Due diligence before buying a used laptop...
April 16, 2010 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Buying a used laptop. What can I do to ensure I'm not buying a ticking timebomb?

Kind of last minute, but this afternoon I'm driving over an hour to grab a lightly used laptop for an insane price, but I want to make sure I don't get suckered. I'd like to run some hardware diagnostics to check the S.M.A.R.T. status of the HDD and stuff like that. I don't want to install anything on their computer so I'm limited to portable apps I can throw on a USB drive.

I'm looking for any suggestions on what portable apps are out there, what tests I should run, and what results to look for. Any other advice on what to be looking for is appreciated as well.

posted by jluce50 to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One of the various flavors of Linux live CDs ought to have enough tests you can run such as the standard memtest, disk check, etc. However, you might want to consider how long some of these tests take, and how long the seller is willing to let you sit and play with it prior to handing over the cash. A full disk check can take a long, long time. A new hard drive is pretty cheap (you can pick up 500+ gb drives for laptops for under $100, for example).
posted by caution live frogs at 10:29 AM on April 16, 2010

Hmm, good point. I found something called CrystalDisk that should allow me to run some basic tests pretty quickly. I suppose for the price I'm paying, a new hard drive is still well within reason.
posted by jluce50 at 10:55 AM on April 16, 2010

Learn From My Fail: Toshiba drives suck...Seagate makes much more durable drives...if the price is so insane, just factor in the cost of replacing the drive...figure $75-100 for the drive and $75-100 to replace it...or do it yourself if you're ballsy ;)
posted by sexyrobot at 11:15 AM on April 16, 2010

exactly, (by which i mean: i need to use preview;) ...according to this article...SMART may not be such a reliable indicator of drive health
posted by sexyrobot at 11:18 AM on April 16, 2010

Wow, that's interesting. Perhaps I should just make sure the screen is in good shape and the keys all work. The HDD is one of the easier things to replace anyway...
posted by jluce50 at 11:25 AM on April 16, 2010

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