Tips for Buying a Laptop Secondhand

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Buying a new laptop every few years can be expensive. When the life expectancy of a laptop is only 3 to 5 years, you don’t want to have to spend $1,000 or more on one. So long as you don’t have advanced needs for your laptop – such as intense photo or video editing or creation or the use of other graphics programs – you can save money and get a perfectly adequate laptop by buying one used.

However, the secondhand market is like the wild, wild west, and there aren’t always any guarantees. Therefore, it is important to understand how to evaluate secondhand laptops to make sure you get the best model at the best price. Here are a few tips for how to buy a laptop secondhand:

Choose Your Market Carefully

The most common places where you can buy a secondhand laptop are Craigslist, ebay, local dealers such as pawn shops, and the manufacturers (who sell them refurbished). When you purchase from Craigslist, you purchase from a person directly, and there is no protection. That means that if you get a lemon, you have no recourse for getting your money back. With ebay, you may be able to file a complaint and get a refund, so there is more protection.

The best options are to buy from a local dealer or a manufacturer. Manufacturers sell laptops refurbished, and many even come with their own warranty.

Check for Cosmetic Issues

Whether you are inspecting the laptop online or in person, you should be able to look for cosmetic issues, such as cracks in the screen or case, chips, scratches or other surface defects. If you are buying online and you can’t see these things well, make sure you request photos and ask for lots of photos. When you are inspecting it in person, take the time to look it over before you make a decision.

Check Out the Hardware

The hardware on the laptop will influence everything you are able to do on it. Check out the amount of RAM that’s available, the type of processor, and the drives. You should also look at the USB connection and other inputs. If you are able to inspect the laptop in person, make sure you power it up and check how well each of these work. Also be sure to ask about the age of any of the hardware, as you may need to replace it before too long if it’s original to the laptop.

Test the Wi-Fi

No matter what you plan to do with the laptop, you are going to want to connect to the Internet at some point. Make sure you power on the laptop and test the wi-fi before you commit to purchase. However, if you purchase it online, make sure you ask about the functionality of the wi-fi before you buy. Then make sure you test it as soon as you receive the laptop. Don’t leave feedback until you have ensured that the laptop works the way you expected it to.

Make Sure It’s Wiped

After months or years of use, a laptop can accumulate a lot of personal information, electronic baggage (random files that have not been defragmented, the remnants of old software, and so on), and even viruses and malware. To make sure that you don’t have to deal with any nasties when you use the laptop, be sure the computer is wiped and restored to factor settings. It should be clean of all add-on software and personal information.

Buying a laptop secondhand is a great way to get a good computer at a great price. However, you need to evaluate your choices carefully so that you don’t end up wasting your money on a lemon.

About the Author:

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching culinary schools in Tampa Florida. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

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