Refurbished Mac

Refurbished Mac: a reader asks…


I saw a refurbished Mac Pro 15” on Nextdoor that someone is selling for $400. It has 750 GB. The OS is Mac high Sierra 10.13. (15-Inch, Mid 2010) Refurbished Feb 2017 New 750GB SATA 2.5″ internal hard drive from Western Digital w/2 year manufacturer warranty New 8GB RAM Module Fully Tested – New OS High Sierra Installed. 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 Mint condition with all work receipts and original packaging. Is it safe to buy this, or a way to check to make sure there is no spyware on it if I get it? What do you think?

Generally, the only place I feel comfortable buying a refurbished Macbook is from (see their site). Sure you’re not going to find as low pricing as you will other places, but you can be sure you’re going to get a Macbook that is certified to have undergone an exhaustive set of work to make sure it will give you many years of trouble-free service. With anyone else, you really have no guarantee for what you’re actually buying.

I should note that this vintage of Macbook Pro (mid-2010) is pretty old even by Mac standards. It won’t run the current version of MacOS (Mojave) and is the oldest model that will run the previous version (High Sierra). I generally stick with Macs that are 3 years old or newer.


There are two significant internal parts that the seller didn’t mention refurbishing, which could have an impact on its serviceability. First is the battery – which is a consumable item. An eight-year-old laptop’s battery is probably going to be near the end of its service life and won’t give you decent service. Second is the CPU fan – generally not something that wears out unless the seller didn’t clean and check it. Years of dust buildup can wear out a fan and cause the CPU to overheat and shut down the Mac.

As far as ensuring the Macbook is clean with no spyware, you would be trusting the seller. If you do buy this, be sure to create a new Admin user account and delete the old one. Also consider running Malwarebytes for Mac to make sure no bad software was installed. There is such a thing as spyware hardware that a particularly nasty person could insert into a laptop and which would not be detectable by software, but this is less likely when you might actually know the seller (such as a ‘neighbor’).

Personally, I would be wary of spending money on an old model Macbook, and certainly not to use as my main computer. It might be worthwhile for your kid to use (instead of your own).

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