Does Best Buy wipe returned computers?

Does Best Buy Really Wipe Their Returned Computers?

While some items, like clothing and small appliances, can be returned to the store they were purchased in without any problems, this isn’t always the case with computers and other expensive gadgets. If you’re thinking about returning your laptop to Best Buy, you may be wondering if the employees at Best Buy wipe their returned computers before reselling them.

Luckily, there’s no reason to fear that your data will fall into the wrong hands when you return your computer to Best Buy. Let’s find out if they really wipe computers returned.

RMA is an acronym for Return Merchandise Authorization. It’s a request you make to your supplier or manufacturer to take back defective merchandise, usually as part of a warranty. RMA is also known as RA (Return Authorization), RMN (Return Material Number), and so on.

The words return and warranty is common in most company names. For example, Apple Inc. has AppleCare, Sony has Sony Select and Microsoft has Extended Service Plan (ESP).

Does Best Buy wipe returned computers?

Yes, they do. It’s pretty standard practice, and most stores follow suit with their own process. After you’ve returned your computer to Best Buy, it goes through a series of steps before it gets sent back out for sale.

Here’s what happens:

BestBuy wipes returned computers clean to ensure that computers aren’t returned with viruses or other malware on them. Once a computer has been wiped, it can be resold as a refurbished product and won’t have any of your old data stored on it anymore (that you can access).

This process isn’t new, in fact, most electronics stores do something similar when they resell used products.  If you want to keep your data private, make sure you wipe everything off your computer yourself before returning it.

Otherwise, there’s no guarantee of what will happen once it leaves your hands because there have been some cases where BestBuy forgot to wipe their return computers.

Not all companies wipe returned computers, but Best Buy does. This isn’t exactly newsworthy information; they tell you right on their website when you return a computer: When your return is received at the BestBuy warehouse, your product will be inspected and tested by BestBuy Geek Squad agents.

If they find no issues with your product, we will prepare it for resale. They may also restore your operating system to factory settings as part of our quality control process.

However, if they find damage to your product or believe that it has been compromised in any way, they will not resell it as new. Instead, we will recycle it.

So there you go: Yes, Best Buy wipes returned computers before selling them again. And yes, they even say so on their site. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens after a computer is returned and wiped clean, anyone who says otherwise simply hasn’t done enough research.

They could have written a better answer, however: Just because your personal files are deleted from your hard drive doesn’t mean they aren’t still available elsewhere.

Even if you’re careful about deleting sensitive material from your computer, law enforcement officials may still be able to recover it. For example, according to one forensic expert quoted: wiping a PC won’t necessarily remove traces of Internet browsing history or email messages that were sent through Gmail or Yahoo Mail.

If law enforcement officials want those records badly enough, they’ll get them regardless of whether you’ve attempted to delete them yourself.

How does RMA work?

There’s actually a bit of art to getting an RMA, though it’s not necessarily difficult. First off, you have to make sure you request one within a reasonable amount of time after buying your computer and that you return it within a reasonable amount of time (for most companies, 30 days or so) after that.

You also need to be aware of any specific terms, some manufacturers require that you send back everything in its original packaging, others will ask for proof of purchase, still, others may ask for something else entirely.

If you fail to meet any requirements, there’s a good chance your RMA will be denied, or at least delayed until all issues are resolved. And while manufacturers tend to handle RMAs on their own, some stores like Best Buy offer customer service representatives who can help walk you through every step.

So if you’re not comfortable dealing with manufacturers directly, don’t worry: Many retailers are more than happy to help. Just know that they might not always tell you everything you need to know upfront. This is particularly true when it comes to warranties and returns, which we’ll get into next.

Speaking of warranties, if you buy a used computer from somewhere other than an authorized retailer, especially one that’s been refurbished, you could potentially be out of luck when it comes to making warranty claims later on down the line.

While policies vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, many won’t honor warranty claims made by someone other than an authorized dealer.

Why do people return computers?

As you can imagine, people return computers for many reasons. Let’s go over some of them here. In some cases, a computer simply won’t work with other devices in a person’s home, it might not be compatible with their television or sound system.

It could be that they bought it without realizing it wouldn’t run certain programs. Sometimes, it’s just too difficult to get used to a new operating system and user interface.

Whatever the reason, people tend to prefer getting something back instead of losing money on an item they didn’t want in the first place.


For years, people have argued over whether or not stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart actually wipe returned computers before they put them on sale again. Is there any truth to it?

A quick search for Best Buy wipes hard drives brings up dozens of results from different tech blogs and news sites, With our research, we found out that BestBuy wiped return computers clean. However, if possible, i recommend you wipe your data from a computer before you return it

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