Moving is a complicated and long process. But, doing it right can help make sure all of your stuff arrives safely at its new destination.
You wouldn’t just toss your great-grandmother’s fine china into a cardboard box and call it good right? Similarly, every computer needs special attention when you pack to make sure it arrives in one, functional, piece.
But it’s not as simple as making sure you have the right size of box and plenty of padding. Taking a few extra precautions now will save you time and money in the long run.
10 Steps to Successfully and Safely Pack Your PC
Step 1: Back Up All Important Information
You can complete this step at any point before you start prepping your computer to pack it. If you decide to buy packing materials first, that’s your call. Just make sure you don’t skip this critical step.
Backing up your hard drive, and any other critical information on your computer is a must before any big change like a move. Moving puts your computer at a lot more risk, not just of damage, but also data loss.
There are a lot of things that aren’t entirely in your control when it comes to your move. The humidity, temperature, moisture level, bumps and bruises (or even falls) that happen along the way can’t be controlled. Especially if you are using a moving company, you have less end to end control.
Proper packing reduces those risks immensely, and following our packing guide will help ensure that your PC makes it to your new home whole and functional. But, having a backup of your hard drive will help you get up and running much sooner if something does happen.
There are three options for backing up your information, you can use any of them or multiple. It’s a good idea to have both physical and digital copies of anything you don’t want to use.
Don’t limit yourself to the operating system and your tax records either. Family photos, your word docs, favorite game saves, and other files can also be backed up.
- External Hard Drive
- Portable USB
- Cloud Storage Service (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc)
Plan at least an hour, and preferably longer, to complete this task. You don’t want to skip files because you’re in a rush.
Step 2: Get Packing Supplies
Once your computer is backed up, you need some specialty packing equipment. If you have the original box your computer came in, it’s a good idea to use that box. Check it over to make sure the seams are intact and strong, there’s no sign of water damage, and that it doesn’t smell chalky or moldy before use.
But, most people are going to need a specialty box to keep your computer safe. There are versions of these boxes that work for towers and laptops, though it can be more important to get a specialty box for your laptop.
Towers can be moved in any box that’s a reasonably close fit.
You’ll also need:
- Monitor boxes
- Packing peanuts
- Bubble wrap
- Packing tape
- Packing paper
You might not need everything we just listed, but you should plan on at least a couple filler and padding items to keep your computer safe.
Step 3: Power Down and Disconnect
Before you start packing, you need to power your computer down and start disconnecting the different cords and accessories attached to it. Again, give yourself more time than you think you need for this step. A little extra time and organization here will save you a lot of frustration later.
The first step is to take a photo of your current setup, showing where all the cords are attached. You may want to take a couple of close up photos if you have a lot of chords that are the same shape and size.
Consider using twist ties or colored stickers to indicate which cord is which if you’re concerned about re-attaching them later.
Wrap each cord individually, and wrap with packing paper. The packing paper is optional but helps prevent tangling and bending in the box. Wrap a small rubber band or hair tie around the middle and set the cord aside. A small string or piece of twine can also work.
Step 4: The Right Box
Not every box will work for your computer or accessories. For your tower, you want a close fit with regular dimensions. A laptop wants a thicker specialty box with a little padding built-in. Each of your monitors needs a separate flat box.
There are plenty of specialty monitor boxes to choose from. A specialty box may be more important if you have a curved monitor. Curved monitors also require more padding.
The exact dimensions of the box for your cords and accessories is less important than the other boxes. But, like the other boxes for your computer, you want to minimize the extra space. Less space means less packing materials and less moving around and friction inside the box.
Before you truly pack your computer, you should check to make sure all your boxes are a good fit. That way, you know if you need a different option before you absolutely must pack your computer.
Step 5: Packing and Padding
Before you start wrapping your computer, do a quick check. Make sure all the panels are securely in place, and any screws used to hold a panel on are tight.
Next, wrap the tower with packing paper. A single layer will work. It’s there to prevent static electricity buildup, keep the moisture out, and provide a small amount of padding. Use a little packing tape to hold it in place. Then wrap a payer of bubble wrap around your tower, and finally, a last layer of paper.
Place the tower in your box. If there is extra space on the sides of the tower, fill that space with packing peanuts, crinkled paper, or other padding filler.
Do not try to pack your monitor, cords, mouse, or other accessories in the same box as your tower.
Step 6: Protect Your Monitor
Your monitor should have the same layers of padding as your tower. Paper, bubble wrap, and then more paper. But you may want a little more in each layer. Your wrapping is there to provide padding and prevent static electricity buildup.
Plan on between a quarter and half of an inch of padding on all sides of your monitor when you buy the box. Give yourself a little more room if you have a curved monitor or a particularly large monitor.
When you place the monitor in the box, you need to fill any extra area with soft filler. Packing peanuts work, but you should pack them in tightly if that is the option you choose.
Step 7: All the Accessories
Your accessories also need to be wrapped. Things like speakers, microphones, wireless antennae, and separate webcams are all delicate. Wrap these in several loose layers of packaging. The looseness provides some extra padding and bounce since your accessories are more likely to shake around inside the box.
Your cords should already be wrapped. Place them in the bottom of your box. The most delicate accessories should go on top of the cords, with hardier accessories like your mouse and headphones on top.
Pro Tip: If you’re packing more than one computer, use multiple boxes for the accessories. Only put the accessories for one computer in one box.
Step 8: This Side Up and Other Labelling Tricks
There are a few ways you should label your boxes.
Your tower and monitor especially should have ‘This Side Up’ on the appropriate side, with arrows on the other sides. Label in bright, clearly legible colors. Black works, but red can be more effective.
You should also label your tower and monitor ‘Fragile’. If you have a microphone in your accessories box, it’s ‘Fragile’ too.
You can also label the computer boxes as computer items, or ‘Valuable’. That will help friend and family, or your moving company, know what they’re handling. The combination of Fragile and Valuable can lead to a lot more care because no one wants to replace an expensive piece of broken equipment for you.
Step 9: Making the Move
Ideally, you should move your computer yourself. You’re the only one you can control when it comes to how to treat the computer box. If you can’t move it yourself, make sure your moving company, friends, or family, know what that box is.
Your computer box should not be thrown, should not have heavy boxes placed on top of it, and should be set down gently every time.
You should also try to minimize transit time. The longer your computer is in shipping, the more likely it is to go through large temperature or humidity changes, get wet, or get bumped around in the truck.
If your computer will spend more than three days in transit with your regular moving company, consider priority shipping the computer to your new home instead.
Step 10: Give it Some Time
The last thing you need to do when your computer gets to your new home is to give it some time. Get the computer set up and ready to go, but don’t turn it on for at least 24 hours. That will give the internal hardware longer to adjust to new conditions like temperature and humidity.
While you set everything up, check to make sure the various parts of your computer are still seated and properly secured. If you know how open the side of your tower to check the interior.
If your computer was in transit for more than a week, extend the waiting period to 48 hours.
That’s it! You’re ready to move your computer!
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