Buy That Extended Warranty
Most computer equipment comes with only a one-year warranty. For around $100 you can extend the warranty from one year to four years or more. The warranty will pay for itself, especially on printers, monitors, and laptops. And remember, most warranties are transferable, so if you want to sell this stuff down the road, it will be worth more with a warranty.
And get a ZIP drive — this is a removable storage device made by Iomega. It is very common and very inexpensive (you can purchase it pre-installed with most computers if you ask). It makes backups very easy.
NOTE: The warranty only covers hardware. If you screw up your data files because of a virus or other software, those repairs are not covered by the warranty.
Back It Up
If you need service, request a backup BEFORE anyone begins working on your computer. If you don’t ask for this, and they screw up your data, they can’t be held responsible!
Avoid Sub-$500 Computers
They are made cheaply and will end up costing you more money in the long run. The best computers by value and quality are in this order: 1-Dell, 2-Gateway, 3-Micron, 4-Compaq. After that, you’re on your own.
NOTE: Three of the four are mail-order companies, so they can make better computers at lower cost. Realistically, plan on spending $1,200 to $2,500 for the computer, monitor, and keyboard.
Watch out for viruses
Viruses are becoming a larger and larger problem, but updating software is just too difficult for most users. We like HouseCall. It completes a free virus scan of your computer right off the Web site for free, so there’s no software to download. Check it out and use it any time you want a quick scan. It’s also useful because it updates the software constantly, so you never have to worry whether you are using the latest version.