Column: Why extended warranties on computers are a waste


Q: Are extended warranties on computers worth buying?

A: Whatever tech device you buy from virtually any retailer, chances are they are trying to charge you a little extra for a “protection plan” that goes beyond the warranty. standard factory.

In some cases, it seems like such a small amount of money that you can say “why not get the extra coverage?” ”, But the credit card you purchased with may already provide this basic protection.

In the vast majority of cases, you are simply improving the profitability of the sale for the retailer, which is why you see it practically everywhere.

Many of the electronics you’ll buy today don’t have the moving parts that typically wore out in the past, making “protection” even less likely to pay off.

Computers: this is not covered

When it comes to computers, there are various reasons why purchasing “extra protection” up front can be a waste of money.

First of all, these protection plans usually only cover the hardware components, which is rarely the cause of these aggravating IT issues.

In our more than 30 years of computer maintenance, the vast majority of problems we see are related to software or the operating system, which are not covered by most extended warranties or protection plans. .

They know most consumers don’t realize it and won’t take the time to read the fine print. Even when some form of coverage includes the operating system, it means that they will revert the computer to factory settings.

“Factory Defaults” means that the things you really care about, like your programs, data files, browser settings, printer drivers, and desktop icons, are all going to be erased.

When you recover your computer from this type of “warranty” service, the burden of reloading your programs, restoring your data files (hopefully you have backed them up), reinstalling printer drivers and getting it working. the computer as before is on you.

Warranty service can also take significantly longer depending on your device, as large retailers may require the device to be shipped to a central repair center in another state.

Maintenance plans

If you have to pay for additional coverage on a computer, it’s best to get a plan that covers software issues and includes data backup and restore. Another thing he should address is the one thing very few computer owners think about: maintenance.

The reason why so many computer problems get complicated, time consuming, and expensive to fix is ​​that most users tend to ignore the signs of a problem when they first appear.

They don’t ask for help until the computer becomes unbearable to use, which means it’s probably loaded with problems by then.

Imagine how expensive auto repair would be if you never maintained your vehicle and waited for it to break down before taking it to a mechanic.

Solving bizarre computer problems when they arise keeps them from becoming a cascade of problems, this is where maintenance comes in.

The apple exception

Apple has moved on to hardware platforms for computers, phones, and tablets that are nearly impossible to repair by anyone other than Apple. The “Apple Care” package they sell that extends their coverage, while it doesn’t cover software and maintenance issues, is one of the few that you might want to consider because their hardware is so expensive.

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