Guide to Buying a Used Laptop

What do you need? What can you afford? Will it run?

Determining what you need:

Is Windows 95 compatible with the programs you’ll need to run?
If so you’ll need at least a 70mhz processor with at least 100ram. If you need to run the Internet or larger programs you should have at least 80mhz processor with 120ram or higher. The slower your processor, generally the more ram you need. For instance a 90mhz Win 95 computer can run the Internet and another program with 120ram but a 133mhz processor can run the Internet and another program with just 94-100ram.

Do you need windows 2000 or higher?
If yes, you need at least 133mhz processor, 3GB hard drive and at least 100ram. If you must use the Internet you should have at least 180mhz processor as well.

Do you need the Internet?
56k modem is the least that must be included with your laptop (anyone can get dialup for free from net zero). Make sure it is INCLUDED rather than just having a slot for 56k modem. If you want wireless you need a wifi wireless laptop card. If you want networking with home computers you need a pc100/nic card included.

How big should your hard drive be?
For Windows 2000 you’ll need 3GB hard drive or higher, for win 95 1.5 to 2GB HD will suffice.

What drives do you need?
If you don’t have Internet connection or can’t download the programs that you need from the Internet you must have a cdrom or a pc100 card and network with your home computers. A floppy drive isn’t completely necessary but if your computer completely dies you must have a floppy disk drive to create a boot disk, unless you can create one on your home computer.

Other Considerations:

-It’s best to buy a laptop with the Windows version you want already installed. If your laptop does not have Windows 95, or 2000 Pro already installed you will have to buy the windows program of your choice or barrow copies from a friend. Windows Software is expensive and the laptop MUST have a cdrom to install them.

-Older laptops parts are not interchangeable and are hard to put in, so anything that doesn’t come with them will have to be bought for your specific model.

-Often laptops will list ’56k slot’, ‘ram capability’ and ‘wifi slot’. This means that you can put these things in the laptop-at your own expense. It doesn’t mean they come with a 56k modem, wifi, etc.

-Windows 95 must be on the computer when they are very slow (60-133mhz), they cannot run win 98, 2000 or XP. They will also need to have at least 90mb ram.

-Win 98 is full of flaws plus takes a faster laptop to run than Win2000 Pro, so if you want a later version than 95 never use 98, instead use Win 2000 Professional. Win 2000 Pro is NOT the same as Windows Me, Windows XP or Windows 2000 Home Edition. These programs are expensive so if you need a later version of Windows, try to get a laptop that has it pre-installed or borrow from a friend.

-Batteries are very specific to the model so you must have a computer picked out before you consider buying a battery; you will almost always have to buy a battery as they usually don’t work or work for very short periods of time when they come with a used laptops. Count on buying one, you’ll need it eventually even if not when you first purchase.

-If you have a question don’t be afraid to ask, get all your questions answered before you buy.

Where to buy:

Buying online?
Do not shop e-bay, the descriptions are often inaccurate, the bids are more than you would pay at a used laptop shop online, there are closing costs, shipping rates can be unpredictable, you’ll usually still have to buy a battery and it takes a lot of time to get one unless you overbid. E-Bay is a rip-off for laptops. Shop at online shops catering to used laptops sales ONLY.

Buying offline?
If you are a little more adventurous and want to save on shipping costs you can post the approximate speed, Windows version, price and features you are looking for in the electronics section of www.craigslist.com in your area. Not all areas are listed on Craigslist.com so you’ll have to specify how far you’re willing to travel and post in the closest city to you.

When someone responds you’ll exchange emails and once you have a model and a price you’re ok with, visit the persons home or meet at another place to look at the laptop. The laptop must be able to plug into something or have a battery that works for a while so you can view the screen when it’s on to see that it runs properly and has Windows 95 or Pro 2000 on it, etc.

You could also shop around your area at used computer stores and pawn shops-in some areas the prices are cheaper but usually they are cheaper online or through Craigslist.

Buying a battery:

When you shop for a battery you’ll need to know the exact model name and search the Internet using that name in quotes followed by the word battery. Find the lowest price for a new battery by surfing the sites. Generics are the best way to go when buying new unless you’ve got a little more cash and want a really long lasting battery. A good site I came across was notebook-laptop-batteries.com.

Drivers:

Ask if a drivers disk will come with your computer, if not you can check for drivers at www.windowsupdate.com.

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