[Originally published in The Coloradoan on 5/18/12]
One of the more common questions I get is “should I buy a new or used computer?” It’s always a tough one to answer, but with some simple guidelines, you can probably narrow down your decision quickly.
First, you need to be forward thinking with your decision and recognize the endgame of your computer situation. Will you be using this computer for personal reasons or for business? Or both? Ask yourself, “what are the main functions I use my computer for?” Will you need to store a large amount of movies, music or other multimedia?
Once you have thought about these questions, you can start to organize what kind of technical specifications you need. For example, someone who is going to be actively downloading a lot of music will need much more hard drive space to be able to store this information. Talk to a computer professional if you have questions as to what specs are right for your needs.
A general rule is that a brand new computer will be out of date in approximately three to four years. However, with technology so rapidly increasing these days, the average user can often stretch that just a little bit further.
A used computer will most likely cost you less today, but since it is typically going to be a slightly older model, you will probably not get as much life from it.
As with many financial decisions, this comes down to the cost value of your money today vs. the future. If you are on a tight budget but find you need a computer upgrade, a used computer is a great choice, knowing that in only a couple of years, you might need to buy a new one.
If you can afford to spend a little more today, you will get much more value for your money and be able to use that computer longer.
Of course, there are no guarantees with either purchase. A computer, being made of plastic and metal parts, is destined to fail at some point. This failure can come sooner rather than later, but I have computers I have owned for more than seven years.
So, spend some time doing your research and considering your options before making your purchase, and you will be much happier with your new or used machine in the end.
Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Call him at (970) 980-8091 or send email to stu@ fcdigitalworkshop.com.