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The Dangers of Consumer-Grade Hardware in a Business

One of the most important things about setting up a business is efficiently managing startup costs. For many companies nowadays, IT infrastructure is one of the larger upfront costs of starting a business, but an efficiently-spend budget can lead to an overall reduction in overhead related to maintenance costs and equipment replacements. Computers don't come at the premium they did in the 1980s, but a business-class machine can still run a pretty penny. A large sticker price might leave a business owner wondering why a consumer-grade machine can't do the trick for an employee who isn't running resource-intensive applications. As it turns out, there are a host of reasons a consumer-grade computer might lead to far higher costs to your business despite the initially tantalizing price tag.

Managing Overhead

You've probably heard it said that "they don't make 'em like they used to" when it comes to home computers. And to an extent, there is some truth to that statement. When the personal computer first came about, components were technologically simpler and were made of more robust parts. Computers were extremely expensive, and there was little distinction between a computer built for a home and a computer built for an office – computers were treated as appliances with a variety of uses, but it took time before they were a staple in a home. An Apple IIGS in 1986 would set you back $999, or ~$2700 in 2022.

Nowadays, the components that make up a consumer-grade computer are more likely to fail sooner under the consistent heavy loads a business class computer may face. Relying on consumer-grade machines to run an office, even if the work being done is not resource-intensive, can lead to machines that were not designed for a constant load breaking down sooner and more often than a business-grade computer. That can lead to massive increases in your break-fix and maintenance costs. Overall, business-grade machines are built to be more durable, but when parts do fail, they are more likely to be supported for a longer period and are more likely to be replaceable with manufacturer-spec parts. Additionally, the addition of manufacturer-provided management tools makes IT support a more streamlined process.

Issues in Standardization

Standardization is one of the most important tenets of an IT Infrastructure. By standardizing equipment and setting a baseline at the time of deployment, you can ensure that an employee experiencing an issue with a machine can be up and running immediately with a replacement. Setting a standard allows a business owner to have a baseline expected performance for each computer. This way, the business owner can avoid things like "the slow office computer," or specific peripherals being compatible with only one machine halfway across the building. When every computer is expected to work the same way, a problem with one machine can be diagnosed more quickly. Unfortunately, consumer-grade equipment is designed in a more disposable manner – models change drastically from year to year and have little in the way of upgrade capability, leaving IT teams unable to make 1:1 system migrations from a broken machine to that machine's replacement.

Business-grade computers, however, are built to easily mesh in a complicated IT environment. Machines can be customized at the time of purchase to contain exactly the components your workplace needs to get the job done and having every user operating a similar platform will make it quick and easy for an IT team to manage an entire fleet of machines at once, applying similar updates in similar ways across the entire library of computers instead of having to spend hours custom-tailoring updates to each machine.

Learn more about the benefits of standardization in our blog, "Standardize Tech for an Efficient Workplace."

Upfront Setup Costs

If you've bought a computer from a big-box retailer recently, you know that it's not uncommon for computers to come with much more installed than simply an operating system and a few hardware drivers. Consumer-grade computers are often loaded up with what is referred to as "bloatware," unwanted software which is designed to sell products such as antivirus software or video games to the owner of a new computer. This software is often set up to run automatically in the background and can take a while to clean away before a computer is even ready to have applications installed on it. Deploying business-class machines can take far less time, because a documented process can be developed that will be the same for every employee computer within the business's IT infrastructure.

Warranties

When a consumer-grade computer goes bad, it can be very difficult to get it repaired if you've owned the computer for more than a year. Consumer-grade warranties are generally limited to one year, meaning that you may have to turn to a replacement much sooner as repairs could cost as much as the machine itself. Business-grade computers typically come with better manufacturer support and longer warranties, supporting the machine through its entire lifecycle. When coupled with the convenience of finding replacement parts for business-grade machines, this means that there's a far better chance of having a computer replaced or repaired at little to no cost and within a much tighter time frame (sometimes just a day or two) than you would get with a consumer-grade product.

Finding the Right Business-Grade Machine

When it comes to buying computers for your office, it can be difficult even to know where to start. The Technical Resource Solutions IT team is happy to advise and assist with ordering the right machines to ensure your IT infrastructure is set up correctly the first time, helping you to reduce the need for costly repairs and replacements.

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