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While your hard drive is important, it’s also expensive. That’s why so many people who build PCs look into used hard drives. While it’s okay to buy a used or refurbished hard drive in most cases, you need to make you understand what these terms refer to and how to test the one you plan to buy.

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Refurbished vs. Used Hard Drives

There’s a lot of talk online about the dangers of used hard drives, but they are usually safe to use in most PCs. One thing to remember is that a refurbished hard drive and a used hard drive are different. A used hard drive is one that someone used before you. You might have one you pull out of an old computer or one you pick up from a PC store.

A refurbished hard drive comes with some guarantee. The person or company that sells it will wipe all of the files and memory off the hard drive and guarantee that it will work when it gets to you. The right hard drive will last for up to 20,000 hours of use.

Pros of Used and Refurbished Hard Drives

A common reason to buy a refurbished or used hard drive is that it helps you save money. Many PC stores sell older hard drives for $50 or less, which is much less than you would pay for a new one. While a new model should come with a warranty from the manufacturer, used models will come with a warranty from the person or store that sells it.

An individual seller might give you a warranty of 30 days or less. When you buy from a reputable source or online shop, you usually get a warranty that lasts for a year or longer with the option to add extended coverage.

Keep in mind that a refurbished hard drive is not too different from a new one. The manufacturer or brand will test it and ensure it works before they sell it. In many cases, you don’t need to even test the drive yourself.

Cons of Refurbished and Used Hard Drives

Some PC owners swear that they will never buy used. They claim that new hard drives are much better. One major con of buying used is that you may not know what the last person did with the hard drive. You may have a hard time finding out who refurbished it and would they did, too.

While hard drives fail, the odds of a used one failing are higher because it already has a certain amount of hours.

Always find out what the refurbishment process looks like and what it includes. You need to ensure that the hard drive will have nothing on it and that it will work for a set amount of time.

When you buy used, there is always a chance of a major failure down the line. Whether you have a PC with a hard drive or bought a separate hard drive, you generally know what you did with it or to it. You cannot know what a used hard drive went through before you bought it. If the hard drive fails, it can wipe out all of your valuable data.

New Pull Hard Drives

In addition to refurbished and used hard drives, you’ll also find some called new pull hard drives. These are drives that the seller pulled out of newer machines. They often come out of PCs that shops use as display models to let shoppers see how they work.

Schools and organizations may also sell hard drives that they bought and used for a year or less. While you get the benefit of buying a hard drive that costs less than a new one, you don’t need to worry about any potential problems with buying a used hard drive.

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Can You Put a Used Hard Drive in a New Computer?

One of the worst things about buying a new computer is that you need to find a way to transfer your files to the new system. An easy way to do this is with an external hard drive. Most come with a USB plug that works with the port on your PC.

Once you transfer copies of the files to the external, you can plug it into your new PC and move the files over. You can also move your old hard drive to your new PC.

How to Use the Old Drive

If you want to use your old hard drive in a new computer, it’s helpful to back up your files in the cloud or on an external hard drive just in case anything bad happens. Make sure you shut down the PC and use the right tools to open the case and remove the hard drive.

You’ll need to use the same tools to open the case on your new PC and install your old hard drive. If your new computer comes with a hard drive, you must remove it.

Don’t assume it’s ready to go once the hard drive is in place. You need to download the PC’s drivers and ensure they work right. Some computer enthusiasts recommend that you move files from the hard drive and then wipe it before you install them in a new system.

The odds are good that your new system will look quite different from your old one, even if you use the same OS and hard drive.

Possible Problems With Using an Old Hard Drive

One possible problem you might have when you use your old hard drive is that you cannot transfer software. You cannot expect the new system to work with your old OS or for it to run any of the software you saved on the drive. Some of the other problems you might have include:

Lack of Space: Never assume that an old hard drive will fit in a new case. The chances are good that your old drive is bigger than your new one. If the case is too small, you may not have enough room for the drive.

Wiped Files: You might think that you don’t need to back up your files before you move your hard drive, but this can help you avoid big problems in the future. No matter your experience, you risk losing some of your files during the transfer.

Lost Bookmarks and Toolbars: Many people customize their old systems to make them work, including saving bookmarks and toolbars. When you install an old hard drive though, you’ll likely lose some of them.

No More Pinned Apps: The pinned apps on your PC are the ones that you pick to pin to the bottom of your desktop. After you install your old hard drive, you’ll likely find that these apps are no longer there and that you need to pin them again.

Lost Settings: You may also lose some of the settings you saved. After you update your drivers, you will need to go back in and adjust your settings.

How Do I Test a Used Hard Drive?

Do you find that you can’t miss out on a big deal? When you stumble upon a great bargain for a bunch of hard drives, you might buy them without thinking twice. Once they arrive though, don’t be surprised if you don’t want to plug them in without testing them first.

Even if you only buy a single hard drive to install on your PC, you should always test it before you use it. There are a couple of smart ways to test used and refurbished hard drives.

Start with one of the free testing apps such as Seagate SeaTools or CrystalDiskInfo. You need to download the app and then hook up the hard drive to a PC to test it. These apps let you locate any bad or dark sectors and also get an idea of how often the last owners used the hard drives.

Many online sellers use a SMART tool to get some info about used hard drives that they pass on to potential buyers. If you buy from an individual seller, ask them to use this tool and send you a copy of the info they receive.


Saving money when building a PC is easier than you might think because you can buy cheaper parts such as hard drives. While used hard drives are available from many sellers, refurbished hard drives come directly from manufacturers that test them first. You should not have any problems buying a used or refurbished hard drive as long as you can test it or learn more about it before you buy.