How to Buy a Desktop Personal Computer

Buying business  Desktop PC’s can be confusing. If you are not familiar with the products, it can be difficult to find the right Desktop PC to suit your needs. Here are some guide lines to help you to choose the right machine and supplier.

1. What will the Desk PC be used for?
2. Personal Desktop PC’s
3. Business Desktop PC’s
4. Where to buy a Desktop PC
5. How to Physically Secure Your Office Computers
6. Financing a Desktop PC
7. Warranties and Service contracts
8. Environmental disposal
9. Hidden Costs
10. Summary

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1. What will the Desktop PC be used for?


How to Buy a Desktop Personal Computer

The first step is to determine exactly what your needs are.
What software will need to be installed and used on this Desktop PC? For example; are you going to use Microsoft office?
What will you be using the Desktop PC for?  Will it be for  internet and email or will you be using the computer  for accounting and payroll  or will you be using advanced graphics design programs like Adobe Photo shop?

Will the Desktop PC be connected to a network?
Will you have a large amount   of documents or photos? If photographs are involved, you may need a larger hard drive and more physical memory
Once you have answered these questions, you are ready to determine which PC will best suit your needs.

We can also help you with a complementary IT (Information Technology) audit.


2. Personal PC’s

How to Buy a Desktop Personal ComputerPersonal Desktop PC’s are typically small, desk-top sized units designed specifically with the single user in mind. Personal Desktop PC’s are usually simple to set up and use and are meant for the Home.  Most have Windows 7 Home premium installed, this is why it’s called Home premium, because they are personal Desktop PC’s and for home use and not for business use. Personal Desktop PC’s typically come with a minimum of 2 GB of memory installed and a 160 GB hard drive with on board graphics.


3. Business Desktop PC’s

Business Desktop PC’s are the most common type of Desktop PC purchased. Business Desktop PC’s are typically mini tower units designed specifically for use with company networks. Most Business Desktop PC’s come with Windows 7 professional installed and can  used to connect to the company network or as a stand alone Desktop PC.

How to Buy a Desktop Personal Computer

The latest’s processors from Intel are the Icore 3, Icore 5 and Icore 7. Microsoft recommends a minimum of 2GB of memory for windows 7, for a better performance you should have at least at least 4GB of memory. Business Desktop PC’s are usually sturdy and reliable and once you choose the correct model to suit your purposes they will add to productivity and efficiency within your office.

4. Where to buy a Desktop PC

How to Buy a Desktop Personal ComputerOnce you’ve decided what you need your Desktop PC to do and have a general idea of the features you require, you are ready to start looking. But where should you look?

A good place to start is to contact an authorised reseller of a well known brand. In a professional company the sales staff should be knowledgeable, have the ability to answer any additional technical questions you have, and they should be able to help you foresee any potential issues before they arise.

You can ask for references as it is always interesting to speak with current clients of the company to assess their experiences of technical service, staff and the customer service generally. This is important as you are entering into a long term relationship with this organisation.


5.How to Physically Secure Your Office Computers

     How to Buy a Desktop Personal ComputerIt can be hard to believe, but unfortunately the office is one of the places with the greatest risk of computer damage and theft. This is why it is important to take steps to physically secure your office computers. Here are some recommendations.

Protect each computer with a lock.
Both laptop and desktop computers can be equipped with locks. For as low price, you can physically secure your machines. Connect the lock through the connector on the laptop or desktop, and then secure it to something immovable in the office.

There seems to be something of a misconception, at the smaller end of the business scale at least, that data security is somehow a terribly complex thing that is also expensive to achieve properly. This myth is no doubt massaged just a little bit by small business consultants with one eye on the invoice.

The truth of the matter is somewhat different, of course, and basic data security is neither difficult nor expensive to achieve. All it takes is a little bit of technical know-how and an awful lot of common sense.

One aspect of data security where common sense often gets thrown out of the window is that of physical theft. Sure, there is an argument that as long as your data is properly encrypted it matters not a jot if the bad guys access your hardware, steal your laptop or find your USB stick.

It’s an argument that holds a fair amount of water, and I’m the first to advocate an ‘encrypt everything’ approach to data, but safeguarding your hardware against physical theft is so obvious that I’m always amazed to discover so many small businesses doing no such thing.

Many will say that they already pay hefty insurance premiums, and if the old laptop is stolen then it’s a good opportunity to upgrade with the claim money. But what if all your data wasn’t properly encrypted, what about the interruption to your business continuity (even if it’s only a matter of an hour or two while a current backup image is squirted onto a spare machine) and what about the notion that not becoming a crime statistic is actually a good thing?

The bottom line is that taking any risk with your data is a bad thing and ensuring that your hardware is protected from theft or loss to the best of your ability is a no-brainer. The Absolute Theft Recovery team monitors laptop thefts, and has compiled a top ten list of the most common places where hardware is stolen from, after analysing the details of thousands of reported thefts during 2010. I was somewhat surprised that most thefts of laptops occurred from school, but have to imagine that’s because Absolute do a lot of business monitoring hardware in the education sector.

It came as no surprise at all that the home and the car made up the rest of the top three, with work following close behind at number four. Hotels, restaurants, public transport including taxi cabs, and airports were also common venues for computer crime.

So what can your small business do to prevent becoming part of the statistics? Actually, quite a lot and most of them are low cost and easy to implement

Physical locks

Take the straightforward, if rather retro sounding, matter of making use of the Kensington lock slot and looping a decent quality cable around an immovable object to secure your laptop against casual theft in your office? Please note that the leg of a chair or desk is not an immovable object, and a five quid cable that can be cut using a pair of nail clippers isn’t decent quality. Cables are fine for protecting against opportunistic thefts during office hours, but if laptops are left in the office overnight then you should consider investing in a made-for purpose lockbox or secure storage cabinet and suitable alarm systems.

Also, when it comes to in-situ hardware, a cable will not stop the determined thief equipped with a pair of bolt cutters. The good news is that such thefts seem to be on a downwards spiral. While I have no official figures to support this claim, I’ve not been reading about so many hardware thefts as I used to and the business grapevine would suggest that offices are not being targeted as much as they used to be.

I suspect that the falling price of memory has a lot to do with the apparent decline in such crimes, as ripping a machine open and stripping it of RAM to sell down the pub or on eBay used to be high on the agenda of a petty thief. Couple that with a general decline in desktop computing and the ready availability of cheap netbooks, and it’s hardly surprising that demand for knock-off RAM and second-hand machines has fallen like a lead balloon.

Mobile alarms

Opportunist and professional thieves would appear to favour the mobile hardware market these days, and that means laptops, netbooks and smartphones. So how should you go about protecting these from the bad guys and moments of stupidity when things get lost? The latter is, actually, a much harder proposition that the former. Losing things is a fact of life, although losing a lappy can often is a rather expensive one in terms of both the hardware cost and the interruption to your working day and beyond.

You can buy alarms which work on a proximity principal, such as the Zomm reviewed in this month’s issue of PC Pro. Attach a transmitter to your laptop and keep the receiver in your pocket; if the two should be separated by more than the preset couple of metres or so an alarm will sound to remind you (and everyone in the vicinity) that you’re stupid.

At the low end of the budget scale such devices provide a simple method of preventing both the accidental loss of laptops at airports and train stations, for example, as well as opportunistic theft. For the one-man band business they make a lot of sense, but slightly bigger concerns might want a slightly more complex and costly solution such as a lojack service.

These use a software agent embedded in the BIOS firmware that maintains contact with a service centre, either via GPS or Wi-Fi depending upon your hardware, and allows the laptop to be located if lost or stolen. Lojack services are also useful in that they can keep a log of all activity after the theft was reported and remotely block access to your data, or even delete it if you prefer.

A similar service can be had for free if you happen to have an iPhone, using the Apple MobileMe service and an app called Find My iPhone. Once installed, you can locate your missing iPhone from any web browser and have a custom message pushed to the home screen and lock screen, together with an alarm sound. An email is sent to let you know that the message has been pushed to the handset, and another provides a date and timestamp when that message has been viewed on the iPhone itself. You can also remotely lock the iPhone or wipe all data, and the precise location of the device is displayed via Google Maps.

Laptop anti-theft measures

Don’t leave your laptop in the car. If you absolutely must, make sure it’s locked in the boot, preferably securely with either the Kensington lock slot and a cable, or within a specially installed car safe. Of course, if your car gets stolen then so does your laptop.

Don’t spend a fortune on a designer laptop bag, or use the branded one that was supplied with the laptop. These simply serve to identify you as a potentially valuable target. Instead, use a cheap and above all else non-descript bag instead.

Stick like glue to your laptop. If you are holding it then the only way a thief will get it is if they mug you. If you leave it unattended on your desk, in a conference room, the floor of an airport lounge, on the seat next to you on a train, things become a lot easier especially for the opportunist thief.

Consider marking your equipment to make it both easier to identify and harder to sell. So-called invisible marking systems such as ‘smartwater’ forensic liquid will leave a unique chemical fingerprint on your hardware that is all but impossible to remove, but easily viewed by the police using specialist equipment.

At the opposite end of the marking scale, hugely visible customisation (think business logos and slogans, impossible to remove identification tags and the like) which will help to prevent a casual thief from making an easy sale and a quick buck from your loss.


6. Financing your computer equipment

How to Buy a Desktop Personal Computer

A very popular option is to opt for a contract hire plan instead of buying outright. There are three major advantages of the contract hire plan.

1. There is no capital outlay.

2. You pay for the equipment as you use it.

3. You can keep up to date with changing technology.

Please refer to the benefits of the contract hire plan for more details.


7. Warranties and Service contracts


How to Buy a Desktop Personal Computer

Whether you are buying or leasing a Desktop PC, one thing you need to make sure you understand before finalising the deal is the warranty / level of service cover you are getting.

There are many different warranty and service options, and you will want to understand exactly what is covered in case something breaks or your Desktop PC refuses to work.

On new Desktop PC’s, manufacturer’s warranties are typically one year. It is possible to get a comprehensive service contract which will cover all service, preventative maintenance service. If you can always get a three year warranty.

Be careful as some warranties only cover limited parts or certain malfunctions, while others are truly comprehensive warranties. If you are purchasing from an authorised reseller, the sales staff should be able to explain, in detail, the warranties and service options.


8. Environmental Disposal

How to Buy a Desktop Personal ComputerIf you are upgrading an old Desktop PC check with possible suppliers whether  they will environmentally dispose of your old Desktop PC and will they charge you for this?

Most reputable suppliers will be part of the WEEE recycling scheme, whereby machines will be broken down into their constituent parts and those parts will be sent for recycling.


9. Hidden Costs


How to Buy a Desktop Personal ComputerAlways check with a potential supplier that their cost covers Delivery, installation, networking of your entire new PC. Some suppliers may charge extra for these services in an effort to advertise a lower cost price.




10. Summary

Buying a DesktoHow to Buy a Desktop Personal Computerp PC can be difficult, confusing, and expensive. However, if you take your time, research all your options appropriately, and ask enough questions, then you can end up with the right machine to do the right job for the right price. Remember to scope out your needs before you start shopping for PC’s.

Make sure the Desktop PC’s that you are considering are really going to meet your needs. If you think that you may have the need to upgrade to newer technology every few years as it becomes available, consider financing your Desktop PC.

If you aren’t incredibly comfortable with your knowledge of Desktop PC’s and their features, you should strongly consider purchasing from an authorised reseller where a sales representative will be available to answer all of your questions.