How to Pack Computers for Moving: Complete Guide for PC Moving
Why is it Important to Pack your Computer for a Move?
Relocating electronics is always a tricky affair due to their fragile nature. Moving a desktop computer, in particular, poses a different challenge because not only is it susceptible to physical damage, but there is the issue of data protection to also think about.
The problem with desktop computers is that unlike laptops, they are not made for lugging around. They may be bigger, but they are less sturdy and tend to be more sensitive to elements like temperature and static. This is why it’s important to know how to transport a PC the right way.
Of course, given the option, most of us would rather leave the PC undisturbed. Unfortunately, we don’t always have that option and every now and then, we may be forced to pull up stakes for one reason or another.
When that time comes, you want to ensure that one of your most valuable assets gets to its destination without subjecting you through technical grief.
That’s where computer packaging comes in.
In this post, we walk you through everything you need to know about how to transport a PC safely.
What Packing Supplies are Needed to Move a Computer?
While transporting a PC is nothing like launching a space shuttle into orbit, it’s a little more daunting than moving other sensitive items such as a TV and many other electronics.
PCs are a sum of many disparate parts – tower, monitor, and peripherals, in addition to a plethora of other hardware depending on what you use your desktop computer for.
Mishaps can happen during the move, so to be on the safe side, you need to prepare your computer system properly to protect it from any potential disasters. That starts by using the right computer packaging.
Here then, is a complete list of the packing materials you will need when transporting a PC:
- Packing boxes – the best way to transport a PC is to do it in the original boxes the PC and components came in. But not everyone of us keeps those around for long, so if that’s the case with you, it’s not the end of the world. You can use regular cardboard boxes of the right size, but you don’t want to scrimp on these. Best to buy them new as you want them sturdy. Opt for the thick-walled kind even if you’ll be using padding.
- Bubble wrap and packing paper – bubble wrap and packing paper are ever-present on any packing supplies shopping list, and they will very much come in handy when packing a computer. These are what you will use to wrap the computer in and to stuff between the hardware and moving boxes.
- Styrofoam inserts or packing peanuts – if you happen to have the original boxes your computer system came in, chances are you might have the Styrofoam inserts too. But considering the chances of that are slim for many of us, you can always find an alternative. Styrofoam inserts and antistatic peanuts play the role of protecting against physical knocks and absorbing vibration when computer moving. In their absence, however, you can use old towels, blankets, or pieces of clothing.
- Sealable plastic bags – small plastic baggies are used to hold things like screws and other tiny elements safely so you don’t lose them when transporting PCs. You’ll also use them to hold cables and cords.
- Packing tape – another regular feature in every packing routine, you will need packing tape to reinforce the sides and seams of your computer packaging, as well as sealing the top of the boxes. The tape needs to be strong, so a quality PVC should do.
- Twist ties or zip ties – to secure wires, cables, and power cords neatly.
- Anti-static bags – this is the best computer packaging for individual components like the hard drive and graphics card if at all you plan to transport the PC as separate components.
- Permanent marker – for labeling purposes.
- Labels – also for labeling cables if you don’t want any ink on them.
NOTE: You can source computer packaging supplies from a residential or commercial moving company near you. Or a local hardware store. We recommend doing this in advance instead of scurrying around last-minute.
How to Pack a Desktop Computer for Moving
Now that you have an idea of the computer packaging supplies you require, let’s show you how to pack a computer for moving step-by-step:
- Back up your data – data backup and recovery is a big topic when it comes to computer use. If you have ever lost super important files without a backup to resort to, you don’t need any reminders. Anyway, before transporting a computer, this should be the very first thing you do before you start disconnecting your machine. In fact, you need a double backup because, you know, even hardware storage can fail anytime without as much as a simple heads-up (although sometimes there will be tell-tale signs of impending doom). The odds of that happening increase during computer relocation. We are lucky to be living in the days of the cloud, so make sure your cloud storage is up to date with your most vital data. Those files should be fine provided you’re using a reliable vendor. Then, put everything else in external storage – you can use two flash drives or mirror the data in an external hard drive and flash disk.
- Measure your computer – unless you have the original boxes with you, this next step on how to transport a PC is probably best done with way before sourcing your packing supplies. That way, you can get a handle on the dimensions of both the tower and monitor in order to select well-sized boxes.
- Take a pic of the cable connection at the back of the PC – if you know your way around desktop computers, you might as well skip this step when the computer moving. Otherwise, before disconnecting your PC, check to see what cable goes into which port so you don’t have a puzzle to solve when you get down to reconnecting once you reach your destination. To make the work easier for you, you can label the individual cords.
- Unplug all cords – first, eject any CDs from your computer’s disk drive and then turn off the PC. Next, disconnect the power cable from the socket, then unplug all the other cables attaching to the computer – monitor, keyboard, mouse, Ethernet cable, printer, external hard drive, speakers, and all those. The idea is to leave nothing attached. Again, if need be, feel free to label the individual cords before packing the computer. Or disconnecting the computer rather.
- Organize all dissimilar cables – in the next step on how to pack a desktop computer for moving, you want to have your cables in the same place. Use twist ties or zip ties to secure them so they don’t entangle, before neatly placing them into a plastic bag.
- You don’t have to disassemble the computer – unless you are conversant with computer technical aspects, there’s no need to disembowel the critical interior contents of your PC in the name of packing them separately when doing computer packaging. Not only does this increase the risk of damage to these components (and your motherboard) but also what you’re doing is giving yourself more work than necessary. Save yourself the trouble.
- Ensure the box is securely taped at the bottom – we know the new boxes you got are sturdy and all, but it never hurts to have an additional layer of security when packing computers. Go ahead and tape the bottom of the box at the seams to fortify it some.
- Place bubble wrap (or towel) on the bottom of the box – with all the preparations done, it’s time to do the actual computer packaging. Before you place your hardware inside the box, it is important to have a layer of cushioning, and what better material to use that for than bubble wrap. In the absence of bubble wrap, a thick towel can also negate any shocks when moving a computer.
- Wrap the computer tower with bubble wrap or packing paper – the next step in the process of how to pack a desktop computer for moving is to wrap your disconnected PC using bubble wrap or packing paper. Once you’ve done that, use the PVC tape to secure the wrapping and edges.
- Put the computer tower securely inside the box – with the computer packaging all but done, place your desktop tower inside the prepped-up box. Ideally, you should place it in an upright position. Finish by filling in any empty spaces inside the box with cushioning materials.
- Wrap the monitor in bubble wrap and place it inside the box – repeat the same procedure that you used with the desktop tower to prepare the monitor for moving. Wrap it in bubble wrap to protect the screen. Once that’s done, place the monitor alongside the tower, unless you’re dealing with a large-screen monitor; upon which you should have it in a separate box. Don‘t forget to prepare the box for moving the monitor in the same way you went about the tower. Place the monitor in an upright position to protect the screen.
- Wrap and place the keyboard, mouse, and cables into the box – these peripherals will go into the same box as the computer. Before placing them inside, wrap the components first, lest anything risks damaging the monitor. The good thing with keeping everything together when computer packaging is to avoid disorder when unpacking.
- Label your computer moving box[es] – before transporting PC, label the computer packaging box to indicate the contents inside. Make sure to mark FRAGILE on the outside of the box.
How to Transport a PC in a Car
Now that you know how to pack a computer for moving, the next step in the computer moving process you need to think about is how to transport a computer in a car.
That’s the easy part, but if you don’t want to take any chances, you can always enlist the help of commercial packers and movers to do the packing and shipping for you.
The best way to transport a PC is to carry it in the back of the passenger seat. The rule of thumb when transporting fragile items in your car is to load them last. However, seeing as your computer might be in a large box factoring in the monitor and all, we recommend placing the PC inside first, and then working around it.
It is okay to place other items beside the computer packaging since the less wiggle room the better in this case. Just make sure the PC box is not squeezed and that you’re not placing any solid objects around it, the padding inside the computer box notwithstanding. Bags of clothing should work just fine adjacent to your computer system, but remember not to place anything on top of the box holding the computer.
During the drive, keep the ride smooth and make sure things are not getting hurled around. A few bumps on the road should not be an issue, but it’s important to maintain a smooth ride all through when transporting sensitive items.
What’s more, don’t forget that condensation is not good for sensitive electronic equipment such as desktop computers (which are more susceptible to changes in temperature than laptops). That in mind:
- Ensure the temperature in the car is steady during the drive and…
- Wait a few hours before plugging in and booting up your PC once you get to your destination.
That basically, is how to pack a computer for moving and transport it from Point A to B without any incidents.
By following these simple steps on how to transport a PC, you don’t have to keep your fingers crossed hoping for the best: you can be certain your computer will get to its new destination in one piece and function normally without any hiccups.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to pack monitors for moving?
While monitors may not house the core components of your PC, they are still fragile items and you don’t want anything happening to them, particularly the screen.
When doing your computer packaging, we recommend packing the monitor separately from the tower if it’s a large monitor. But a regular-sized display can be packed together with the tower, no problem.
Whichever the case, make sure to wrap the monitor separately using bubble wrap or packing paper and then secure the padding using tape.
How to transport a gaming PC?
Gaming PCs can be ludicrously expensive. As such, you want to make sure careless mistakes don’t leave you crying after transporting your gaming computer.
When packing a gaming PC for moving, basically follow the same steps involved in standard computer packaging – disconnect all cables and let padding be your friend here: go heavy on the cushioning.
Due to the multiple interior cards, however, the side with the motherboard should lie flat on the bottom touching the truck. As long as there is sufficient padding it should be okay. Otherwise, the interior cards could loosen particularly if it’s a bumpy ride, which might warrant technical assistance to get fixed.
How to pack a laptop?
Laptops are the easiest to move since they are – well – made for moving around with.
Got a laptop case with good cushioning inside? Great! That should work if you’re carrying it on you.
Otherwise, if you want to move the laptop as part of your luggage, you can simply wrap it using towels and stick it inside the middle of a bag full of clothing. Just remember not to stack anything heavy on top of this bag.
Provided the laptop is protected against high temperatures and humidity, the laptop should be home and dry, in a literal sense.