1. Not buying based on your needs
Don’t buy a computer based on what you’ve seen or heard in the media. Buy a computer that will allow you to do what you need to do. It’s not necessary to have the fastest processor available and four times as much memory as you’ll ever need. Pay for something that's just right to suit your needs, and nothing more than that.
2. Choosing your new computer because of a single number
A lot of numbers get thrown around when hardware (a computer’s internals) is discussed. In contrast, a lot of important numbers don’t even get mentioned. This is why you should never focus on a single number when deciding what to buy. Ask someone who is familiar with computers to make sure that the purchase you’re considering has all the things you’re going to need.
3. Not knowing what you’re getting with the operating system
An operating system is computer software that allows you to use your computer, for example Windows, OS X, and Linux. The computer you’re considering buying needs to be capable of running the software or programs you want to run on it for your purchase to be worthwhile. Decide what you need to do with your new computer to see whether the operating system it comes with will support it.
4. Making assumptions about how features will work
Just because the computer you’re looking at has WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to work just fine. Take WiFi for example, it has a number of different classes and speeds, so it is not safe to assume that it will work in every single situation.
5. Making assumptions about features being included
Because modern computers come in so many different configurations, it’s never safe to assume that a given feature is there. A very good example of this is that certain computer models are now doing away with CD/DVD drives. If this happens to be an essential for you, physically verify that it’s there and works the way you want it to.
6. Ignoring missing details
You should always check out the missing details of a computer, and if you’re at a loss to understand what they are, then verify these things with someone who can help you and is well-versed in computer technology and terminology. If details are not mentioned or elaborated on, it’s likely that they are not favorable details.
7. Thinking components can be upgraded at will
It’s never safe to assume that a certain component in a computer or laptop can be upgraded at will. Some components simply will not be compatible, for instance if you want to upgrade a processor, you need to find one that matches up to the socket on your computer’s motherboard. If you want to upgrade your computer’s memory, you have to determine whether there are free slots available to do so.
8. Not trying before buying
You should always avail yourself of the opportunity to try out the computer or laptop you intend on buying before actually buying it. If your local store has the model you have your eyes on in stock, then by all means head down there and try it. Pay close attention to how everything feels to you – the touch screen (if there is one), the mouse and keyboard, and the way it runs. If you dislike something about it, then don’t buy it.
9. Always going for the cheapest option
If you don’t really use a computer all that much and spend very little time browsing the internet when you do, you might be able to get away with going for the cheapest option, but this definitely does not apply to everyone. Spending a bit more money (while not overdoing it and getting something you don’t need) will likely mean you’ll experience better reliability and longevity over the long run. Take a look at good deals on brands and models that have been proven to have a good lifespan.
10. Lack of awareness toward software trials
Be careful of being tricked by software that's only installed on the computer you're thinking of buying on a trial basis. This could be anything from its antivirus software, to the operating system itself. Taking the latter as an example, you might have to fork out extra money to purchase a license just to be able to use your computer, and it doesn't come cheap - a Windows license is about $100. Make sure you're aware of the potential pitfalls if any key pieces of software on your new purchase are installed on a trial basis.
11. Purchasing at the wrong time
Do your homework and figure out when something new is going to come out. If you purchase a new computer slightly after the "next big thing" comes out, the slightly older model is likely to drop in price significantly. You'll also be able to buy the brand-new model at a similar price that the slightly older model was at just a few months ago. Furthermore, keep your eyes out for deals - competition between computer stores is fierce. Obviously, if you need to buy a computer right away, this advice isn't applicable to you, but if you can wait a while, then by all means do.
12. Not shopping around enough
Don't buy a new computer from the first store you walk into - visit all the stores you can before making a decision on what to buy. Every store is bound to have a deal available at some point or another. If you're patient and take the time to shop around, you're far more likely to get an excellent deal on your new purchase.
13. Not asking for free stuff
If you're making your purchase from a bricks-and-mortar store, be sure to ask the salesperson you're dealing with about getting a few things thrown in for free. You're going to need a keyboard, mouse and other accessories, so it's worth asking what can be done to sweeten the deal for you. Be sure that your requests are within reason, and even if you're not successful in obtaining any freebies or discounted items at the end of it, it doesn't hurt to ask.
14. Letting your security (antivirus) trial expire
This last one is relevant only after you've made a purchase, but it's still a noteworthy point. By all means, do not let the trial on your antivirus software expire prior to you purchasing a subscription to it, or downloading free antivirus software, such as AVG. Failure to do these things will put your computer at risk of turning into a giant paperweight if it gets a virus. Make sure you're protected!