Most important computer features for a small business owner

We get asked constantly to quote or buy or spec out computers for our clients. Our recommended solution comes down to these 6 factors.

It’s likely not what you think.

We get asked constantly to quote or buy or spec out computers for our clients. We recommend different solutions, but really, the recommended solution comes down to these 6 factors.

  1. Will the machine be reliable?
  2. Will the machine be powerful enough to do what they need and (a) not be obsolete in 4 years and (b) not be overkill?
  3. How much storage will the machine need?
  4. Does it need to be backed up? If so, do they have good internet so we can support off-site backup?
  5. Do they need any special software or hardware?
  6. What security do they need?

RELIABILITY

We usually measure reliability by 2 things. (a) Is it custom, and (b) what is the warranty.

Custom computers are fun, powerful, and cheap, but they can absolutely lack reliability. When you get a business-class computer from a reliable manufacturer, you are buying a pre-tested machine with all components evaluated by the manufacturer for compatibility. We never sell custom builds to businesses. Custom builds are for gamers.

Not all manufacturers offer a 5 year, next business day on-site repair warranty on all of their models. The reason for this is that not all model computers have equally reliable components. Look for a desktop that has a reasonably priced 5-year warranty. For example, Dell’s business models usually have an excellent warranty for only $150 to $200. This warranty includes accidental damage coverage, US-based support techs, and next business day on-site repair. It’s really good and is called a “ProSupport Plus” warranty. We think it’s worth it, mainly since it means your computer is less likely to need anything for 5 years.

POWER

There are LOTS of opinions about power. We have found that if the average user has the power specs listed below, they will have a very happy, productive, and fast machine for 5 years easily. An average user is a person who wants to have lots of browser tabs open while running QuickBooks and messing with Excel and Word. If this person is a graphic designer or uses 3D CAD software, we would increase these specs and add a good Graphics Card.

Good specs for a useful business-class computer as of 5/20/2020

  • Processor: i5 8000 or better (i7 is even better) or AMD Ryzen
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Drive: SSD or M.2 SSD with 256 GB of storage space or as large as the user's needs (DO NOT get an HDD Drive)

STORAGE

This greatly depends on the user. Some users need 10 GB. Others need 10 TB (10,000 GB)! Look at your current usage and double or triple it! Storage is cheap and easy when you buy your computer. Just spend the extra money upfront, and you will not regret it later.

BACKUP

Any computer can fail at any time for no reason. Not having an off-site backup is skydiving with no backup parachute. It’s CRAZY! A lightning strike or a water leak can kill all data on the computer and on the backup drive you have. With good internet, you can easily have a versioned backup of all your data, stored online, encrypted and secure, for very cheaply. We manage our clients' backups and check on them every day to make sure they run successfully.  

Always remember that you can replace damaged hardware, but you can’t replace lost, corrupted, or stolen data.  

SPECIAL SOFTWARE OR HARDWARE

Do you need O365? QuickBooks? Pages? Evernote? Illustrator? Auto-CAD? If we know, we can make sure you start using your computer immediately and don’t spend a day installing software just so you can do your job.

SECURITY

Gone are the days of adding free antivirus software on your office computer and being safe, much less PCI, HIPAA, or Gramm–Leach–Bliley compliant! Consult an MSSP (Like your lovely QuickFix friends!) to get a security consultation. Not getting professional advice on this subject is not ok. DIY security is now considered to be negligence by most, if not all, compliance auditors.

This should help you make the most out of your IT dollars. To buy a slow computer is to waste an employee’s time. Wasting an employee's time costs orders of magnitude more money than buying smart in the first place.



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