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How to Pack and Move a Computer

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Computers are an essential part of everyday life in today's tech-savvy world. Laptops are portable and usually fit in neat cases, but what if you have to move your desktop computer? They are complicated, heavy, expensive, and fragile; all bad things for packing and moving. If you want to move your desktop safely to a new home, you need to know what you're doing.

Preparing your computer for a move

  • Save all your important data in a backup drive. Backing up your data allows you to access it from a new computer in case the hard drive gets damaged during the move. Use disks, thumb drives, external hard drives, or a cloud service to save your most irreplaceable files.
  • Remove all discs from drives. CDs and DVDs can get scratched easily and they aren't necessarily safe in a moving computer's drive. Take them all out and make sure they are in labelled protective cases. This will also help you organize yourself after the move.
  • Unplug everything. Unplug the computer's main power source to avoid getting shocked. After that, unplug everything else. If you are worried about forgetting where everything goes, you could use colour-coded masking tape to match cords to the ports where they belong. You could also take pictures of the wires going into the correct parts of the computer for future reference.
  • Dust/clean the computer. Dust can build up on your desktop computer and moving is a good opportunity to thoroughly clean it. Nobody wants to haul a big dusty thing in and out of boxes, anyway. Make sure you use electronic-safe cleaning supplies. Compressed air is best for delicate, hard to reach places.
  • Get additional insurance. Desktops are worth more than 60 cents per pound of weight, but that is all you'll get if you only opt for the free mover's insurance. Ask your moving company about more comprehensive insurance plans for your computer to be fairly reimbursed if it gets damaged.

Packing your computer

  • Pack all wires separately. Label them, wrap them up, and keep them together with twist-ties. This includes your mouse and keyboard if they have wires.
  • Use the original box and packaging if available. Like many other electronic items, the original packaging is usually the best way to move a desktop computer. If you still have it, use it.
  • Use static-free packing material. Regular packing peanuts or Styrofoam can generate static electricity which may damage electronics.
  • If the original packaging is unavailable, consider asking a moving company for a custom built box. The box needs to be soft, but firm, and not much larger than the computer. 
  • Monitors should be packed separately. Monitors are even more fragile than the rest of your computer. Consider purchasing a custom wooden packing crate for them. They should be packed very similarly to mirrors. If you have a wider old monitor, consider replacing it.
  • Cushion the computer with bubble-wrap, packing paper, and packing peanuts. Fill in the space in the box to limit movement. Seal the box with packing tape.
  • Seal the box completely with plastic wrap after it's closed. This should keep electronic-damaging moisture out of the box.
  • Label the box "fragile." You or the movers will know to be careful when handling your computer if it is labelled correctly.

Moving/Loading your computer

  • Make sure that you can carry the full weight of the desktop. You may need two people to carry the main box.
  • Secure the box in the moving truck using straps or smart placement between immobile items.
  • Don't stack any heavy items on top of your computer.
  • Load the computer onto the truck after the heaviest furniture but before the lighter items.
  • If you are moving your computer in your car yourself, make sure it's concealed if you plan to leave it unattended for any length of time. A thief can break into a car for a radio or a GPS, so a full desktop computer will be very enticing.
If you remember that your computer is heavy, valuable, and a delicate piece of electronic equipment, you should be able to move it without incident. You'll be up and running in your new home in no time.

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on October 6, 2014 - Moving Expert
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