smart spending

Should you purchase an extended warranty?

Computers
Computers © Evgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock.com

When his clients ask about whether to buy extended warranties for computers, computer repair technician Dave Greenbaum of DoctorDave in Lawrence, Kan., recommends them for PC laptops, but not desktops. Laptops are more expensive to repair because of smaller, more proprietary parts. Plus, carrying them around jostles them, with more opportunity for damage. Desktops fail infrequently and are less expensive to repair, he says.

For Mac computers, though, Greenbaum recommends AppleCare, even for desktops. "Apple products are extraordinarily expensive to repair," he says, and the policy's value includes getting the computer fixed at its retail locations, plus three years of tech support.

Three years is plenty for any computer warranty, says Greenbaum, because the average laptop lasts around three years; the desktop averages five. "The other issue is that technology makes it obsolete after that time."

Another concern is accidental damage, which isn't usually covered under the extended warranty, says Greenbaum. If that's coverage you want, make sure to read the warranty first or buy an upgraded policy that includes accidental coverage. He says that some companies sell them for an additional $100.

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