Used Computer Warning: What To Do After Buying a Used Computer

If you’re considering purchasing a new computer, opting for a used one is a smart way to go. Not only are used computers easier on your wallet and better for the environment, but they’re a smart decision to make if you know exactly what kind of computer you need.

For instance, if you plan on just accessing the web, your email, and typing up a few spreadsheets or memos per week, you don’t need a computer with a lot of processing power. What you need is something reliable that will last you for a few more years!

Read on for our top tips on what to do after buying a used computer so that your information is protected and safe.

1. Check the Age

Older machines cost less, but this isn’t an effective use of your budget if the software is too old for new security updates! For instance, Windows versions like XP and Vista no longer get security updates from Microsoft, leaving you open to viruses, malware, and identity theft. Support for Microsoft 7 will end in January 2020.

You can still purchase an older machine if you’re willing to pay extra to install the latest software onto it, but in this case, it may be worthwhile to simply purchase a newer computer in order to avoid the blue screen of death. Newer hardware will last you longer in the long run, requiring fewer replacements and headaches right away.

2. Factory Reset

Once you purchase your computer, when you boot it up you’ll most likely be walked through the welcome screen to set up all your private details. This is because the PC refurbished or private reseller factory reset the computer before they sold it to you.

However, not all resellers will do this. If you turn it on and it goes to the Windows start screen, factory resetting it yourself is easy to do. First, navigate to the Start menu, Settings, then Updates & Security. Ensure you see a message that “Windows is activated with a digital license,” and make a copy of the product key number in case you need it later.

In the Recovery page, navigate to “Remove Everything” and then “Remove files and clean the drive.”

3. Security Software

If your computer has been factory reset, check out the software it comes with and uninstall any that you don’t need. This is typically called “bloatware” because it simply takes up precious storage space that you’ll want for programs you actually need.

Then, it’s recommended to install security software. There are hundreds of different kinds of security software available, but here is a list of the most common and reputable options according to PCMag.com:

  • Bitdefender Internet Security
  • Norton 360 Deluxe
  • Kaspersky Internet Security
  • Kaspersky Security Cloud
  • Bitdefender Total Security
  • McAfee Total Protection
  • Trend Micro Maximum Security

Although many of these options require a monthly subscription, it’s worth the peace of mind that security protection will bring. However, oftentimes security software companies offer free trials or free versions that have fewer bells and whistles.

4. Install Updates

Your used computer may not have the latest updates. It’s important to check to be sure that it has the latest updates because these often come with important security protections.

If you’re running Windows 10, you’ll find the updates under Settings, Update & Security, then Windows Update. Choose “Check for updates” to ensure you have the latest downloaded.

While you’re there, Windows is known for defaulting to automatic background updates that can interrupt your workflow at any point of the day. In the Windows Update page, click on Advanced options.

Here, it’s recommended to have these options enabled for the safest way to deal with Windows updates:

  1. Turn on Receive updates for other Microsoft products when you update Windows
  2. Turn on Download updates over metered connections
  3. Don’t turn on any deferred/pause update options

5. File Recovery

If you know your computer will be seeing a lot of use, especially for your job, creating a file recovery system is a smart way to protect against future headaches. These file recovery programs enable you to fully recover files that have been lost due to something like a power outage, or that you’ve accidentally (or regretfully) deleted.

Lifewire provides a list of free data recovery software tools that includes:

  • Recuva
  • EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
  • Puran File Recovery
  • Disk Drill
  • Glary Undelete
  • SoftPerfect File Recovery
  • Wise Data Recovery

You may also want to backup your hard drive or important files with services like CrashPlan, Backblaze, or a separate drive. Files can also be manually stored in sites like Dropbox, Amazon, or Google Files.

What to Do After Buying a Used Computer: Shop the Smart Way

All of the tips we’ve provided on what to do after buying a used computer are safeguarding you from potential problems down the road. Security software, a wiped hard drive, and software that’s still receiving security updates from the manufacturer are all important factors.

However, an even greater way to ensure that you’re shopping the smart way is to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable dealer! Ensure that they have plenty of good, honest reviews, they’re experienced, and if they’re a private dealer, their communication with you is prompt, courteous, and informative.

Ready to purchase your next computer with a reputable seller? Check out our refurbished laptops and desktops today!