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Added costs that come with a new computer

There are a lot of extra costs that go along with a new computer. Sometimes these cost more than the computer! You need to be aware of them from the outset. As is my nature, I've made a PDF form you can use to tabulate these expenses.

People often come to me wanting me to setup their new computer. I point them to my New Computer Setup Form so they understand what I'll be doing. However, this form doesn't make clear all the things they need to think about and all the extra stuff they'll need to buy. So here's my list of things you'll need with your new Windows computer. This is assuming it is being used for business or at least home accounting and or family pictures. So this is what you need if you are adding important files to the computer that you do not want to lose. If you have less concern about losing things, some of these items could be eliminated, but you must understand them. In fact, if you are just doing Email and Internet browsing, then you should seriously look at a Chromebook.

These are very general recommendations for very small offices of 1 to 4 people and the computers that run their business. Special situations require adjustments, but this is how I setup most of my clients.


You need all of these things to be completely protected. Remove any of them only after deep consideration. If you already have these for your old computer, they might be transferable.
  • An external backup drive. I like the little USB drives from Seagate or Western Digital. They can be purchased from an online retailer like Amazon for about $55 for a 1 TB drive. You need a place to hold your backup!
  • A backup program. This will be configured to automatically backup your data to the external drive and to keep some number of previous versions. I like Second Copy very much. It is $30 and is easy to use. It simply makes copies on a schedule and reports the results. Second Copy has a nice log file so you can check your backups and will alert you if there was an error. This program is transferable to a new computer, so if you have it, you don't need to buy it again.
  • An imaging program. I like Macrium Reflect Standard very much. It will make an image of the whole hard drive. I suggest doing this once a month. A full image is helpful if Windows goes crazy, gets horribly infected, or the hard drive fails. It will return the entire system to exactly the way it was when the image was created. Macrium Reflect is $45. I think Macrium is also transferable.
  • Off-site backup. My current favorite is Spideroak. It is free for less than 2 GB and costs $100/yr for up to 100 GB. An off-site backup is for those critical files that you need even if someone breaks into your office and steals your computer (and the backup drive attached to it), or there is a fire or flood or other calamity. The service is for storage space, new computers are added for nothing.

Full cost (if you don't have any of these already): $230.

If you are getting a notebook computer and do not intend to leave it on, or don't leave your computer on all the time so backups can be made at night, I still recommend leaving it on 1 night a week to do maintenance, antivirus scans, defragmenting, and backups.


I suggest Nod32 for antivirus protection. I normally recommend the 2 year subscription for $60. More than one computer allows for sharp discounts. Sometimes discounts are available at Amazon.


I strongly recommend Ninite Updater to maintain almost a hundred other programs. Security flaws get patched and you need to do more than just Microsoft updates. This program makes updating easier and much safer. Cost: $10/yr.

Cost for Antivirus and updating: $70

Normal cost for security software and services: $300

Data Transfer:

Getting your data out of your old computer and into the new one. This usually isn't too much. Even if you don't pay someone to do it for you, it'll take time.


  • Do you need accounting software because your old accounting software won't run on the new computer?
  • Do you need MS Office? This can be very expensive. A licensed version is not included with a new computer and depending on needs it can cost from $125 (for home use) - $400. Many of my clients can use Libre Office which is free. I have never had MS Office on any of my computers, but it is necessary for many.
  • Other software?


  • Printer: You need to be sure your printer will work with the new system. Are there drivers for the new operating system? Will the cable from an old printer attach to your new one (if you are connecting it).
  • Screen: Unless you are depending only on an internal screen with your laptop, you need to look at how you are connecting your screen(s). Currently screens connect using any of 4 types of connectors: VGA, DVI, HDMI and Display Port. DVI has subdivisions. Computers and monitors usually have only 2 or 3 types of connectors, so you will need to find a match and may not be able to use your old cable.

Setup and Training:

I normally do setup, training and delivery on a new system for a flat $250 if they are within 20-30 minutes of my office. The services I provide are listed on my setup form. If people pickup at my office, there is a considerable discount, but I can't setup their printer or network that way. Nothing I do is magic. Many of you can do it yourself, but it will take you a lot of time and you should consider that cost as well.

Date: December 2014

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