Almost since the beginning of personal computers, there have been two separate classes – Consumer PCs and Business PCs. These classes are aimed at two separate markets that claim to be important for each group. What makes a business machine different from a consumer machine and why should you care?
Maybe you’ve had this experience before: You open a new Google window to search for some information and you’re immediately greeted with an advertisement for some product or service that’s eerily similar to other searches you’ve submitted.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Millions of consumers experience this on a regular basis. It’s more important than ever for businesses to understand the potential risks and performance issues that come with buying consumer grade computers rather than investing in business grade equipment that has been fully re-imaged by an IT specialist.
The Security Risks of Consumer Grade Equipment
Often unknown to the average buyer, most consumer grade computers come preloaded with adware hidden beneath the surface that few buyers know about. This adware tracks your activity and sends your personal data to adware companies who get monetary incentives and kickbacks for sharing your information.
Some of the more common types of adware will track your web searches and browsing activity in order to place additional ads on the sites you visit. Malware like this not only breaches personal privacy, it also installs its own root information, leaving your PC more vulnerable to malware and other attacks.
“Why would the manufacturer do this?” You might ask. Manufacturers are able to lower the cost of consumer grade laptops because the cost is subsidized by ad partners who pay to have their software pre-installed onto your device without your knowledge. The manufacturer then touts the cheaper price, and all the while they get a kickback from the adware company — sometimes up to double what is cut from the price tag.
This might result in savings for you up front, but it will most certainly slow down your machine.
The thing that’s important to remember when purchasing company equipment is to “look beyond the price tag.” Even if you’re looking at equipment from a reputable source like HP, Best Buy, or Amazon, it’s still unlikely that the computer is malware free. These resellers may be selling the equipment, but at the end of the day the manufacturer has likely still loaded adware onto the device.
Consider The Performance
Another common misconception is that the hardware on a consumer grade laptop will “get the job done” just as well as that of a business grade laptop. Unfortunately, this way of thinking often results in the purchase of an underpowered computer with a lot of bloatware. Consumer grade equipment rarely has the hardware to support the applications needed for business purposes. The consumer grade laptop is often too slow, and gets slower as time goes on.
As the trend toward thinner, lighter personal laptops continues, the internal hardware tends to decrease as well. Current consumer grade laptops typically come with an i3 processor and 4gigs of RAM, but some manufacturers are beginning to include Atom processors, which are actually slightly slower hard drives. The decrease in power may not be noticeable to the average internet browsing, email checking individual, but these smaller processors are rarely able to fully support robust business applications.
When comparing consumer grade equipment to professional grade equipment, it’s not the upfront cost you should consider, but rather the cost incurred over the lifespan of the laptop. A good question to ask yourself is, “Will spending $300-$400 more up front save me more in the long run?”
The components in an $800 computer are different than the components in a $1,200 computer. In our experience, the cost of IT support, upgrades, time, and frustration that comes from trying to make an $800 computer do the job of a $1,200 computer just isn’t worth it.
Working with your IT services provider (rather than with a standard reseller) to acquire your new business grade computer will put your mind at ease knowing that you’re getting the right tool for the right job. A good IT partner will do more than just sell you the equipment, they will offer setup support, ongoing maintenance, and will build a base image of only the software that the business needs. This maximizes the computer’s performance while eliminating risky bloatware.