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Used computers may be good deal

When it’s time to replace your computer, unless you want the latest and greatest, a used computer can be a viable option.

Buying a used computer is a great way to continue using a Windows XP or even Windows 2000 operating system. Consider the purposes for which you use your computer, the importance of price, and the accountability of the seller.

Most computer owners utilize their home computer for email and access to the Internet. Word processing and spreadsheets are also common functions. For those purposes alone, the latest and greatest computer is not essential. Good used computers provide plenty of speed and space for browsing the web and keeping in touch.

All used computers should be checked by the seller for hardware integrity, wiped clean and reloaded. Properly prepared, there will be no trace of the previous owner; the hard drive will be clean and the operating system will be newly installed and updated. Used computers are available locally at small computer stores and online. Check for accountability of the seller and warranty policies.

Many used computers on the market were designed for corporate use and rate very highly on reliability. Hospitals, universities and corporations require large numbers of quality computers for use at their locations. Processors must be fast, RAM must support the system well, and components must be reliable. These desktop computers may not be as shiny and sleek as typical consumer systems, but the cases are sturdier and what’s inside is often more dependable. Every few years, corporate computers are replaced and the used systems (typically 2 to 4 years old) are sold to computer refurbishing companies. These are made available to computer vendors, who further prepare and warranty the systems.

Computers manufactured for corporate use must have consistent components to streamline later troubleshooting. If a manufacturer sells hundreds of systems to a single client and warranties those systems, it is to their advantage to provide the client with very reliable systems with the same components throughout. When these systems are later refurbished, they make dependable used computers.

Pricing of used computers continues to drop. Five to 10 years ago, higher-end computers for normal home or business use cost $1,200 to $2,000. As computer manufacturers have reduced costs for their products and processes, prices have dropped considerably. The same class of computer today costs $600 to $1,000. Used computers must be priced at a fraction of the cost of a new system. And while the used computer may be older, its reliability may be even greater than a new system.

Find a reseller you can trust. Select a system for its processor speed (preferably 1.8 GHz or higher), hard drive space (at least 40 to 80 GB) and RAM capacity (should include 512 MB, and be upgradable). Be certain the computer still has an in-tact COA (Certificate of Authenticity) sticker for the operating system. This 25-digit code is proof that the computer has a legitimate copy of Windows 2000 or XP (older versions are out-dated). Get a warranty that allows you to check out the computer thoroughly.

Patty Harshbarger, co-owner of Computer Renaissance of Bradenton, can be reached at patty@cr-bradenton.com.;www.office.microsoft.com.

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