As a business owner, you have many things to consider when you set up your business. One of the most important technical considerations is choosing a computer system that meets the needs of your business. These days, that decision will most likely boil down to choosing between the Mac and PC platforms.

To make a fully informed decision, consider factors like your budget, the type of software you use for your business, the data storage you need, and so on. If you’re just getting your business set up, or if you’re considering changing systems, here are a few specific things to consider when you’re making a choice between Mac vs. PC.

What’s Your Budget?

When shopping for a PC, you’ll have a lot more flexibility when it comes to budget. Styles, makes, models, and manufacturers are numerous — and so are the price points. If price is an issue for your business, you can get a lot more bang for your buck when you buy a PC.

Keep in mind that a cheaper system doesn’t necessarily mean an inferior system. Though brand name PCs often come with an implicit assurance of quality, there are many “white label” brands available with similar quality at lower prices. Generally, it’s more important to judge a PC by its specs than its manufacturer.

The standards for Macs, on the other hand, are pretty much set in stone by Apple. If you’re looking to buy a Mac, it will likely cost more than a comparable PC, and you’ll have a limited choice of makes and models to choose from. However, Macs are generally considered much more stable systems, with less vulnerability to viruses. They are also frequently the preferred platform for many types of creative professionals such as animators, web designers, and video producers. Depending on your business, that may be worth the extra money.

What Features Do You Need to Do Business?

Mac and PCs both offer a large suite of features and are quite comparable in many areas. Consider the features that are most important or necessary for your business before making your final decision.

Software: Though many programs are available for both the Mac and PC, currently many more applications and programs exist in the PC universe. Don’t count Mac out though. The Mac OS specializes in some niche programs that may be necessary for your line of work.

The Windows PC platform is typically stronger for traditional software development, finance, project management, office administration, and data entry and processing — data-oriented tasks. Conversely, the Mac’s software library is considered by many professionals to be stronger for photo and video editing, web and graphic design, web development, publishing, and social media — creative and media tasks.

Storage: Data is a big part of many businesses, so ask yourself what role it plays in your organization. Do you need a machine that can house a large amount of working files, or are you transferring most of your data to a larger, off-site platform?

If local data collection is important to you, both Mac and PC are comparable on what they offer on most standard systems. If necessary, it’s relatively easy to upgrade a PC’s hard drive. Upgrading a Mac hard drive can have some challenges, such as the possibility of a voided warranty, or having to take it to a retailer to do the upgrade. Of course, with either of these machines, adding an external hard drive is always an option.

Support: Apple offers AppleCare, a premium service that covers any problems you might have with your Macs for up to three years. The only thing that is not included is accidental physical damage. To get support, you usually must take the computer into an Apple store, but when you do it’s excellent support. If there’s not a store in your area this may be a challenge, but there are less exceptional third-party vendors that are licensed to service Apple machines in other markets. Apple offers a business version of AppleCare at greater cost, but it mainly offers priority repairs for quicker turnaround — the basic offering is otherwise the same.

PCs are mixed bag. In some cases, you can get support at least as good as that offered by Apple — sometimes better. For example, Dell’s professional workstations get on-site support, meaning technicians will actually come to your office to the perform the needed service. On the other hand, many PC vendors offer very poor support. Since there are so many PC vendors, be sure and research the support options before buying from that vendor. If it doesn’t give you what you need, shop elsewhere; there are many choices.

Video Conferencing: Video conferencing capabilities are becoming more and more important for business. Programs like Skype will work on both a Mac and a PC. However, an advantage of the Mac is that with its native app FaceTime, you can video conference with anyone on any Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Mac).

Ergonomics: Most people spend a lot of time on their computers, so whatever platform your choose, make sure that your computer is comfortable and convenient to use. Pay close attention to options like touch screens, wireless mice and keyboards, and even screen brightness to make sure the computer platform you choose is right for you. Part of the Mac’s premium pricing is for slim, ergonomic designs with extra battery life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a PC with comparable dimensions and specs — just expect the same premium cost.

Do you use a Mac or a PC for your business? What were the key factors you considered when choosing between Mac vs. PC?

[Image credits: Ed Yourdon Harsha KR, Steve Ryan]