As a small business owner, the last thing you want to hear is that you need to spend more money. The idea may even make you cringe.

While that may be your initial reaction, and understandably so, there are a few things you should be thinking about before overhauling your office hardware and if now is an appropriate time to do so.

Whether you choose to wait, invest in new equipment or upgrade your existing machines, here are four questions you should ask yourself before making a final decision.

How old is your equipment?

While waiting may be the most appealing option, be sure to consider the age of your equipment as it will play a significant role in what you eventually decide. A good rule of thumb is if it’s less than 2 years old you should be fine. Anything between 3-5 years can probably be upgraded and still give you great performance.

If it’s older than 5 years, upgrades might work but you’ll also have to take into account how well the machine is working. If you’re still working on equipment that’s 10+ years, you’re probably due for replacement. You’ve definitely gotten your money’s worth and you’ll be surprised how fast and efficient a new computer operates compared to the old one.

Have you experienced security issues?

Security is one of the most important factors that should influence your decision. If you’ve experienced frequent or even sporadic security issues, it might be due to your aging hardware. While software updates can mitigate a number of these problems, at a certain point it’s going to surpass the capability of your computers.

Software developers are always making tweaks, sometimes major ones like patches and bug fixes. If you’re not working with the most recent update, you’re putting your company at risk of malware and other cybersecurity threats.

What is the effect on productivity?

You probably are more aware of this issue than any others. If you’re seeing an increase in employees bringing computer issues to your attention, this is a pretty big red flag.

If your computers are spending a significant amount of time out of commission due to repairs, it’s costing you in more ways than one. While it’s common to have computer problems, if they’re interfering with the ability for your staff to get things done in a timely manner, you should seriously consider an upgrade or replacement of the equipment.

Not only will it affect your employee’s ability to get work done, but it could also leak into other areas such as customer service and employee retention.

While you might be able to get some more life out of the equipment with an upgrade, you could end up spending more on repairs than you would have by replacing the equipment.

How much will it cost?

Determining how much the cost of an upgrade versus the cost of replacing the equipment altogether is probably going to be the biggest part of your decision-making process. Although buying new equipment for your entire company will cost you thousands of dollars, the increase in productivity and reduced downtime for your employees could make the investment worth it.

If, however, an upgrade is more within your price range and you can get at least one more year with your existing computers, it might be worth it to hold off for the time being. For example, there are relatively inexpensive ways to upgrade PCs that could give you a few more years like replacing your hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD), adding RAM or even upgrading your CPU. This option is only a few hundred dollars per computer and gives you some time before making a larger investment.

No matter what you decide, upgrading your hardware or replacing it could solve some of your security and productivity issues that should negate some of the cost. If you’re still struggling to make a decision, it might a good idea to reach out to a hardware expert for some advice.