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How should I ship a computer?

By jefeolson ·
Any tips on shipping a computer? I've got one I'm sending to some family in another state and I want to get it their safely.

I do not have the packing the PC came in, and the case is rather large, 21x10x22 (inches) and 25 lbs. The case is also fairly empty inside, quit a bit of open space.

I'd also like to avoid buying expensive packing.

The computer has:
2xDVD drives
1xFloppy drive
1xMedium sized video card
1xStick of RAM
1xMedium sized heatsink. (Standard AMD Athlon XP size)

Estimated value: $800

Ideally I'd like to spend less than $30 on packing and shipping costs. FedEx estimate for the shipping is $18

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Beware "Pack & Ship" stores

by breathe In reply to I'm fortunate to have the ...

I recently used a local "Pack & Ship" place to ship a computer complete with monitor - I had packing materials for the computer but not the monitor. Well, the monitor arrived broken because the shop did not use enough packing / cushioning materials to isolate the monitor from shock. I was able to recover the $100 insurance within about 3-4 weeks, but that was little consolation to the person I was shipping the monitor to.

So if you do use a Pack & Ship store, make sure you stand there and watch how they pack your stuff , because they are not professionals when it comes to packing delicate IT things.

good luck!

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How does 3 bucks sound

by trash In reply to How should I ship a compu ...

First of all, find a box company in your local area. For instance, here in Atlanta, we have a company called CutRate Box Co. They have overruns, specialty boxes, etc... You can get just about any type of box as long as you don't care what it looks like. (It may have been printed to ship soup, but it will hold computers and their parts just fine). The boxes there run from $0.60 - $1.75 in most cases.

Then you need a garbage bag in which to wrap the computer to seal it from the next ingredient...your trash.

Not the kitchen trash...every company has a shredder. Most personal homes have a shredder. We use shreddings to ship PCs. It recycles the quality junk mail we get into useful packing materials. Not including shipping, our total packing costs usually hovers around $3.00.

For laptops, we either use the same method, or we'll utilze the specialty boxes put out by FedEx, that are designed to specifically ship laptops.

My two cents, hope that helps.

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Um...I wouldn't do that...

by boviwan In reply to How does 3 bucks sound

I respectfully disagree with using trash. I've had plenty of experience in our company of people putting newspaper, shredded material, candy wrappers, etc. around hardware. All this, and even packing peanuts...are BAD. The PC can still move around. 75+% of the hardware is damaged for $100+ ever time someone ships PCs in "trash".

Your best bet is to find a box (or buy one from a shipping company) that is made of double-walled corrugated cardboard. This will cost you (based on the average size of a PC) about $5-7.

You'll need 2-3 inches of null space around the ENTIRE device (you can't lay or stand the PC on the bottom, or you could incur some damage). Then you need packing material...preferably antistatic bubble wrap (1/2 to 1 inch bubbles) and it should completely and evenly fill the null space around the asset inside the shipping container. This will run you about another $5-7. Cables or power cords can be placed in the space immediately around the PC.

Ground shipping will be about $18-25. So in total, the lowest it will cost you to GUARANTEE it's not damaged is about $28, but more realistically around $40.

If you work for a company that wants a solution for shipping IT hardware around, my company bought 20 custom built boxes for about $150/box. It sounds expensive, but I bet we've saved tens of thousands by avoiding shipping damage by ordering them. I know this isn't a solution for home, but if you're in a company that continues to have hardware damaged during shipping, check out Benson Box (

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3 Things You should do when shipping

by tecnopaul In reply to How should I ship a compu ...

Like a number of people have said, it comes down to a few things:

1. Pack it well
2. Insure It.
3. Inpect it when it gets there.

Lets face it, we only pack the outside. The UPS/FedEx/Airborne person doesn't know whether you're shipping books or a computer or glass. They presume you've packed it well enough to survive how they transport it.

I usually let UPS pack it and have the customer do a basic inspection when it arrives: Check processor, video card, RAM and connections.

I do disagree a lot with those that say UPS is terrible. They've done me no better or worse than FedEx and usually save on cost, not to mention packing it for me for free a couple of times (maybe as a good customer?), though FedEx has recently come out with some lower costs. The three of them (FedEx, UPS, and Airborne) are paid to get things there fast, not to pretend they're shipping a 25 lb box of eggs. IF you want them to treat it better, label it fragile, but they tell you when you ship it that you are responsible for packing to their shipping methods, not the other way around.

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Go for overkill

by tharper In reply to How should I ship a compu ...

I'd err on the side of caution, to the extent of double-boxing it... You want it not to shift around in the container, but still have sufficient packing to absorb the inevitable shocks.

Any shipper can have a bad day, but I also strongly recommend (and agree with the earlier posting) that you should avoid UPS - I think their unofficial motto is "If we can break it, you didn't pack it right - and we can break an anvil!"

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Love the motto

by w2ktechman In reply to Go for overkill

Personally, I ship often. Usually in the boxes that they came in (proper packaging), but often that is not available.
Personally, I prefer bubble wrap a couple of times around the unit. I use a box that is a little bit larger still. Because I will take corner pieces of foam and cut to shape for the unit to fit in the box snugly. This is as close to manufacturer packing that I can get.
Havent had a problem yet, and it really doesnt cost much.
For the foam corner pieces I usually try to have 1.5-3 inches of space between the outside of the box and the computer itself.
then, I fill in the space with paper, bubble wrap, peanuts, etc. (whatever is handy).

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Quantity is key

by trash In reply to How should I ship a compu ...

boviwan is right. You can have a mishap with shredded material if you don't use enough. You need 2 inches around all areas of the unit, and you have to make sure that when it settles (as it will during shipment) you don't have any areas that will become unprotected. The object is to slow the impact created by a fall. Sudden deceleration is what causes damage. If you can spread the deceleration over time, you've acheived the goal.

The amount of packing also depends on the value of the equipment. (boviwan's $150 box example along with my comment on laptops).

We've shipped hundreds of PCs this way, and only had one instance where there was damage. And that was the last time we ever used UPS to ship a PC.

Incidentally, that PC was crushed by a broken avil. (tharper, "Go for overkill" that post is hilarious).

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Support or Remove Heatsink

by nobby57 In reply to How should I ship a compu ...

I would support or remove the heatsink or any other heavy items -- fix it like a LAN party rig, maybe, with locks & supports for heatsinks and cards. Reseat everything at the other end before powering up.

So far as packing, I once sent a big rackmount unit to the head IT office in two boxes separated on all sides by rolls of toilet paper -- that because we had cases of it sitting around. They sent it back the same way. To pack the space full, used bagged shreddings. It made a good isolation package, albeit unusual. But not very professional! Could be taken as a comment about the equipment, which was, indeed, s***.

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by gpastorelli In reply to How should I ship a compu ...

I used to ship lots of computers at my last job and we used blankets. Particularly those cheap "veluxe" ones you get at wal-mart. wrap it with about 2 or 3 of those bad boys, in a big box, with some more blankets on the side and nothing short of a 10 story drop will hurt it.

In addition, i'd remove the memory, hard drive, cd rom, and cpu (if your family members are tech savvy) and put them in a seperate box in bubble wrap, and put that box on the inside. Or if they're not at least zip tie the drives in, screws are notorious for coming loose.

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by Norml016 In reply to How should I ship a compu ...

This is the shipping method recommended to me by the manufacturer when I needed to return my system for repairs.

How to Overbox
? Before overboxing, make sure that the inside box is in good condition
and that the internal foam is not cracked or broken. If the foam is
damaged, replace it with new foam inserts or repair with two-inch (5.08
cm) wide pressure sensitive tape.
? Select a new shipping container that is at least six inches (15.24 cm)
longer, wider, and higher than the inside box
? Fill the new shipping container with at least three-inches (7.62 cm)
of foam-in-place, foam corner or edge pads, inflatable packaging,
loosefill peanuts, or other suitable dunnage materials. Do not use
crumpled or shredded paper.
? Place the inside box on top of the cushioning material and in the
center of the shipping container, allowing for at least three inches
(7.62 cm) of cushioning around the remaining five sides of the package
? Fill the remaining empty space in the package with foam-in-place, foam
corner or edge pads, inflatable packaging, loosefill peanuts, or other
suitable dunnage materials.
? Seal the shipping container with either two inches (5.08 cm) or more
width of pressure-sensitive or nylon-reinforced tape, or 60-pound, three
inch (7.62 cm) wide water-activated reinforced tape. Close the box
securely, applying three strips of tape to both the top and bottom of
the box so the middle and two edge seams are sealed.

Thank You
Vision Support

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