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Buying and Selling a Computer

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Buying a Computer

buy-sell-computer.jpgIt's been awhile since I bought a new desktop computer. Liv has been around for a few years. To really begin the story of Liv, I should start with my laptop, Sarah Michelle. Most of the time Sarah Michelle runs fine - after all she's just a couple of years old. However, now and again my 754 open tabs in Firefox brings her to a screeching halt. In fact, in the last month, Sarah Michelle simply shut off on me in the the middle of my typing a sentence. She put her foot down. It wasn't a slow shut down, she simply reacted as if there were no longer power going to the computer.

I've started to realize that I need to have a second computer - a fast one - and one where I can sit down and focus on my writing. Liv is old enough that she's isn't quite what I needed any more. She's also takes up a little extra space compared to some newer computers (I'm always thinking small.) Newer computers also come with new fancy features like USB ports in the front.

I began the search for a new computer. I seriously considered this Shuttle PC, until I found a brand new, unopened Dell Vostro Slim on Craigslist. It was $330 and compared to Liv's Athlon 1Ghz chip, it really flies. Scarlett has lots of memory, 2GBs and a processor that is fast in comparison to what I'm used to. I'm not going to set it up with World of Warcraft, so I'm happy with something "much better than I had before" vs "state of the art". It was clear as soon as Scarlett was set up she was going to be of great value. She hides under my desk leaving me room to organize my thoughts in a zen of organization.

There was a problem though. With a new great computer, I realized I needed a monitor. My old 17" LCD monitor is at least 6-7 years old now. It still works okay, but there are occasional signs of it starting to slow down. I went back to my friend Craigslist. I found a new 20" Dell monitor that hadn't been opened for $175. I could have spent another $70 and bought a 22" monitor of similar quality, but again I was happy to have something better than before.

With this set-up, a $505 should keep me productive for the next 5 years. At that point, I may need to look for a quad-speed processor and a 24" monitor. By that time, the prices on those should be close to another $505. At $100 a year, I have to marvel how much cheaper and better computers have become. You have to love Moore's Law.

Selling a Computer

This is where I run into a bit of problem. I cleaned up Liv's hard drive, using some great free software (Darik's Boot and Nuke). (You always want to use software like that to avoid identity theft). I put an older operating system on it, and now Liv is running almost as good as new. I realize I could have done this before and avoided buying the new computer. However, as a part-time software engineer, I need a computer capable of larger tasks than e-mail.

So I have a computer that's suitable for basic tasks. I tried to sell it on Craigslist for a price that was similar to other computers I saw for sale. I've had no bites yet. I could (and will) lower the price in hopes it attracts attention at some point. I would prefer to donate it, but it seems that few organizations take old computers. If anyone has any other ideas how I can keep a fine computer active and out of a recycling bin as long as possible, I'd love to hear them.

Photo Credit: jima

Last updated on August 1, 2011.

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16 Responses to “Buying and Selling a Computer”

  1. Kimberly says:

    Freecycle it. Somebody will always take it. It might not be the nicest computer in the world anymore, but a family with a couple of school-age kids would get a lot of use out of it for homework and simple games.

  2. Jimmy @ MoneyRemix says:

    Ask the computer nerd at work if he’d interested in taking it off your hands. Worked like a charm for me last week!

    After purchasing a laptop to replace my two-year-old desktop that just wasn’t cutting it anymore, I happened to mention selling it to a buddy of mine at the office. The next day, I had $300 in cash and my old computer had a new home.

    Also, for what it’s worth, Firefox 3 fixed a nasty memory leak that makes a dramatic difference in speed and the ability to open up numerous tabs with minimal lag. Good stuff!

  3. Lazy Man says:

    Freecycle is one of my last options. I’d like to get a little money back as well.

    I’d like to do something like Jimmy did. I work at home, so it wouldn’t exactly work for me. He’s write about Firefox 3 as well. It’s much better than Firefox 2. Now my computer slows down at 30 tabs instead of the 12-14 before.

  4. Andrew says:

    Sell it on eBay. I always get great prices for my machines on eBay – more than I would have expected. Take good pictures, start at $1, and offer reasonable shipping costs.

  5. Mrs. Micah says:

    You named it Sarah Michelle? Sweet. My laptop is Random (Hitchhiker’s Guide).

    Posting about it is a good start. That’s how we got Micah’s computer…I posted about needing one and a regular reader selling one happened to live near me.

    I’d suggest sticking with your local Craigslist and putting the word out with friends and family. Mention to people that you have a computer (maybe some specs that anyone could remember…like age) and are looking for people who might be interested in buying it. If they know someone looking for a basic computer…they should take a look. That’s how we got our furniture (*wonders if anything she has is new*). There may be more young, not-so-rich but smart-enough-not-to-overspend people in your area looking for something just like it. :)

  6. Donate it and take the tax deduction. It will save you time which is also valuable. You’ll feel good about it and there is no need to meet with random strangers from an internet advertisement. (I am biased against the last point because I had a friend who was murdered though a classified ad.)

    You might ask Big Brothers and Sisters if they have a kid that needs a PC. I am sure that they do. Imagine being a kid these days and trying to do your homework all on paper. You can donate it through BB&S and they will give you a receipt. You can even deduct the mileage you drove to donate it.

    By the way. my gmail is not working in Firefox 3, so it is practically useless to me. (64 bit windows may be partially to blame.)

  7. Unfortunately, I should have mentioned that the donation thing will only work if you itemize tax deductions. That is one benefit of owning a home and paying a mortgage.

  8. Lazy Man says:

    We don’t get to the level of itemizing tax deductions since we rent. Although as a sole-proprietor I have more flexibility here, the old computer existed before LMaM, so I’m not it works out that way.

    Firefox 3 is very optimized to work with Gmail. It flies for me. It’s too bad you don’t get to see the gains, it’s dramatic vs. FF2.

  9. Michael says:

    I think what Andrew says ” Sell it on eBay” seems to be a good idea.

  10. Scott says:

    Sarah Michelle? Is your computer named after Buffy?

    We recycle our computers and I take out the hard drives myself, just to be safe.

  11. Lazy Man says:

    Interesting that people pick up on Sarah Michelle, but the other names didn’t draw attention. I thought they’d be unique enough.

  12. Sara says:

    Sarah Michelle Gellar, Liv Tyler, and Scarlett Johannson (sp?).

    Though I had to think about Scarlett. My first reaction was Gone with the Wind.

    Besides, Sarah Michelle is more in-your-face than the other two, since it’s TWO names in one.

    I haven’t named my laptop (or my car, but that’s another story), and now I’m starting to wonder if that’s weird…

  13. Lazy Man says:

    I’m sure it’s weird that I did. Sara you are problem in the norm.

  14. Patrick says:

    I recently bought a Dell Vostro as well, with a 22 inch flat panel. It’s nice and a huge upgrade over the previous laptop we were using.

    I also need to clean up my old laptops so they will run better. I think moving all the old data off is a good start, but I’m not sure I should use the software you used.. I don’t have another copy of XP to install once it’s removed.

  15. Kym says:

    I got all the names! Sarah Michelle (Gellar), Liv (Tyler), Scarlett (Johansson)! Correct me if I’m wrong though.

  16. Lazy Man says:

    Yep Kym, you got them.

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