If you have ever purchased a computer from a retailer like Best Buy, then you’ve undoubtedly been asked if you need an extended warranty. The thrift-savvy side of you may think “No, I’m not going to pay $100 extra today for something I’ll never use.” But another side of you might think, “Wait a minute, this might be worth it.”
Both sides of your brain have a point. However, there are certain times when buying the extended warranty is most definitely a good idea, and other times when it’s probably not a good idea.

Consider the brand

Some computer brands are known for their durability and long-lasting support. Other brands are not. Although we don’t want to name any names, other websites have compiled lists of the most reliable computer brands in the world. The top 3 spots on this reliability list, for example, are held by:

1) Samsung (ranked best)
2) Lenovo/IBM
3) Asus
And the bottom 3 spots on that list are held by:
1) Dell (ranked worst)
2) Sony
3) Acer
If you’re buying from a brand that is generally considered to be sturdy and reliable, then the extended warranty is probably not worth it. If you’re buying from one of the bottom three brands listed above, you should consider buying the extended warranty.

Buying AppleCare

Apple products have one of the highest failure rates in the industry. Between broken screens and random startup errors and battery problems, Apple computers are notorious for their breakdowns. That’s why AppleCare warranty, despite being expensive, is a good option for most consumers. AppleCare costs between $249 to $349 extra for each MacBook, but it will save you thousands of dollars of repair bills.
There are many horror stories of people buying an Apple product only for it to run out of warranty and then face a ridiculously expensive repair bill from Apple. It can cost $500+ or more to replace a simple battery for example, which is why many people simply upgrade their computer instead. That’s what Apple wants you to do.
Instead of spending $2000+ on a new Apple laptop every year, spend a couple hundred bucks on AppleCare to receive free repairs and product upgrades throughout the warranty period. Whether you’re buying a MacBook, an iMac, or even an iPad, AppleCare is generally worth it. Just make sure you use it before the warranty expires.

Think of the way you will use your computer

In general, if you’re going to push your item to the limits physically, then you’ll want to purchase an extended warranty. That doesn’t mean you’re taking your computer off-roading with you or dragging it behind a truck. But it means if your computer is in a relatively risky environment, then you’re more likely to use your extended warranty.
To decide whether or not your computer is in a ‘risky environment’, think of the following risk factors:
-Having kids or pets likely increases the risk of damage
-Living with multiple people, roommates, or having lots of friends over will increase the risk of damage
-Using your computer for long periods of time or for high-intensity activities could increase the risk of damage (say, playing the latest PC games or overclocking your hardware). You should note that overclocking your hardware generally voids its warranty, so be careful not to shoot yourself in the foot and void your warranty.
-If you’re not a tech person and won’t maintain your computer, you should purchase extended warranty to avoid being affected by tech problems when they inevitably crop up

Big box items and expensive investments

Whether you’re buying a computer or an expensive TV, you should always consider purchasing extended warranty plans for expensive investments. Any big box items like TVs and computers could use an extended warranty (provided it’s available at a fair price and provides comprehensive protection).
After all, when you’re paying $1200 for a brand new 3D HDTV, another $150 doesn’t seem like a bad deal when it allows you to replace that TV if it encounters any errors within the next 5 years.
Meanwhile, smaller items (say, anything that costs less than $200) may not be worth the added cost of the extended warranty. For example, if you’re buying a phone, you can buy a sturdy case for it instead of paying $100 or more for the extended warranty. And in other cases, the extended warranty might cost almost the same price as buying a brand new device – especially if the price of that device will depreciate over the years (think of the price of an iPhone 4). You may not want to pay $60 for an extended warranty when you can pay $80 for a brand new item.

How much is peace of mind worth?

Extended warranty gives you peace of mind – for a price. Some people are willing to pay quite a bit for peace of mind. Other people couldn’t care less. If you’re the type of person who constantly worries about breaking your electronics and having to pay lots of money to repair them, then this peace of mind could be worth every penny.

Conclusion – should you buy the extended warranty?

Whether you’re buying health insurance or an extended warranty for your computer, you’re always playing a game of chance.
There’s no single right answer to this question. Instead, you need to consider how likely it is that you’ll damage the item as well as the usefulness of the warranty and the failure rate of the product. If you can carefully weigh all of the options involved, you should be satisfied with the decision you make.

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