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If you're going to work from home, a computer of some kind is going to become part of your daily routine and an essential part of your home office.

Even if your profession does not involve working on the machine directly, chances are you will need to access the internet for something. Research, contacting new clients and connections, sourcing materials… all of these things are made an awful lot simpler when you have the online connections at your fingertips.

The way in which you anticipate using the computer will determine which system is most suited to you.


Desktops and PCs

imac home work station

If you have previously worked in an office, you are probably quite used to using a desktop personal computer (PC) and might want to continue with this option when you work from home.

Desktops tend to be one of the more flexible options on the market in terms of what they can do, due to the fact their hardware is standardised to a significant extent. For example, expansion slots for multi-media and graphics or sound cards tend to be easier and cheaper to install on a desktop than a laptop and the memory and hard disk space can also be largely customised to suit your requirements on these systems.

So as long as you buy a computer that can be upgraded in the future, you need not worry too much about how much space you will need as your business grows.

You will, however, need to think about the way in which the desktop computer fits into your home office. While the name covers most consumer computers designed for use in one space, there are a number of designs on the market today, including the original horizontal desktop designs, tower computers and, more recently, mini computers. The Apple iMacs include the entire computer within the flat screen display unit which have made them especially popular with home workers concerned about limited space and office aesthetics. 

Home office furniture tends to feature compartments suitable for most designs, but if you are stuck for space then a mini computer that can fit neatly on a corner of your desk or even dining room table might be most suitable. Those who are lucky enough to have implemented a full home office design might want to build solutions into their shelving and furniture, hiding their IT systems or showing them off, depending on what best suits the atmosphere of the room.



While PCs are great for people who will only need to use a computer in one place, individuals who work from home and on the go might find that a laptop is a more suitable option.

The old perception that a laptop is not as powerful as a desktop has all but died out thanks to developments in technology. Although they don't offer quite the same options for improvement over time as larger desktop machines, laptops will still enable you to expand the memory should you need to.

It is also possible to experiment with adding a number of other components. In comparison to desktop prices, you will most likely have to pay a premium for both portability and power. Despite this, laptops are still a very useful piece of equipment for someone who works from home and the fact that they can be used at a home office and transported for use in client meetings, for example, is a real bonus.

Batteries have improved to the extent that you can buy a machine that will have enough power to get you through a working day without needing to access a power point. On days when you need to head out to meet a number of clients, a computer that works all day like this is really going to come into its own.

If you're worried about sacrificing on functionality once you're back in your home office, bear in mind that you can buy docking stations for laptops. These can improve the performance of the machine and will also allow you to connect the device up to a good quality monitor, which should make things easier on your eyes. You can even buy separate keyboards and mice if you find that you don't like the hardware that is built into the laptop.



Tablets have been in existence for sometime now but have only recently become compact and affordable enough to take off.

The devices are smaller than a laptop and rather than using a traditional input system with a keyboard and a mouse, they tend to make use of touchscreen technology, although some may still include a keyboard.

In the past, tablets tended to be slim versions of PCs, offering the most important aspects of a regular Mac or Windows operating system, such as email and word processing functions, for example.

But driven by the release of the Apple iPad in 2010, things have changed somewhat and tablets are now thought of as an in between option: more capable than a smartphone or digital assistant, but not as powerful as a laptop or desktop PC.

They tend to be primarily used for displaying and viewing media, which could make them useful for people who work from home but want to show off a visual product to clients while on the move.

But do bear in mind that the processing power of tablets is significantly limited in comparison to laptops and desktop PCs. So while they make a handy presentation device and a good way of keeping in touch on the move, they are not designed to completely replace a laptop or desktop computer.


Operating Systems 

Whichever type of computer you eventually go for, there is one further thing to consider before making a purchase: Which operating system (OS) will suit you?

The main competitors are Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, although others such as Linux and GNU also exist, and Google is in the process of developing its Chrome OS.

Which one you choose really depends on your personal preference. Most people have become accustomed to using Windows so will stick with that because it is so prevalent within businesses. But there are a large number of die-hard Mac fans out there, while many people enjoy the options available from a Linux system.

The main thing to bear in mind when choosing an OS for work is compatibility. Businesses still tend to run desktop stations on Window systems, which means that documents and data sent from your Windows OS machine to a client or colleague's machine is less likely to encounter problems than, say a document from an Apple machine. However, this is becoming less and less of a problem as the vast majority of machines are now able to interact with other systems as updates and developments are rolled out.


Purchasing a computer for your business is worth taking your time over. It will be an expensive outlay initially, but choosing the right system for your needs will help to save money in the long-term and ensure that your day to day activities run as smoothly as possible.

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