Summary: Before buying a PC or laptop for your company, know what you need before you buy. Dave Hodgdon and Steve Ripper from PCG IT discuss the dos and don’ts of buying a PC or laptop for your business. Listen or read more to learn why consulting with your IT professional is the best route before you purchase.

Mike:  The boys are here from Tech Tuesday. It's just amazing that they're here again today. Dave Hodgdon and Steve Ripper joining us. Good to see you guys. Welcome.

Steve Ripper: Good morning, Mike.

Dave Hodgdon: Good morning and happy July.

Mike:  Happy July 4th.

Steve: It's a patriotic tech vote.

Dave: [crosstalk] Yes, it is.

Mike:  You guys taking any time off this summer?

Dave: Oh, we're not allowed.

Mike:  I don't believe that.

Steve: Dave's motto of "if Vegas is open, we're open."

Mike:  Are you always on call? I mean the Portsmouth Computer Group. Are you guys . . . are always on call like holidays and stuff like that?

Dave: It's IT. Just like your HVAC company I mean . . .

Mike:  Yeah.

Steve: — getting stuff down. Someone's got to answer the phone.

Mike:  Radio stations.

Dave: Yup. You on call to come cover any day, anytime.

Mike:  I'll be here Friday morning.

Steve: Yeah, so will . . .

Dave: We're open. We'll come by and do Friday, Tech Tuesday.

Mike:  I am taking Thursday off.

Steve: Yes.

Mike:  I am taking Thursday off.

Dave: We are closed Thursday.

Mike:  Yeah. Good to have you guys with us. It's our Tech Tuesday segment with Steve and Dave here as always, and it's all brought to you by PCG, Portsmouth Computer Group, with convenient locations in Portsmouth and Dover, now brand-new locations in Manchester and Portland, Maine. How are those two new locations doing?

Dave: Working good. We're getting some good exposure in the areas but it's like, it always takes time. You know when you're in a new area that they're used to other companies and stuff.

Mike:  Yeah. Where in Portland are you by the way?

Dave: We are approximately about four miles from downtown, so it's a good location.

Mike:  Yeah.

Dave: It's about three minutes off the highway.

Mike:  Nice.

Dave: It's a good location.

Mike:  Very good. Very good.

Dave: Down in Manchester, off at Canal street.

Mike:  Very good. I like that area. Very nice. I was just up in Portland and doing some weddings. I was at The Irish Heritage Center, which is this old 1892 church. Beautiful. Historic as well. Who are you waving to?

Steve: A guy walking by?

Mike:  A guy's walking by? [crosstalk]

Steve: At this hour. But it was only the three of us like . . .

Mike:  Did they go through the metal detector?

Dave: [crosstalk] Go through the metal detector. Portland's a fun town.

Steve: I love Portland.

Dave: I love Portland.

Where Companies Should Shop for PCs

Mike:  I'm glad you do. So today we're going to talk a little bit about where companies should purchase their PCs or notebooks from, where should companies get their PCs? How should they source them and let's talk about this is basic stuff now, right Steve?

Steve: Oh yeah.

Mike:  Basic stuff. So, where do we start here?

Steve: You'd be amazed at how much it gets screwed up though. How basic it is.

Mike:  Why? Why?

Steve: Like the number of times we go in and go, “where did you get these PCs? You know, so like why didn't you get them from us or even talk to us?” So, the dos and don'ts, right? All the time you see "We went to Best Buy, picked up a couple off the shelf." Look at Dave shaking his head like it gets so sad.

Mike:  You know, Dave will really shake and say they asked me to ask me the same question, you know.

Dave: Just where'd you get your PC at?

Mike:  I bought them in store 24.

Dave: They're open 24 by seven. You got your IT support.

Mike:  I do my support there.

Dave: They just don't think about all, a consumer PC is just so much different. The parts, a business PC is on 24 by seven.

Operating System Differences

Mike:  What's the difference between the different hardwares and softwares?

Steve: So, you're talking about the operating system, you're talking about Windows 10 Pro as opposed to Home. So, Microsoft splits it out. They have a Home version and a Pro version. That was true in windows XP, true in Windows 7, true in windows 10. So, when we go into a company, they've already bought PCs off the shelf somewhere from retail, what we think of as retail, a lot of times it's Home. So Home is missing all kinds of sections that are important for the enterprise, for security, joining networks, joining domains, all the things that we've been talking about in the last year and a half. So, you're missing a lot of those parts in the Home operating system. It's fine for home, right? So Microsoft calls it Home, but when you're buying it from right off the shelf, suddenly you call us, you want a whole network, you want to do all these things to take your company to the next level, and the very first thing we do is we look and say, "Well, you went and purchased these PCs at the store, and we can't do the things we want to do with this one."

Mike:  With the software I've noticed that as well. I mean if you buy the whole Microsoft Office suite, you know as far as your Word and stuff like that and get the Pro model and you get the Home versions sometimes.

Dave: They've kind of changed that now with the subscription model to get what you want, but the bigger thing, Mike, on the PCs, is, think about your car. You get your four cylinder, your V6 your V8.

Mike:  Yeah, yeah.

Dave: When you're getting this PC, that is an entry level. The hard drive doesn't spin as fast. The components aren't as good.

Mike:  I didn't realize that.

Dave: So, when you're working on the machine, every time you click the mouse, it might take three seconds for a response. On a better machine, it's a half a second. You do the math during the day, you've saved 20, 30 minutes of time of just waiting for things to happen.

So, if you're paying someone $20, $30 an hour, you do the math within three or four months. Why did you make an investment of the wrong operating system? The wrong kind of PC, not a solid state drive. The machine's not manageable. So, they might think it's a good deal at $600 but for $800 I got myself a nice BMW.

Mike:  I like those statistics. Even those fractions of seconds.

Dave: It's unbelievable.

Mike:  Save you time.

Dave: I want it. You know I got a really nice machine now because I got like 25 windows open.

Mike:  Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Dave: You can't get a move. Give me that turbo engine.

Steve: And when Dave's talking about that, he's kind of talking about what we would think of as average users. So, when you get to the point where you have someone doing AutoCAD, when you have someone doing workstation-like stuff —

Dave: Yeah, yeah.

Steve: So, then you're talking about, so we'll go in and we'll spec the PCs out for the users who are going to use them. We'll do workstation class PCs that have, maybe they'll have support for dual video cards, lots more memory, better hard drive, better SSDs. So you need to give those people who you are paying large amounts of money to sit and do heavy engineering or software work, you've got to give them the right PC. So just buying one off the shelf, and then having them go, "It doesn't do what I needed to do", doesn't work.

Biggest Issues Companies Face When Blindly Buying a PC

Mike:  So, what's the biggest problem that people have when they purchase a PC? Is it not knowing where to get them or not knowing what to have in them as far as Professional versus Home models.

Dave: I think it's the checklist. What do I need to do for this business with my machine.

Mike:  Yeah, yeah.

Dave: And as Steve and I both know, knowing your business and a checklist of that machine, every user, you should have a standard checklist. These are the programs who use, I need remote access, I'm a CAD user, I need access to my accounting, I'm in the web. Once you get this checklist, that help dictates the kind of machine you want. Just like when you're shopping for a house if you've got four kids, you're not looking for a one-bedroom house. I'm looking for a four-bedroom house to accommodate my family.

Steve: Yeah. The other thing is that so you think you're saving money, you're buying a couple PCs off the shelf and maybe they're different kinds of PCs. It's one kind this because you're buying in piecemeal, you're actually spending a lot more money after the fact. So, every time you go to set them up, you're making it up as you go along. So, you're wasting hours of time, whether it's yours or you're having your vendor do it. Lots of hours there. If you don't have a checklist, right? So, they're getting done differently every time. Right? [crosstalk] So when you go to do support, you're supporting the PCs. This one's a Dell, that one's an HP. This one's a Lenovo, right? So, they have different requirements, different drivers, different models, different video cards in them. So, you're always spending time trying to figure out what's going on. Whereas if you have a unified strategy, right? So, if you have all HPs across the board, same drivers, same video cards, so support is much easier.

Mike:  That would make sense, right?

Steve: Absolutely.

Mike:  To have . . .

Steve: So, you want to standardize.

Mike:  Maybe if you buy all Lenovos, if you buy all HPs, whatever it is, it would be smart to have all the same type of computers in your company.

Dave: Correct.

Steve: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dave: It's all about being in alignment, and standards.

Mike:  All on the same platform, all with the same . . .

Steve: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike:  Hardware, software. [crosstalk] The operating system, yeah.

Dave: Just like you, when you buy a car, there are users, Mike, that are just doing basic computing, but as Steve said, you get a heavy CAD user, you get a marketing person, you need someone that needs mobility with a notebook or a tablet. So, you start customizing to help them, but you get the specs to kind of follow what that person needs.

Steve: And troubleshooting is a big part of it, right? So, if you have two different types of PCs in the same office, why is that one not working and this one is? Why are we having that? Right? So, if you have consistency across the board, we're using all the same model and we're following the same list of setting them up...

Dave: Right?

Steve: So if I'm setting seven PCs up or I'm setting a new one up and we did six last month, and we're setting a new one up this time, we're going to follow that same checklist, put the software on this way, put the programs on it — Office — get them all configured the same way so that we know when something's not working the right way, why that's happening. And the troubleshooting is much less, and you're saving money.

Dave: Changing a PC is a pain for the user. There's no question about that.

Mike:  I mean changing computers or even changing operating systems or everything.

Dave: Oh, so changing the operation, changes, because they're used to everything being a certain way. So now we as the engineering tech team, Steve's side of the house is, how do we need to get what you used to have to the new operating system to have it look like my icons, my desktops, my personal settings.

That's the things people don't think about to bring it over. Because just like moving your house, it's a pain to do it, but once you're there, you're good. Because people don't like change. But that PC that's been with you four or five years and you've got everything set up, your printers, your favorites, your icons. You get the new machine, that's where PCG comes in. We determine what you need to help move you. So when you turn on, you have a good experience. Because if you turn it on and stuff's not like it used to be, you're teed off.

Questions to Ask Your PC Vendor

Mike:  Yeah. And, of course, when people on businesses come to you and they say "What kinds of computers should we use, what kind of PCs should we use"? Or you know, what kind of systems, you guys obviously have your recommendations, your favorites as well as far as what you want to do.

Dave: Absolutely.

Steve: Yeah, and we're a warranty service center so you know, we can turn over if there's a problem with a PC, much faster. So that's the thing that you want to be asking.

Dave: Yeah.

Steve: You know, hey, is your vendor where you're getting the PC, what's the warranty status? Can you fix things immediately? Can you get parts quickly? So those are questions you want to ask.

Dave: But HP, it's our preferred vendor than a Lenovo. Just like you'd go to Chevrolet, you go to Ford, they'll sell the cars. But their focus is, you know, I'm a Honda dealer, I'm a BM dealer. But they'll also sell the other cars that are there, but that's their focus and they're good at that. And that's why you go to them.

Mike:  Absolutely. Any final words today? You guys going to see some fireworks this week?

Steve: Oh yeah.

Dave: We've got fireworks every day at PCG.

Steve: Fireworks every day.

Mike:  Right in house. Huh?

Dave: The fireworks are rolling.

Mike:  Great line, Dave.

Dave: People go, they don't buy the right PC. We get the call every day, and they can't get online. I was at a new customer site yesterday and she's there and just working away and the machine just starts croaking I look at it, I could tell right away where it came from. Not to mention any bad box stores, and I'm looking at it and know and it's the main girl up front and she can't do anything.

Mike:  Wow. Gosh.

Dave: No, but they had a spare machine. It was like nine years old. He says we can't use that one. So, the big part, Mike, is every organization should have a spare PC ready to go.

Mike:  Sounds good.

Dave: Just like your dad, your tire you have a spare cause you don't want to be left in the road with no wheels.

Mike:  Oh yeah, yeah. You can't get around with no wheels [crosstalk] No.

Dave: Windows seven end of life, when Mike?

Mike:  January 2020.

Steve: Oh my God.

Dave: Whoa.

Steve: We make him listen to us every Tuesday, [crosstalk] so . . .

Dave: So, start your plan and it's busy out there.

Mike:  Well I have two laptops now. One is Windows seven in it, one has Windows 10.

Dave: So I heard.

Mike:  I've adjusted to Windows 10.

Dave: How'd you do?

Mike:  I find it good. I find it okay.

Dave: All right. It's adjustment

Mike:  Yeah, I have a very fast computer. I don't know how fast it is, but I can tell by, because I use Spotify. I love Spotify, the music service there, it's the best 10 bucks I've ever invested. [crosstalk]

Steve: Sure.

Mike:  But I can see on the Windows 10 machine, that's an HP machine. It boots up incredibly fast.

Steve: Sure.

Mike:  I'm not quite sure what a kind of processor, what kind of solid state [crosstalk] hard drive I have.

Dave: A solid state drive there.

Mike:  Probably does. And the other one with Windows seven is not quite as fast. I can tell the difference just by the Spotify application.

Steve: A lot of times people describe snappier, it's snappier like things just open [crosstalk] next thing, you are just listening to music right away.

Dave: Here we go.

Mike:  I love Frank Sinatra, it's great.

Dave: I get your game plan, get your budget, things are happening and you'll plan those machines out and you'll have a good transition.

Steve: Yeah. We're talking about this stuff. The users see us on this issue more than anything else.

Dave: Yeah.

Steve: The users drive around in the car right now or, that's when I see the IT guy. He makes me get out of the way and he puts the new PC in and nothing I have is where it's supposed to be, and I hate that guy I hate when he comes and he takes my PC away. Right?

Mike:  Oh my, guys, I always made sure that, please put it back where it was.

Steve: Exactly.

Mike:  Sounds good. Dave and Steve from Portsmouth Computer Group with convenient locations in Portsmouth and Dover, and now the brand new locations of Manchester and Portland, Maine. PCG IT for world-class IT service and customer support. Go to PCGIT.com. Have a great 4th of July.

Dave: Great fourth, Mike.

Steve: You too, Mike.

Mike:  Have a good weekend. We'll see you next Tuesday morning here, all part of Tech Tuesday. The guys always join us at about 7:40.