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Buying Software

You can get some great deals on software at online auctions - as long as you know what to look for!

System Requirements

The first thing you need to know is if the software will run on your computer. On Windows machines you can find out your operating system and available memory by going to Control Panel -> System. The information is on the General tab, (to find out how much memory is installed, look for RAM at the bottom of the panel). To see your available disk space, select My Computer, right-click on the C: disk and select Properties.

Things to check before buying:

  • Operating System - Is this software for Windows? Mac? Linux? Is your version supported?

    Note: Some software is packaged with separate install disks for Windows and Mac - people have been know to install one on their own computer, then try to auction off the other disk. This is a dodgy practice which could lead to problems registering or upgrading the software - be warned!

  • Memory required - How much memory does your computer have and how much does the software require? If the requirements are close to the amount you actually have, the software may run very slowly on your system and/or you may not be able to run other processes at the same time.

  • Disk Space - How much disk space does the software require and do you have that amount (or more) free on your system? Also consider files generated by the software - video, audio and image files can take up a significant amount of storage space! If you're low on disk space (or memory) and want to get into digital video editing you may want to upgrade your computer first.

Software Versions - Trial, Evaluation, Educational, Upgrades and Full Versions

  • Trial or Evaluations versions are software which is either free or available for a very small price (i.e. shipping fees). It is either limited in features or can only be used for a short period of time (30-90 days). Unscrupulous people sometimes try to pass off evaluation software as the full version. While you may be able to upgrade to the full version for an additional fee, paying someone for trial software is no bargain!

  • Educational Software - Some vendors (for example, Adobe) make their software available to schools and students for a much lower price. To legally buy this software, you must be able to prove you are either a teacher, a student, or represent a qualifying educational institution. Furthermore, although the software is fully-functional the terms of use probably forbid you to use it for commercial applications and it may not be eligible for upgrades.

    Educational versions are a great way to learn expensive software without investing a lot of money. Beware of sellers who don't ask you for proof of eligibility as mentioned above!

  • Upgrades - To install an upgrade, you must have a previous, qualifying version of the software installed on your computer. Competitive upgrades will allow you to upgrade from a competitor's software. Read the description or check the vendors site for details and upgrade requirements - very old versions of the software may no longer be eligible for upgrading.

    Shopping Tip: Want the latest, greatest version of an expensive software package? You can often save money by buying a legitimate, older release and an upgrade.

  • Full Version - Full versions of software are versions with all features enabled and are eligible for upgrades. If buying used software, check to be sure the software can be registered!

Packaging and Condition

Does the sale of this software include all the original materials? Newer software may only have online-manuals, older software may have been packaged with electronic or paper manuals, examples and other materials. Software still sealed in the original packing materials is preferable. Used software may no longer be in the original box, or the box may show signs of wear but the disks should be in good condition.

Used software that was sold via electronic download may or may not be legally transferrable to a new owner - check out the vendor's site for more information.

Can the software be registered and upgraded?

The description should specifically state whether the software is eligible for registration and upgrades, if not ask the seller.

Seller's reputation and conditions of sale:

We can't say this often enough - check the seller's feedback and read the listing description carefully. Is there are return policy? Is the software being sold "as is"? Knowing what you are buying and the track record of the person you are buying it from will save you a lot of headaches!

Scam alert: When it comes to software, be careful of new sellers. Sometimes people are banned for selling pirated software only to pop up again with a new seller ID. Even if they have a lot of positive feedback, check out the details. Unscrupulous sellers have been known to "pad" feedback by selling a large number of inexpensive items in a short period of time before listing their higher-priced (often bogus) merchandise.

 

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