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5 Steps to Take When Buying a Used Laptop

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Buying a used laptop can help anyone save money. While the costs of new laptop computers have been reduced in the past decade, there are many deals to be found for used versions. Unfortunately, many consumers may overlook the option of buying a used laptop due concerns of over quality issues. Most used laptops come with some type of return period or even a limited warranty. The best bargains are laptops that have had a limited usage period, have a warranty or return period, and have an attractive price. Any used laptops need to be priced with an enough of a difference below that of a new version in order to be really a good bargain. Buying a used laptop does not have to be overly complicated or require in-depth technical knowledge. However, the consumer should be savvy and ask questions.

Here are five steps to ensure that any used laptop is a great purchase:

1. Check on what is included with the laptop

Used laptops are often sold with different accessories and software setups than originally offered when sold as new.Some used laptops are sold with no accessories or even lack a basic operating system.Ask about which operating system is included and whether any back up or restore discs. Check to ensure that the laptop comes with the basic accessories including a working battery, an AC adapter, hard drive, and any optical drives.Look to the fine print to check on any stated missing components.Occasionally a used laptop might be sold without a battery or hard drive.Some retailers may also sell the unit with limited memory or hard drive storage.Ensure that the laptop comes with adequate memory and hard drive space for required usage such as running a specific program or performing certain actions such as video editing. Beyond examining the included components, check to see if there is a laptop serial number from its manufacturer available.

2. Ask about the return process

When buying any used device, always check on the return process and any limitations.Ask about whether there are any limitations that might prevent the laptop being returnable.For instance, if one decides to upgrade the laptop memory or hard drive, would this prevent the unit from being accepted back as a returned if the laptop had a hardware failure. Check to see if the invoice or receipt will state the return terms in writing.If there is a warranty, ensure that all the necessary information is available such as the serial number, any needed documents, and any contact information.

4. Check on the status of a laptop

Used laptops are often categorized as used, refurbished, open box, or even “scratch and dent” items. These designations are often supposed to make the description process easier. Sometimes a retailer may have a score or letter used to designate the condition of the unit. Generally a used laptop is one that has been used for a length of time by at least one owner. Sometimes used laptops are also referred to as “refurbished”. Refurbished laptops are usually reviewed by technical personal to ensure that the laptop is in working order. An open box laptop is one that was either a demo unit or a return with limited or no use. Laptops designated with the scratch and dent status often has some type of wear or damage. If possible ask to inspect the unit before making a purchase. If buying online, ask to see if there are actual photos of the unit. Often these categories can be blurred and these labels may not be entirely accurate.

Consider avoiding a demo unit or one that has been used on a sales floor for some time. While they can be good bargains, they also may have a great deal of use. Such units can sometimes be identified by any price stickers applied by the store or even just asking a sales associate. On the other hand, an open box unit can be a great buy if the unit is in good condition and has little or damage. Such laptops may have been returned for a number reasons including buyer’s remorse.

4. Check on any warranties that come with the laptop

Used laptops sometimes have limited warranties from the manufacturer.Check with the sales staff to see if there are any supplied warranties. Then double check with the manufacturer if they will honor the warranty. Many retailers may sell an add-on warranty which may or may not be suitable.A good used laptop does not necessarily mean it will wear out or break down any time sooner than a new version.Purchasing an add-on warranty might make sense if it’s worth the cost but it might not be necessarily a good deal.The exception might be for those that feel they might damage or use the laptop in potentially damaging situations.A consumer needs to balance whether a used laptop with an add-on warranty is worth the costs versus a new laptop with a manufacturer warranty.

Finally check to see how the laptop will be repaired if there is a warranty.Some retail stores offer onsite technical repair services while others will send off the unit.A manufacturer warranty may require that the laptop be shipped back to a repair center.

5. Test the Laptop after the Purchase

After purchasing a used laptop, test out all the hardware components. Inspect the physical laptop for any apparent damage including the screen. Notice any problems such as loose keys, dead pixels on the screen, loud fan noises, and even any noticeable overheating. If the laptop has irregular fan noises, consider returning the unit. Dying or dead fans can lead to overheating which can damage or kill components in a laptop. Inspect any fan ports to see if there is dust or any debris. Any blockages should be removed or cleaned.

Download a good stress testing program to ascertain whether there are any faulty components. The store or retailer might have already taken this step. Utilize free testing programs such as Memtst86+ for testing memory and Prime95 for testing the whole system can be extremely helpful in finding any faulty components. When running a testing program, understand that the program will test and push a system to its maximum state of performance to gauge any problems. As long as one is not overclocking or changing the voltage of the system then this step will not be violation of any warranty or return terms. Finally, try out the laptop by using any available applications and logon to several different networks.

If any problems arise, consider returning the unit. The exception might be where the new owner is planning on upgrading a component right away and can replace a faulty part. Generally, a used laptop should be in working order with all of its components efficiently running.

In Conclusion

By taking these five steps, anyone can help reduce any change of problems occurring after purchasing a used laptop. Any laptop, whether new or used, can have initial problems. Sometimes a used laptop may be even more of a stable purchase than that of a new laptop. New laptops can have manufacturing defects that only show up after the purchase while a used laptop has may have already been tested and deemed defect free. If the price is well below the cost of a new version then a used laptop can be a great deal. However, taking these cautionary steps can help eliminate many problems should they occur.

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