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Grow Your Business Technology

Rugged Laptops: Does My Business Need One?

Rugged laptops
Credit: Shutterstock

Rugged laptops offer all levels of built-in protection that safeguard laptops from environmental and physical damage, making them a reliable choice for some business users. There are three main classifications for rugged laptops: fully rugged laptops, which are sealed all around to protect internal and external parts; semi-rugged laptops that function like fully rugged laptops, but may have limitations in extreme conditions; and business rugged laptops that protect hard drives and internal components. 

Fully rugged laptops are often military-grade laptops, classified as MIL-STD, that have reinforced casings, strengthened corners and other specs that meet Department of Defense standards. 

Rugged laptops aren't cheap. Quality rugged laptops will run you anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 and up depending on the level of protection you need. 

Here are three reasons why your business might need a rugged laptop. 

The primary reason a business needs rugged laptops is the type of environment in which the devices will be used. If your business operates in extreme conditions, it will greatly benefit from a fully rugged laptop. This includes working conditions that risk exposure to:

  • Shock and vibrational damage: A fully rugged laptop is a great option for travelers and field workers because it offers shock and vibration resistance. This means you don't have to worry about breaking it by dropping it, and it can also withstand vibrations from moving vehicles, walking around and being stored in bags with other electronics.
  • Water and dust: A rugged laptop protects the device from foreign substances that can damage it, such as moisture that affect its electrical components and small particles that enter and collect in vents and other small openings.
  • Harsh temperatures: From subzero to triple-digit temperatures, a rugged laptop can stand up to extreme weather conditions. Whether you're in the middle of a snowstorm or the desert heat, a rugged laptop offers reliability some businesses need.

Rugged laptops aren't cheap, but they can be the more economical choice in the long run, if you work in a harsh environment. For those who work in an office, a business rugged laptop may suffice, even if it only protects against your own clumsiness. 

Because rugged laptops offer all types of protective features, they have a lower total cost of ownership and longer life cycles. For instance, a fully and semi-rugged laptop typically has a magnesium casing, so its external and internal parts break down less often. This translates to lower repair and parts replacement costs.

Having a more reliable laptop also translates to less downtimes. Time is money, and lower downtimes means you'll pay less for lost productivity. Additionally, having a durable rugged laptop will save you more money from not having to frequently purchase new devices. It is also easier to manage and less time-consuming to configure existing devices than it is to fully integrate new machines.

For many businesses, the long-term and compounded costs of repairs, downtimes and sales far outweigh the cost of a rugged laptop.

Many businesses rely on the cloud to back up and store their data. But if your company doesn't trust or have access to the cloud and would rather store data in the computer, a rugged laptop is a better option for you.

If you need a more budget-friendly rugged laptop, a business rugged laptop typically has a shock or gel-mounted hard drive. Although its external parts won't be protected as fully as they would be with rugged and semi-rugged laptops, your data is still well protected from drops and physical damage compared to regular laptops.

Sara Angeles

Sara is a Los Angeles-based tech writer for Business.com, Business News Daily and Tom's IT Pro. A graduate of the University of California, Irvine, she has worked as a freelance writer and copywriter for tech publications, lifestyle brands and nonprofit organizations in the Southern California area and throughout the U.S. Sara joined the Purch team in 2013.