Many business owners take for granted the quality of a Personal Computer (PC) purchased for their business. The traditional belief goes as follows: “A PC is a PC. What does it matter where it comes from? Aren’t they all the same?”
The fact of the matter is, though, not all PCs are created equal. In fact, you could have two PCs with exactly the same model number right next to each other, but the performance, quality and reliability of these two PCs could be very different depending on what channels they were purchased through. This article will explore some of the most important differences between these channels, and help you understand why purchasing PCs through commercial distributors is imperative for your business.
Consider The Audience
Think of your average home PC user. Most people don’t do much more than email, social media, web browsing and basic application work on their PCs. Most people consider cost to be a higher factor than quality, especially considering the state of today’s economy. When it comes down to it, your average home user just wants something that works, and doesn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it.
PC manufacturers have recognized this and developed products marketed to these users to fit within their parameters. This means the overall quality of a consumer PC is lacking, in favor of cheaper parts to bring the overall cost down. This means the operating system installed on these PCs is pared down and simplified. Why would a home user need the features and added cost of a Professional-grade operating system when the cheaper Home version meets all their needs?
This also means that if the PC stops working and needs repair, the user will most likely be okay with sending the PC in for repair and going without for a week or so. They probably have other devices they can use in the meantime, and it’s not a business-critical scenario so the stakes are not as high.
Read between the lines here, and you start to get a picture of the potential pitfalls when buying a PC you intend to use for business, but is marketed towards consumers. These are the PCs you buy in the box stores like Best Buy or Walmart, or purchased directly on the internet, whether via Amazon or another reseller, or even from the manufacturer websites themselves. The easiest way to tell is by looking at which version of Windows is preinstalled. If it has Windows Home edition, it’s going to be a consumer-grade PC.
Quality versus Cost
As mentioned above, consumer-grade PCs typically are built with less reliable components, because they come from cheaper sources that allow the manufacturer to lower their costs. As a result, they are more likely to experience hardware issues and failures in a shorter timeframe.
One client of ours recently purchased an HP laptop from a retail establishment for a new employee. Within a month of purchasing the PC, its hard drive and motherboard started to fail. The warranty covered the cost of repair, but the PC had to be sent in and a week later the PC has yet to be returned. This amount of downtime is much more critical to a business than your average user, and this employee’s productivity has been severely constrained until he gets his PC back.
When you purchase a PC through a business-grade distributor like Vermont Panurgy, you are guaranteed to get higher quality parts, as these PCs are specifically built with business use in mind, and reliability is a much higher priority than affordability. PCs purchased through business channels are less likely to fail, and when they do, business-grade warranties often include onsite repair, or loaner PCs if a mail-in repair is required. Additionally, these warranties can often be extended longer than your average consumer warranty, offering businesses increased longevity to their devices and reducing potentially costly and time-consuming upgrades.
Home versus Pro
The Microsoft Windows operating system comes preinstalled on pretty much all new PCs available today. Unless you’re buying a Mac or a Chromebook, you are almost certainly buying a Windows PC. Many people don’t realize how many different versions of Windows are out there, though. Windows Home, Windows Pro, Windows Enterprise, Windows Education, Windows Pro Education, the list goes on! Windows 11 has a new configuration called “S-mode” that further complicates the topic. It is understandable that people would get overwhelmed by all this and just see the Windows logo and assume all is good.
However, if you purchase a PC with Windows Home and bring it into an office for business use, you will quickly find the limitations to be quite difficult. Windows Home PCs cannot be joined to a Domain, and therefore cannot be added into your network to allow organizational user accounts to log into it, or centralized policies to be applied. Network shares are not accessible, network printers don’t show up, access to the internet itself can even be blocked. It’s a mess!
Windows Home PCs do not allow connections via Remote Desktop either, so there is no way to connect to a Windows Home PC from another machine without third-party software installed. If you ever wanted to connect to your office PC from home over a VPN, you would not want a Windows Home PC in your office.
All these features and more are available in Windows Pro. The good news is upgrading from Home to Pro is not difficult, but it is an added expense and headache that could be avoided by just purchasing a PC specifically set up for Business use.
Many people tell me they bought a PC at the store because they were in a critical situation and needed something right now. This is an entirely understandable perspective, and though it is unfortunate that unpredictable events can cause this type of need no matter how much advance planning is done, it happens.
While general availability through business channels is usually better than what’s on the shelves at the store, business-grade PCs typically take at least a day or two to ship and deliver. When immediate needs arise, sometimes the local PC store is the only option. This is a very undesirable situation to be in, so we generally recommend a business to have at least one or two extra PCs on hand in case an employee needs one in a pinch. Planning ahead and having spares allows for more flexibility in the moment and makes sure everyone is always using reliable and functional hardware.
Bloatware is a term commonly used in IT circles to identify any software that comes preinstalled on a PC that is unnecessary and potentially taxing on resources. Right now, for example, HP has an agreement with McAfee to pre-install their antivirus product on all consumer PCs they sell. Most businesses already have bought their own antivirus product, so immediately there is the need to remove McAfee in order to install the replacement software, which takes time and effort. If you don’t, you run into more issues after the 30-day McAfee trial expires. Vulnerabilities arise, performance is impacted, and the user ends up getting constant popups to buy a subscription. No fun!
Other software, like unneeded manufacturer apps, games, links to websites, and other consumer-targeted distractions add to the frustration. Business-grade PCs generally have little to none of this bloatware preinstalled, making setup for and use in a work environment much simpler.
Without a doubt, businesses should always source their IT from commercial channels. That said, if you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you know that curveballs always come. When you find yourself in that no-win situation of a dead PC and no replacement, place great weight on the potential costs of an immediate replacement from the store down the road when considering your options. A day without productivity waiting on an overnight shipment may end up being much less expensive than the potential headaches and issues down the road if you get that consumer PC.
If you are looking for a trusted and timely source for your business’s IT equipment needs, give us here at Vermont Panurgy a call. We always take the requirements of our clients as the most paramount consideration and will work with you to make sure you have all the equipment you need, configured for your business, when you need it. 1 (800) 974-1115. Don’t wait to start the conversation until it’s too late!