Sure, it's enticing. You’ll save money right now if you run out to your local big box store or hop online and purchase that computer or that combo firewall/wireless router that's on sale. But is that money saved really worthwhile for your business in the long run?
They say that a penny saved is a penny earned, but when it comes to your businesses technology, that penny saved may cost you a lot more later on down the road.
The main reason is that the majority of equipment sold at the big box stores are for home users and aren't made for the higher demands of work environments. Think about it—is that computer that's on sale really going to meet the demands of your business, be compatible with your accounting and other software, last a long time, and really connect to your network? Probably not. Let's begin by taking a look at the most widespread piece of technology throughout any business in the country—the computer.
Business Grade vs. Consumer Grade
You know that computers are now a necessity for every size of business and organization from a one person operation all the way to the largest enterprise. But there are so many options out there, aren't they all the same? Do a quick search and you’ll quickly find there are many differences.
It turns out that there is a stark contrast between a business grade computer and a consumer grade computer starting with the way they are built. Most consumer grade computers are mass produced to sell at big box retailers or online and are made to operate efficiently for about two years, if you're lucky. Most business and commercial grade computers are produced more on-demand on a much smaller scale and are made to last 3-4 years, at to operate nearly continuously. Additionally, many commercial grade computer models are manufactured using the same components for their entire production run. Machines purchased at different times will have the same parts and can be configured identically. That is not necessarily so with consumer grade computers which are built with the lowest cost components and can easily be quite different on the inside.
The support needs and requirements are much different as well. If you have ever tried to connect a home computer (consumer grade) to a business network, you know that it doesn't work very well. There's a reason for that—the software (Windows Home versions) on home computers aren't made to connect with a business network. The same goes for getting support for your home computer. Warranties are different (and many times shorter) and manufacturer support may come from an entirely different group; a group with little expertise with business applications or networks.
A horror story
We recently received a call from a local business that had purchased a desktop computer from an online big box retailer that needed to be able to connect to their network. The computer was on sale, so they figured it was a good deal. Their staff was unable to successfully connect the computer to their network, so they called us to figure it out for them. It took one of our technicians several hourse to properly configure the computer to work how the client needed it to and that included upgrading the operating system from a "home" version. In the end, they spent about half again what it would have cost to purchase a business grade computer that was already configured to their needs.
What to do
If you aren't sure what type of computer will work best for your specific business needs, give us a call. We represent Hewlett Packard, Dell, Lenovo, IBM and many other equipment manufacturers. Our staff is factory trained and we have over 34 years of experience with these companies as well as servicing clients of all sizes throughout Central New York. One of our consultants will be happy to explain the differences and help you find computers that will meet your nees.