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Buy, Rent or Lease Computers (Information/Research)

By:Christine Fettinger

Should We Rent Our Office Computers Instead of Purchasing Them?

Consumers can rent cars to drive while traveling, rent a house to live in instead of committing to a mortgage, and even rent luxury clothes instead of buying something one might only wear once or twice. Does it make sense to rent technology instead of buying devices every few years?

Why buy a car when consumers have the option to lease? Purchasers enjoy long-term benefits like no car payments after a loan are paid off and the potential for collateral with the trade-in value of outright ownership. Those who choose to lease, on the other hand, enjoy significantly lower initial costs and easy maintenance of what’s essentially a long-term rental car. For decades, the first logical step toward independence has been signing a lease for an apartment or rental house, since home ownership comes with a significant up-front investment that is typically a barrier to entry for new graduates and entry-level workforce. Businesses enjoy the same flexibility and fluidity, renting space in office buildings that can be customized to their needs today, even if another location is more fitting a few years later. The theme of “flexibility” is a popular consumer concept!

Flexibility is a very attractive feature of the modern world, so long as it makes sound financial sense. After all, what’s more, attractive than a good deal? A great deal! Weighing the pros and cons of a large purchase is not only a common precursor, but it’s also just plain smart. With a car, when it comes to the decision to purchase outright or lease for a few years, the question isn’t if one needs a new car every three years. The question is if it’s wise to forego the potential return in lieu of the guaranteed maintenance performed by the dealership under a lease agreement. There are other factors to consider – for example, after-market extended warranties are plentiful for car owners who wish to continue peace-of-mind coverage after a manufacturer’s warranty expires, allowing owners to maintain a vehicle for longer with protection against major repairs.

Tech Talk

Consumers feel much the same way about our cars as we do about our computers. The day we open the box for the first time, plug in the power cord and power on the device – it’s a good feeling. It powers up so fast – especially if the device is replacing an outdated machine. Smaller, sleeker, shinier – no matter what the comparison is to the older machine, there’s that moment of satisfaction mixed with a twinge of relief.

The average lifespan of a computer is between three and five years, depending on usage. The average cost of a new computer varies, with extremely powerful machines running upwards of several thousands of dollars and economic models under $250. Generally, the adage is true, “You get what you pay for.”

The difference is, like with the car, consumers have options with computers – especially if multiple computers are used by a business.

Well-Oiled Machines

Businesses rely on technology for everything – literally. Phone calls, emails, contracts and agreements, billing and payment transactions, payroll, customer and vendor interactions, and every other process uses technology. Everything from data storage to transaction records to customer service involves computers, which means usage is higher than a typical household computer and may mean a shorter lifespan depending on circumstances.

So, about those options…

Can businesses rent computer equipment instead of buying outright? Yes – but that doesn’t mean it’s the best financial decision or the best for the long run.

Consider a few factors:

  • Rented equipment was almost certainly used by someone else before today – depending on how long the previous user had the equipment, it’s probably not the newest technology
  • Instead of the purchase cost, there will be monthly rental costs that will result in higher lifetime costs
  • Is maintenance included in that monthly cost, like with the leased car? Or is that additional, or even an option?

What might make better financial sense?

As an alternative to renting equipment, the better option may be to invest in quality new technology and protect your purchase by retaining the services of a managed IT services provider (MSP) through a service level agreement (SLA).

This arrangement has a variety of benefits:

  • Low monthly fee paid to the MSP guarantees ongoing support and maintenance for technology and devices – at a lower rate than the fee to rent equipment!
  • A dedicated team of skilled IT talent available
  • Relationships with vendors can help consumers purchase equipment at lower costs that are available to the general public for up-front savings
  • And more!

Another major benefit to businesses is the strategic IT consulting services that MSPs provide. Businesses, especially new businesses, benefit from the combined decades of experience the MSP team brings to the table and can help in many ways:

  • Designing and establishing a network
  • Cloud consulting and cloud solution set-up
  • Relocation and expansion consulting
  • Network and IT security, including cybersecurity and remote monitoring
  • Virtual machines and hosted solutions
  • Email security

MSPs oversee security and software updates and will run these updates during off-peak hours for minimum impact on productivity. Monitoring technology during off-peak hours has the added value of network protection should a cyber attack occur when users aren’t working and may not realize what’s going on for several (expensive) hours.

Bonus: The increased level of care and attention office technology gets from MSPs can extend the life of devices, giving businesses more bang for their buck and stretching out those savings!

Rather than hiring an experienced – and expensive – full-time internal resource to assist you in each of these areas, an MSP offers significant expertise at significant savings, enabling stability and growth. MSPs allow businesses to focus on their core competencies without the worry over technology.

While renting expensive equipment initially seems like a cost-effective alternative to purchasing, expensive security risks, and ill-equipped technology could cost you more in the long run. Before making any decisions, talk to a trusted resource and see what the best option is for you – and your future.

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