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Buyers Guide To IT Equipment

To ensure that your IT purchases are a success, you need a company that not only sells and installs IT equipment. They also need to have experience in providing IT Support to schools. We provide this holistic IT Partnership.

How to buy a Server

Buying a server involves understanding what components are inside the server in order to understanding why server prices have such a wide range. You need to consider operating system, warranty period, build quality of the motherboard as in lifespan, memory, what type of CPU and what type of hard drives are installed within the server!

Choosing a CPU

One should also consider what CPU is in the Server. The CPU is one of the main components that can considerably affect the price of the Server! Slower and older model CPU's mean that in three years time your Server will be struggling with the workload as Windows Updates, SQL Server releases continue to demand more from the server over time! The cheaper Servers come with Dual Cores, whereas more expensive CPU's come with Quad Cores.

The clock speed is somewhat relevant in that a higher clock speed is faster than a slower clock speed, but unfortunately this only holds true for a like for like CPU! It is very common to see a higher clock speed CPU that is in reality actually slower than another CPU that has a lower Clock Speed. The reason for this is because they may have different number of cores and different L1 and L2 cache sizes! As CPU's are one of the biggest factors in prices of Servers and how the Server will perform in three to five years time, it is very important to understand the differences between CPU's to really compare two quotations!

Choosing a Hard Drive

When buying a server one should look at what hard drives are being supplied in the server. Cheaper Servers contain Sata hard drives which have a lifespan of around five years and they get progressively slower over time. SAS hard drives are considerably more expensive but they have a longer lifespan and performance of these hard drives outperform Sata hard drives. A new technology known as SSD is increasingly becoming popular in Servers bcause of their speed as they are memory based. However, they are still quite expensive so in many cases it may make sense to use a mixture of hard drives such as SSD for the Operating System and Sata or SAS for the data storage!

Another factor is whether the server has one hard drive or at least two hard drives! At a minimum a server should have two hard drives which are mirrored so that if one hard drive fails, you have an exact duplicate of the data on the second hard drive! Unfortunately some companies are only interested in getting the business of the sale and they are not interested in the long term safety of your data!

Server Warranty Affects Price

A lot of companies supplying quotes for a server exclude the costs of operating system and the server only comes with a one year warranty and sometimes they are underpowered or they only last five years before becoming too slow to use! This causes major disatisfaction for customers who thought that they were getting best value for money only to find out they were sold a solution that does not meet their requirements.

Buying a Server from Dalacor

When buying a server from Dalacor, you can be assured that you are buying a server that includes the operating system, has a five year warranty and should last around ten years before needing to be replaced and will cope with an increasing workload over the years! A much cheaper priced server may appear to be better value for money but is very often built with cheaper components which could end being insufficient for your needs meaning it will need to be replaced sooner with the result that the cheaper server actually ends up costing you more than the more expensive server!

How to buy Laptops

Buying laptops is very hard for the average customer because laptops all seem to offer the same features but differ considerably in price! So what to look out for when buying laptops?

Laptop CPU

As with buying Servers, one of the main costs is the CPU? The CPU will affect the lifespan of the laptop with regards to how long you can use the laptop before it becomes too slow to be usable. For example, buying a netbook today will mean its fast enough to run by todays standards. However in four years time, the netbook will be virtually unusable because it will be too slow! The CPU is the main factor here. As such spending more on a faster CPU will ensure that your laptop will last longer in service!

Build Quality

One of the hidden features of more expensive laptops is the build quality. You can take two laptops - one half the price of the other but they appear to have virtually identical specifications! So what justifies the price difference? The answer lies in the build quality of the laptop. A cheaper laptop might have hardware issues in less than two years with the usb, vga and sound connectors or the dvd drive may no longer work or the mousepad will no longer work properly etc!

For a home laptop, a cheaper laptop is not a problem as it generally does not get the same amount of use as a work laptop especially with connecting usb and vga connections. However in a working environment, where one is using the laptop eight hours a day and using the vga, network and usb ports, build quality of the laptop is vital to ensure that you can get on with your job!

Docking Capability

Docking Capability of laptops is one feature of the more expensive laptops. If you are using a laptop in the same location everyday, it makes sense to use docking stations where you plug all your cables into the docking station and you simply dock the laptop onto the docking station! You will not see this function in cheaper laptops!

Choosing a Hard Drive

Again like Servers, understanding hard drive technologies helps to understand what laptop one should be looking at buying. Laptops are sold with either Sata Hard Drives or SSD Hard drives. Depending on how your laptop is being used and where your data is being stored will be the deciding factor in what type of hard drive would best meet your needs!

Buying a Laptop from Dalacor

In terms of build quality, not all laptops are made equal. Some models and manufacturers seem to be priced similar to other manufacturers and models, yet their laptops frequently fail within 18 months with a variety of hardware issues! Knowing what manufacturers provide quality laptops and indeed any IT equipment is an area where customers should rely on the expertise of a reputable company as laptops unfortunately are an area where many consumers fall foul of cheaper priced laptops that invariably disappoint!

When buying a laptop from Dalacor, you can be assured that we will provide you with laptops that are reliable, well built, will suit your working environment and you will get many years service out of your laptops! We aim to get eight years out of laptops we sell.

How to buy Computers

Computer CPU

The key factors when buying a computer is to consider CPU, hard drive Size and Hard Drive Type. As highlighted in laptops and Servers, the CPU is one of the key factors when considering specifications for a computer. There are generally 3 categories of CPU's. A core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 which is the Intel range. AMD offer a similar sort of range! Generally speaking core i3's are suitable for budget home computers and children's computers in schools where budgetary costs are of the highest concern.

However, a core i3 will show its age quite quickly as time goes by and given that the price difference between a core i3 and a core i5, it is clear that one will get better value for money from a core i5 for a computer! This differs from a laptop where the price differential between a core i3 and a core i5 can be quite considerable! Unless one is gaming or doing intensive video editing, a core i7 is frankly overkill for the vast majority of users!

Choosing a Hard Drive

Choosing a hard drive size and type will depend on what your computer is being used for! A home computer for example will most likely have lots of pictures, videos and music saved on it, so a large hard drive one terabyte size upwards is essential. In this case, a Sata hard drive is really the only option. But in the business world, most data is stored on a server, therefore a large hard drive makes no sense, so buying an SSD drive is a better option. This way your computer is as fast as possible, but you can lower the cost of the hard drive by buying a hard drive big enough to cope with storage needs for the operating system and all your programs!

Buying a Computer from Dalacor

Dalacor have many years experience in sourcing and installing computers that will meet your requirements. We know what to look for when considering computers for pupils as opposed to computers for teachers and office admin staff. For example did you know that if you want to encrypt your laptop, you will need a core i5 cpu and not a core i3 cpu because otherwise you will notice a signficant impact on speed. Its little things like this where using a professional company like Dalacor can save you frustration and buyers regret.

How to buy Projectors

There are many different types of projectors such as LCD, DLP and bulb free projectors. But for all intents and purposes, there are only four things that one should be looking at when considering buying a projector! Choosing between Short Throw and Long Throw Projectors. Choosing how many lumens (how bright) the projector should be. Choosing the resolution of the projector such as SVGA, XGA, WXGA etc. The last consideration should be noise and power consumption.

Short Throw and Long Throw Projectors

Short Throw Projectors are the optimal and desired style of projectors. There is no glare, no issues with high ceilings and it looks much more integrated with your whiteboard. However Short Throw Projectors have two main disadvatages! One is cost and the second issue is that Short Throw Projectors are not suitable for some types of displays such as pull down white screens.

Bulb Brightness

The brightness of a bulb needs to be considered as different rooms will require different lumens. A large hall for example will require a projector with a far brighter bulb than a small room. If the room gets a lot of sunlight this will also affect the performance of the projector in that a brighter bulb will be required to offset the sunlight.

Widescreen or Standard Resolution

There are two main resolutions that one needs to consider when buying a projector. Standard 4:3 resolution and widescreen resolution. Your laptops, computers and whiteboards as well as budget will determine the appropriate resolution required for your projector. As virtually everything has moved to widescreen, there is no benfit to standard resolution anymore.

Buying a Projector from Dalacor

Dalacor have many years experience in sourcing and installing projectors that will be suitable for your halls, classrooms and meeting rooms. However, while we still sell Projectors and Whiteboards, we do encourage out clients to consider Interactive Televisionsa as the prices are continuing to come down and they eliminate the issues of orientation and alignment that occurs with projectors and whiteboards.

How to buy Projector Bulbs

Original and Compatible Bulbs

One would think that buying a projector bulb would be as simple as looking up the model of the projector and then googling around for projector bulb companies and comparing the price of the bulb using the projector model to find your bulb! Sadly many companies rely on customers not being aware that there are three different types of bulbs. You get original bulbs, you get original bulbs in compatible housing and you get compatible bulbs in compatible housing.

Some companies are honest and clearly state that the bulb that they are selling is a compatible bulb, but many Internet companies in our opinion deliberately make it extremely difficult for customers to determine whether the bulb is truly an original or has compatible housing is a complete compatible!

One of the most common tactics is for these companies to state that the bulb is an original bulb, but they leave the customer to assume that the housing is original as well!

Compatible bulbs and compatible housings is like buying compatible ink. Great when it works, but unfortunately very frequently ruins your printer or your projector. We do not sell compatible ink or compatible bulbs or compatible housings as we have seen too many cases where its damaged the equipment or is of unsatisfactory quality!

Buying Projector Bulbs from Dalacor

Let Dalacor supply your projector bulb requirements and you can rest assured that you are getting the genuine article instead of a fake!

How to buy Interactive Televisions

Interactive Televisions are now starting to become mainstream in schools. We recommend them as they eliminate problems such as projector glare, alignment between projector and whiteboard, noise of projectors as well as orientation problems with whiteboards. In addition, not having to clean projector filters all the time is an improvement!

Plasma or LED

The main consideration for Interactive Televisions is to consider whether they are Plasma or LED. We always recommend LED over Plasma because LED electrical running costs are significantly less than Plasma. The other main consideration is the length of the warranty period.

The two main problems with Interactive Televisions is the price and the fact that even the biggest TV is still smaller than the average whiteboard size!

Here at Dalacor, we provide a range of Interactive Televisions and can even provide you with a height adjustable TV that will enable you to lower the height so that your nursery children can use the TV, and then raise the height of the TV so that the teachers can use the TV at a more convenient height.

How to buy Tablets and Touch Screen Laptops

Computers and Laptops are the workhorse of the IT World and as such are likely to be around for a long time! However, our world has become increasingly mobile and portability of IT has become increasingly necessary. Laptops are fairly mobile and very useful if you want to do lots of office work. But tablets have a major advantage in that they are far more portable, have instant start and are well suited for multimedia usage.

Tablets or Laptops

Tablet or Laptop? Why not have both in the form of a Google Chromebook which takes the touchscreen functionality and small size of the tablets and combines it with a keyboard enabling you to use the Chromebook in Tablet or Laptop mode.

Specific Chromebook Models are geared for education in that they support the Google Play for Education cloud system natively thus enabling you to deploy and use many educational apps on the Chrome Books

Apple Ipad for Education

Ipads from Apple are also products that we support given the popularity of Apple. One of the biggest advantages of Ipads is the ease of use because virtually everyone has an Iphone or knows someone that has one! The Ipad OS is identical to the Iphone. Thus Ipads are a good choice for staff who want something easy and familiar to use.

Dalacor have expertise in sourcing your tablets and setting up the tablets and deploying them for your school or your business. We can advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of different tablets as well as considerations for the different models.

How to Choose a Network Installation Company

One of the hardest decisions for customers to make is with regards to choosing a company to install their wireless or network cabling. The difficulty lies in the fact that customers are not IT Technicians and are not aware of the considerations involved in installing cabling or wireless systems!

With cabling, you can encounter issues such as incorrect cabling being used such as internal cabling being used outside, shoddy termination of network points, poor trunking and some companies only install the cabling from A to B and terminate the network point at the computer end, but leave the termination at the patch panel to the inhouse IT Technician who may not actually provide that service!

Future-Proofing your Network

One major issue with different companies providing cabling requirements ove the years is that you get different switches from different manufacturers being installed or even worse you get quoted for a switch which is sufficient to cover the needs for the job being quoted but has no future scalability with the result that you may end up having to buy a second switch to accommodate more networks ports in 18 months time because the switch quoted today is inadequate for tomorrow!

Poor Network Cabling can result in problems on the network such as computers being slow to startup or login to downtime in busy periods or frequent disconnects etc. It can very difficult to track down a problem especially when the problem is intermittent.

We are the only company that offer a network cabling testing certificate to demonstrate that we have tested our cabling installation. Virtually every network cabling company that we are aware of simply installs the cabling but no testing ever takes place. The main reason for this is to lower the cost of the quote as the cabling market is quite competitive.

We recommend that best value for money can be achieved by using the IT Support Company that supports your network on a regular basis as they are the most appropriate company to supply your network cabling needs.

Your own personal IT Technician knows your network than anyone else and as such is by the far the best person to supply your cabling needs to ensure that it meets your current and future needs and also to ensure that the cabling is done properly because they will have to support the network. So it's in your personal IT Technician's best interests to make sure that the cabling is done properly. A third party company could quite possibly do a poor job and simply walk away!

Holistic Installation and IT Support Service

If we do not currently provide your IT Support requirements, why not consider using our company for all your IT requirements as it is far better to get one IT company to provide all your requirements rather than having multiple companies support you in different areas. We believe in a holistic IT Support design where we collaborate and work with you to achieve the best outcome.

How to Choose a Wireless Installation Company

Wireless Quotations are even worse than Network Cabling Quotations! For many customers the only thing that they can compare on the quotation is the price tag! Invariably customers go for the cheapest quote because they do not know what their technical requirements are! Sadly this has resulted in a situation in many institutions where the wireless is either slow, temperamental or you have many deadspots in your building.

When considering wireless quotations, there are three factors that need to be considered. What speed are the wireless access points that are being quoted! How does the quote address capacity and coverage? Lastly, POE (Power of Ethernet) adds to the initial cost but long term is a better solution than requiring power points for each access point.

Improving Wireless Speeds

Speed of the wireless access points is dependent on the actual wireless access points, the switch being used, the existing cabling and last but not least your current laptops and tablets. Some companies will quote for a wireless system that uses an existing switch or a slower new switch that actually slows down the wireless. This is known as cutting corners or what we like to call underquoting and sadly is very common in installation projects.

Wireless Capacity and Coverage

A frequent problem for customers is capacity and coverage. Very often a wireless installation company will undercut their competition by quoting for a wireless solution that does not meet the capacity and coverage requirements of the customer and the customer only finds out after the wireless system is installed and paid for! It is vital that capacity and coverage is covered in the quote in order for the customer to make an informed decision.

Getting a Wireless System that just works

By using Dalacor for your regular IT Maintenance needs and for all your cabling and wireless installation requirements you can be assured that you will have a solution that is fit for purpose and works reliably as its in our best interest to make sure that the cabling and wireless system works for your institution if we are providing regular IT Maintenace for you! Dalacor also have many years experience in installing wireless solutions in educational environments which is one of the most challenging wireless environments as the difficulty of getting 30 plus laptops in a clasroom working at good speed at the same time is actually far more difficult than people realise!

How to choose a Broadband and Email Company

To be able to choose between broadband companies, it's important to be aware that there are a number of services included in a broadband package deal. With a home broadband, generally what you are buying is the line rental, the actual broadband connection and you usually get a couple of email accounts with it. Business Broadband on the other hand includes things like Service Level Agreements, Internet Content Filtering, Email Systems that include business functionality not provided for home users, anti virus protection for the network and some even include a Windows Update Service.

Broadband Considerations

Reliability, speed and Internet content filtering are the most important considerations and then reviewing what other services they offer. It is very often the extra features that may make it worth your while to buy into a specific company's products

Content Filtering and Safeguarding Children in Schools

The biggest consideration of content filtering are two aspects. Firstly, does it safeguard the children and second does it allow the school to do their job properly? As a company that provides IT Support and Broadband Service we believe that we are ahead of the competition because we are more familiar with the sort of issues that schools encounter with Office Admin Programs like Call Parents and Target Tracker etc. Having one company look after your broadband and another look after your IT Network has never made sense to us as there is so much overlap and it is so much easier for your IT Support Company to ensure that everything works properly if they also look after the firewall and filtering system.

Considerations for Email

A lot of broadband companies provide email acounts with their broadband and this usually falls into one of two categories. Either they simply configure Outlook to download the email which means that you have no access to all the sent and received email if you are not using the computer that Outlook is installed on. It also means that if the computer stops working, you have lost all your emails! Another option that many broadband providers offer is Office 365 which enables you to access your email from anywhere on any device. However, they usually do not have a central address book system setup to enable schools to access the all schools email addresses as well as enabling the school to email all the staff without having to select each and every staff member.

Our Broadband and Email Service

Our broadband service enables schools to access their email on any device from any location and because all the emails, contacts and calendar information is stored on the mail server it is all backed up. In addition, we are very proud to offer the service of an annually updated All Schools Mailing list for all schools in Milton Keynes and we can create additional mailing lists enabling you to email various different groups such as governors, all staff within the school etc.

Most broadband companies either do not offer remote access or cloud storage or if they do, its very expensive. It is becoming increasingly necessary for schools to have remote access or cloud storage or both. This is another area that Dalacor can help with.

By using Dalacor for your IT Maintenance Support needs in conjunction with our broadband and email services, we are able to integrate your email system into your network far better than a third party broadband provider can. Also as your broadband provider and IT Technician we have the ability to quickly block or unblock websites on our filtering system. Contrast that with your current Broadband provider where most likely you have limited control over what websites you can view and your email system is still centralised in your office admin area.

What does it all mean?

Choosing a CPU

Core i3, Core i5, SSD, SAS, Sata, RAM, Wireless G, Wireless N! What does all these terms mean and what is actually important to know and what is just marketing Puff?

Looking at Intel CPU's, one gets Atoms, Celerons, Pentium Dual Cores, Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7. If you want to do hardcore gaming or intensive video editing a core i7 or the AMD equivalent will be the only thing that you want to look at in addition to an addon graphics card. For most businesses and home users, an addon grahics card is of no benefit and a Core i5 is suitable in most cases for laptops and computers. If your budget cannot stretch to a core i5 or you are buying laptops or computers for IT Suite's in a primary school you will manage just fine with a core i3. However this will be dependant on software you have installed on your systems.

We do not sell any equipment with Celerons, Atoms or Pentium Dual Cores as we do not consider them to be value for money. In around two years time you will find that your equipment is very sluggish with these bottom of the range CPU's. We consider them to be appropriate for home use only, if barely!

Choosing Memory

Memory is usually sold in quantities of 4GB for new computers and laptops nowadays. If you are using a 64 bit operating system then 4GB is the absolute minimum that your computer or laptop should have and ideally 8GB RAM. In general for most Servers acting as a file and print server with a small SQL Database a similar memory requirement is fine. However thats a general suggestion and your mileage will vary as they say. As memory is cheap and can be added on later, our preferred method is to buy the ideal amount and addon later if required as most often it's never required.

Choosing a Wireless Installation Company

Wireless comes in Wireless G - 54Mb, Wireless N - up to 300Mb and Wireless AC can ostensibly achieve speeds of up to 1.3Gb. These speeds are not real world speeds however and more importantly to obtain a certain speed would require that all your devices support that technology! In addition G, N and AC have differing ranges and signal strengths as well as bandwidth requirements. Thus it is best to choose a wireless company that has expertise in installing your wireless as it will depend on your existing laptops and tablets, how big your school is and where and how you will use the wireless throughout the building.

Choosing a Hard Drive

Hard drives come in three main different types. Sata, SSD and SAS. SAS hard drives only relevant to Servers and are overkill for computers and laptops. SSD is the ideal hard drive choice because it is the fastest and will outlast a Sata hard drive. However the cost of SSD Drives is still suficiently high that it is only affordable if buying hard drives less than 256GB otherwise a Sata hard drive is really the only cost effective solution.

SAS hard drives are much more durable than Sata hard drives and are much faster as well which makes them suitable for Servers. However they also have a high cost and its common to mix SAS and Sata Hard drives to achieve a balance of economy and uptime!. As such when you are buying laptops, Computers and Servers one needs to understand the difference between the different hard drives to understand what is being quoted.

When buying from Dalacor, whatever your IT purchases you can buy with confidence that you are buying products that are quality, fit for purpose, reliable and brilliant after sales service!