A question I’m frequently asked is “Why shouldn’t I buy my business’ computer equipment off the shelf at the local box store? Is there a difference between that equipment and what I’d get from a business-class technology retailer?” The answer is yes!
While the equipment available for purchase at the local retail store may look the same as what you’d buy from a professional IT vendor or directly from manufacturers like Dell, HP and Lenovo, what’s on the inside can be much different. Here are four reasons why consumer grade computer equipment does not belong in your business.
1. It’s Often Slower
Think back to the last time you purchased a computer. Did you buy it from a consumer retailer? What did you notice when you powered it on for the first time? Chances are you noticed your brand new PC was bogged down with what we in the industry call bloatware: unnecessary software that can significantly slow your brand new computer’s performance and take up space on your hard drive.
How much can bloatware impact the performance of your computer? Consider this: Microsoft’s Signature Line of PCs are free of this third-party software and, according to their spec sheets, start up 104% faster, shut down 35% faster and have 28 minutes more battery life than the exact same laptops that come preinstalled with bloatware.
2. It’s Not Ready for Work
In most cases, the operating system that comes installed on consumer grade computers is a home edition system. The average user will not notice a difference in the operating system (OS) until they attempt to use the device on their office network. The home edition of Windows 10, the most recent version of the Windows OS, does not include features like Group Policy Management and Domain Join required to effectively and securely join the PC to a corporate network. The operating system can be upgraded, but often you’ll end up paying more than you would have if you had just bought a business-class unit to begin with.
You must also account for the time required to set your new PC up to work. Remember that bloatware I mentioned? It’s often time-consuming and difficult to clean that up. What could you be doing with the time you will have to invest to clean up then upgrade a brand new PC to make it work properly for your business?
Business-class computers are built to meet the needs of business. They not only come installed with the operating system you need to immediately put it to work on your corporate network, but they are also built to your specifications. Need a faster processor and more storage space than what comes on the standard model? No problem. The PC comes to you with exactly what you specify. No immediate upgrade is required.
3. It is Often Unreliable
Do you or have you ever used off the shelf wireless networking equipment in your business? If so, you likely experience frustrations with WiFi like slow, unreliable performance. Our internet service providers often get the blame when our internet connection isn’t working, but the problem is frequently associated to the use of low-grade hardware.
Business class wireless networking equipment is designed to provide the top performance to multiple users who are simultaneously drawing bandwidth from the network. Consumer grade equipment is designed for homes that do not require this demand. When this equipment becomes overloaded, speed slows and connections are dropped. This results in an unreliable, unproductive network environment.
4. Consumer Equipment is Made With Lower Quality Parts
You know the saying, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”? This old adage is generally used to describe people, but it applies to your technology equipment as well. Business class technology is designed to be used for long durations of time every day with an anticipated lifespan of 3-5 years. Consumer grade PCs are not designed to be put to use in such a demanding environment. Because they are built to withstand the daily grind, the parts used in business class computers are more rigorously tested and made from higher grade materials. It might surprise you to learn that a computer you buy at a local chain store may have the exact same model number as the computer you buy from a business IT vendor, but the bargain price you get from the chain store is due to the cheaper, lower-quality parts used inside the unit.
In closing, I encourage you to give careful consideration to the computer equipment you purchase for your business. Be wary of all equipment that can be bought at your local box stores – even those with labels like “for small business.” Equipment that carries this label are most often designed for home office, not corporate networks.
Technology equipment is a significant investment, and it can be tempting to save money up front by opting for less expensive hardware options for your business. Don’t just consider the price of what you are paying up front. You must also consider what this will cost you in the long run in terms of downtime and lost productivity. If you are experiencing significant frustration because of your computers and network performance, and you’ve been unable to resolve those issues, the root of your problem may be the very equipment you are trying to maintain. Even the best IT vendor cannot resolve problems resulting from poor quality equipment.