New computers are expensive, even entry-level ones, which prevents many people from owning a computer. With so much of normal life revolving around computers, the need for access to a computer increases every day. Want to buy a book? You’ll need a computer because all the bookstores are closing down. Want to take night classes? Many are only offered online. Want discounts on your monthly bills? Many companies offer discounts if you choose to receive an electronic bill instead of a paper bill.
One solution is to use the free computers available at public libraries. This is a great service if you need to use them and is available for use during library business hours. Borrowing a computer from family and friends is another option, but it ages quickly.
Another solution is to buy a used computer. The average user of a computer does not need a high-end computer with the latest and fastest processor, so a computer of a few years is more than enough. Fortunately for these people there is no shortage of people looking to sell computers that are in excellent condition and only a few years old.
Many people get a new computer every two years, either because they just want the latest and best technology or because they need processing power for graphic design or engineering applications. These are the ideal people to buy a used computer because there is a good chance that when they bought the computer a couple of years ago it was the high-end model with the fastest processor available. A computer purchased a couple of years ago with the fastest processor available at that time becomes obsolete, much slower for the average user.
There are relatively few components in a computer that are prone to failures, which makes the due diligence process before buying a used computer quite simple. In most cases, a few simple tests and thorough inspections are enough, which do not require the presence of a computer technician and can be performed by people with basic computer skills.
The hard disk of a computer is vital for its functioning and its failure can mean something more than a computer that does not work. It can also mean the loss of data stored on it. Backing up important files is a good practice for any computer user, but especially for someone who buys a used computer. Affordable backup options include burning files to DVD if the computer has a DVD burner and USB drives.
Hard disks are one of only a couple of computer components with moving parts so that they can wear out. A hard drive that makes excessive noise or a noise whose volume or tone varies is not a good thing. The best time to listen to a hard drive is while reading or writing data, for example, while the computer is starting up.
Several components in a computer and on a motherboard generate significant heat, so computers have fans that keep them cool. If the computer’s fan does not work, it is very likely that its components have been damaged. Excess dust and dirt on the cooling fins of a CPU can prevent the CPU from cooling properly, increasing the likelihood that the CPU will be damaged. To determine if a fan is in good condition, listen for a sharp, uniform buzzing sound.
Reboot a computer several times to test the operating system. It should not take long to boot and should not hang up or stop during the boot process.
You should also check the rest of the hardware. This includes things like CD or DVD drives, trays should open and close without problems and you should be able to read data from a disc and if they are recordable drives, you should be able to write to a disc. The keyboard, monitor and mouse should also be inspected.