Consider Captain Vimes' boots theory

How do you think about the cost of a computer? The answer isn't straightforward.

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

Cheap computers are cheaper for a reason. They will invariably have cheaper components than their more expensive counterparts. These may (not always) be more likely to develop faults, or the computer may simply be underpowered and not up to the task at hand. If we are talking about computers being used for work, that could well mean things take longer to accomplish than they should, which could end up costing you money. Missed deadlines and the like could in fact cost you a lot.

As technology and software develops (sometimes at fantastic rates), cheaper computers often find it hard to keep up, just because they do not have the processing power available. This leads to them being replaced sooner rather than later, which is itself another cost.

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The other end of the market involves spending lots of money up front to get something with more firepower than a thousand starships. Erm Star Wars quotes aside, it’s just something that a lot of people cannot afford. However, if you can afford a super duper computer, then it will probably have less problems and last a lot longer without modifications or upgrades. Terry Pratchett summed it up with Captain Vimes’ boots theory of economics. Essentially people that can afford the really expensive boots, only need to buy new boots very rarely - and therefore spend less money on boots than if they had bought cheaper ones.

Another aspect of computing cost is energy usage. Modern computers are a lot more energy efficient than older computers. So if you have an old PC or laptop, you might want to take that into account if you are considering whether or not to replace it. However, even if you aren’t about to go and splash out on a new computer, there are things you can do to make sure your computer is as efficient as possible. The most obvious being to make sure it is free of dust. Dust blocks fans and vents and makes life hot as hell for computers. The net result is that they have to work a lot harder to get anything done and that uses up more electricity. It also wears the fans out faster, which will in turn need replacing sooner.

One last thing to consider is the cost (if any) of additional software that you need. A lot of software these days is either low cost or free. In the case of web apps, you don’t even need to install anything. As well as making them easy to use, it has the side benefit that you aren’t clogging up your machine with software installs that could potentially increase start up times by running in the background, when all you want to do is hit the ground running.

If you have any questions about extending the life of your existing machine, why not pop along to the Kinder Living Show on the 2nd and 3rd July in Horsham? Kinder Tech is returning with its own stand to answer your questions.