If you are in the market for a new computer, then you know buying one isn’t cheap, especially after all the hardware and software add ons.
The reality is, you can oftentimes find great deals on used or refurbished computers.
When talking about price, refurbished computers generally cost anywhere from 30 to 50 percent less than the retail price of a new computer.
However, the significant price difference should not be your only consideration.
When buying a used computer, you need to take into consideration the fact that other people have had access to your computer and you don’t know what they’ve left on it.
On the other hand, even new computers come with their own risks from the manufacturers.
In fact, according to Microsoft, your brand-spanking-new computer could be infected with a virus that will raid your online bank account.
Microsoft claims to have discovered several new computers, fresh from Chinese factories, that carried a particularly damaging computer virus that is capable of invading bank accounts and creating back doors that allow criminals to have their way with infected machines.
Microsoft’s researchers purchased 20 new computers from China and discovered that four of them had been infected with viruses.
In each case, the computers were running counterfeit versions of Windows software that were infected with the virus.
The way it worked was the virus reported back to a command and control center hosted by a web domain registered to a Chinese software company.
According to Microsoft, the specific domain hosts 500 different strains of malware.
Some are capable of switching on a victim’s microphone or web camera.
Other viruses record victims’ keystrokes, giving cybercriminals access to their log-in credentials and online bank accounts.
These days, about 90% of new computers are manufactured in China.
So, whether you are buying a new computer straight out of the box or a used computer from a large retailer such as Best Buy, I want to share with you a few tips to keep your computer safe.
Wait to go online. Most viruses will want to connect to a network so they can communicate with a control software, especially if it’s part of a hacking network.
Plus, a new computer may also connect to a malicious network to download additional malware or to send passwords or other personal information it has gathered from you.
You should isolate your new computer until you can properly scan it to make sure it’s not pre-infected.
In addition, before connecting to the internet you should remove any software you don’t need and clean up your computer’s hard drive.
Install from a thumb drive. From another computer, download an anti-virus software scanner and save it to a CD or a USB hard drive so you can install it on the new computer without using a network connection.
The anti-virus software on the new computer may have already been compromised or altered so that it is blind to a pre-installed virus.
For instance, the already installed anti-virus software may report that there is no infection even though malware is present on the computer, which is why you need a second anti-virus scanner to make sure that there is no preloaded virus on your computer.
Check around for price. Not all refurbished computers are good bargains and doing some research will pay off. Most refurbished computers are older models.
To ensure that the refurb price is a good deal, do a search for the computer using the specific model number.
If the computer is still selling new in stores, this will give you a good comparison for determining if the refurb price is a good deal.
The other thing is, if the computer is a year or two old, you still may be able to find the exact same model new, for a similar price since it’s outdated.
If you can buy the same computer and one is refurbished, I would clearly choose the one still in the original box.
Look at the warranty. While the overall price of a refurbished computer is important for saving money, the warranty is what really counts in the long run.
Many refurbished PCs are sold with limited warranties, which is why it is important that shoppers take the time to read and understand the small print.
Ideally, the warranty should be provided by the manufacturer and not a third party.
Third-party warranties can be problematic and should be avoided.
The length of time that refurbished computers are warranted should be the same as the new models.
Reputable companies selling refurbished computers may offer a three-month manufacturers’ warranty and you probably want to purchase the extended service plan.
The key when buying a new or refurbished computer is to trust the person you are purchasing it from.
What I mean is, even if you are buying a new Apple MacBook on Amazon, you don’t truly know who the seller is or how to track them down.
When buying a computer, I would stick with well known retailers such as Best Buy or Apple.
Both of these companies offer new or refurbished computers and they have warranty’s and support for their refurbished products.
Lastly, never buy a used computer off websites such as Craigslist, because you really don’t know the seller or even if the computer has been stolen or downloaded with viruses.