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Tips for buying a used computer


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 8, 2001

When old is new
For buyers, used computers offer a way to get a good system inexpensively. But for sellers, a computer's value can be much lower than expected.
Buyers can shop for used computers everywhere from retail stores to online auctions.

Web sites selling used computers include the Used Computer Mall (; Excess Quality New and Used Computers (; and, for Apple computers, Datatech Remarketing (

In addition, major PC companies such as Dell and Gateway offer refurbished models. These generally are returned units that the companies test before reselling, usually at a discount of 5 percent to 15 percent.

Here are tips from experts for those considering a used computer:

  • Test drive: Ask if you can use the machine before the purchase to check it out yourself.
  • Support: What happens if you have a question? Who can you call? When is help available?
  • Warranty: Is there one? How long is it in effect? What does it cover?
  • Brand: A computer made by a well-known manufacturer might be easier to have repaired than a generic clone.
  • Software: Does the installed software come with licenses and other documentation? If not, it may not be legal.

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