A common question we encounter while providing COMPUTER SUPPORT IN Logan and Cache Valley Utah, is whether to custom-build systems from parts, or buy a new system from the big box vendors such as Dell, HP, etc.  The basic idea is that if you start from the level of parts, you can design a system which is better suited to the exact things you’re doing, and it’s worth the extra time and effort because you can often get good deals on the parts.

On the other hand, you have to wonder just what all that time and effort is worth. And on some level, you have to think that when you walk into just about any electronics store, they have all these pre-configured and pre-assembled computers that could be up and running in a matter of minutes… instead of waiting several weeks for parts to be delivered, and spending hours putting them all together.

As you might guess, when you’re providing IT SUPPORT in Logan and Cache Valley Utah, you get to see both sides of this question. You see the people who are doing everything custom-built, and the people who are buying everything off the rack, and all the points in between. You also get to support both kinds of configurations, and see exactly what the real cost is for both options.

What shouldn’t surprise you, is the reality that you simply can’t get the same deals on parts that the big companies get. If you’re not buying thousands at once, you just can’t demand the lowest possible price on your components. Even when you add in a profit margin for the machine, the end cost is significantly lower than a custom job.

So the next question is, when someone providing COMPUTER SUPPORT in Logan and Cache Valley Utah needs to work on the machine – whether to upgrade it or to fix something that’s broken or failed – which one really comes in with a lower total cost of ownership (TCO)?

You might think that the custom machine comes in with a better review on this front, but in truth… the pre-configured system wins again. The machines you get off the shelf have usually been constructed with careful attention to things like system airflow, cable ties, and appropriate driver installation. Drivers are the installable software pieces that let the OS (in most cases Windows) talk to the hardware.  For custom machines, drivers must be found individually for each piece of hardware, for big box vendors, drivers can be found much easily from one vendor and one location.  This translates again into low TCO as your IT Support specialist will have to spend less time tracking down drivers to make your computers work.  In many cases, the custom system simply doesn’t have the same level of detailing, and the internals of the machine look almost like a bowl of spaghetti.

Another option which shouldn’t be overlooked is the warranty that comes with most off-the-shelf systems. When something goes wrong on a custom box, it’s often hard to know which component has caused it (is it the motherboard or the hard drive for example), which company provided it, and who is responsible to provide a replacement – if there’s even a warranty involved. Sometimes, the system doesn’t even have any warranty protection… and that’s why the components appeared to be such a good deal.

As they’ve been saying for decades, when something looks too good to be true… it probably is. It may look like a good deal to build your own machines from parts, but it’s a short-term savings, and you end up paying for it in the long run. Whether it’s finicky drivers, lack of warranty coverage, or just plain inconsistent performance, custom machines are almost always a liability in the end… not an asset.

David Lawrence is a provider of professional COMPUTER SUPPORT IN Logan and Cache Valley Utah. If you need IT SUPPORT for your small business, please Contact Us.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

It’s tempting, I know. You’re a business owner, you need some computer or other technology hardware, so where do you get it; how about right down at the local big box store? This is how most small business owners and managers shop for the technology they need, like they were going out to buy some groceries. I mean why not, it’s cheap and convenient, and it seems like a great idea in the short term; but it’s a big mistake.

Here are 5 reasons why buying only business-grade technology for your small business is the right move.

  1. Relying on consumer-grade equipment will inevitably cost you more time and money. Example: The all-plastic design of consumer-grade laptop computers helps to keep the costs down, but at the expense of durability. When (there is no IF) a consumer product breaks, it will cost you valuable time and money to send the unit in for repair, to buy replacement parts and try do-it-yourself quick-fixes, and to spend hours on the phone with ineffectual tech support departments.
  2. Consumer-grade Hardware comes with Consumer-grade Software.
    How many computers do you own in your company that are running Windows Home? Whether Windows XP Home, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows 7 Home Premium; anything with “Windows” and “Home” in the version name. Someday you’ll want a server to go with your fleet of computers, and when that day comes, you must have a “Windows” “Professional” version or higher in order to connect things into what’s called a Windows Domain. A Windows Domain allows your computers to gain all the features of security; ease of file and printer sharing; and much, much more. But the kicker is, if your computers are running Windows Home versions, they CANNOT connect to a server in the same way that Windows Professional versions and higher can; and must therefore be backed up, wiped clean, and reloaded fresh with the correct Windows version. There’s a reason Microsoft calls it “Windows Home,” because it’s not designed for business use.  The price difference is marginal when you buy the machine, but quite pricey when you need it upgraded to connect to a server.
  3. Business-grade technology means business-grade support. Business-grade hardware and software vendors provide a much higher level of support if a problem arises. They are easier to get a hold of, easier to work with, and easier for you’re IT support person to do their job. If you don’t have an IT support person, don’t worry, you will some day if you plan on any kind of growth. And when you do, they’ll be able to save you money then too, if you have the right equipment. If not, they’ll be forced to charge you an arm and a leg to make your “less expensive” consumer-grade equipment fill the role of it’s better ROI siblings in the business-grade category.
  4. You get much longer and often more comprehensive warranties. Business-grade technology generally comes with at least a 3-year factory warranty. What that really means to you is that the manufacturer is confident that their product will work without issue for a minimum of 3-years. Computer vendors also provide “Next-Day, On-Site” warranty support for their business-grade products, meaning a local technician will come out to your office to address a problem the very next business day. Consumer-grade technology is typically warranted for 6-months or 1-year, which is about the longest the manufacturer expects the item to last before it fails and needs repair or replacement. FYI – Consumer-grade equipment is designed to be disposable.
  5. You get features, features, and… oh yes, features. Example 1 –Business telephone systems are nearly limitless in their customizability. They include high-level features such as automated attendants that can route calls to your employees whether they’re in the office, at home, or reachable only by cell phone. There are no consumer-grade equivalents available. Example 2 – A business-grade server can provide centralized files, printer management, backups, user security, and prevent all the hangups and quirkiness most small businesses have by just connecting their workstations together. That computer you bought at Best Buy cannot.

When you’re buying technology for your business, you’re buying for the future. Over the years, we’ve seen many businesses run into seriously expensive and disruptive technical problems all because they were relying on consumer-grade technology. Don’t make the same mistake—don’t skimp on buying quality products. And if you have an IT service provider, make sure to check with them first.

David Lawrence is a provider of professional COMPUTER SUPPORT IN Logan and Cache Valley Utah. If you need IT SUPPORT for your small business, please Contact Us.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Why Pandora can’t just play your favorite band – CNN.com

March 4, 2011

Pandora’s internet radio service doesn’t force variety onto listeners for their health. In this case, it’s the law, says founder Tim Westergren. The website lets users type in the names of their favorite songs or musicians in order to get a radio station customized to their tastes. Newcomers to Pandora, and even some longtime listeners, […]

Read the full article →

Gmail accidentally resetting accounts, years of correspondence vanish into the cloud? (update) — Engadget

March 2, 2011

If you’ve got a working Gmail account, you might want to back it up every so often — as many as 500,000 Gmail users lost access to their inboxes this morn, and some of them are reporting (via Twitter and support forums) that years worth of messages, attachments and Google Chat logs had vanished by […]

Read the full article →
Real Time Web Analytics