Before buying something, consider how much it will cost to own it.

I’m often asked about costs.

In the computer world, the product that's cheapest to buy isn't always the one that's cheapest to own.

We need to considerhow much it costs to own a product, as well. The formal name for this is Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Here's an excellent description of TCO.

The combined cost of buying hardware and software represents much less than the total cost of system ownership.

This comes as a shock to the uninitiated.

Another surprise is that, one way or another, each new system imposes a training cost. Many organizations pay professional trainers to teach systems to their employees. Others don't. In those cases, the employees work less productively as they hunt and peck around the new system while they climb the learning curve.

As the TV ad says, "You can pay me now or you can pay me later."