Tips for Buying A Used Laptop and Common Problems
If you're in the market for a new laptop chances are you have thought about or even purchased a used laptop to save some money. Buying a used laptop can save you hundreds of dollars and still allow you to get a newer model laptop that will last for many years to come. The only problem is making sure the second hand laptop you buy is still in good condition and hasn't been abused or mis-treated. There is no perfect way to tell if it will be a reliable laptop but here are some things to check for before you make that next big purchase and possible throw away your money on a junker.
Laptops Exterior Condition
The first and easiest thing to look at is the exterior shape of the computer making sure you pay close attention to all the corners. This has proven to be a great indicator of how well a laptop was treated by it's previous owner and should be a good warning if there are visible marks of it being dropped or any of the keys on the keyboard are loose or missing. A keyboard with just a missing key or two might not seem like a big deal but typically you cannot buy just a single replacement key and the entire keyboard must be replaced which is not as cheap as you'd think. Also when checking the corners open up the laptops screen and see how tight the hinges still feel, if someone carried it around by the screen or slammed it too much these will be far looser and more wobbly than a laptop that has been treated well.
Laptops Charging Cord
Now that you've inspected the outside of the laptop go ahead and look over the charger before you plug it in. Most of the time people don't take good care of their charger and it will show! Is it clean overall or can you see dirt and junk all over the cord, is it frayed or chewed anywhere? You can tell what kind of conditions a laptop was used it from a clean house to a dirty house very easily just from looking at the charger. Typically a dirty house will show on the cord because it sits on the ground and is moved around without being picked up so it picks up all the dirt.
Hard Drive and Cooling Fan
Once you've plugged in the laptop and it's turning on listen for any weird sounds from the hard drive or fan typically a loud hard drive means it is either already failing or on it's way out. Also see how long it takes to turn on, there is no easy way to judge this since newer laptops with faster hardware are greatly quicker than an older model but if it seems to take forever it could be a failing hard drive or the operating system needs to be reinstalled. If the operating system needs to be redone and you don't have a copy of Windows or the know how to do it you might want to reconsider buying that laptop. A copy of Windows is typically over $100 and if you can't do it yourself paying someone to install it typically takes a few hours of labor. These are some of the hidden costs that can make a �good deal� on a used laptop an expensive nightmare you wished you had never bought. Make sure the computer is running smoothly once it's fully turned on and there are no pop ups or other signs of viruses and malware.
Keyboards and Spill Damage
If everything has been looking good so far there are only a few things left to check. You'll want to make sure all of the keys on your keyboard are working which can be done by opening a text editing program or going online and using the search bar. Typically people will try to sell their broken laptops because they spilled something and just hope you don't notice. This once again leads to needing a new keyboard or a motherboard if it was a large spill and at that point it's sadly cheaper to just get rid of a laptop that needs a new motherboard.
LCD/LED Screen and Motherboard Common Problems
The two most important parts of a laptop are typically pretty easy to check, your LCD or LED screen and the motherboard. If your screen is messed up it doesn't take too much work to know this. A cracked or broken screen is very obvious but the things that most people miss are a dead pixel or a black spot on your screen. On the motherboard a broken peripheral port such as a USB port, HDMI, etc. can also happen and should be checked out as well. A broken item on your motherboard could also be the power jack which is typically a very expensive fix. If any of the peripheral ports on the laptop are broken do not buy it unless you're sure you can do the repair yourself.
Laptop Batteries Fail Often
The last thing to check is the laptops battery. These are one of the most common things to replace and they're the easiest. A battery can only be charged and drained so many times so they will all go bad no matter how well a laptop is treated. They are normally just an easy pull release away from being switched, some like on Macbook Pros or Macbook Airs are a little more tricky and require it to be taken apart but even watching a good YouTube video will show basic users how to do it. There can still be many unseen or hidden problems especially if the seller is trying to get rid of his broken laptop for some quick money. These basic things to look for should be a good start to making sure you buy a well taken care of, good shape laptop with many years of use left. The older a laptop the less picky you should probably be about small stuff like scratches or dings but on new laptops most people will treat them well. Buying a two or three year old laptop can save you a ton of money if you're careful to not buy a broken one and used laptops will hold their value much better than a new laptop. You could upgrade laptops every few years this way and not lose to much money if you're smart and careful when buying your used laptops.