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Six tips for buying a used storage system

Are you thinking of buying second-hand data storage equipment to save money? Read these six tips before you buy a used storage system.

What you will learn in this tip: Many smaller organizations often consider purchasing second-hand storage equipment to save money. Although buying used storage systems can save a tremendous amount of money, there are also some potential pitfalls to watch out for. 

Does your data storage system have a warranty?

One of the first issues that you need to consider when purchasing used data storage equipment is the warranty. More importantly, perhaps, is that new storage systems usually don't usually come with a lifetime warranty. The warranty on new equipment typically only lasts for a few years, and may not be transferable to a new owner.

Where are the disks?

When you buy used data storage equipment, there is a very good chance that the storage media (the hard disks) won't be included. After all, organizations store sensitive information on hard disks. Even if the used storage equipment vendor wants to sell you the hard disks with the system, can you really trust those disks? Hard disks wear out over time, and you have no idea how long the disks have been is use. If you invest in a used storage system, you are probably going to be better off using new hard drives.

Can you buy the right disks?

Whether you decide to start out with brand new hard drives or not, you will eventually have to replace drives as they wear out. Therefore, before you invest in used storage equipment, you should verify that you can still purchase drives that will work with the equipment.

Granted, most hard drives use standardized interfaces, but there are certain flavors of SCSI that have been extinct for many years. Unless you do your homework, you could end up purchasing a storage array for which drives are no longer available.

Will you have any support?

Another issue to consider is the availability of technical support. You need to verify that the equipment's manufacturer is still in business and that they still support the hardware that you are considering purchasing. Some manufacturers will still support the hardware you're purchasing, especially if it's only a few years old, however, many manufacturers discontinue support for products once those products become obsolete. Ask the manufacturer how long they intend to support the hardware that you are considering purchasing.

How long will it last you?

Finally, even used storage systems can be a big investment. Make sure you consider how long this storage system is going to last before you buy it. For example, if your data is growing at a rate that will exceed the equipment's total capacity within a year, then you might want to consider buying something else instead. This would obviously be the case with new equipment as well.

There's no denying that you can save a lot of money by investing in used storage equipment rather than purchasing cutting-edge technology. Even so, it is important to verify that the equipment that you are considering purchasing is not obsolete.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, has previously received Microsoft's MVP award for Exchange Server, Windows Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.

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