How to Pack and Move Your Computer

A desktop computer may be one of the most important items you move, and there are a lot of things that can go wrong—expensive components can be damaged and important data can be lost. So let us tell you how to play it as safe as possible.

At least computers are a lot more portable than they used to be. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
At least computers are a lot more portable than they used to be.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Plan Ahead

The basics are obvious—you’ll want to power down, unplug and wrap up all cords and accessories, and double check to make sure you haven’t left any discs in the computer.

But before you think about protecting your computer, you should give some thought to protecting all the important information inside it. If you don’t already have one, a backup drive is a very smart investment, even if you’re not moving. You can get a terabyte drive for around $60 if you shop around, and it should be fine at backing up your entire hard drive for years to come.

Backup drives are easy to use and will make sure that whatever happens to your computer, your irreplaceable files will stay safe. You may even wish to move and store your backup drive separately after every backup so that no disaster can strike both copies at the same time.

Packing Carefully

A computer is full of fragile parts that certainly aren’t meant to be jostled. If you still have any of the original packaging and the form-fitting Styrofoam that comes with it, that’s your best bet. But odds are you don’t, right?

Not a big problem. You’ll want to find a box just slightly larger than your CPU tower—you definitely don’t want to give it enough space to knock around in there. Then you want to pack it fairly tightly with padding. Crumpled newspaper and bubble wrap should do the trick. If you’re moving a printer, you’ll want to follow the same process, although it’s a good idea to remove any ink cartridges first and seal them in plastic bags.

That takes care of the tower. You don’t have to worry too much about damage to keyboards or mice, and you can pack your monitor much like you would a flat screen TV. You can check out our guide for details.

Any cords and additional accessories should be easier to pack, although you may want to make sure you pack them and label them separately  from your other electronics to avoid tangles and confusion.

Making the Move

Okay, you’re prepped and packed. Now it’s time to get your precious cargo where it needs to go.

If you plan to use a moving company, you’ll want to make sure that the box your computer is in is clearly labeled, and you’ll want to check that it’s properly insured for the move. This requires estimating the retail value of your computer and specifically requesting the appropriate insurance as standard moving insurance typically will not provide sufficient coverage for such expensive items.

However, if you’re taking a car to your new home, a computer is one of the few items you may want to move yourself even if you’re using a moving company to handle most of your other possessions. This eliminates most of the risk involved, especially if you are moving during extreme cold weather. The back of a moving truck is rarely heated, and cold can cause damage to some parts of a computer, as can the resulting condensation.

If you must expose your computer to cold during a move–and that’s definitely a possibility in Minneapolis!–be sure to give it ample time to reach room temperature before attempting to turn it on.