This post is aimed at giving you some helpful information when buying a new computer.
It occurred to me to write about this subject because we have recently had a number of requests for new PCs with the reasons being varied from a new member of staff to a replacement for an 8-year-old laptop.
It’s a fact of computing life that the majority of (our) customers use Windows and a version of Microsoft Office and/or Outlook to run their businesses – therefore I’ll concentrate on these requirements.
When buying a new PC, there are more cost considerations than just the purchase price however:

  • Office suite;
  • Anti-virus;
  • Create a recovery drive;
  • Data back-up;
  • IT support costs.

If this is for a new member of staff, then the above are all relevant, however, if this is a replacement PC, then it may be that only some are going to be new costs. Let’s look at the former.

A lot of consumer PCs come with trials of Microsoft Office 365 and an Anti-virus product. They’ll typically run for 6 weeks and then require a subscription payment. A stand-alone copy of Office, i.e. Microsoft Office Home and Business 2016 (includes Outlook), will typically cost £190, whilst a monthly subscription to (rent) Office 365 starts at about £80.

With regards to anti-virus, the cost options range from free to approx. £30 a year for 1, 3 or 5 devices with a consumer product to £50 for a managed solution.

If Windows throws a wobbly and needs repairing, then you’ll need to have created a recover drive because there is no Windows DVD supplied with new PCs anymore – so you have to make your own. A USB device to create the recovery drive costs no more than £20.
As this is for a new member of staff, we’ll presume that there is already a data backup process in place – it may be a question of some added costs due to the size of the increased number of files needing to be saved.

Whilst PCs do seem to be pretty reliable, hardware begins to show signs of ageing after 2-3 years. The cost of a laptop appears to have fallen a little over the last few years however they will have a shorter lifespan than a typical desktop – maybe 3-4 years compared to the latter’s 5-6. Laptops’ hardware is also more expensive to upgrade than a desktop PC too. Whilst a lot of software issues can be Googled, as can hardware issues, it would be wise to factor in some form of IT Support costs over the lifespan of the computer.

If you think that replacing an existing PC would mean that there are no extra costs, because the old PC has everything that is needed, think again. For instance, to install the Office software from old to new may not be possible if it originally came on a DVD and the customer no longer has it. Likewise if the software was for a stand-alone version and previously downloaded – the website will likely no longer be valid and therefore you’d be unable to download again.

You’d also need to transfer the user files from the old PC to the new, including setting up email accounts, mapping network drives etc. – there’s a cost of someone’s time in there – whether a member of your staff or your IT’s.

Lastly, let’s consider a quandary – a desktop PC with Windows 10 – won’t boot properly. The hardware reports that there are no issues, therefore it’s a software issue. The customer doesn’t have a recovery drive, therefore the decision is either to buy a retail version of Windows to use re-install, or buy a new PC. £100 for Windows plus IT Support costs or approx. £400 for a new desktop.
Having the recovery drive would have helped greatly – a £20 cost that is definitely one of the items you should budget for.
To control your costs, think ahead.