Have you been ‘Brand’-washed?

Buying a computer for business can be intimidating. What type of equipment or device do you need? Should you buy a certain brand? Should you aim for a specific price range? What about sale items?  How does a small business owner decide what computer to invest in? Here are 6 tips for purchasing small-business computers.

1. Do you really need that?

If you like a computer because of the great ad on tv, it’s the latest thing or if it just looks fantastic, you are not shopping for a computer in the best manner. Sure, aesthetics can matter or maybe you do need a lot of power, but let’s think about what you really need before you buy what you think you might want. If you are simply doing some web surfing, online banking and email, maybe some YouTube, then you probably don’t need the big machine with the top specs. Whatever you get – don’t pay for what you don’t need or won’t use.

2. Are you sure? Talk to an expert.

If you aren’t sure about what you need, talk to your local tech. Bring in your current machine with all of your software and see how to shop for the next level.  Talk about all of the things that bother you – slow, limited space, can’t run the latest software and or games, or doesn’t have enough ports. Take a look and see if what you had in mind compares to the suggestions. Most techs are reading all of the news about the latest and greatest tech and the glitches too.

3. Sales and Extended Warranties aren’t always for you.

Looking for a sale is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when you get to the till. However, you are limiting your potential in order to maximize your savings. The same is said for extended warranties. Most new computers come with a 1 to 3 year warranty. We suggest that you get a hardware check and scan before your warranty is up in order to make sure you are working properly in that time span. Things to consider before buying a warranty: the price of replacement, the expected life span, the duration of the warranty and the cost of the warranty. Make the choice that works best for you.

4. Software trials – Good or Bad?

Most laptops and many computers come with software advertised as pre-installed. These software companies are paying the computer brand to have their programs and apps installed.   But it might not be anything you need. And it could just be taking up valuable storage space. These programs and software can be anything from games, to photo editors to trial versions of antivirus protection. Be aware of the difference between freeware and shareware and trials. Some programs give you free use of their software when you sign up with a credit card number. But remember to cancel that trial or you could be charged with up to a 1 year subscription that you maybe didn’t want.

5. Don’t go unprotected - Trial, Free or Paid Antivirus Protection?

There is nothing worse than leaving your computer unprotected. You might as well leave the front door to your house open. With a new computer comes many options for your antivirus protection. Trial versions can be a great way to try a program if you don’t have a preference. Microsoft Operating Systems 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 come with a built in program that you simply have to activate.  And there are always the most popular paid versions such as Norton, McAfee and Kaspersky. So what works best? You. The best antivirus protection is awareness. No matter how good your antivirus software, if you allow an unknown program onto your computer, the software will not protect it. Know where your software, programs and email attachments are coming from.

Keep your computer up to date with the right software and maintenance and it should last as long as you need it to. Then, when you are ready to buy, you will know what to look for.

6. Price

It may be tempting to stick to a certain budget or go for clearance items. Don’t.

This is not where you want to cut corners. There are still ways to save money or work with your budget (on that read in the next tip), but for your own sake, do not go for the cheapest option when buying equipment.

You waste time waiting for a cheap computer, you will be wasting time daily on a computer that under-performs or requires frequent “fixing”.If it is not in your budget you need to do some soul searching and, once again, remember your desired outcome. “Saving” money by buying the cheap unit will cost you downtime, loss of revenue and and lower employee productivity if your technology isn’t able to handle your business and software demands.

 A bargain may be a great buy on day one. A year later you will see how its lack of speed, and maybe even downtime can cost you far more in money and headaches.