Buying a used computer that potentially has a lot of life left in it can be a good thing, especially if financially you can’t afford anew system. Choosing the right computer for you can be a daunting task given the many different sources of used systems. All I can say is “Let the buyer beware” when dealing with unscrupulous companies/people that are more than willing to pass off electronic garbage as a good used computer. Also there are a number of people out there that install pirated software on the systems they sell so be aware of that as well. See my blog post on Software Piracy.
First and foremost please do your research when you are choosing your computer. Look up the brand and model number of the computer you’re looking at and check out what it’s supposed to come with and what the person is selling it with. For instance if the model number you look up indicates it’s an older system then that system should not have Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 when it originally came with Windows Vista unless it has a proper COA (Certificate Of Authenticity) attached to the system. If this same person has a number of systems for sale and the majority of them come with Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 than you can bet that they have in fact used pirated software. Another red flag is when they offer full office and streaming TV on all of their systems. These types of people you need to stay clear of. Then there are the ones on sites like Kijiji that are selling an older computer but are asking a high price for it. Once again do your research and find out how much the computer is really worth then counter offer accordingly.
Next, when you’re looking at the system check its condition. Some companies will off a grading system of A, B, or C. “A” being the best condition with very few if any scratches or damage but will cost a little more. Then there is the “B” condition which will have minor scratches or visible signs of wear, you can get some good deals on these. Next check the fans for dust and dirt, if it’s been looked after or properly serviced there won’t be any. If it’s a desktop open it up and look inside and if there is a lot of dust then you may want to pass on it as the constant heat build up from the dust will shorten the life of the system. While you have the desktop open look at the capacitors in it, if any of them are broken open or bulging then it won’t last long and not worth buying. With laptops you can’t really open them up easily so you’re taking a chance. Once again look at it carefully and look for signs of dust in the fan port or of it being dropped.
Of course if you buy from a reputable dealer it takes most of the guess work out of buying a used system giving you a good system that should last a number of years. But be aware that you cannot predict how long a used system will last but they can still be a good alternative to a new system.