What’s the difference between renting and leasing laptops?
Renting tends to refer to short time periods, such as a week or few months. Leasing tends to refer to longer periods — usually a year or longer. The term “lease” also suggests there’s an opportunity to buy-out the equipment at the end of the lease term. However, that’s not the case for all lease agreements.
“Renting” and “leasing” are often used interchangeably when it comes to renting laptops. (Sometimes the term “hiring laptops” is also used outside North America.) Everyone has a slightly different definition in the rental industry. The meanings aren’t as different as say, renting vs. leasing a car. We use both terms in this guide.
What are the most common uses for renting or leasing laptops?
Trainings Many businesses, associations, or universities have training events where they need dozens or even hundreds of laptops. The laptops often need to be customized with specific software and settings. Technicians will usually deliver and set-up all the laptops in the training venue, whether that’s an office, hotel, or convention center.
User Conferences & Other Events Events like user conferences require laptops for a short period of time — sometimes only a few days. These laptops also need to have all software and settings pre-installed. It’s important that laptops being used to show off specific software be fast and high quality, with a dedicated video card and the highest amount of processing speed.
Other times, bulk laptops are needed at events for more simple, web-based applications like registration at a conference, or filling out forms at a job fair.
Standardized Student Testing Millions of students take standardized tests every year on laptops. Increasingly, universities, private schools, and standardized testing companies rely on rented laptops to administer tests. It’s beyond these organizations’ capacity to manage, update, ship, and store so many devices year-round, so renting is the ideal solution.
Long Term Employee Use The need for rental laptops for remote employees has increased since 2020. Sometimes, it’s more financially advantageous for companies to rent their employees’ laptops than to buy them all at once. Plus, it’s easy to ship a laptop straight to an employee’s home.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of renting laptops?
Laptop Imaging & Customization Imaging means recreating a set of settings and software on one computer, and applying it identically to many others. Imaging takes specialized equipment, knowledge, and time.
Even if a company had enough laptops for an event, most companies’ IT departments don’t have the bandwidth to image dozens or hundreds of them for just a few days of use.
Rented laptops arrive already imaged to your specifications, and your IT team doesn’t need to spend any resources preparing the computers. (See more below in the imaging section of this guide!)
Shipping, Delivery, and Other Logistics Taken Care Of Your laptop partner will handle all shipping, delivery, and set-up. They can deliver to a hotel, school, convention center, or any other venue and set them all up according to your needs. They should also have contingency plans for if a delivery is delayed, and procedures for solving unexpected issues.
Plus, with 35% of Americans now working from home 5 days a week, getting WFH laptops to each employee can be a logistical feat if handled by in-house IT. Some laptop rental providers will deliver laptops straight to the employee’s door, and handle all support or troubleshooting issues, too.
Lower Upfront Cost
Some businesses need their cash for other purposes, and don’t want to invest all at once in bulk quantities of laptops. In some cases, they only need the laptops for a specific event or training, and it doesn’t make financial sense to purchase laptops for only a few days of use.
Other companies may have seasonal needs, want to invest in other growth-oriented expenses, or may just want to spread out their costs over time.
For example, a recent customer of ours needed 130 laptops for their employees for a year-long rental period. Our client is a fast growing start-up in the healthcare technology space, and planned to use their start-up funding for growth oriented costs like marketing, hiring, and development. Leasing laptops was the perfect solution for them because they could spread out their IT costs over time, and still have high-quality laptops for their team.
Keep Technology Up-to-Date
Computers will always become outdated, eventually. Companies who rent or lease will never have a large quantity of out-of-date laptops eating up storage space and other resources. Instead, they can ship them back for newer models.
Higher Long Term Cost If you lease for a long time and then opt for a buyout option, you may pay more over time than if you had bought all the computers at once. For some companies, this is worth it because they were able to spread their costs out over time. But for larger companies with enough cash on hand, the costs of renting may not work in their favor.
You can’t deduct as large of a purchase on your taxes
The IRS lets small and medium-sized businesses write-off the full purchase price of equipment or software in the year it was purchased. (More details on Section 179 can be found here, including which businesses and types of equipment qualify.) Companies can use the funds they were able to write off in other areas. If you’re leasing the computers, you can only write off the lease payments you made that year — not the full cost of all the computers.
A short answer: As long as you need! We’ve had clients rent for a single day (the minimum), all the way up to lease periods that span multiple years. Pricing is typically based on different rental periods like a day, week, month, or year.
Can you rent laptops in multiple locations at once?
Yes! Many events are spread out in different locations, and you can have laptops delivered directly to each spot.
For example, student testing often takes place at dozens of different schools at once. We’ve also rented to a local board of elections, which had hundreds of polling locations. Rented laptops don’t need to be delivered all to one location; they can be spread out to as many venues as needed.
How much does renting laptops cost?
Laptop pricing depends on the model of laptop, your imaging needs, the duration of the rental period, and more.
For bulk rental of basic laptops, you can expect somewhere in the range of $50-$100 a week per laptop. The cost increases if you need MS Office or other specific software, and if you need higher-end laptop models.
What else do you need when renting laptops?
Your laptop rental partner can also provide accessories including mice, mouse pads, WiFi 4G routers, and headphones.
Laptop rentals don’t automatically come with Microsoft Office. Be sure to ask for MS Office installed if your users need MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, or OneDrive.
What kind of laptops should you rent?
Your rental partner can help you decide what type of laptops will be best for your needs. They’ll likely determine three things.
First, what kind of programs are you running? Are you using the laptops for web-based applications, like filling out Google Forms, or checking email? Or, are there specific programs that need to be installed — like Zoom, PowerPoint, or AutoCAD?
Second, if you are using an installed program, how much processing power do these programs require? Is minimal processing power needed, for uses like MS Word? Or, do the laptops need much more processing power for programs like Photoshop or gaming?
Third: Do you need a specific screen size?
Your rental provider has tons of experience with all the computers in their inventory. They will take all these factors into consideration when recommending a model of laptop that will work best for your training, event, or testing session.
Like any industry, some rental companies will be more reliable and established than others. But when you know the answers to all your questions, you can be confident you’ve picked the right partner. Below are a handful of questions to ask:
What happens if FedEx, UPS, or another carrier delays my delivery? (Your rental partner should have contingency plans!)
What condition are your laptops in?
What happens to my data and files once I return my laptops?
How do I know my customization is going to be right?
How do companies provide laptop imaging and customization?
Imaging laptops refers to replicating a specific laptop’s operating system, installed software, and its settings across many different laptops.
How do laptop rental companies do this? While we can’t speak to the specifics of every company, we’re happy to share a little about the process we’ve developed.
First, we start with a base image that we update every month to ensure all major programs and the operating system are in-line with the latest versions. Imagine renting laptops only to find you need to run a Windows update — that would be a nightmare!
Then we collect your imaging requirements. We send you a form, and then follow up with additional questions once we review your responses. We always like to understand what you’re doing with your devices — especially because our customers have a range of technical experience. We work with CTOs and Directors of IT, as well as people whose roles are not technical at all. For example, if your users will be reading PDFs, many people may overlook that your users will benefit from having Adobe Reader installed. We also figure out licenses for you.
Once we have a deep understanding of your needs, we create a first “seed” image on a single laptop. We test it thoroughly and put it under stress tests. Once it’s perfect, we apply it to as many computers as you need through a secure process at our national HQ in Chicago.
For highly technical customers, we can ship them a computer to customize and create the first “seed” image themselves. Then, we test it thoroughly and make adjustments before applying it to large quantities.
Finally, we conduct a proprietary three-point quality control process.
This process is a lifesaver for many of our clients who don’t have the in-house capacity to customize and QC laptops for their trainings, remote employees, events, or student testing sessions.
How is sensitive data protected after renting laptops?
Your laptop rental partner should take protecting sensitive data very seriously. Here are a few options to ask your rental partner about:
Immediate Re-Imaging It’s important to re-image all hard drives before each computer is rented again. This means future users can’t access files or data without using advanced data recovery software.
Typically, technicians re-image laptops the next time they’re preparing to rent them again. However, if your sensitive data requires immediate action, your laptop partner may re-image the computer immediately after it arrives back to the warehouse.
Hard Drive Security Wipe Wiping a hard drive takes this a step further. We use software (either DBAN or KillDisk) to completely erase the previous image and wipe the hard drive clean, making it impossible to recover data on nearly all hard drives. In some cases, this process can be done onsite.
3X Hard Drive Security Wipe (DoD 5220.22-M) While rare, there are techniques for recovering data from hard drives that have been wiped once. We also have the ability to do three wipes over the hard drive, known as the US Department of Defense’s DoD 5220.22-M method which is a well-known standard in the world of data security.
Are you ready to rent laptops? Don’t hesitate to reach out, we’re standing by and ready to answer all your questions!