Majority of SMEs risk data loss by failing to upgrade PCs

12 Apr 2011

Seven out of 10 small-to-medium businesses risk corporate data loss through their failure to replace old PCs they rely on to store business-critical data, according to research commissioned by EMC subsidiary Mozy.

The survey revealed that SMEs are increasingly abandoning the typical three-year refresh cycle of their PCs, with only 30pc of companies sticking to a planned refresh cycle in the past three years and 18pc not even trying. When asked what prevented them from implementing their device refresh plans, most blamed the economic climate.

As a result, the average age of a work computer in the UK is five years and two months – twice the age of those used in German companies. In fact, the average PC is now more than a year and half past the date it was planned to be scrapped.

The practical impact of using these ageing devices is that more than 40pc of employees surveyed found their work efficiency is compromised by events such as computer crashes and lost data. A quarter stated these events impacted their work “significantly” or “very much”.

Around 7pc of the UK’s small-to-medium businesses ask employees to work on PCs that are six to 10 years old, with many people using computers even surpassing this age.

“The economy has caused nearly every business to make hard decisions about spending but, sometimes, companies don’t realise what they’re risking by cutting back,” says Claire Galbois-Alcaix, of online backup provider Mozy.

“Forty per cent of people we spoke to said that issues like data loss were impacting their ability to do their jobs. If you’re running older hardware that’s prone to failure, it’s critical to have a backup solution you can trust. Online backup is cheaper than upgrading PCs and could save your business.”

Smash-and-grab tactics

The research also exposed a worrying trend for workers forced to ‘mend and make do’ to take matters into their own hands and deliberately smash their phones and laptops in order to get new ones: regardless of the loss of data that causes their employer.

A shocking 13pc of the UK workforce said the quickest way to a new device was to deliberately and irreparably damage their PC, laptop or mobile phone. On the continent, the French were found to be most likely to select this option, with more than 20pc believing a ‘smash job’ was the simplest way to a new computer.

In total, more than a third of office workers across Europe think their fastest route to a new device is to cheat the system, either deliberately damaging (13pc) or trading in their existing device (15pc), or buying new parts to perform an upgrade themselves (7pc).

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years