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Reducing Hardware Maintenance Costs

written by: theinkandpen (Robert Mullon)•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 10/5/2009

In this article we look at how you can save your money and lower the costs of maintaining hardware for your PC. Read on for tips about replacing parts, keeping your old system, hardware maintenance contracts, and a brief word about warranties.

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    All computer retailers (as most retailers of anything) offer some kind of “Return to base” policy, which means that if you have problems within a year of purchase (usually) you can return the product to the store. This isn’t often the case, however, and you will most likely need a warranty, usually the years, to cover any expenses or faulty hardware beyond the RTB period. This warranty can be renewed and any replacements or repairs are handled by the company.

    Unfortunately, as luck has it, it can very well happen that a part or piece of hardware fails after the warranty has expired, or the PC is simply too old to bother with one; in these cases contacting a company for repairs can be costly, time consuming, and at times just simply a rip-off.

    If you have had this problem and are wondering how to save up on your hardware maintenance costs, read further for some simple tips on avoiding the problem next time round.

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    Lowering your Maintenance Costs

    1) Ensure that the Hardware isn’t Under Strain

    There are plenty of freely available tools to monitor your system; things such as CPU or Motherboard temperature for instance are good at telling you if your fans are working and your components are at or near the point of danger. I would recommend Sandra by SiSoftware as a monitoring tool, as it offers plenty of maintenance and benchmarking tools, and the light version is free.

    2) Find the Issue and Solve it Yourself

    The first and easiest tip would be to try and find out the problem you’re having, likely by reading up on it and repairing it yourself. For instance, it is much cheaper to replace a video/graphics card-fan yourself than paying someone or replacing the entire card. Granted not everyone has the technical knowledge to do this (and sometimes it just isn’t possible) but in most cases it’s easy to do.

    3) Keep an Old System for Spares/Repair

    Despite the clutter, try not to throw away your old PC or parts as they may come in handy in case of hardware failures. Failures such as DVD readers/writers, floppies or hard-drives are perfectly solvable with parts from an old system; in the case of a hard-drive particularly, it may save the hassle of waiting for repairs especially if you need your PC for work.

    4) Consider Warranties or Renewals of Warranties for Expensive Systems

    In the case of multi-core systems or well-equipped gaming rigs for instance, it may be better to purchase a warranty or extend the existing one. In the case of a fried CPU, a PCI-E card failure or something wrong with the motherboard, you will likely end-up paying more for new parts/repairs than what is covered by your warranty.

    5) Consider a Hardware Maintenance Contract as Insurance

    A “Hardware maintenance contract” is just like an insurance policy in case your hardware should fail. The two standard types of contracts available are “On-site” maintenance or “Depot;” “On-site” means that a tech will come to your place of work/home and fix the problem there, whilst “Depot” takes more time as you need to order the part yourself (with expenses covered obviously).

    The main advantages of such a contract are seen if you own a business and can’t afford to diagnose your own problems or maintain yourself. In such cases a contract is highly recommended.