Guide to Purchasing a Used Computer

Decided to purchase a used PC? Well in exchange for the money you’re going to save, you’ll need to spend some time taking precautions. A used computer can also mean extra baggage and hidden pitfalls. It’s best to take the time and make sure your new investment is in good working order.

To avoid many of the ‘after purchasing’ problems, you can follow these pre-purchasing damage control tips.

  1. Buy the right computer for the right needs. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is picking up a second hand computer with thoughts of doing a “major overhaul” to fit your needs. Buying based on a needs assessment can save time, money and headaches.
  2. Buy from a qualified re-furbisher. This should go without saying, but sometimes we find a deal that sounds so good, we’re willing to take a chance. Don’t risk your hard earned money.
  3. Look for a possible warranty and return policy. No, you’re not likely to get a full year+ warranty, but even a 90 warranty can be a lifesaver when you need the help of a pro.

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Once you have the PC of your choice, you’ll want to make sure it’s clean. You don’t want to end up with ‘junk in the trunk’ from the last owner, especially anything malicious. So here are some precautions you should consider to make sure your new (used) computer is in top working condition:

  • Use antivirus and spyware tools to search for any existing malicious problems. The best program available right now is Secure Anywhere Antivirus 2012, which will protect against viruses, spyware, worms, Trojans and more.
  • Manually delete files (permanently) from various folders on the drive. Why? Because when the previous owner deleted files, the data’s not actually deleted—the space the file used to occupy is “de-allocated”. That means until the space is overwritten, the “deleted” data can still be recovered. I recommend using SDelete (secure delete) to overwrite all the free space to prevent data recovery.
  • Does the computer boot up in a timely fashion…or does it ‘linger’ on a regular basis? Watching the start-up process can tell you a lot about your computer. If you have programs that are lagging, they may need to be removed to improve performance.
  • Upgrade the computer to a newer operating system. An older OS may take installing additional memory to handle more than word processing programs and a few games.
  • Make sure to download all the patches and critical updates for your system. Security patches are necessary for the health and maintenance of your computer. While many owners take the time to perform the essential patches, don’t assume that’s the case. Take the time and check.

Guest Post by Lisa, is an avid yoga enthusiast who enjoys writing in her spare time for Usdirect.com – home of Direct TV.