According to AMR Research the average small company spends about 6.4% of its revenue on IT expenses. (1)

Those expenses include purchasing the computers and software, labor, network and internet costs, repairs, lost productivity due to balky machines and software, along with time employees may spend helping other employees with IT problems.

For someone running a small office or a home office they may be their own IT support, or have to bring in someone from the outside to help, both of which drive up costs.

One thing that a small business can do to help reduce these costs is to take advantage of the one of the computer industries best kept secrets.

Many large companies lease their computers, and they lease a LOT of them, some companies lease thousands of them. Typically after about three years the lease runs out and the companies return the computers. The computers are shipped to centers that specialize in disposing of them.

These computers can range from the most basic desktops and laptops to top of the line equipment, and can also include high end workstations and servers.

Much of this equipment is still in good shape and may have many years of productive life in it, especially if being used for normal office tasks such as running Office applications and a web browser.

So what happens to it when it’s returned? Much of it goes to refurbishment centers. A good refurbishment operation will scrub and test the drives to make sure any old customer data is removed and the hard drive is good. The unit with then be thoroughly examined, cleaned and tested. If any problems are found they will be repaired or the unit rejected. It may also get a memory upgrade and will have Windows 10 loaded on it.

As part of the process they are also graded for cosmetics, with a pristine, indistinguishable from new machine getting a higher grade (and price!) than one that works fine but has cosmetic issues.

A quality refurb is also more reliable than a new machine. A new machine is just that. While modern electronics are quite reliable it’s also true that if they have a problem it’s likely to show up in the first 90 days. If a unit works properly for longer than that chances are it will run with minimal problems for many years, and used equipment is well past the 90 day failure mark.

My personal laptop, a “T” series Lenovo ThinkPad was purchased new several years ago. It’s used pretty much every day and I’ve had zero problems with it, it just works, and even factoring in the upgrades I made it was still half the price of a new one.

With the advancement of technology the midrange refurbished machine you buy today will have specs similar to an inexpensive new machine, but made with higher quality components and more thoroughly tested.

For example, as I write this I see Dell is offering a new Vostro tower with an i3-8100 processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive for $449(2), while on Tiger Direct you can buy a refurbished Dell OptiPlex tower PC(3) with an i5-2400, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive for $229. Both machines are running Windows 10 Pro 64.

The two systems have comparable performance, the new Vostro is a “value” system while the OptiPlex is designed for business, and costs half as much. Both come with a 1 year warranty.

Another advantage to buying used equipment is it’s good for the environment. It takes far less energy and other resources to refurbish a computer than to build a new one. It’s also a far more efficient form of recycling than harvesting the metals and plastics to be made into new materials.

So when it comes time to replace or upgrade computers for your small business it would be wise to look into buying refurbished equipment, paying less for your computers will be good for your bottom line, and as they say, “The bottom line is the bottom line”.