Top 10 mistakes people make when purchasing a new computer – Part 2

Top-5In a continuation of my previous post, here they are, the top 5 mistakes people make when they’re considering a computer purchase

5. Waiting until your old machine fails to purchase

When is the worst time to buy new computer? That answer is simple. If your computer has just failed, it is the worst time to have to buy a new machine. Not only do you tend to rush your decision, but you also may have issues with whether your data is well backed up and you can recover the data from your old machine. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Computers fail. That probably is not going to change. So planning your new purchase on a timeframe is often a good idea. I tell people that if your computer is five years old it’s time to start considering a new machine. It may run well today, but a failure of any part of that machine is often too expensive to repair. In fact, a hardware failure on the machine as young as two years is sometimes more expensive than replacing the device.

Don’t expect your computer to last forever. And if your computer is very old, make sure you have a good data backup. There’s nothing I hate worse than telling someone all of their pictures, all of their music, all of their documents, and many times their business records, are gone because they didn’t have a backup. Many times people ask me if there’s any way to retrieve that data. There are companies that will attempt to retrieve the data for you. But beware, these services do not come cheap.

About 12 years ago I have experience with a customer who lost a 400 GB raid device. Unfortunately, there was no backup. Since this date or was absolutely critical to his business, he contracted with a company called Drive Savers to recover his data. They were able to recover every bit of the data he had. But unfortunately, the cost was over $20,000. If that seems like a lot of money, it is, and while prices may have gotten less expensive, our data storage needs have gotten much larger than 400 GB. So when people ask me about recovery companies to retrieve data on a failed hard drive, I always tell them that Drive Savers does a great job, but you probably won’t want to pay for it. Do yourself a favor, and have a good backup strategy for your computer. It will pay dividends if you ever have a failure. One copy of your data is never enough.

The other problem with waiting for a computer failure to replace your old machine is that you’ll never get a good price. Having to make a purchase without giving yourself time to do the research, it will always cost you more. If your computer is older don’t wait till it dies to make the decision to replace it.

4. Not considering other platforms

You’ve always use the PC. Why would you want to change? I’m not saying the change is always good I’m just saying that it’s often a good idea to consider all the options.

Ask yourself if your computing needs could better be served with a tablet device. Could you get by with a browser-based computer such as a chrome book? Is it time to consider a platform change to Macintosh? There may be many reasons one of these solutions is a better fit for you than just buying a another computer like you had before. Think about how you use the computer. Think about where you use the computer. Is a laptop better for you this time than a desktop? Consider all your options before you make a decision on what direction you want to go. You might be surprised at how well you enjoy a change of pace.

3. Believing that all your peripherals will work with a new computer

This is one of the most common problems I see. You go out and purchase a new computer, set it up and do all the software installs, and finally get around to installing your peripherals that you already own only to find out that your printer, thats seven years old, doesn’t have a driver for a new operating system. I see this happen a lot with printers, scanners, and occasionally specialty pieces of hardware. Checking for availability of drivers for the new operating system you’re going to get on your new computer is often a good idea before you make the decision to purchase. While this rarely will change your mind on your computer purchase, it may set your expectations as to what else you may have to replace at the same time as the computer.

Hardware vendors sometimes don’t make drivers for new operating systems. They leave their peripherals left behind in old versions. That doesn’t mean these printers and scanners don’t continue to work, as long as their left on an older version of software. It does mean that these devices may not be able to move forward with you to a new machine. If you know this upfront, you can often better plan your purchase. Checking usually only takes a few minutes on the peripheral vendors website to see if drivers are available.

2. Not discussing your plans with a expert you trust

Making an informed decision on your computer purchase is a great idea. Doing research and looking into what you want or need is the perfect first start. After that, making a plan on what you want to do is the next step. What some people often skip is the idea that what you read on the web is not always the full story. Talking to someone you trust about what you plan to do is a great idea. I’m always happy to talk to people about what they want to accomplish. In many cases we can come up with an easier, less expensive, or better way to do it if we just talk it out upfront. The worst time to try to get advice is after you’ve already made the purchase. A quick phone call upfront will often save many hours of frustration in the end.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 1.28.01 PMNot getting assistance soon enough

This is probably the problem I see most often. People often believe that they can continue to work on things and solve even though they don’t really know what the problem is. They make changes to settings, reinstall drivers, uninstall software, all in an attempt to get a problem fixed. By the time they finally get assistance the damage they’ve done requires much more effort to fix then it would’ve been to fix the problem in the first place. I have seen cases when people uninstall portions of the operating system that and up requiring a full restore to fix. All in an attempt to fix minor issue with some new peripheral or device they purchased.

I certainly believe in self-sufficiency when it comes to computer use. I believe people should attempt to fix the problem themselves if they feel they can. But the best recommendation I can give is that if you’re making changes, because you don’t know what else to do, that may be the time to get assistance. In some ways, knowing when to say when is a tough thing.

Well there it is.  10 mistakes I see all too ofter.  If now is the time to make a computer purchase, I hope you give some consideration to these mistakes so that you don’t end up repeating them.  The purchase of a new computer can be an exciting thing.  Don’t temper the excitement by causing yourself any of these problems.

Top 10 mistakes people make when purchasing a new computer – Part 1

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 1.24.18 PMTop 10 lists are very popular today   I thought it might be interesting if I provided a top 10 list of mistakes people make when they’re considering a computer purchase   Since this list is kind along, I’ve split it into two separate posts. So here’s the first five.

10. Listening to a big box store sales person

Many big box stores hire salesmen based upon quotas. Often times the sales people get paid based upon which computers or devices they sell. As a result, it’s often hard to believe what they tell you. Many times you hear exactly what you want when you talk to one of the sales people. Even if you go in looking for one device, you many times get steered to another device that they are going to make more money off of. Be aware of this in your shopping.

Always know what you’re looking for and do research on the product you’re interested in before walking into a big box store to purchase. And since many computer items are commodities, purchasing online is never a bad idea. Many times you’ll save money that way.

9. Being the first person to try something new

We all love the new products. Sometimes the new thing looks to be absolutely perfect for you. Vendors in the computer industry spend lots of money making you believe that. They provide free hardware to people who will write good reviews for them. They rush products out the door before they’re ready to meet a particular seasons demand. Try not to get caught up in having to have the newest product on the block. In general, you’ll always pay more, but it’s common to see new products today that are three months old tomorrow cost much less. If you purchase a new device when it’s first delivered you also run the risk of buying something that has bugs in it. I always recommend people wait a few weeks for things to sort out our new hardware devices before making their purchase.   Wait for the real people reviews to show up on the web.

Believe me, I’ve often wished I could take my own advice on this one.

8.  Not getting enough Ram memory

RAM memory, the memory the computer uses to actually run programs, is fairly inexpensive today. Most machines come with a minimum of 4 GB of RAM. Upgrading that ram is often times not very expensive. A good recommendation for a computer today is to look for a machine with 6 GB to 8 GB of RAM. This much memory, will future-proof you for new operating systems and new programs that require more space to run. Purchasing a computer with 8 GB of RAM over a computer with 4 GB of RAM will often cost between $50 and $100 at today’s prices. That additional cost is well worth it.

But keep in mind, RAM is often the thing that can be added to a computer these days. But if you purchase a laptop, that has soldered RAM in it, you can’t often  more RAM at a later date so get what you need today.

7.  Underestimating your storage needs

It used to be, that every new computer had more storage than the last. What were seen today with the advent of solid-state storage, many computers, particularly laptops, are coming with solid-state hard drives. Solid-state hard drives are much more expensive than they’re spending counterparts. As a result, vendors provide less storage when solid-state is used than they did when spending disks were used. It would be hard to find a computer today with a spinning disk smaller than 500 GB. But it’s common today to find computers with solid-state hard drives of 128 GB. If you have lots of pictures, music, or video stored on your computer, be sure to determine how much space that will take on your new machine before you make your purchase. It’s always bad to end up with less storage on a new machine then you have on the old one unless you put a plan in place of what you’re going to do with those files when you move to the new computer.

6.  Shopping only based on price

The old idea that you get what you pay for is true in computers. If you always look for the cheapest price you’ll always end up with the cheapest device. Most computers are today commodities. You can buy parts and build your own or you can buy one already assembled. But like many things, there are many grades of hardware and parts that could be put into a computer. If you buy the cheapest computer you can fine you can depend upon the fact that it has the cheapest parts in it that are available. That doesn’t necessarily mean these are poor parts, but it does mean they’re probably less tested and often more likely to fail.

Some people complain about the cost of the Macintosh. But one thing about the Macintosh you can depend upon is that the parts it’s made of our high-quality. If you look at PC vendors, they often have home lines of machines and business lines of machines. The business machines often costs more and that makes perfect sense, because these machines are made from better components. People replacing computers for their business often consider the long-term cost and value of the computer. Unfortunately people who buy a computer for home are often only looking for the cheapest price.

I certainly recommend you do shop for price. But I don’t recommend picking the cheapest thing you can find. These cheaper machines often have lesser levels of support, and I’m not just talking about support for a hardware failure, I’m talking about support for updated drivers and configuration parameters.

If you’re looking for a PC, choosing a machine from a company’s business line will often times get you a higher quality computer.

So there are the first five reasons. Later in the week, I’ll show you the top five. Feel free to provide comments on any of my posts. I appreciate your input.