atlantic-it-business-gradeThere’s nothing wrong with trying to wring every dollar of ROI out of your technology purchases, but there comes a time when the hard and soft costs of aging equipment begin to add up. When that time comes, a technology refresh that allows your business to operate more efficiently without risk of equipment failure is almost always a very wise decision.

However, if your plan involves waiting for the upcoming “Black Friday” sales from the big-box retailers, you really ought to reconsider. No matter the sale price, buying consumer-grade technology for business purposes is rarely a bargain.

Consumer-grade hardware and software may deliver all the functionality you could require for home use, but tradeoffs in performance, reliability, features and support mean they are rarely suitable for any type of serious business purpose.

For example, consumer-grade PCs and laptops generally lack the computing power of a business-grade machine. Limitations in memory and processor speed make it impossible to run multiple business applications simultaneously without performance issues.

Plus, consumer-grade hardware comes with consumer-grade software. Windows 10 Home is great for lightweight applications, web browsing and managing media files, but it won’t give you any of the security, virtualization and policy management features of Windows 10 Pro.

You also have to consider that the price of machine is cheap because the components are cheap — an all-plastic chassis, cheaper hard drive, inferior RAM and a lower-quality display. These machines don’t get subjected to rigorous testing to ensure high durability and reliability. They are generally designed to operate efficiently for three years under typical home-use conditions.

When something does go wrong, don’t be surprised to find they have bare-bones warranties and limited support and service options. A 1-year limited warranty is fairly typical for most retail computer purchases, and even that will involve shipping the machine for repairs.

Beyond PCs and laptops, similar limitations apply consumer-grade routers, printers and backup devices. An off-the-shelf wireless router, for example, is generally designed for easily setting up a home network, without much consideration of how your broadband usage might change over the next few years. It isn’t built to provide any of the load-balancing, traffic-shaping or security features of a business-class device.

Consumer-grade storage may provide plug-and-play simplicity, but with none of the scalability, capacity or optimization features of a business-grade solution. Consumer-grade and cloud-based backup solutions may provide a level of data protection, but file recovery at business scale is sure to be slow and messy.

The bottom line is that when you invest in a business-grade technology, you’re investing in performance, reliability, support and service availability, and professional tools and software. You may pay more up front, but you’ll save in the long run through improved management, maintenance, support and security.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make budget-conscious buying decisions. When the time comes for a technology refresh, give us a call. We can leverage our vendor partnerships and purchasing power to find quality deals on business-grade equipment that is built to last. What’s more, we can help arrange financing and manage your warranty coverage to your peace of mind. Now, that’s a good deal.

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I'm currently a junior at Rutgers University, majoring in Human Resources with a minor in Music. My love for music has already led me to an associates degree in Music from Raritan Valley Community College.