How to choose computers for your business

With thousands of different options available, choosing computers for your business can be an intimidating experience. The type of computer you get will depend on your business and factors ranging from how much time you expect to be working at it to how portable you need it to be.

Your basic requirements

  • If you're starting your business from home, it's worth getting a computer specifically for the business. Computers are generally a business' most important tool, and kicking your children off when they're in the middle of a game because you have an urgent email coming through may not go down very well.
  • Whether you're buying a computer for yourself or ones for your employees, chances are they'll be in use for eight hours or more each day, so make sure the computer is robust enough to be able to cope with that level of use. If you're buying a laptop, investing in a separate keyboard and monitor to use in the office will not only improve posture, but also subject it to less of a battering.
  • Although you can get bespoke computers, these are generally more expensive and unless your business has very specific needs, not worth the money. Instead, invest in good computers made by a well-known, reliable manufacturer: Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, Toshiba and Samsung are all reliable and have good customer service to back up the warranty if something goes wrong.
  • One of your most important choices will be whether to buy a laptop or a desktop computer. While a laptop offers you flexibility, a desktop will is sturdier and will have a higher capacity, so it'll probably last longer. Choose a laptop for employees if they expect to be working on the move a lot or if they will be making lots of presentations to clients. Office-based workers should be fine with a desktop: they're cheaper and better for posture.
  • The Mac vs PC debate has been raging for decades, but the difference is essentially the price and what you expect to get out of them. Macs are sometimes up to twice as expensive as their PC equivalents, but are generally considered to be faster, longer-lasting and more reliable. If your business involves working with or manipulating images, film, music or games, consider buying a Mac - but if the most you'll need your computer for is word processing and the odd spreadsheet, a PC will do.

What to look for

  • Screen size is an important factor when you're buying computers. Screens are measured diagonally, from the top right-hand corner to the bottom left-hand corner. Generally speaking, the larger the screen, the better it is for eyesight and posture.
  • Memory, usually known as RAM (random access memory) affects how quickly your computer switches between programmes. The higher the RAM, the faster your computer will be - but anything over 2 gigabytes (GB) is probably superfluous unless you plan to use the computer for hi-end gaming.
  • A computer's processor determines how quickly it operates. The speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz) - look for something over two GHz, or look at the specifications of the software you use to determine how much power you need. It's worth noting if you're using the computer to make films, graphics, music or games, you might want something more advanced.
  • As software becomes more advanced, the demand for more disk space is growing - so look for a computer with as much storage space as possible. Go for something with 160GB or more - and remember, if you run out, you can always supplement it with an external hard drive.

Checklist

  • It's worth getting a computer specifically for your business
  • Computers are in use constantly, so make sure the one you buy is sturdy and reliable
  • If you're buying a laptop, invest in a separate keyboard and monitor
  • Macs are widely considered more reliable and more powerful than PCs

FAQ

If I buy some PCs and some Macs, will they work together?
Connectivity has changed since the days of yore, and now Macs and PCs should work in relative harmony. However, you might find yourself buying extra copies of some software - check on the side of the box to make sure it's compatible with both systems.

Jargon buster

Monitor: The computer screen

Hard drive: The storage space on your computer. You can supplement this with external hard drives

Resources

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