VISUAL NEWSLETTER SEP 2003


 

COMPUTER RELIABILITY

 

Not so very long ago, the difference in price between name brand computers and clones was quite considerable. At that time you could install one name brand or two clones for the same money. That difference has all but disappeared. Companies such as Dell and Hewlett Packard have used their size and considerable buying power to lock up the best parts suppliers and they produce excellent products at prices competitive with any clone producer. They are so competitive and the quality is so much better than clones that I am puzzled by the number of companies still using clones.

 

Time after time I visit companies that have one or more clones out of commission while the companies using all Dell or Hewlett Packard computers have little or no hardware problems. Even if a clone costs a hundred dollars less than a name brand, a single hardware failure can eliminate that cost savings in the first year of operation. Similarly network cards, routers and hubs, modems and printers have similar reliability issues. While no brand can guarantee 100% reliability, some brands have demonstrated superior reliability over time. Some of these brands deserve particular recognition:

 

Desktops: DELL / HEWLETT PACKARD

 

Laptops: DELL / TOSHIBA / COMPAQ / IBM

 

Dot Matrix Printers: EPSON / OKIDATA

 

Laser Printers: HEWLETT PACKARD

 

Ink Jet Printers: HEWLETT PACKARD

 

Network Cards: D-LINK, INTEL, 3COM

 

Hubs/Routers: D-LINK, LINK-SYS, 3COM

 

Modems: U.S. ROBOTICS, ACER OPEN

 

KEEPING COSTS DOWN

 

Reliability saves both time and money. When computers go down, a company loses much more than the cost of the repair which in most cases is more than they saved buying the lower priced product. They also lose productivity, while users struggle to determine what is wrong with their computers, call in a service company and wait for their computer to be repaired.

 

A printer that stops working keeps quotations and invoices from going out the door and affects work flow and cash flow.

 

To lessen the effects of downtime, many companies choose to self insure by keeping a spare computer, printer, etc. onsite in the case of a failure. This makes it a fairly simple task to replace the offending piece of hardware while it is being repaired.

 

It should be noted in the case of computers, that many apparent failures are caused by problems with Microsoft Windows and can be corrected without replacing hardware. Older versions of Windows 95/98 are more vulnerable to common Windows problems.

 

When you consider the cost of repairing some older model computers, replacement may be the better option. Computers like cars can develop patterns of failure and one repair can lead to another and another.

 

Newer computers are more capable and can cost as little as $500-$1000., dependant on options selected. Lower end models are usually your best buy. Next year the high end model will cost half as much and you can always upgrade another machine then.

Dependant on your existing network and software in use newer versions of Windows may cause some compatibility problems. Many sophisticated networks may require Windows XP Professional for example.