There’s an adage in the car market that says you lose thousands of dollars in value of a new car as soon as you drive it out of the dealership.

However, that’s nothing compared to the computer market.

Whatever you’ve just paid for your shiny brand-new super-fast do-everything computer will be twice what it’s worth this time next year.

A quick look on eBay will show you hundreds and hundreds of computer owners all trying their luck to move an old boat-anchor.

Top Five Tips for selling your old computer

1. Don’t leave it too long

The older your computer is, the harder it will be to sell it because it’ll be too small or slow to run the latest software. The only time a computer will appreciate in value is if it’s a collectors item. And your local corner-store built generic Windows computer isn’t ever likely to fall into that category.

2. Be realistic

If you actually want to sell your computer, be realistic in what price you ask for it. Just because you paid $4000 for it two years ago doesn’t mean you’ll get anything like that now. The most important thing is to know what’s inside your computer – its processor, graphics card, hard drive and other extras. Then, compare those to brand-new models and price accordingly.

The real problem here is that you’re facing the twin demons of time and value. Newer computers are not only faster but generally cheaper than last year’s model – that makes it very difficult to sell a second-hand computer. So if you want to move it, be prepared to get less than you expect. You don’t have to give it away (provided it’s not too old) but you have to ask yourself why would someone buy your computer if they can buy a new one cheaper.

For example, with the average selling price of new netbooks now around $400 in Australia, you’ll be pushing it uphill to expect someone to buy your two-year old netbook for that price, even if you originally paid $600 for it brand-new.

3. Keep all original installation discs

If you bought it or built it, you’ll have received installation discs – either the operating system or the driver discs. Make sure you have these on hand. The same goes for any software you decide to sell with the computer. If you’re selling the computer with software, it must come with the original installation discs, otherwise the buyer is stuck if the hard drive fails.

4. Install a new hard drive

Unless you are absolutely certain that you have no personal data left on the hard drive, it’s much easier and simpler for everyone if you have a new hard drive installed and reinstall the software you’re selling with it. If you’re demonstrating it to people, a newer hard drive will likely be more reliable but also run faster.

The main reason for installing a new hard drive however is the protection of your personal data. You don’t want credit card details or account passwords being sold into the bargain.

5. Keep it good condition

Just like a car, you need to keep your computer in reasonable condition. That means keeping it clean, clear of dust and in good working order. Ensure all features are working. For notebooks, ensure the power brick is in good working order and not ready to fall apart.

Bottom line, you need to be realistic – anyone considering buying your second-hand computer is going to know the price of a brand-new model so to move yours, you’ll need to be aware of what your computer can do and how it compares with what’s available now.

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