the problems listed here sound familiar, it may be time to migrate to the here and now. But what other tell-tale signs have you come across?

This story originally appeared as 10 warning signs that your IT landscape needs to change on TechRepublic.

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