Computers are the most important tools in any modern organization, but should they be bought or leased? That’s a recurring question in TechRepublic discussions, and the two distinct camps, buyers and leasers, both make good points.

However, in a recent poll in the Support Republic, an overwhelming majority of respondents said that their organizations own their desktop computers (Figure A).

Figure A
According to the respondents of this poll, buying computers is more popular than leasing.

But the members who praise the traits of leased equipment offer appealing arguments that some companies might want to consider. To come to a consensus, let’s examine both sides of the ongoing computer buy/lease debate.

The argument for buying
A major point aimed against leasing computers is that after paying for a computer over a time period, you end up with nothing.

“Leasing is just like buying on credit, except you don’t get to own what you bought when you’re done paying for it,” wrote Bucky Kaufman in response to “Buy or lease: Members sound off about stretching the life cycles of PCs.”

Leasing works well in bureaucratic environments, Kaufman contended. “For the rest of us in the real world, it’s just plain silly.”

In the article, member Highlander718 noted that if your organization owns the computer, you can operate on it without restrictions. You can upgrade owned machines or even use them for testing.

And after a PC reaches the end of its usable life at an organization, it can be sold, auctioned off, donated to schools or charities, offered to employees, or scrapped.

The argument for leasing
Proponents of leasing typically cite the virtues of a three-year life cycle for leased machines. Most companies who lease rotate out a third of their PCs every year, and thus the companies always have current machines.

Those who lease note that purchased machines depreciate while leased machines are more up to date and are usually covered under warranty the entire time they are at the organization.

Sometimes, the only option for an IT department is leasing. Soundsolutionsinc wrote that this was the case at his company.

“If you purchased PCs, you had to use capital funds. We found that we could lease, using [operating and maintenance] funds.”

The ability to update owned computers is not as great as it sounds, he added. “Yes, you can upgrade a PC you own, but that costs you money—not only for the accessory hardware but the time spent in the installation, etc.”

In the article about buying and leasing computers, Gwfay1963 listed three reasons his organization of about 2,000 users leases machines:

  • Each leased machine comes with a three-year warranty. These warranties provide for maintenance and service of the PCs, which frees up the IT team to attend to other issues.
  • Leasing computers means the organization never worries about what to do with old machines.
  • Leasing machines makes hardware and PC audits easier.

Now that you’ve heard the arguments for and against leasing, tell us which camp you belong to.

Join the debate

Is leasing a computer “just plain silly” or smart thinking? Do you think it depends on the size of an organization or how bureaucratic that organization is? What about warranties and being able to mess around with the insides of the computer? Tell us what you think in the discussion below.