Your company relies on the stability, security and performance of the IT equipment that helps power it. From networking equipment to servers, storage, and more, how do you ensure you’re getting quality hardware at great prices? Here’s how: 

Difference Between Used and Refurbished IT Equipment 

When you think of refurbished IT equipment, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Cost savings? Tried and true, reliable equipment? Or perhaps the word “used” creeps into the mix. You’re not alone. Many people confuse the two or use the terms interchangeably. But in fact, they are two very different things

Used IT equipment is equipment that was initially a new purchase by a company, where they used it for a period of time and then sold to another company, as is. Refurbished IT equipment, however, is equipment that a company purchased new, used it and then sold it to someone else, like Summit, who thoroughly inspected, repaired, painted, tested, upgraded it, reset factory default settings, and then sold it back out to another company, with an included warranty. 

How Does Refurbished IT Equipment Compare to New?

Especially if you’ve always purchased new, you might be wondering how refurbished stacks up against new. Most often people want to know how it compares in terms of performance, price and how much use or life one can expect to get out of the equipment.


When it comes to the difference in price between new IT equipment and refurbished IT equipment, there really isn’t much of a comparison. In fact, price is one of the driving factors that cause people to switch from buying brand new to buying refurbished. The price of refurbished IT equipment is much lower than new. The variance can be huge in some cases, especially depending on where you are in the lifecycle of a particular product. If it’s a relatively new item that’s only been on the market for a year or two, the difference isn’t quite as large, maybe around 25% less than new. Whereas if a piece of equipment has been out for 3-5 years + you can expect to see savings anywhere between 50-75% and possibly even more. 


There aren’t or shouldn’t be any performance differences between new and refurbished equipment. Functionality-wise they will be exactly the same. So whatever you’re looking to do with new IT equipment you’ll be able to do with refurbished IT equipment. 

If you’re looking at the differences, it’s important to consider the hardware in the bigger picture of your network. New equipment with new software might bring varying computing boosts, but consider how much computing power you actually need for your workloads when determining if you need new or refurbished equipment. 


refurbished IT Guide CTA

Life Expectancy 

Price and performance are one thing, but you might be wondering just how much use you’ll be able to get out of refurbished IT equipment that you buy. You want to get your money’s worth out of it, after all, so that’s a valid question. As we’ve said, these products are created to last. So while there will be some “life” hours consumed off the equipment, you can still expect to get years of use out of your refurbished equipment. Many items have an MTBF of upwards of 15-20 years.

If you’re at all concerned about the “life expectancy” of your refurbished equipment though, it’s important to look at who you’re purchasing from. What type of warranty do they have? For reference, Summit’s warranty will cover your equipment no matter what and no matter how many hours of use are on it or how long you’ve had it. We will send a replacement.

Refurbished IT Equipment

Benefits of Buying Refurbished IT Equipment 

While saving money is a major benefit of buying refurbished, there are plenty of other factors to consider that might make it a strong choice for you and your company. 

Receive Reliable, Quality, Tested Products 

As we mentioned above, something that can hold people back from buying refurbished networking equipment is the fear it’s somehow less quality because it’s been used. But as you know, refurbished equipment and used equipment are not one in the same. As part of a proper refurbishing process, equipment is thoroughly inspected for cosmetic issues (dents, scratches, etc.) and fixed. The units are typically repainted, checked for missing parts or components, operating systems reset, and extensive testing is done to ensure proper function, high-performance and reliability. 

You get peace of mind and confidence in the products you’re purchasing, knowing that they’ve been thoroughly inspected, tested, reset, and are ready for you to ensure the best possible performance for your network. 

Summit Guarantee

Get Better Warranties 

New IT equipment typically comes with a standard 90-day or limited lifetime warranty, which is exactly like it sounds, li

mited. It can also be challenging to actually take advantage of the warranty. Oftentimes the limited warranties require hoops to jump through, like inspections before you can actually get your equipment replaced. 

Refurbished IT equipment, depending on where you’re purchasing from, usually comes with an even better warranty than when you purchase new. For example, Summit offers an advanced lifetime warranty. So, even if you come to us 10+ years after purchase, the equipment is covered under warranty. No hoops to jump through. 

Shorter Lead Times 

When purchasing IT equipment or when you need parts, it’s not usually something you want to have to wait weeks to get what you need. The thing about new products and parts is that because they’re new, there isn’t usually a surplus of them out on the market. So the lead times can be upwards of several weeks or longer. There just simply aren’t enough of them to get immediately. With refurbished IT equipment though, they’ve likely been on the market for a while, so that means there are more units available. What does that mean for you? It means you won’t have to wait nearly as long to get the equipment. Typically parts and products can be sourced and shipped the same day and if they’re in-stock they can usually be delivered overnight. Again, less waiting to get the equipment you need, when you need it. 

Reduce Environmental Footprint 

Buying refurbished IT equipment also has a positive impact on the environment. From the raw materials that are needed to manufacture them, to the power used to run them and the problems of disposing them at the end of their life, computers and computing deplete a lot of natural resources. But when you buy refurbished equipment you’re extending the life of it. So you’re keeping functional products out of landfills longer. So not only do you get the equipment you need but you also do your part to minimize your company’s environmental footprint. 

Related Reading: Tech Industry Environmental Impact


purchasing refurbished IT equipment


Receive Ongoing Guidance 

When buying refurbished IT equipment it’s important to work with someone that will provide quality customer service and guidance. This can be especially helpful if you’re new to buying equipment, new or used. 

A reseller can answer questions you might have before and after purchase and help guide you in making the right equipment choices for your organization. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re working with someone who is trained and knowledgeable about the types of equipment you’re seeking. Otherwise, you might end up with the wrong equipment for your needs. 

Buyer's Guide CTA 

Are There Disadvantages to Buying Refurbished IT Equipment?

The only disadvantages that you may encounter when buying refurbished IT equipment typically have more to do with the person or vendor you’re purchasing it from. When you work with someone who is reputable, they will have processes in place to properly refurbish the equipment you’re purchasing. Typically, the idea of “disadvantages” is 10% potential valid issues and 90% misconceptions. 

Again, the true concerns or issues are less about the actual equipment and more about who you’re getting the equipment from. Before you make any purchases, get an understanding of what their process is when they refurbish, find out how long they’ve been in business, speak with other customers, do some research on their warranty and know what to look for when you do make the purchase. Read more below about what to look for in a vendor. 

What Prevents People from Buying Refurbished IT Equipment?

If there aren’t really disadvantages to buying refurbished IT equipment and if it’s relatively comparable to new equipment, you might be wondering why more people don’t take advantage of such a great option. Here are a few of the reasons that people hesitate to explore such a reliable, cost-saving option. 

Unknown Condition 

One of the common misconceptions about buying refurbished IT equipment is that people think they are going to get equipment that’s in poor condition. They worry it will be banged up, scratched, something won’t be fully functional or there will be missing pieces and parts. While these are all valid concerns, again, it goes back to where and from who you’re buying the equipment from. Make sure you’re buying from a trusted source that has a process in place to properly refurbish the equipment. Also, ask what sort of return policy they have, in the event that there is an issue upon receiving the equipment. 

New to Refurbished 

If you’ve never purchased or explored refurbished IT equipment, you don’t have the firsthand experience of working with it to know that it’s a quality option. Keep in mind, when buying refurbished, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing. You can have a mix of new and refurbished products across your network. Perhaps there are some areas you want brand new and other areas that you want to be more strategic with your budget, in which case we’d likely recommend refurbished. You can read all about the benefits and the “whys” but at the end of the day, you won’t know until you try it. 

Software Updates and Support 

Perhaps the concern is around what software and support are going to be available on the equipment. Is it an earlier release? A later release? Can it be upgraded? All of these questions and more can be answered in more detail before purchase. 


Summit Global Care

Also, when you buy refurbished equipment, while you may choose to have support from the manufacturer, third-party maintenance (TPMs) support is available and oftentimes can be better than support for mainstream, new products and is always less expensive. Perhaps you would prefer to have spares on site offering an immediate replacement of a down piece of equipment? Depending on where you get the equipment from, they might even have different support options that you can take advantage of upon purchasing. 

How to Find the Right Equipment Vendor 

Once you make the decision to purchase refurbished IT equipment, it’s important to find the right vendor or place to purchase it from. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the right equipment and vendor: 


This is an important factor when choosing the right equipment and vendor. Since one of the concerns with buying refurbished equipment is the quality and how much life is left in it, having a warranty you can count on is crucial to feeling like you made the right purchase. For reference, new equipment typically comes with a 90-day or limited lifetime warranty, which is often exactly that, limited and sometimes challenging to actually use. 

The same can be true when it comes to aftermarket warranties for refurbished equipment. It can involve calling, removing the device from production, boxing it up, sending it in, having it inspected and hopefully they’ll replace or repair it. But while all this is happening, you’re without the equipment and it’s out of production. Ideally what you’d want to find is a true lifetime warranty. A warranty that will cover the equipment for the length that you own it and one that easily allows you to get items repaired or replaced without having to take the equipment out of production, like what Summit has to offer. 

Equipment and Price Comparisons

When looking for the right IT equipment, make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples. Especially when it comes to refurbished products, you might find something online or from a vendor that’s a much different price than quotes you’re getting from other vendors. There could be a few reasons for that. One could be that the bargain you’re seeing isn’t actually what you’re looking for or you might be comparing two different things. The product online could be model XYZ and what you need is model ABC. Since there can be a lot of variation in part numbers, make sure your vendor is knowledgeable and can help guide you into purchasing the right equipment. 

Find out how much you can save with Summit. Request a quote.

Customer Service

When you have a question, need additional equipment, have to take advantage of the warranty or need a quote, is someone available right away? It should be easy to get a hold of someone and get the answers you need. You also want to ensure you can get the equipment you need in a timely manner. Mentioned above, one of the benefits of buying refurbished is the shortened lead times. You will want to ensure you’re working with someone that can get you the products you need when you need them. 

purchasing refurbished IT equipment

Years in Business

With time comes experience. More specifically, time spent in the refurbishing business. The longer a vendor has been in the business, the more likely it is that they have a tested and trusted process for successfully and properly refurbishing products. They know what to look for, what to expect when refurbishing, what and how to test, and should be able to know how to properly handle any questions or problems that may arise after purchase. 

Proven Process

This closely aligns with the years in business, but not necessarily the same thing. Just because a vendor has been in business for a long time, don’t assume that all refurbishing processes are the same. It’s important to have a tested and proven process in place. If they can show you or list out some of the steps taken in their process, that’s ideal. It’s one thing for someone to say “we have a process” and another to say “here are the steps we go through in our refurbishing process” and provide that level of insight. 


Related Reading: Refurbished Networking Equipment: An Insider’s Look into the Process

What to Check Once You Buy Refurbished IT Equipment

Once you’ve made the decision to purchase refurbished IT equipment, there are a few things that you or your team should be sure to look at when the equipment arrives:

Refurbished Networking Equipment 

  1. The first thing you’ll want to look at is the overall condition. Basically, does it look similar to what you would expect brand new equipment to look like? Because it should. Upon opening the box and pulling off the packaging, what does it look like?  Is it freshly painted? Does it look new? Or do you see huge scratches, gouges, dents, etc.? Is there any sort of smell emanating from the equipment? Is there dust on it? These are the initial things you should be looking for.
  2. Next up, you’ll want to look for the accessories that come with it. Make sure it has any power cords, console cables, rackmount kits, and any other necessary accessories that should be included. 
  3. From there, you’ll want to fire it up! Turn it on. Does it sound normal? Is the fan running hard? Is it making any weird noises? Make sure it sounds “normal.”
  4. After you’ve turned it on and listened for any odd noises (note: there aren’t supposed to be any), see if it looks how it’s supposed to. Is it ready to be configured? Do any errors or issue messages pop up? Is it outside the “normal” experience you’ve had when buying new equipment? 
  5. Once you’ve confirmed it looks and sounds the way it should, it’s time to configure it the way you would like on your network. A lot of people get it configured and let it run for a day or two to make sure there are no errors or issues. They’ll also shut it down and boot it back up to make sure when they turn it back on all the settings are maintained. 
  6. Finally, once you feel comfortable that it looks right, sounds right, all the necessary accessories are there, and that it functions properly, you can go ahead and install and start using it. 

Refurbished Storage Equipment and Servers 

When it comes to checking your storage or server equipment, the process is similar on the front end to that of checking networking equipment. You’ll want to check to make sure the outward appearance looks good and that things sound normal when you boot it up. But once you get into servers, storage, PCs, etc. there are a lot more variables that come into play than when you buy a piece of networking equipment. Things like the number of hard drives, memory, different power supplies, and different interfaces. 

Outside of that first view, the next step is to make sure you got everything the way you ordered it. The right CPU, power supplies, memory, and all of the parts. Once you’ve confirmed those things, fire it up, make sure it all looks the way it’s supposed to, load some software and things of that nature. Then when you’re ready, put it into production. 


refurbished IT Guide CTA

Selling Your Old IT Equipment for Refurbishment 

If you’re in the process of upgrading your network and are shopping for new or refurbished IT equipment, you might also have IT assets you want to get rid of in the process. We suggest selling it. Don’t assume it’s obsolete just because you’ll no longer be using it. In fact, the old equipment could be traded for new equipment or turned into cash. Before you sell though, here are a few things to keep in mind: 

Find the Right Buyer 

First things first. You’ll want to start by finding the right buyer for your equipment. Two things to look at: 

Price: Make sure you’re getting a fair value offer on what you’re selling. Perhaps get a few different quotes and have a sense of what the equipment is worth. 

Data: Ensure that whatever data is on those devices is removed before it goes to the next end-user. If you’re unable or unwilling to remove the data in advance, at least know that whatever company you’re selling the equipment too is taking care to make sure none of your information moves on past them. 

purchasing refurbished IT equipment

Get Equipment Ready

Once you’ve found the right buyer for your equipment the next step is to prepare and package your equipment. This part of the process is important. 

  • Backup and remove any old data
  • Wipe (or destroy) the hard drive 
  • Restore factory settings 
  • When pulling out the equipment, don’t just get rid of things that you’re not sure about. Things like cables, connectors, rack kits, etc. What can sometimes happen is someone is replacing a lot of equipment in a short timeframe. There might be 20-30 devices and each device has upwards of 50 cables connected to it. It can be easy to start pulling connections out fast to get it done with, but that can cause damage to the internal metal pieces/connection points if you’re going too quickly or carelessly. 
    • Take care when removing any cables, connectors, plugs
    • When physically removing something from a cabinet, again, proceed with caution. Don’t just remove screws and drop the item on a pallet 
  • After you’ve removed the equipment, make sure you’re placing these devices down gently. Try not to stack them on top of each other forcefully. That can scratch or dent equipment. If you do have to stack or put equipment close together, we suggest putting a layer of cardboard or bubble wrap down to protect each device from the next. If you have multiple stacks next to each other, place something in between the stacks for protection. The goal here is to reduce or avoid damage. 
  • If placing items in a box, we suggest checking the size of the box so it isn’t too big, as equipment can get jostled around in transit and become damaged. 

No matter how you’re sending the items, make sure they’re secured well. This is to your benefit. The better shape your equipment is in, the more likely it is to be accepted by a vendor. The last thing you want is to get a quote for $X, only to have those items damaged or totaled in transit and not be worth anything or cause a reduction to the original quote. Learn more about getting old equipment ready to sell here


Have questions or looking to purchase refurbished IT equipment? Let’s connect.

Contact Summit Today



Want to take this guide with you on the go? Download a PDF version here.