New computer hardware is generally a must for most data centers, but there is a market for recycled and refurbished servers and computer equipment. Is the extra capital investment — usually in the form of cold hard cash — worth it for new equipment, or is it possible to cut corners and rely on recycled servers for IT operations? The answer to that question probably depends on the specific use-case for the operation in question.
Refurbished Servers an Option for Doing IT on a Budget
For a new start-up on a tight IT budget, going the route of refurbished and recycled equipment makes sense if the extra steps are taken to make sure everything is sufficiently tested and certified before purchase. The robust market for used computers features an array of different sellers — reputable and otherwise — so it pays to do enough research to ensure you are dealing with a company on the up and up.
The leaders in recycled computer hardware make it a point to thoroughly clean and refurbish every used server they receive before putting it back on the market. Companies that deal in both new and used computer equipment, and are highly rated with the Better Business Bureau usually make for a trustworthy partner for a fledgling organization outfitting their first on-premise data center.
Remember that refurbished servers probably have undergone additional cleaning and testing compared to a merely “used” server. It is a subtle difference, but an important one that could lead to some unfortunate downtime when relying on a collection of used computer hardware that wasn’t sufficiently tested before being put into production.
Recycled Computer Hardware is more than just Servers
The recycled computer market features more items than just servers. Many of the same providers offer refurbished networking equipment, memory, workstations, laptops, and monitors. The same principles apply as when looking at used server equipment — refurbished is better than used, and make sure everything was tested and certified.
When purchasing any kind of recycled computer equipment, getting a warranty from a respected vendor is probably the best way to go — even if it means spending a little extra money. The savings compared to brand new equipment is still significant. Also consider that many refurbished computer hardware companies also buy used gear, so this could be an opportunity for some IT shops to recycle their own server equipment and save some extra money in the process.
So while using refurbished computer equipment provides a measure of cost savings to a start-up company, it is important to buy from a reputable company who performs an adequate level of testing on all hardware. Just grabbing something off a table at a flea market is probably not a good idea! The smart business can save some dollars and still provide an acceptable level of service to their customers.