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Whether you are a computer enthusiast, small to medium business (SMB), or a large scale enterprise with high demand IT needs, at some point, we all end up with “extra” hardware.
Selling your hard drives is easier than you think
One quick note… this article will pertain to all forms of disks including HDDs, SSD, and even hybrid drives.
We’re talking core concepts about how, when, and why to sell off used equipment. We also have a primer on the difference between storage drive types if you need a refresher.
Why Sell Your Used Hard Drives
By selling off your used assets to someone else who can use them, you get some extra cash that you can either pocket or use for some new or newer storage system needs.
By identifying when to sell, and selling at the right moment, you help maximize that. If you sell too early, you lose too much value due to installation and price drop of your new gear. If you sell too late, then you end up with a bunch of hard drive paperweights.
When to Sell Your Used/Old Hard Drives
Selling your hard drives could be a part of a data center decommissioning checklist if you’re a large group.
If you’re a typical consumer/hobbyist, then you might just have some hard drives laying around.
Either way, when trying to identify the right time to sell off your old hard drives, there are at least these main factors:
1) Is/are the drive(s) in use? If no, and there are no future plans, they are devaluing on your shelf and it’s probably time to move them.
2) How old are the drives? Keep in mind the useful age of any hard drive—though they do vary based on disk type, manufacturer, and series/model. Anything over 2-3 years is starting to get up there and it might be a good time to go out with the old and in with the new!
But, be cautious of selling your drives too new. If you try to sell newer drives right away, you could actually lose money.
They will automatically be devalued because they are used… but not old enough that you got some good ROI use out of them.
3) Could an upgrade benefit you? If you could benefit from having newer drives from a performance and/or risk loss perspective, then maybe selling your older drives off now is a good idea.
While it’s hard to give specifics here because every use case is slightly different, thinking about the above factors can help you best determine when to sell off your used hard disks.
Steps to Sell Your Hard Drives
Okay, so if you’re still with me here, then I’m going to assume you’ve determined that your hard drives (or SSDs) are worth selling.
So, now we’re going to outline a few steps to get your hard drives sold quickly, securely, and with as little hassle as possible.
Let’s jump right in.
Step 1 – Data Security
If you use data (which you do if you’re reading this article), then you should consider the security of your data.
Not only do we recommend using a password tool like lastpass.com to manage your online and offline passwords, but we also have to think about the data you are storing on your hard drives.
If you are a single user with say, one to a few drives, then this is probably your personal data that we are talking about.
If it’s more than that, then you’re probably some company or organization that stores clients’, customers’, patients’, or other personal data.
In either case, before you sell, you need to take the appropriate steps to ensure your data is fully gone before selling them.
Depending on how you are selling your hard drives, you will either do this yourself, your company will do it, or they will hire a third party specialist to do it. Obviously this is jumping ahead slightly, but it’s hard not to due to its importance.
Option 1 – Sell Using eBay, Amazon, etc. or Directly to a Private Seller
If you take these routes, then you need to clear your data yourself.
For the majority of individuals, what you can use is any software that has a “single-pass overwrite.” They’ve been tried and true for a long time.
All three of these are industry standard and will very securely delete your data. Check out this post for more detail on best places for selling computer parts in general.
Option 2 – Sell Using an ITAD Company
If you sell to an ITAD company, like exIT Technologies, then you can use their/our which, in addition to other things, ensures incredibly secure hard drive destruction of all data! More on this later…
Step 2 – Identification of drives & list
Next in line is figuring out what you have so you can get the most of your used drives.
You’re going to want to get all of the following together into a list or spreadsheet:
- Model or Serial
- Type (SSD, HDD, Hybrid)
- Pictures of condition
One big tip here that everyone should pay attention to… be honest! Don’t say that your 2TB hard drive that took a drop and no longer spins is “like new.”
The person or company you will be selling to will figure this out very quickly and you’ll lose every time. It’s not worth it.
Also, it’s worth noting that you should have pictures of all types/models/etc that have different conditions, but you don’t need to repeat the same photo for duplicates.
Example: you have 5 2TBRE4s and one has some scratches on the outside, but the other 4 are fine. Then you would want one picture for the normal one and one for the scratched one.
Step 3 – Figure Out Where to Sell
Okay, so we touched on this in step 1, but there are essentially two ways to sell: direct or through an ITAD company. Let’s review each and outline some pros and cons for each so you can choose what’s right for you.
Full disclosure: this site, exittechnologies.com, is an ITAD company. However, we know we’re not the right fit for everyone and we promise we’re being as open and transparent about these options as possible.
Sell Direct (online or in-person)
When you sell direct, we’re talking about either in person, through eBay or Amazon.
- You set your prices (though you may be asking too much and they might not sell)
- More money per sale percentage-wise. Note, not necessarily more money overall.
- No quantity minimum for selling. One hard drive is fine.
- You do ALL the work yourself.
- You have to know or identify the right selling price.
- Data deletion is your liability
If you choose to sell yourself, then arguably the hardest part is knowing how to maximize that profit.
While we can’t go into the fine points of how to price used IT equipment, the main takeaway is to gauge fair market value by doing research.
eBay has a great history tool that you can use that shows the historical sale price of what you are trying to sell. Use this to get a feel for what others are paying for the drive(s) you have.
Sell Through ITAD Company
Selling through an ITAD or a company that buys/sells used IT assets has its own set of pros and cons.
- The company handles virtually everything, except for the initial gathering of your IT asset list.
- You get a fair market price based on current demand and the condition of your assets.
- They can handle the data deletion!
- You don’t set your own prices. Instead, they send an offer based on what you have and you either accept or reject that price.
- It’s possible that you could make more selling direct. However, if you account for the time in doing so, this may or may not stay true.
- Must have a larger quantity. Most ITAD companies will not buy 1-2 hard drives. See our minimum quantities.
Step 4 – Packaging and shipping
Regardless of which route you took in Step 3, you are now going to need to package up your used hard drives safely.
Most of the time drives are not packaged correctly and they end up getting scratched, or worse, completely ruined. This is the case with both flash and disk drives.
Regardless of the condition when they leave you, if they show up damaged, then you just lost money!
Check out this hard drive packaging tutorial so you can ensure your package arrives undamaged.
It’s important to buy insurance on your packages here. Even when packaged correctly, shippers could mishandle your item(s) and cause lots of damage. Without insurance, that loss is on you.
Also, be sure to have a packing list for each box. If you have multiple boxes going to the same place, ensure that each box has its own packing list, but also include a 1 of X, 2 of X, etc… on each list so the receiver knows how many they should have.
Tips for Selling Specific Brands of Hard Drives
Western digital is a well known, respected brand. As such, there’s good demand for used western digital hard drives. While most WD hard drives sell for ~$10 to $75, high capacity drives and WD SSDs go for higher. Selling a single Western Digital hard drive on eBay should be easy. With that said, large lots will be difficult to move. This is especially true over quantities of 50 drives.
|Western Digital Hard Drives|
|Hard Drives Model|
Volume for Seagate hard drive sales is similar to Western Digital. Thus, as with WD, demand is pretty good to sell single units. Prices range from ~$20 for a used 1TB SATA to $330 for a sealed new 12TB SATA drive. This is for single units, and of course bulk quantities will go for less.
|Seagate Hard Drives|
|Hard Drives Model|
Hitachi hard drives, or HGST with common vernacular, are priced pretty similarly to the above two brands. They also actually have quite low failure rates. This is helpful when you sell HGST hard drives. They may be in better condition to sell when you’re done with them. They go anywhere from $10 for a 2TB SATA to $200 for a new in bag 8TB SATA for example.
|Hitachi Hard Drives|
|Hard Drives Model|
Sandisk is mostly known for their portable drives or their SSDs.While their lower end models sell for just a few dollars, some of the higher end “Flair” flash drives actually sell for over $100. You may find it harder to sell SanDisk drives than other brands, however.
|ScanDisk Hard Drives|
|Hard Drives Model|
Toshiba has similar offerings as Seagate and WD. However, there’s a bit less volume on the secondary market. Prices are comparable, but you may find it harder to sell Toshiba hard drives online.
|Toshiba Hard Drives|
|Hard Drives Model|
While HP isn’t typically known for their hard drives, they actually do sell a decent number of dual port SAS drives. They do sell SATA drives, but these might be harder to sell due to a less known brand for drives. When you sell HP hard drives for enterprises, it’s important to provide information about compatibility with different servers.
|HP Hard Drives|
|Hard Drives Model|
Dell (now Dell-EMC) is pretty recognizable as a hard drive brand. As such, you won’t have too much difficulty trying to sell dell hard drives online. The enterprise constellation SAS drives aren’t always easy to move (especially if you don’t have the trays), but they do sell. Typical consumer SATAs on the other hand are pretty easy to move. Large lots again might prove difficult. Common price examples range from only $10 for a 500gb SATA to $250 for high speed server drives.
|Dell Hard Drives|
|Hard Drives Model|
Sell SSD (Solid State Drive)
When selling SSDs there are a few differences to keep in mind. The first is that the tools to check the condition or “health” are different. For SSDs you can consult Pc Mag’s article. The second is that SSDs are worth more per GB/TB of course. The third is that SSDs don’t have fragile moving parts. They’re more durable in transit, though do still pack them securely. And finally, you’ll need different software to erase your drives. This is especially true for enterprises with many drives.
Enjoy That Extra Money
So, at this point, you can just sit back and go swimming in your pool of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. Okay, so maybe not quite enough for that, but if you followed these steps, then you should have maximized the amount of money and ROI for your used hard drives. Congrats!
Recap / Final Thoughts
Buying and selling used IT equipment is our specialty so we hope you got some good takeaways.
Have something to add? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!