How Long Will Your Tech Devices Last Before You Have To Replace Them?

Update for November 2017 (originally posted December 2015): Upgrading your tech devices — smartphones, computers or tablets — is a recurring event on your calendar, whether you think of it that way or not. Having a good idea of when you’ll need to replace each one or even if you need to replace them at all is good for your budget and peace of mind.

Here’s when you can expect to replace your devices plus some tips on how to make them last longer:

The recommendations below are based on normal use. If you use your devices more or less than most people, adjust the recommendations.

And if you like keeping devices for as long as possible, be aware that if your device is too old to install the latest operating system (OS) or run updated apps, it means it can’t run the latest security features either. New malware and cyber schemes are invented every day — your device needs the protection included in those updates. On the other hand, if your device is simply sluggish or out of storage, you may want to have it serviced or get a bigger hard drive before investing in a new device. The chart below may help you decide.

Never ignore a device that’s making strange noises, though. It likely means a hardware failure is looming. And whenever you trade up, always remember to wipe your hard drive!

Device Suggested Life Cycle Tips
Smartphone Keep it at least two years (a recommendation largely based on provider plans, but new plans offer more options), knowing that it will probably last three years or longer.  

  • Use a case, keep it fully charged, close apps you’re not using (so the processor doesn’t have to work so hard), keep your OS and apps updated and use only your fingers or approved stylus pens
  • Wait a month before uploading a major new OS on an old phone
  • Check to see how much you can get for your phone on Gazelle, Swappa or other resale sites before you trade it in with your carrier


Tablet Four years is standard for iPads, often sooner for other brands. There’s nothing wrong with hanging onto it as long as it’s working and can run the latest security features.  

  • Older tablets are in demand — see options above
  • Follow the same tips as for smartphones and don’t store it in the sun for long periods
  • Hard cases are especially important for tablets to prevent problems caused by bending


Laptop Plan for a life cycle that’s three years for business or heavy use, or four years for consumer use. You can get five years out of a high-quality laptop that you treat well.  

  • Choose a laptop that’s built for business even though it costs a little more on the front end
  • Choose one with fewer moving parts and gimmicks, (like screens that detach as tablet)
  • Laptops with more memory, storage space and expansion capabilities will be useful for a longer period of time
  • Take good care of it — see our 10 tips of computer care


Desktop Five years is average, but if you also have a laptop you can probably make your desktop work for seven years or longer.  

  • Weigh the time cost of a slower, older computer against the dollar cost of a new one
  • Most of our laptop care tips also apply to desktops



At Leapfrog, we work with more devices than you can count* and are extraordinarily aware of what can happen if a single device goes bad. While we don’t recommend that home users get a new device simply because it is x number of years old, which we do recommend for businesses, we highly recommend that everyone have a great backup solution for each of their devices, and always secure them with passwords (preferably biometrics, if available) and the latest anti-malware protection. Adding disk encryption is a great idea, too. You never know when you might inadvertently fall victim to ransomware.

Leapfrog also offers asset management and procurement services for our managed services clients. This frees up our clients from having to inventory and track their IT assets themselves — we create a database and our automated system keeps it updated. Clients receive a report on their aging assets, along with specific recommendations for replacements, as part of their monthly reporting package. Asset age is also a consideration in each client’s strategic IT roadmap — planning ahead is a great policy! Please contact Leapfrog if you’re interested in learning more about how our client and advisory services team works with clients.

* Actually, you can count them because we have a phenomenal database that tracks our clients’ devices and informs them when items need replacing. At this particular moment, the number of devices and hardware components we track is more than 15,000.

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