Refurbished IT Equipment: What You Need to Know

Apr 12th 2016

     There appears to be a lot of apprehension surrounding the possibility of purchasing refurbished IT hardware. It seems many people would rather spend the extra money to get a new, untainted system to keep under their desk than one of the much more affordable, slightly older models with similar specs. It’s understandable for someone to be suspicious about getting the same thing for less money. However, there are many benefits to buying refurbished IT equipment besides the cost. It may be comforting to know that, according to the research firm IDC, 70% of companies are turning to refurbished IT equipment, due to its cost-efficient and environmentally beneficial nature.

     One of the more common myths we’ve encountered is that refurbished systems were returned or disposed of because they were faulty, or simply too old to keep up. Although this is definitely a good reason to be concerned, refurbished systems are tested rigorously and all malfunctioning components are always replaced or repaired. There are a number of reasons for a product to be labeled as refurbished besides simply being old or defective. For example, many systems are sold as refurbished because they were the floor model in a storeroom. Also, if a business needs to downsize, they will often sell their leftover IT equipment to a 3rd party refurbisher. Once you get past your reservations, and see all of the testing and quality control that many reputable vendors put into refurbishing equipment, as well as the warranties that are often included, you quickly learn that you can save 15-30% without risking quality.

     Now many of you are probably thinking that refurbished equipment can only be guaranteed if it’s purchased directly from the manufacturer. After all, there really isn’t anything like CarFax for refurbished IT equipment. There are, however, a variety of other programs and certifications for a 3rd party refurbished IT vendor to prove its legitimacy. Companies such as Microsoft offer programs to refurbishers in order to help their PCs be more reliable and responsive. Microsoft Registered Refurbishers strive to maintain the same quality standards you would get buying directly from a manufacturer, usually at an even lower cost. And with web presence being a must for all businesses today, it is easier than ever to find reviews and information about the company you’re considering purchasing from.

     Aside from simply saving you money, using refurbished IT equipment can potentially have a lasting ecological benefits. According to Network World, roughly 70% of the energy consumed by a typically computer will be used in the manufacturing of the device, rather than its continued usage. In fact, somewhere between 500 and 600 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted during the production of a single laptop. Along with this, the Electronics TakeBack Coalition reports that of the 2,440,000 tons of e-waste produced in 2010, only 27%, or 649,000 tons, were recycled. With these staggeringly high numbers, buying refurbished equipment and doing your best to extend the life of systems that have already been produced almost starts to feel like a responsibility. By using refurbished systems, you can help improve these numbers and create a more sustainable solution to this problem.

     There are definitely risks you must be willing to take when purchasing refurbished IT equipment. However, most reputable vendors recognize this and will back up their products with warranties and refund policies to make you feel safer while purchasing. In closing, here are a few tips for buying refurbished IT equipment:

  • Make sure there is a warranty with your purchase. Many systems come with a 1-Year Warranty, yet there are usually longer options, such as 3-or 5-Year options available
  • Buy from a reputable retailer. Look for reviews of the company you intend to purchase from, and keep an eye out for certifications such as the Microsoft Registered or Authorized Refurbisher 
  • Remember that older equipment may run better using older software. Most workstations are typically used for email, internet, word processing, and multimedia, all of which can generally be handled with no problem by a system that is 3-4 years old.