How to Test a Second Hand Computer Before Buying?

Updated October 6, 2023

Buying a second-hand computer is not as risky as many people may think. There are many sources of computer support, such as independent providers, or just some of the many support forums available on the Internet, if you run into a glitch in the future. There is little that can be wrong with a personal computer, unless it is very old, or it has been mistreated in the past. Dropping your computer will mean the need for a repairs service, but other than that, proper use and regular maintenance should mean a trouble free experience. If you are in a position where you are considering the purchase of a used personal computer, here is how you go about testing and checking it to know it is a reliable buy. While your chances of buying a decent machine are high, it is important to remember you are not a pc repair professional.

  • Turn it on. Connect the device with the AC power source connected. After running the device, remove the device without the power connected. Use the machine for 30 minutes and monitor the battery status. This will let you know how good the battery is. A worn battery is a sign of a very well used computer.
  • Listen to the hard drive during start up. A healthy hard drive will not make much noise. If the hard drive makes spluttering or buzzing noises during start up or operation, you know it is not in good health. Keep your ears to the ground for the time you are testing the machine. If the hard drive is not in good health, noises will soon become evident. The computer will slow down at the same times you hear those odd noises. This will be a machine to avoid, unless you are prepared for the cost of a replacement hard drive.
  • Check the internal components. We can often tell if a computer is new just by looking at it. However, this is not always the case. You want to have a good look at the ‘inside’ of the computer. Looking at the computer ‘properties’ can do this. With Apple, you just select ‘About This Mac’, and with PCs, you right click on My Computer. With today’s operating systems, you should be looking for more than 2g of RAM, and more than 2ghz of processing power. If you have both of these, the other components are more than good enough. You will be able to see exactly what components the computer has and does not.
  • Check the connection ports and appearance of the device. While it may sound a little lame to inspect the outer casing of a machine, it normally gives a very good indication of the condition of the device. Dirty ports and hard to get at places indicates the machine has not been kept very well. Well-worn keys and trackpads are a sign the machine has been heavily used.
  • Check the serial number. All personal computers will have a serial number somewhere on the outside casing of the laptop. It is easy enough to search for this on Google, and find out what other users are saying about this particular machine. If want to be extra sure, you can always discuss this machine type with your local computer repairs professional.

If all appears well, then it probably is. As long as it is not making strange noises, and is operating well over a period of 30 minutes, it is highly likely you are looking at a reliable machine. It is important to remember you are not so much concerned with age as you are concerned with use. Just like a car, it is not about how old it is, it is about the miles it has done and what personal computer services are available for that machine. There is nothing wrong with making a call or a search to get independent advice from a pc support professional.

Author Bio: Tom Mallet is an Australian freelance writer and journalist. He writes extensively in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the US. He’s published more than 500 articles about various topics, including Computer support and Computer repairs.

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