Jason from TechWareLabs has published an article that looks into the process of actually buying a new computer system and all the steps involved.
System aspects such as a good warrenty and good name brand are very important. The name Dell carries with it the understanding that their system will not lack in support and that the customer has a large company backing their products. You can expect the company will not dissappear overnight and that if you send your hardware in for repair that you will most likely get it back. Don't laugh until you buy a computer from a no name shop online, spend $3000 on the system only to have something go wrong with it, send it in, and hold your breath hoping that you get it back with the problem solved. That being said it is our opinion after much research that unless you are prone to problems, work as a bomb technician, or are unusually hard on your items, that extended warrenties are a waste of money. Usually things that will go wrong with a system occur within the first year of ownership. That being said eventually a hard drive is going to die, they dont last forever. The exact time of death though could be as much as 10 to 15 years down the road and should not occur within the first 2 to 3 years.