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. In this article, we’re going to talk about how to sell your used hard drives with a step by step guide and plenty of options and comparisons on different methods.
One quick note… this article will pertain to all forms of disks including HHDs, 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
First, before we get to the question of “how to sell your used hard drives”, lets first ask, “why should I sell my used hard drives.”
For most everyone, regardless of the scale I mentioned above, you sell your computer parts because it helps increase your bottom line… or your ROI. 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 to early, you loose 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 paper weights.
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, or if you’re a small user, 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, I’d consider 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. Lets 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 I 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 or the company will do this for you. I know this is jumping ahead slightly, but it’s hard not to due to its importance.
Option 1 – Sell Using eBay, Amazon, etc. or direct to private seller
If you take these routes, then you need to clear your data yourself. What you should use is any software that has a “single-pass overwrite”. Some well known software tools are DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke), Blancco, and White Canyon. 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 data center decommissioning service which, in addition to other things, ensures incredibly secure deletion 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, Fusion)
- 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 2TB Western Digital RE4s and one has some scratches on the outside, but the other 4 are fine. Then you would want one picutre 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’s essentially two ways to sell: direct or through an ITAD company. Lets 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 it’s own set or pros and cons.
- The company handles virtually everything, except the initial gathering of your IT asset list.
- You get a fair market price based on current demand and the condition or 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 people don’t know how to package drives correctly and they just end up getting packed by your local FedEx store and getting scratched. 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.
Step 5 – 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 take aways.
If you have any questions or comments, let us know below and if you would like for us to give you a quote on your used hard drives, just drop us a line below!
Have something to add? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!