When it comes to buying a second hand PC or laptop, it’s always a good idea to know and understand the specifications of the machine you’re buying before you buy it:
“It looks like a nice laptop
You might want a spare computer or laptop – even for just a single gig or tour – yet you don’t want to go to the expense of buying new or the massive expense and waste of hard-earned money involved in buying a Mac. Maybe you turned up for a gig or tour and found that your laptop or PC hadn’t been packed. Perhaps your laptop was stolen? – All of the above could make you decide to buy a second hand laptop or PC.
This article has a lot of caveats, and it may well need to cover a lot of different circumstances. I’ll do my best at writing it; but you might find that I return often to make alterations and updates.
The changing wonderful world of Windows
The main thing is that the world of Windows has changed since Windows 10 was released: Prior to Windows 10 you could buy a new computer around the time of a release of a new version of Windows. You knew that the computer would last probably at least until the next Windows version release, and that the hardware would be able to cope with the demands put upon it by the version of the operating system that was preinstalled when you bought it, even in the face of Service Packs.
You also knew that when you bought second hand you’d be buying a machine that was possibly built to run the previous version of Windows but had been updated to run the latest version and had been upgraded to the latest version; or that it still ran the previous version and was therefore a cheaper deal.Usually there were no big problems with the hardware concerned with running the operating system.
Windows 10 version
Windows 10 has changed that: Since the release of the original Windows 10; Microsoft have brought out several new updated versions of Windows 10.
To date those versions are: –
If a new version of Windows 10 is released at a given time, and the computer you’re running has Windows 10 already installed; the operating system will run tests prior to upgrading to the latest version of Windows 10. If the Machine’s hardware is sufficient to run the new version without problems; you’ll be offered the upgrade. If the tests show that your current hardware isn’t up to the job then you’ll not be offered the upgrade, and your machine will stay on the highest version of Windows 10 that it’s able to run.
When and if you sell the machine, you’ll sell it as a machine having Windows 10 installed as an operating system. – And that’s no word of a lie. – The thing is that every operating system and every version of every operating system released by Microsoft has a working life: At first service and security updates are produced for it, and support is available from Microsoft. After a few years, Microsoft withdraw the support and the service updates, and concentrate on security updates only. By this time they’ve usually brought out at least one update to the Windows operating system.
The thing is that each version of Windows 10 has a service-life too; and as that service-life runs out, Microsoft make new versions of Windows 10 with their own service lives. The PC or laptop that you’ve just bought second hand has a version of Windows 10 installed, but maybe not the latest version of Windows 10. In fact it may be a rather old version of Windows 10… Because the hardware is unable to cope with anything newer. Every new version of Windows 10 has tougher hardware requirements, and old hardware will always get to a point where it says ‘no’.
What happens when the point your hardware says ‘no’ is reached?
I have a laptop powered by an Intel Pentium 64-bit dual core processor. Yes it is rather old, but it still runs Windows 10 nevertheless. The thing is that it’s stuck on an older version. My other computers were offered an upgrade, but this one wasn’t.
I thought I’d be clever and force the issue: I downloaded the Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant and tried to install the latest update.
The machine slowly attempted to install the files; but clearly wasn’t happy – a fact that could be judged by its speed as well as the occasional flickering of the screen. Finally it stopped and printed the message
“Reverting to the previous version of Windows.”
on the screen.
It slowly rolled back the update and worked as before.
Added 11th August 2017: With Regard To The Old Laptop: –
In the previous few days I was alerted by a note on the old laptop’s (Running Intel Pentium 64) screen, that Microsoft wanted to update it. Well as I mentioned above; Id already tried to update it without success. – However Microsoft loaded the update and everything was ready to go… So I thought: ‘OK then; let them try…’.
To cut a long story short it updated without any problems. This has left me baffled: Why would it not update for me but – although it took a few hours – it did it for Microsoft?
In fact I don’t understand how an Intel Pentium 64 is even able to run the Creators Update – version 1703 – when an AMD Athlon 64 crashes on version 1607. Admittedly the Athlon 64 has been around ages; but so have Pentiums: I used to have a machine with an original 32-bit Pentium single-core with hyperthreading running at something like 4GHz, back around 2003: ‘Basically the same or similar architecture as a Pentium 64, but with a single core and not 64-bit capable. It whizzed along running XP Pro 32-bit; but these days that is virtually no achievement at all.
It looks like I’ll be scratching my head about that for quite some time…
– – – – –
When you buy a PC or laptop second hand, you’re going to want to know which version of Windows 10 it’s running.
At time of writing: July 21st 2017; most laptops and PCs bought new since 2014 are probably running the latest version of Windows 10. Anything before that may be running Windows 10; but possibly not the latest version.
I myself have a Samsung laptop powered by an Intel Core i3 dual-cored hyperthreaded CPU and 6GB DDR3 RAM which was built well before 2014, but which runs the latest version of Windows 10 64-bit.
You need to know your processors: An Intel Pentium and an AMD Athlon 64 – ‘both good processors in their day – will run Windows 10 – but not the latest version. In fact the AMD Athlon 64 that runs with DDR2 RAM doesn’t much care for Windows 10 at all. – I’ve known one to crash totally under an older version of Windows 10 and refuse to work at all with 10. Reverting to Windows 7 again had it working as happy as Larry (Shut that door!).
I can’t draw you up a list of every processor that will run X version of Windows 10. – But the rule is usually that the older the processor’s design the less able it’ll be. Try to stay within the last 4 years of processor-design when buying second hand.
Another thing… I have to write this with caution for your sake as it involves maybe dabbling with the Windows Registry; though I do suggest that you leave well alone. – Is that, if the computer you’re buying has been upgraded from an older operating system in the past; Windows 7 perhaps, or 8.1, to Windows 10, then when it used the automatic upgrade process created by Microsoft and it upgraded automatically – it most likely didn’t fully erase the old operating system’s registry keys.
‘See the Windows Registry is where everything that appears on the hard drive as data is catalogued by Windows. What you’re reading now has entries in the Windows Registry: The registry tells Windows what characters are typed and what their location is on the hard drive – and also what their location is in memory if the processor wrote them to RAM. If an item’s entry in the Registry is deleted or becomes corrupt; Windows treats that item of data as if it didn’t exist, and writes other data over it; erasing it.
When you delete something from the Recycle Bin, for example – the computer deletes its entry in the registry, and Windows ignores the item you’ve deleted as if it wasn’t there, and eventually it gets erased by being written over.
When Windows automatically upgraded itself from an older Windows operating system, It removed the values from the keys pertaining to the parts of the old operating system which were no longer wanted. – That had the same effect as deleting the keys – but it left a lot of blank, unused, registry keys behind. The keys are useless and, since they have no values and don’t point at anything, they’re not disrupting anything either.
The problem with them is they’re taking up space and they’re slowing the processor down. You may not notice anything unusual; but the computer would be more snappy if they weren’t there.
I’m not going to get into writing detailed instructions for using a registry cleaner, nor am I going to suggest that you use one, as it’s not really important that you do – even if the computer you’ve just bought has indeed had its operating system upgraded from Windows whatever to Windows 10. Just be aware that your machine could work faster. – Maybe not even noticeably faster – but it could be faster nevertheless. I’ve cleaned out hundreds, thousands even, of blank registry entries on machines that used to run older Windows operating systems, and obtained performance improvements from barely noticeable in many cases, to fairly striking in one case.
The thing is that it’s a lot of work for a very small advantage in most cases: Your hard drive will have a few extra megabytes of space on it and your processor will complete operations a few milliseconds faster. I cleaned out the blank registry entries because I’m a computer geek and we do things like that because we can – even if the benefits are miniscule in most cases.
I thought I’d mention this anyway; just so that you know. – But as I said before; it’s not really important by any means.
Be Careful When Choosing a Registry Cleaner
Many registry cleaner programs are simply malware, as I discovered to my cost when, after using a registry cleaner, the PC I was using, + the network it was on, crashed.
Try to avoid anything with DDR2 RAM – it’s getting on in age. If its DDR RAM then don’t even consider buying it. If the machine uses PC100 RAM then it’s a 20th Century machine and the seller is a con-artist.
You should look for a machine that you buy to have DDR3 or DDR4 RAM: DDR3 means that it was probably built after 2010. DDR4 means that it’s a fairly new machine at time of writing, and that you should probably buy it.
When buying you’ll need to consider how much RAM is installed: –
If the operating system is 64-bit but only 3 GB RAM is installed; it’ll run, but not that well. I suggest adding more RAM if possible.
Just be careful: That’s the best advice I can give you. – Not everything is always as it seems; particularly when dealing with the second hand hardware market.
- 'Simply one more edifying post. - Enjoy.