For the budget minded shopper, a refurbished computer may be a way to get as much as 50% off retail. As with any deal, you need to read the fine print.

A refurbished computer could be a product returned to the manufacturer, or possibly one that is “off-lease”. The difference is that off-lease computers have been used for 2 or 3 years. A returned computer would be less than 30 days old when returned but cannot be sold as “new”.

Make sure to look at who did the refurbishing. “Factory Refurbished” or “Factory-Authorized Refurbished” indicate who did the refurbishing. Typically, a Factory Refurbished computer will be a returned device. Normally Factory-Authorized would be an off-lease computer. As you might expect, off-lease are considerably marked down when compared to Factory returns.

All Factory Refurbs will have a warrantee. Some Factory Authorized refurbs will as well. Pay attention to the fine print. A warrantee in which you have to pay for shipping can be expensive and take a long time. Plus, you are shipping your information on the hard drive, so there may be privacy and security concerns.

I prefer to buy refurbs from well known sources.  Most manufacturers sell their factory refurbished products on their website, but it can be difficult finding these offerings on some sites. You could try a Google search like “Device” Factory Outlet, replacing “Device” with the manufacturer name or product model of choice. It’s also easy to find refurbs on Amazon, Best Buy, and other Factory Authorized Sellers of the device that you are considering.

Check to see if the refurbished device is still being sold as a new device. This gives you a good way to see how much the refurb discount is, and if there are warrantee differences between them.

We all like to save a few bucks. In many cases buying a refurbished computer can be a good deal. A little research can ensure that you are getting a “like new” device that will serve you for many years to come.