When to Buy Refurbished vs New Servers
The cost difference between a brand new server and its refurbished equivalent is substantial. Many small businesses find the lower price point of a refurbished server appealing but worry about the quality and reliability of used equipment. The
likelihood of receiving faulty equipment is actually lower with refurbished equipment (since it tends to be tested more rigorously) but there are certain cases when selecting refurbished gear is discouraged.
However, there are many situations where a refurbished server might be a better option.
It can be difficult to know when a refurbished server will provide a viable solution and when a new server is required. Here are some things to take into consideration when comparing new and used servers.
New servers will come with the latest and greatest security features. Unfortunately, many OEMs only provide the latest firmware updates and security patches on newer models. Therefore, if your business runs applications that are in production 24/7 and cannot go down, it’s safest to deploy new servers. Especially if an interruption would have a severe impact on your small business’ operational integrity or finances. Key examples of such mission-critical applications are domain controllers (where downtime threatens security) and e-commerce platforms (where downtime threatens the ability to bring in revenue).
Keep in mind when purchasing a new server from an OEM like Dell or HP, that customization is limited. Your options include only the servers that the OEM builds, typically without any configurations to meet your individual needs. OEMs also tend to maintain just-in-time supply chains which means they often have longer than desired lead times when a replacement part is needed. Typically they only offer a standard warranty that may be shorter than preferred when support or replacement parts are needed.
When it comes down to cost, new servers can be drastically different than refurbished options. When comparing the latest server models with refurbished units of previous generations, the price of one brand new server can equal multiple refurbished ones.
Whereas mission-critical production workloads ought to be deployed on new servers, testing and development environments can be deployed on refurbished servers. For less critical applications, a small business could always purchase multiple refurbished servers to stand in as backup, and they’d still save money versus buying a single new model.
Refurbishers are often able to deliver custom server builds and replacement parts faster than OEMs. They enable small businesses to granularly customize servers to meet their exact business needs and budget. For instance, the latest server from the OEM may come with a much higher RAM than needed. By purchasing from a refurbisher, you could configure a server that is similar to the latest model, but with a lower RAM, sparing you from paying for a component that’s overkill.
When comparing similar models, it’s
not unheard of to save nearly 40% when going the refurbished route. If you have your eye on a current model, but it is too pricey for your company’s IT budget, it’s often worth waiting to purchase a refurbished unit because as soon as the next-generation is released prices fall significantly for refurbished previous generations.
A small business can also
receive customer service from a refurbisher that’s superior to the customer care offered by OEMs. Not only does a refurbisher frequently offer more hands-on support, but their warranties are also often available for longer stretches of time than those offered by the OEM. Refurbishers also have plenty of pre-tested stock on hand that could be assembled in one business day. That puts the days or even weeks of lead time offered by the OEMs to shame.
One last thing to contemplate is how your small business feels about its impact on the environment. If your company is looking to be a green energy user, it may be in your favor to purchase brand new models, which tend to be more energy-efficient. On the other hand, if your company’s priority is to minimize e-waste, purchasing a refurbished server gives what would be an otherwise discarded device a new life. After all, the amount of
worldwide e-waste is expected to exceed 50 million tons in 2020, with annual growth between 4% and 5%.
Purchasing new servers is essential for mission-critical applications that cannot risk forgoing the latest firmware and security updates, which could threaten uptime. However, new servers come at greater cost and customization is limited. When applications could assume the slight uptime risk, which is definitely the case for test and development workloads, refurbished servers are ideal. They offer substantial cost benefits, more granular customization, deeper warranties, and help reduce your business e-waste. Ultimately it is up to you to decide what matters the most to your business when it comes to the use case of your new server. By defining what you need that server to accomplish in your environment choosing between a new or refurbished should be relatively easy.