The True Cost of Saving $1

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In my years of working as a consultant, one of the most challenging
aspects has been getting money conscious business owners to understand the true value of the equipment they are purchasing. For instance, they may see a simple home computer available for $350 at Wal-Mart and then wonder why they need workstation computers that cost twice as much. It can be even more challenging when you start to look at servers and high-grade networking equipment, as both the range in quality and cost increases. This can be a real problem and a lot of people don’t seem to understand why.

It’s easy to add up the price tag of the items you are buying and
compare them to other items. The difficult part is estimating the long term costs of the units you are purchasing. Many people don’t understand that lower priced computers are almost always lower quality. They also might assume that any computer they purchase will last 5 or 10 years. These mistakes can end up costing them far more money than they had saved, over a much shorter time frame than they had expected.

Let’s start by considering the difference in speed. The performance is almost always poor in these systems. They are usually designed with specifications that are just enough to run Windows and some base programs, but not much more. When you start to load up all the software you would use on a daily basis, as well as, all of the background services that get installed along with them, these systems will start to degrade in performance very quickly.

Then consider the additional maintenance costs that these systems can cause. Low cost computers are almost always built with cheap, inferior parts and they typically have a much higher failure rate. A large number of them will even fail completely in under one year. The primary difference comes in the quality of the individual parts that make up the whole unit. If a manufacture is trying to build the cheapest unit possible, they are going to have to cut corners everywhere they can in order to make that possible. Using lower grade RAM that has higher error rates and lower speeds; Slower hard disks that have shorter life spans; System boards that are more prone to overheating and electrical shorts; Power supplies that are less stable and provide less overall watts.

Even before it has failed, it is likely that you will have to have someone troubleshoot and perform repairs on these systems, costing you far more than it would have been to just get a quality unit in the first place. Depending on where you are and whether you want the IT tech to come to you or you want to bring your PC to a shop, just the labor costs alone can range from $60 to $150 per hour. Then you have to add the costs of any parts that would need to be replaced and/or upgraded.

The culmination of all these shortcomings can lead to some devastating results, including lost data and lost productivity, and is never worth the upfront savings. You can see how the hidden costs of ownership can quickly add up to a far larger amount than you had expected.I feel that it is my responsibility to ensure that my clients and customers get the best system for their money. My advice to anyone needing to purchase computer equipment is this – Do not skimp on quality! Do your research and buy the highest grade equipment that you can fit into your budget! You will rest easier knowing your system will work when you need it to. The upfront costs and peace of mind are worth every penny.


Tom Patch

I'm an IT consultant with 8 years of experience. Currently supporting consumers and small businesses in King and Pierce counties in Washington state. I can help with any general technological consulting, network administration and security, web development and hosting. Email - Blog -

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