From going paperless to reducing waste, several businesses are increasing their eco-friendly efforts. But when it comes to sustainable IT, one question looms large – should you repair or replace damaged hardware?

A lot will depend on how the hardware contributes to the organisation’s ongoing operations and its timeline to redundancy. However, there is a simple formula you can use to assess the sustainability of broken IT equipment, which starts with four key figures.

What is the salvage value?

Reusing or repurposing equipment is always the preferred option in terms of sustainable IT. This can include selling hardware onto other organisations.

The salvage value can be subtracted from the replacement costs, but this depends on the type of equipment and the level of damage.

What is the disposal cost?

If your hardware has no salvage value, disposing of it could cost money. Heavy equipment such as computer servers and printing stations need to be disposed of safely in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.

What is the repair cost?

Again, this depends on the hardware in question, and whether the fix will restore it to full working order with acceptable reliability. IT equipment with a track record of malfunction will be first in line for a replacement.

What is the replacement cost?

If you’ve expended all other options, then you’ll need to figure out how much a replacement will cost. You may even end up with better technology that affords greater efficiency or extra functionality, which saves time and money in other areas.

The repair-vs-replace formula

Once you’ve got these values, it’s possible to calculate whether you should be repairing or replacing your equipment. The equation looks like this:

  1. Repair cost – disposal cost = repair value
  2. Replace cost – salvage value = replacement value
  3. Replacement value – repair value = £+/–

If you end up with a positive number, then it’s cheaper to repair the item. But if the result is negative, then you should look to replace your IT equipment.

And if you want an alternative to both repairing or replacing, try to find a technology supplier with a device-as-a-service model. Instead of purchasing hardware, you pay a subscription fee for vendors to provide and manage your IT equipment.