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Is preowned network equipment right for my network?

Every business needs a powerful, reliable network. Unfortunately, building and maintaining it can be expensive. If you take the time to search for ways to save money on your network, one thing you’ll find is the mention of preowned and refurbished hardware. They often save some money, but are they really worth it? You might be comfortable buying a preowned vehicle, but networking equipment is another beast altogether.

If you’re not sure where to go, then you’re in the right place. We can spend a few minutes talking about preowned networking equipment so you can make more informed choices moving forward.

Things You Should Know About Preowned Networking Equipment

The very word “preowned” can trigger a few different responses. It might make you worry about warranties or faults in the equipment. You might think about equipment age and whether or not it’s dated. For some, there’s even a stigma attached to the word.

While those responses are common and natural, there is in fact a place for preowned equipment in professional networks. In fact, there’s a whole industry for it, and when you honestly consider the pros and cons and what you’re really choosing with preowned, the knee-jerk responses fade, and you’re left with an informed, reliable choice.

Advantages

So, let’s talk about the pros. Why do so many professional networks use refurbished and preowned hardware?

The first answer is by far the most compelling. Preowned hardware typically comes at a reduced price. Of course, the exact savings you can get going this route will vary, but you can expect to pay less money for a preowned device as compared to the exact same model that hasn’t been refurbished or previously owned.

The money saved is not trivial, either. When you strategically use preowned equipment to save as much money as you reasonably can, that frees up room in the budget that can make your network more reliable, more futureproof, or better supported by other things you can buy for the business.

Money isn’t the only advantage, though. Preowned equipment also provides value in network planning and design. When you stick with previously owned models, you’re getting known quantities from your products. Compare a high-end, preowned switch to the latest model that just hit stores this month. The newer model might be advertised with higher specifications, but it hasn’t seen much use. You don’t know if it has unexpected drawbacks, and that uncertainty is a serious risk — especially for large business networks.

In that same line of thinking, preowned can also offer availability advantages. In a world where supply chain disruptions can show up out of the blue and last for indeterminate periods, preowned models might be more widely available, allowing you to shop on your own timeline instead of waiting for manufacturers to catch up after a significant disruption.

And, in case it’s still on your mind, preowned and refurbished devices typically come with excellent warranties and guarantees. Cisco, Meraki, Aruba, HPE, and other major brands all refurbish switches and other equipment, and they warranty their own work. In these cases, buying preowned is the same experience as buying new.

Disadvantages

Still, this discussion isn’t complete if we don’t talk about the drawbacks of buying refurbished technology.

The first is actually warranties. Sometimes, you’ll get great refurbished warranties, but that isn’t always the case. Check the labels because sometimes the refurbished warranty is significantly shorter than when you buy new.

Another issue is availability. Yeah, you just read that preowned is more available, and now it’s less available? The contextualized explanation is that preowned markets are not static. Sometimes you’ll be able to find everything you want in a preowned model, and sometimes you won’t. It’s a strength and a weakness. The real takeaway is that when you remember to check preowned, you have a larger total pool to shop from, and that gives you more options.

The last major con is equipment age. Even if the hardware is warrantied and reliable, if it has already been owned, it’s often not the newest and latest model available. In the world of technology, that does tend to shorten a device’s total lifespan. You have to worry a little more about preowned equipment becoming dated and/or obsolete. With a little strategy, you can work around this, but it’s one of the primary concerns attached to buying refurbished goods.

Is It Right for My Network?

Considering the pros and cons, let’s revisit the concept. Should you use preowned equipment in your network?

Naturally, the right answer depends on you and your situation. There is no universal answer, but for the vast majority of networks, there are preowned devices that would work great and provide you with a net benefit. It’s definitely worth browsing preowned options, even if you don’t always choose the refurbished model.

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