Five ways to reduce your computing costs

For many Australians living on a fixed income, the cost of purchasing and maintaining a computer can become unaffordable. Drew Patchell shares five ways you can save when using technology.

Hardware – Purchasing a new computer
As with a brand new car, as soon as you purchase and take your computer out of the shop, the value decreases by about 25 per cent. To save money on future computer purchases, consider buying second-hand. Websites such as eBay, Trading Post and Deals Direct specialise in second-hand or refurbished computers which work just as new. The best part is the majority of these computers will come pre-loaded with expensive add-on software such as Microsoft Office and offer a 12 to 24 month warranty on the product.

Save power, save your computer
As computers have continued to advance, so has the power usage of the fans and processors needed to power the systems. The cost of running the average computer has risen to $2 per day. While this may not seem a lot of money over the space of a year, the difference between leaving your computer on and turning it off could be well over $300. It is also reasonable to suggest that not turning the computer off will result in an earlier need for it to be replaced.

Bundling plans
Bundling is a term which appeared in telecommunication company advertisements over the past five years. It is the process of combining your phone, internet and mobile bills into one plan. When bundling your plans together, the company will reward your loyalty with a discount which can range from 10-25 per cent, depending upon the provider. Before committing to a bundled package, review what your needs are as most customers purchase a plan which is far beyond their actual needs.

Software – Why pay when there is a free alternative?

When purchasing a new or used computer, you may be asked to purchase ‘essential’ software such as Microsoft Office or Norton Anti-Virus. While programs such as these do provide value-for-money, there are free alternatives available to download (which are suited to non-business use). Even non-essential software such as Adobe Photoshop has free alternatives, so get your Google on and find them.

Keep it clean
Similar to maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your computers components fit and healthy will enable the computer to operate more efficiently, reduce the risk of a fatal ‘heart attack’ and also reduce your power bill (marginally). Every year, you should take the time to thoroughly clean your hardware, including inside the case. By removing the dust from inside the computer case, you are easing the load on the fan. Cleaning your software is also important. Ensure you have a firewall and anti-virus scanner installed at all times and perform a weekly scan for viruses. Reducing the number of icons on your desktop can also speed up your computer significantly.


Free software downloads  

Information on how to correctly clean your computer 

Free firewall and anti-virus software