A necessary evil is anything which, despite being considered to have undesirable qualities, is preferable to its absence. I’m talking about a computer. There are many things in life that we desperately need to work but they sometimes fail or get damaged and need repair. I could be mentioning your car or your body among other things but for these purposes my statement is clear… “We break down when our computer breaks down”.
Computers have undesirable qualities. They can leak your info to the world and they can even damage your wrists. Despite that, for all of us reading this, we need computers. So, when your computer breaks, what do you do? This subject has been a part of my life since I used my first computer. For the last three years of my life there has been a strong beam of light shined on this subject. I actually sold computer solutions to people as a 9-5.
Here is what my experience boils down to:
1) About 1 of 5 laptops fails within 3 years from day of purchase. 1 of 6 for desktops.
2) Environment, frequency of use, level of treatment, regular maintenance and plain old luck are the main factors in why computers break.
3) Manufacturer’s warranties are rarely FREE.
4) You get what you pay for.
Laptops fail more often than desktops. There is more air circulation in the housing of desktops and desktops don’t move around as much. Heating causes a lot of problems with laptops. Basically, extra heat in your laptop can put stress on other components inside. Moist environments can cause shortages or even liquid damage. For instance, bringing the laptop in the bathroom while you shower is not the best idea. Using your computer all the time will actually allow you to see problems more often. Also, if you have a habit of tossing your computer on the bed or in the backseat of your car then know that this can cause harm to your device. Some people will also take cleaning too lightly. Making your computer free of dust and grime will decrease the chances of something on it failing. Last thing is luck. With all the computers that exist there are going to be some that fail, even right out of the box.
One year LIMITED manufacturer’s warranty. What does that really mean? That means the company will do things their way. Don’t get me wrong. Computer makers do want to provide good customer service but not as much as they want you to leave them alone after you buy their product. You could be subject to long turnaround time on repairs. They could charge you for express shipping. Accidental damage coverage is almost never included. I could go on forever therefore my advice is to buy an “extended warranty” through the retail store that sells the computer.
Extended warranties are good. Let’s say you bought a car from the dealership for $1000. The salesman said that for an extra $200 they would pay for any repairs needed for the next 3 years (not including damage caused by an accident). For another $100 they WILL cover repairs on damage caused by an accident. So, we are talking about 30% of the cost of the vehicle that covers repairs for the first 3 years whether you break it by accident or it breaks on its own. Seems like a lot but let’s look at the extended warranty as a “necessary evil”. If you don’t have the extended warranty and it does break you will have to pay each time it needs repair unless it’s under a LIMITED warranty (see paragraph four above for limited warranty). If you break it by accident then you pay regardless. You can only hope that it doesn’t break or that the total repair costs for 3 years is less than $300. You also have to factor in convenience.
Luck, if you believe in it, plays a role in getting a good computer. Computers go through QC (quality control) before they reach the stores where you to buy them. Every single computer goes through this process. Generally the QC process consists of testing all the moving parts and the internal parts. As thorough as the QC procedure is, it still can’t determine the performance of the unit over a period of time. With that said, you need a little luck so that you don’t end up with a “lemon” or a “time bomb”.
The life expectancy for a computer is 3-4 years from date of purchase. Some last longer and some don’t. The first year is usually when you get the best performance from a new unit. Most people start seeing maintenance issues after the first 13 months unless you have a “lemon”. A “lemon”, in my words, is a computer that doesn’t work properly out-of-box or that has an ongoing problem with a specific component or set of components. A “time bomb”, in my words, is a computer that has an unseen issue but seems to works properly until one day all hell breaks loose! A “time bomb” usually is discovered after a computer’s manufacturer’s warranty has expired.
I have personally had good experiences with Toshiba and Sony products when sending them back to the manufacturer for repair. In both cases the process could have been a lot smoother. I still lost time and money while my units were being repaired. The Sony actually failed a second time and the manufacturer’s warranty had expired by then. Apple has given me excellent service every time but they are not exempt from the same maintenance issue as other brands. An extended warranty from the retail store from where the unit was purchased is still the preferred route to take.
Thanks for reading. I hope you found some of this info useful and please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.