Having previously talked about the IT parts lifecycle and how refurbished IT hardware gets into
production environments (if you haven’t read that post, take a look at it here), it bears mentioning that
not all companies define “refurbished” the same way. Today, we are going to take a look at some of the
specifics on what constitutes refurbished IT hardware, as it pertains to both direct consumers as well as
Third Party Maintenance (TPM) vendors.
Typically, when you hear the term “refurbished” coming from the IT hardware industry, you think of
equipment that has previously been used in another user environment and then being decommissioned
for whatever reason. And on that single point, there is truly no differentiation between different
companies that sell or use refurbished hardware. The differences start to make themselves known
when you look more in detail at what a company does with this hardware after its decommission but
PRIOR to it being reused or resold.
For some companies, refurbished just means they take the hardware and ensure it doesn’t have any
major damage or cleanliness issues, sometimes power it on, and then it’s for resale or reuse. Other
companies will take it a step further and at least run some type of low level diagnostic on the
equipment, for example they will load a tape into a tape drive and ensure it comes ready and then ejects
the tape properly. Still other companies will actually use software to run some more midlevel
diagnostics on the hardware, such as free OEM tools that are made available for just that purpose. This
would be the type of diagnostic you would see an OEM run that would call a product “certified
However, none of the above truly encompasses what refurbished actually means. Here are the
qualifications for what we define truly refurbished hardware to be:
- Free from any major physical damage (light wear and tear is acceptable given this is still
used equipment – minor scratches, etc may be present)
- Taken apart down to a component level (if applicable – we don’t disassemble hard drives or
any other closed circuit equipment) and cleaning thoroughly
- Any worn out components (bearings, motors, gears, etc) are replaced
- Equipment is reassembled and tested to the fullest extent possible (full write/read passes
on hard drives and tape drives – as well as simulated production testing in native
environment for any hardware component)
- Any hardware that carries a configuration or meta data should be wiped clean electronically
and set back to factory defaults.
All of the above is required in order to have good quality refurbished IT hardware that can be expected
to work comparably to factory new equipment. This is the goal of the IT hardware industry – repair and
maintenance of IT hardware in a comparable fashion to OEM but at a fraction of the cost.
Now, as stated earlier, not all companies follow the above standards for refurbishment. So, how do you
go about minimizing your exposure and ensure you receive the best quality parts every time?
- Ask questions. Find out what the company defines as “refurbished” and what their testing
practices actually are for their hardware.
- Ask for test results for any hardware you are purchasing, ensuring serial numbers are clearly
shown on both the hardware and the test results.
- Confirm what the warranty period of the hardware will be. The longer the warranty, the
more the confidence you will have that the company stands behind what they are selling
- Weigh your options – we understand price and value are a concern for everyone. But is
getting a part for 20% cheaper really worth the risk if it only carries a short warranty and is
going into a production environment?
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when buying refurbished IT hardware (or choosing a vendor
partner), whether it is for direct consumption or if it is being used to service your maintenance
customers. I hope this article has given you a little more insight into how the refurbished IT hardware
industry works and also helps you avoid some of its pitfalls so you can have the best experience
possible. Be on the lookout for the next article on our new refurbished IT hardware e-commerce
platform and how it can make that parts buying experience even better!