Back to Finance‚ Legal & Tech

Finance‚ Legal & Tech

About to buy a computer? Read these 5 tips first

by team Holly & Co, with Dell Technologies

Imagine the scene. After months of twiddling your thumbs whilst the ‘circle of doom’ whirls feverishly on your tired computer’s face, you’ve finally got around to buying that new machine. You’ve selected the laptop, desktop or tablet which will be the energy drink to your sluggish spreadsheets and will download files faster than Raducanu serves aces. Your mouse hovers over the ‘add to basket’ button but…wait! Buying a computer for your small business may mean that you have a different journey to go on than your average consumer when it comes to deciding which shiny new object to choose and furthermore, how to buy it. 

We asked our friends at Dell Technologies for some advice on what questions small business owners should ask themselves before they commit their hard-earned cash to a sleek new computer. From busting age-old myths about spending, to who you should really be trusting for advice, we’ve compiled a list of five ‘must dos’ before you checkout. And to be honest, at Holly & Co, we’re all now kicking ourselves that we hadn’t thought about many of these brilliant tips ourselves before shopping…

Decide if you need a business machine, a personal machine or both

In a dream world, your laptop would be all yours…but living with family can sometimes mean that you have to share. Sometimes it’s not only your business documents that are stretching your taskbar. Do the kids commandeer the computer to finish that critical science project (or procrastinate the science project and play pinball)? Or does the other half have a penchant for downloading their favourite pet pictures onto your pride and joy? 

If you are looking specifically for a ‘business’ machine, it can be far more secure and beneficial to buy one with a ‘business’ package. Is there much of a difference between a business purchase and a personal purchase? Well yes there is. And it makes for worthwhile insurance if your computer is a vital component to your company’s day-to-day running (which for most of us, it is). If even thinking about running your business without it for the day makes you break out in a sweat, then this is probably for you. 

If a laptop you’ve bought as a consumer goes wrong and the machine requires sending off to fix, you may be left without a computer for a couple of weeks. Buying through a business route will mean you have next-day support so that you can pick up where you left off within 24 hours. Regardless of the damage your machine has sustained, an alternative will nearly always be made immediately available. Business-class products are typically more expensive, but the added security benefits and peace of mind can be worth the premium.

Work out what you need to spend

With an ever-evolving list of features, it can be mind-boggling to know how much is too much money to part with when it comes to getting a computer. Like buying a car, it can be easy to get swept away in the flurry of optional extras (heated seats? Yes, please! Or whatever the computery equivalent is…). A commonly held myth is that the more money you spend, the better the product.

Unlike a fine wine, it is worthwhile remembering that your computer will not get better with age, so stonking up thousands of pounds with the anticipation that your machine will last forever may not be a smart decision.

The average laptop has a lifespan of four years, and then it will start to show signs of age. So it’s worthwhile keeping in mind that you may be called upon to make another investment in your technology sooner than you might like. That is not to say that all machines are created equally, and there are components of the computer that are worth the investment. A decent processor for anyone running software is a must. The better the processor, the faster your computer. If your business can’t finance the purchase of your machine upfront, there are other options to bear in mind. 

Many computer technology companies now offer ‘hire purchases’ where you can ‘rent’ your machine. It works in a similar way to leasing a car on finance. It means that you are not having to pay a hefty upfront cost and can trade-in your computer to keep pace with new technology. There will be certain thresholds you have to meet to qualify, but spreading the cost might be a soothing decision from a cash-flow perspective.

Get advice from techy friends

Most of us tend to have a tech-savvy friend — the one you ring when your Wifi router has gone down, your television won’t switch on, or you’re having trouble working out where on earth the headphone port is supposed to be. If you are about to invest hard-earned cash in a new machine, it is probably best to seek a second (or third) opinion. Although retail assistants will tell you the pros and cons of the device you are buying, there is the risk that they will be biased to what their company stocks rather than guiding you elsewhere. Speaking to someone who will only have your best interests at heart first is sensible. If none of your friends are tech-minded, there are services out there that will be able to help you. For instance, Dell offers a free tech advisor service where an expert can discuss your needs and will dig deeper into what would work for you. They don’t have the incentive to sell you a specific type of machine, so you can trust that your needs will tailor the decision you come to.

Unlike a fine wine, it is worthwhile remembering that your computer will not get better with age, so stonking up thousands of pounds with the anticipation that your machine will last forever may not be a smart decision.

Choose your monitor size and processing speed

Monitor size will be partially based on preference, but specific screen sizes will be vital for creative businesses who will be video editing or using graphics. A grainy image of your fabric sample is good for nobody! If your business is creative, then the clarity of your display will be critical. The display, ranging from standard HD to 8K, will be responsible for colour accuracy. A sharper display will be essential for anyone creating a product or designing on their machine. All that glitters isn’t necessarily gold though. So bear in mind that a sharp display needs to be partnered with a super-fast processing speed to keep pace with those graphics.

Work out your storage and memory needs

As your business grows, the likelihood is that your machine will need to carry more than just the odd few holiday snaps from the early noughties! Storage is the place where all your digital data is saved. It used to be expensive, but the price has reduced in recent years, and you should now expect to get a terabyte of storage for a reasonable fee. As a rough guide, a single terabyte can hold one thousand copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica. But what actually ‘uses up’ storage? It tends to be software, apps, files, documents, music, video; it’s a lot for one machine to bear. So make sure you have chosen a device with enough capacity. 

There are different places where you can store your data, and some are safer than others. Data can be stored in the ‘cloud’, which means it’s not stored on a physical server and runs on the internet. However, although this provides you with the ability to access it at any time and not have a bulky computer tower with external hard drives if the cloud goes down, you may have issues accessing the information you need. A personal hard drive will be more reliable. The best-case scenario is hybrid storage, where you utilise both.

Understanding memory is as easy as answering the question: how many things do I want to be doing at once?

So if you think of it that way, it’s pretty straightforward. Suppose your machine has a hundred tabs open, and you’re chatting on a Zoom call whilst presenting a PowerPoint. All of these activities will eat into your memory. The more gigabytes (how we measure memory) you have, the more you can multitask without all those activities becoming painfully slow. It is recommended that the average business user should have 16 gigabytes of memory so that your computer can keep up with you! And that’s it. Hopefully, that’s given you more of a steer and you are now about to buy the computer of your dreams.

Understanding memory is as easy as answering the question: how many things do I want to be doing at once?

Remember, you can always contact a Dell Small Business Tech Advisor if you get stuck on 0800 085 4878 (it’s free!), and they’ll point you in the right direction. Wheel of doom, be gone!

Share this article

Back to Finance‚ Legal & Tech