There are many businesses out there selling “refurbished computers”. We want you to know what this could actually mean and why you need to be very careful when considering “refurbished”.
Firstly I’d like to clarify the difference between “used” and “refurbished”, you might be shocked to actually read this. The difference is that “refurbished” products have been tested and verified to function properly, so basically it’s a used product that someone has tested, and that’s it.
There’s a common misconception regarding “refurbished” products, many people believe that something special has happened to renew or freshen up this used product but it hasn’t it is just a used product that has been marketed to sound better. There are few cases where refurbished is a product that has been returned and barely used or a faulty dead on arrival product that was repaired and replaced by a manufacturer but this isn’t typically what you’re dealing with when you go out to buy a refurbished computer.
So, basically refurbished means, a used product that works… wow, amazing!… not.
Computers like many other electrical components have a life span, we live in a hot country, you have no idea what their previous operation life was like and what environment they were in. E.g. you can’t tell if it was used once a week for 30 minutes in an air conditioned room or left on 24 hours a day 7 days a week in a highly travelled dusty area. Many so-called “refurbishment” specialists will clean the outside of the computer with a damp cloth and vacuum the inside to remove any dust so it’s difficult to tell what you’re actually buying and therefore extremely hard to predict just how long it will last. What we can say for certain is that most used computers will come with a traditional hard disk drive, a mechanical component with a very limited life span, often just 4-6 years. If you buy a “refurbished” computer this component is unlikely to have been replaced and will cause the computer to perform much slower than it did when it was new and can potentially lead to losing many important documents much sooner than you may have expected. This is one of our most common jobs, replacing hard drives in computers that are 4-6 years old.
Ultimately with “refurbished” you’re just buying something used that still works. It’s nothing amazing, no effort has been put in to replace or upgrade parts. Don’t be fooled by the nice ring that marketing has put on it. It’s just an old computer which means its unreliable and in our opinion just isn’t worth the risk of the unknown. There will, of course, be stories about how a refurbished computer lasted 10 years and there will be others where it lasted 1 week, we get it. But as a rule of thumb it is risky and may just end up as a total waste of your money.
The only exception being, if you know the computer and its previous owner and history you at least know if it has been well looked after and how much it has been used to at least give you some hope it will last. Even then, we've seen plenty of computers that looked like new on the inside that had serious faults which weren't feasible to repair. You just never know!