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Refurbished machines can be a good deal, but you are increasing your risk and should take a couple of steps to protect yourself.

Because of the price, I'm really interested in buying a refurbished laptop, but there are so many that I'm looking at (one of them specifically) that lots of shops are saying don't touch them in general, but what I don't understand is why are there so many of that particular model? Did they make them sub-standard in the first place, as they can't all be customer returns?

In this excerpt from Answercast #40, I look at computers on the secondary market and recommend two important steps to protect yourself from possible failures.

Refurbished computers

It's difficult to say. Quite often, you'll find a lot of refurbished laptops of a particular model because a company, a corporation, standardized on that particular model, and then upgraded their entire staff – so they had a large quantity of that particular model to return to the secondary market.

So, I wouldn't necessarily assume anything specific about that particular model based solely on its presence in the secondary market.

Get a good warranty

What I would do is look for the reputation of that machine online in general. But even more important than that, regardless of what the reputation is, I would absolutely do two things.

  • I would make sure that whomever you're purchasing it from gives you a warranty, a substantial warranty at that.

I'd love to see a one-year warranty on that machine, but my guess is you're probably only going to see something like 90 days. Whatever that time period is, make sure you use and exercise the machine well during that time period to make sure that the machine is going to meet your needs and is going to last.

Backup regularly

Then, of course, the other thing I'm going to suggest is the traditional thing:

  • Once you get that machine, whatever machine it is, make sure that you back up regularly.

Yes, by getting a refurbished machine you are increasing, ever so slightly, the possibility of there being a problem with it at some point.

The best solution, the best way you can protect yourself from that eventuality, is to have a regular backup already running on that machine; so if something happens, then you're prepared. You're not going to lose any data. It's an inconvenience and not a disaster.

So, those are the two things I would do.

  1. Definitely make sure that you're getting a good warranty from wherever you're getting it from;
  2. And, as always, start backing up.

Next from Answercast 40 – Are there really any computer experts?

Article C5650 - August 2, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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