Your choice of hardware and software will have a huge impact on the productivity of your personnel and your company’s bottom line. You need the right tools to get the job done right. Computers consist of two main elements, namely hardware and software. Hardware refers to the physical elements such as the computer hard drives, screens, printers, etc. You can touch hardware. Software is the interface that you use to perform certain actions on your computer.

Here are some basic tips on choosing well.

Always Buy Legally and Register your Software

It is always important to buy legal hardware and software and to register the products that you purchase. By registering your software, you are often able to receive additional upgrades, service and support at no additional fees. Add-ons, plug-ins, useful tools and information from the software company can benefit your company’s use of purchased software. If you are using Windows then you will need to register your Windows software in order to be able to download important service packs and updates.

Pirated software is hacked to take out the copy protection. This affects the performance of the software. This affects the performance of the software and can cause freezing/crashing on your PC and conflicts with other legitimate software programs. Pirated software results in your paid employees being unable to do their job, which affects their performance and your business’ bottom line. Proper licensing also ensures that you are legally protected in the event of an audit. There are some countries that enforce jail time when a user is caught using pirated or unlicensed software.

Take into consideration who will be using the unit and for what purpose

Another important consideration when choosing hardware and software for your company is what function you want it to perform and who will be using this. Each computer should complement the user and the software that is being used. A computer and peripherals that are used for Auto-CAD, Pro-E engineering or graphics, should be different than the computer your receptionist, accountant or sales person uses.

A business server is a different type of computer than a PC. It is used by every person, computer, printer, and any peripheral within your business. A PC does not have the components to withstand the workload of a server, and will ultimately fail resulting in company downtime that affects your bottom line.

Warranty and Support Plans

While most general consumers can do with a standard 1 year manufacturer’s warranty, professionals should look for a warranty of 3 or more years, since you should expect to use your computer for business for about that long. Also, consumer support plans generally require you take the computer to a depot or mail in a laptop for repair; if you don’t have a fallback or second computer that you can use for work, as a professional you should get on-site support — either same or next day, depending on whether you can tolerate any downtime if your computer breaks.

Network equipment and connection

Although you may conduct much of your business online, you may still want to setup a wired and/or wireless network at your business. A wired network is a must if you are planning to have a business server in production. Having a network is nothing really fancy: one server with an OS like Windows Small Business Server connected to a small switch or router and that’s pretty much your network. Use the server OS to setup employee accounts and passwords and to setup file and folder permissions so you can control which employees can access what data.

If your business does not require a server, chances are you’ll want to connect a wireless router to your broadband Internet connection. Maybe you want to give guests or customers courtesy Internet access. Perhaps you want to charge for access? Or, maybe you want Internet connectivity for just you and your employees. There are all kinds of routers out there that can fit your business needs. Research about tips on selecting the perfect router for your business to ensure that you get the right one.

Video and Displays

Your choice also of monitor and display size must be adjusted to your need. A laptop will suffice if you are merely going to use the computer for writing and basic office functions. If you are in an editorial or graphic design company, however, the specification of a basic laptop simply does not suffice. Graphics professionals and those in the gaming industry will want to have a discrete (i.e., dedicated) video card, essential for video and graphics performance. For regular business tasks, however, an integrated video processor (integrated into the motherboard) should be just fine.

If you use a laptop as your main working computer, it is recommend hooking up an external monitor to your laptop, especially if your laptop has a screen size under 17″. The extra desktop real estate can make an enormous difference in productivity.